Tag Archives: Mesopotamia

The origins of writing (II). Cuneiform writing.

One of the earliest types of writing known is the cuneiform. Although Sumerian pictographs come from the late fourth millennium BC these are considered protowriting, since information conveyed by symbols without a linguistic structure. Cuneiform as such is fixed around 2800 BC.

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The term cuneiform comes from the Latin “cuneus,” meaning wedge as it was written on a clay tablet with a sharpened cane wedge shaped.
The first records were purely pictographic writing. They represented the image of what they wanted to describe by graphic imitation and usually they were economic documents for counting inventory and other ordinary or administrative tasks.

esquina2 (Large)During this time, ideograms and numbers without established rules were represented.

As it was necessary the expression of ideas, signs evolved from a direct representation of objects, combinations of symbols, and later to the syllabic representation.

Other changes, such as alignment and writing from left to right were produced over time. Also the 90 ° rotation, possibly to facilitate writing. The symbols are changing from their pictographic origins to more abstract, and easily represented by indentations made ​​with the wedge.

In the next picture of the University of Cantabria you can see examples of the evolution of some words.

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The tablet that we present is, again, our reproduction of one of the objects in the collection of the British Museum.

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It is an example of the early writing, one of the first records kept, in which more abstract symbols and pictograms are still mixed.

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Its origin is probably southern Iraq, dating between 3100 and 3000 BC

In this case it was left record the daily rationing of beer.

The symbol of beer, a jar upright with a pointed base, appears three times in the tablet. The beer was the most popular drink in Mesopotamia and rationed among workers.

As for the number symbols, we  see an archaic representation, and the interesting numbering system (for different types of objects, different systems) is also observed. I recommend you this article (spanish), if you are interested. This tablet has the distinction of having an oblique notch symbols dedicated to the numbering, which means that they are referring to malt grain.

Our replica is made of resin with wooden base and vertical support, to have it on display, as is engraved on both sides.

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Available in our store

Update:

We’ve modeled a new version, thicker, like the original. Sold without base.

If you are interested in the old version, or adding a base to the new one, please contact us.

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The origins of writing (I) The cylinder seal.

The cylinder seals appear in Mesopotamia (Uruk period, 4100-3300 BC).

They were small cylinders of stone, glass or other materials, often semi-precious stones, with a carved relief, which making them roll on a clay tablet left recording the motives, as well as record of the contents of some containers or seal documents.

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sello3 (Large)They used to have a picture accompanied by a short text, identifying its owner, so they were used as a signature to administrative title, certificate or approval of an official.

In other cases represented daily, religious and economic scenes.

The impression could be extended indefinitely, so that the result was a frieze, which gave it a decorative look.

sello2 (Large)Among the merchants began to be used to identify clay pots, and later in other tablets as a record of your transactions.

The prints were evolving from own drawings of each merchant, until a code that ended up evolving cuneiform writing.

Here we present a replica of a seal is preserved in the British Museum.

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Pink Chalcedony cylinder seal.
Mesopotamia. Kassite Dynasty, between 1400 and 1300 BCE

The seated figure is the sun-god Shamash, sitting in front of a sun disk and below a cross, the two symbols.
The seven-line cuneiform inscription is a prayer to Shamash.
You can find more information on the website of the British Museum.

Our reproduction is made ​​of resin and presented together with a clay tablet, so you can print it for the times you want.

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You can purchase one from our store

Royal Game of Ur

 

 

The Royal Game of Ur is one of the oldest known, next to the Egyptian game of Senet. Also called “game of 20 squares” and it was played in Mesopotamia in 2600 BC It is a game for two players, each with seven tiles (black and white) and three pyramidal dice.

The board and pieces are based on the tablets found in the city of Ur, one of the most important cities of ancient Mesopotamia during the excavations in the 1920s by British archaeologist Leonard Woolley. Excavations continued until 1934 and there were found sixteen graves they called the “Royal Tombs of Ur”.

The pieces found, (one of them is preserved today in the British Museum) consist on a wooden board with inlaid shell, red limestone and lapislazuli, small shell discs and three pyramidal dice, marked in two of its vertices.

The twenty boxes are decorated with various designs, symmetrically distributed.

All different similar boards  found, have in the same position the five rosettes, so they are considered special boxes. Other tables are decorated with “eyes of luck” points and concentric circles.

The original rules of the game are unknown but there are several possible reconstructions based on a clay tablet with cuneiform writing (Babylonian origin of 177-176 BC) that suggests that it was a “persecution” game as Senet, predecessor of today Parcheesi and backgammon.

The two players move their pieces across the board according to their score on the dice.

Here we expose one of the versions, based on the interpretation of the British Museum:

Objective:

Complete the tour with seven tiles before your opponent

How to play:

The score of the dice according to the number of vertices labeled as follows:

– An unmarked vertex: One point, the turn passes to the opponent.

– Two unmarked vertices: Zero points, the turn passes to the opponent.

– Three unmarked vertices: Four points, and roll again.

– Three sharp corners: Five points, and roll again

With the first roll of the dice we resolve who starts the game.

A chip on the board enters the input box if we get a roll of 4 or 5 points.

Once on board, the chips make their journey according to the score of the dice.

When the chips are in the middle row can be attacked if an opponent’s piece falls into the same box, so that the attacked piece will be removed from the board  to start again.

The rosette boxes are safe squares rosette, the chips are in a rosette can not be attacked.

To exit the panel a piece has to fall exactly at exit square, If the score is larger, travel in the opposite direction to completion, once there, the tab will travel when I get a score of 4 or 5.

Long version:

Once in the exit box, we turn to the piece and follow the dash in reverse, to finish the tour of the input box. In this game mode, the chips may only be attacked by other going in the same direction.

We present here our interpretation of the board and pieces.

This is a reproduction hand painted resin.

It comes in a matching wooden box, with compartments for the different pieces.

Wooden box is not available now.

Available in our store.