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Cuneiform variants

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  • Jim Wagner
    I ve been working my way through some of the Annals of the Kings of Assyria (http://enlil.lib.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/eos/eos_title.pl?callnum=PJ3835.B85_cop2)
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 2, 2007
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      I've been working my way through some of the Annals of the Kings of
      Assyria
      (http://enlil.lib.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/eos/eos_title.pl?callnum=PJ3835.B85_cop2)

      Mainly because they have transliterations so I can check my own work
      afterward. I'm using Labat's sign list. On occasion, however, I find
      a sign that doesn't exist in Labat.

      An example is on p. 103. line 55, the sign transliterated as 'su' in
      "an-ḫu-su-nu" is not in Labat's list.

      A further interesting thing is that in one of the earlier annals,
      Pudu-ili, p3, line 9, "Å¡arra-su" is written with an unusual sign
      representing the "su." It is not the same as the one on p103 but it
      looks, to me, as if it could be an earlier development of the same sign.

      The sign does not appear to occur in the _List of Neo-Assyrian
      Cuneiform signs_, based on Borger (with the caveat that I may have
      missed a variant sign too different for my eyes to distinguish.)

      Part of the impetus behind this letter is that I have discovered, here
      and there, three different methods of writing the sign meaning
      iṣṣuru, _bird_. These differences are radical differences, not simple
      alterations

      Clearly, signs change through the ages.

      The question is, is there a "better" signlist to be using, or should I
      just go on as I have been, making separate notes of each sign and its
      apparent value as I come on it?

      Or is there some other suggestion I have not thought of?

      Thanks,

      Jim Wagner
    • Robert M Whiting
      ... I suspect that what you are saying is that you come across a variant sign form that isn t shown in Labat. If you are reading Akkadian texts, every sign
      Message 2 of 3 , Sep 2, 2007
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        On Sun, 2 Sep 2007, Jim Wagner wrote:

        > I've been working my way through some of the Annals of the Kings of
        > Assyria
        > (http://enlil.lib.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/eos/eos_title.pl?callnum=PJ3835.B85_cop2)
        >
        > Mainly because they have transliterations so I can check my own work
        > afterward. I'm using Labat's sign list. On occasion, however, I find
        > a sign that doesn't exist in Labat.

        I suspect that what you are saying is that you come across a variant sign
        form that isn't shown in Labat. If you are reading Akkadian texts, every
        sign you come across will be in Labat. However Labat is much abbreviated
        as far as the paleography of cuneiform signs is concerned, so not every
        variant form of every sign is illustrated.

        > An example is on p. 103. line 55, the sign transliterated as 'su' in
        > "an-ḫu-su-nu" is not in Labat's list.

        You do realize that the cuneiform signs in this volume are typeset from a
        modern font and don't have anything to do with cuneiform impressed in
        clay, don't you?

        > A further interesting thing is that in one of the earlier annals,
        > Pudu-ili, p3, line 9, "Å¡arra-su" is written with an unusual sign
        > representing the "su." It is not the same as the one on p103 but it
        > looks, to me, as if it could be an earlier development of the same sign.

        It is the same sign. The two signs are the principal variants of the SU
        sign in Assyrian script. The second is the standard from of the SU sign
        in Assyrian script. The first is a variant that developed from the
        Babylonian form of the sign.

        > The sign does not appear to occur in the _List of Neo-Assyrian
        > Cuneiform signs_, based on Borger (with the caveat that I may have
        > missed a variant sign too different for my eyes to distinguish.)

        Look at the "Paläographie" beginning on p. 5 of Borger's
        Assyrisch-Babylonische Zeichenliste (AOAT 33/33A) under no. 7 and you will
        find these variants of the SU sign along with a number of others.

        > Part of the impetus behind this letter is that I have discovered, here
        > and there, three different methods of writing the sign meaning
        > iṣṣuru, _bird_. These differences are radical differences, not simple
        > alterations

        They are alterations. You just have to be aware of the principles behind
        the alterations.

        > Clearly, signs change through the ages.

        As does everything else (with the possible exception of sharks).

        > The question is, is there a "better" signlist to be using, or should I
        > just go on as I have been, making separate notes of each sign and its
        > apparent value as I come on it?

        The best manual on cuneiform paleography remains C. Fossey, Manuel
        d'assyriologie, vol. 2: Evolution des cunéiformes (Paris 1926).

        There is no need to guess about these things. Cuneiform script has been
        thoroughly studied and extensively written about. You can of course
        continue to reinvent the wheel if you wish; if you think your wheel may be
        more efficient or effective than the one currently in use it might be
        worthwhile. Otherwise, I don't see much point to it.

        > Or is there some other suggestion I have not thought of?

        Among these, the most productive might be to see the list of published
        lists of cuneiform signs provided by the Cuneiform Digital Paleography
        Project <http://www.cdp.bham.ac.uk/Publications/signlists.htm>. You can
        also use the CDP Project database to see examples of the signs in
        cuneiform. Go to <http://www.cdp.bham.ac.uk/Database/login.htm> and click
        on "Click here for Guest Access". If you want to see examples of the SU
        sign, click on "Search instances - simple" and when the search form
        appears type "su" (without the quotation marks) in the "Sign" space.
        This will take you to a page where you can select different examples of
        the SU sign. Examples 1 and 3 will illustrate the two primary variants of
        the sign in Assyrian script. If you look at all the examples, you will
        see the relationship between the various forms of the sign.

        Bob Whiting
        whiting@...
      • Jim Wagner
        ... (http://enlil.lib.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/eos/eos_title.pl?callnum=PJ3835.B85_cop2) ... sign ... every ... abbreviated ... Yes, I understand that. ... from a
        Message 3 of 3 , Sep 2, 2007
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          --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, Robert M Whiting <whiting@...> wrote:
          >
          > On Sun, 2 Sep 2007, Jim Wagner wrote:
          >
          > > I've been working my way through some of the Annals of the Kings of
          > > Assyria
          > >
          (http://enlil.lib.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/eos/eos_title.pl?callnum=PJ3835.B85_cop2)
          > >
          > > Mainly because they have transliterations so I can check my own work
          > > afterward. I'm using Labat's sign list. On occasion, however, I find
          > > a sign that doesn't exist in Labat.
          >
          > I suspect that what you are saying is that you come across a variant
          sign
          > form that isn't shown in Labat. If you are reading Akkadian texts,
          every
          > sign you come across will be in Labat. However Labat is much
          abbreviated
          > as far as the paleography of cuneiform signs is concerned, so not every
          > variant form of every sign is illustrated.
          Yes, I understand that.
          >
          > > An example is on p. 103. line 55, the sign transliterated as 'su' in
          > > "an-ḫu-su-nu" is not in Labat's list.
          >
          > You do realize that the cuneiform signs in this volume are typeset
          from a
          > modern font and don't have anything to do with cuneiform impressed in
          > clay, don't you?
          I understand that. They are "standardized" (by modern scholars), from
          the original engraved-in-clay representations.
          >
          > > A further interesting thing is that in one of the earlier annals,
          > > Pudu-ili, p3, line 9, "Å¡arra-su" is written with an unusual sign
          > > representing the "su." It is not the same as the one on p103 but it
          > > looks, to me, as if it could be an earlier development of the same
          sign.
          >
          > It is the same sign. The two signs are the principal variants of the SU
          > sign in Assyrian script. The second is the standard from of the SU sign
          > in Assyrian script. The first is a variant that developed from the
          > Babylonian form of the sign.
          >
          > > The sign does not appear to occur in the _List of Neo-Assyrian
          > > Cuneiform signs_, based on Borger (with the caveat that I may have
          > > missed a variant sign too different for my eyes to distinguish.)
          >
          > Look at the "Pal�ographie" beginning on p. 5 of Borger's
          > Assyrisch-Babylonische Zeichenliste (AOAT 33/33A) under no. 7 and
          you will
          > find these variants of the SU sign along with a number of others.
          >
          > > Part of the impetus behind this letter is that I have discovered, here
          > > and there, three different methods of writing the sign meaning
          > > iṣṣuru, _bird_. These differences are radical differences,
          not simple
          > > alterations
          >
          > They are alterations. You just have to be aware of the principles
          behind
          > the alterations.
          >
          > > Clearly, signs change through the ages.
          >
          > As does everything else (with the possible exception of sharks).
          >
          > > The question is, is there a "better" signlist to be using, or should I
          > > just go on as I have been, making separate notes of each sign and its
          > > apparent value as I come on it?
          >
          > The best manual on cuneiform paleography remains C. Fossey, Manuel
          > d'assyriologie, vol. 2: Evolution des cun�iformes (Paris 1926).
          >
          Thank you very much for the advice.
          > There is no need to guess about these things. Cuneiform script has been
          > thoroughly studied and extensively written about. You can of course
          > continue to reinvent the wheel if you wish; if you think your wheel
          may be
          > more efficient or effective than the one currently in use it might be
          > worthwhile. Otherwise, I don't see much point to it.
          >
          At the present moment, I am interested only in being able to read
          cuneiform, in the Semitic varieties, mostly Neo-Assyrian and late
          Babylonian. Once I get to the state where I can actually read texts,
          I will maker up my mind what the next step might be.
          I need to be able to do this from here, and the University of
          Saskatchewan does not offer any courses in Ancient Near Eastern Languages.

          I am also on a limited budget, and can only build up my library very
          slowly. Having discovered things on the net like the numerous
          publications of the Cuneiform Texts from Babylonian Tablets has made
          the very notion of studying Cuneiform more viable.

          Also, the Province of Saskatchewan has a very admirable Inter-library
          Loan system, through which I can get access to many books that would
          otherwise be beyond my means.
          > > Or is there some other suggestion I have not thought of?
          >
          > Among these, the most productive might be to see the list of published
          > lists of cuneiform signs provided by the Cuneiform Digital Paleography
          > Project <http://www.cdp.bham.ac.uk/Publications/signlists.htm>. You can
          > also use the CDP Project database to see examples of the signs in
          > cuneiform. Go to <http://www.cdp.bham.ac.uk/Database/login.htm> and
          click
          > on "Click here for Guest Access". If you want to see examples of the SU
          > sign, click on "Search instances - simple" and when the search form
          > appears type "su" (without the quotation marks) in the "Sign" space.
          > This will take you to a page where you can select different examples of
          > the SU sign. Examples 1 and 3 will illustrate the two primary
          variants of
          > the sign in Assyrian script. If you look at all the examples, you will
          > see the relationship between the various forms of the sign.
          >
          I very much appreciate your advice and assistance, and your patience
          with extremely pre-basic questions.

          Jim Wagner
          >
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