Dumb Cuneiform: your tweets, translated into ancient Persian and stamped into clay tablets

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Oh this is gold! Millennia from now future archaeologists will dig these up and puzzle over the obscure and indecipherable texts such as “lol u n00b Im so 1337”.


That’s what you think you got. The tablet reads: “Uruk needs moar goats”


I thought Cuneiform was as complex as Chinese. Have they simplified it into a font?

A lot of cuneiform scripts are as complex as Chinese, but they’re transliterating your message into the Old Persian cuneiform syllabary: http://www.ancientscripts.com/oldpersian.html


Old Persian is much simpler than Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform. While it’s technically a syllabary (all the characters represent whole syllables instead of consonants or vowels) it’s not much bigger than the alphabet.

Depending upon the era, Akkadian’s dialects sometimes used over 600 symbols. (I’ve read a little about the language, which apparently isn’t difficult as languages go, but I haven’t grappled with the cuneiform orthography.) Many symbols could be interpreted as a syllable or as a whole word, or the pronunciation could change depending upon the word it was in, or it could be used to disambiguate the meaning or vowel sound of another sign.

From all indications, Sumerian is even more hirsute, and isn’t related to any other known language to boot.


Think about it as writing phonetically in Hiragana or Katakana. You aren’t actually writing Japanese or Chinese. But there are a number of Kanji characters that are also used in a syllabic way.



The Sumerians used the clay tablets for everything, including stuff we’d think pretty trivial–many surviving tablets are the equivalent of receipts, memos, school homework, shopping lists, etc. So this is traditional.



Yeah, there’s a shady businessman from back then, Ea-Nasir, we only know about because we’ve found the complaint letters about his practices. The guy got involved in anything, selling people copper of a lower grade than they paid for, deliveries that had a habit of being done quick and dirty, etc.

Weirdly enough most of these tablets have been found in what appears to be a dedicated room in Ea-nasir’s own house.

What kinda guy has a room in his house dedicated just to storing the complaints about him, especially when they’re in the form of bulky, heavy clay tablets? Especially back then that kind of archive wouldn’t be cheap, clay tablets were usually not used as a permanent record at the time; they were air-dried rather than fired so they could be re-used just by wetting and re-molding them.

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