Sumerian Inscription

Sumerian Inscription

One of the more eye-catching quotations from The New York Times reads like this-

Sumerian 1.jpg

It’s a word I had been heretofore unfamiliar with, and doubt that I’ll find many occasions to use, at least in that particular form, since I find it quite unpronounceable. Nonetheless, I’m glad to know it’s still there, that it can be heard and even understood after some 5,000 years, and that a very few in the world today can even speak it again.

That word—and thousands of others—will find its way into the world’s newest dictionary and the very first of its oldest written language, Sumerian, a language unrelated so far as scholars know to any other, but a language from which our words for “abyss” and “Eden” are derived. The dictionary will finally be issued after all these millennia by scholars at the University of Pennsylvania, who, of course, have never heard the language spoken as it was, and have had to piece it together from the thousands of fragments on which the written language still survives, the most enduring legacy of mankind’s first great civilization. There are 30,000 tablets in the collection of the University of Pennsylvania alone, and other collections, some of them larger, are scattered throughout the world.

Read the rest of The New Sumerian Dictionary in the online Biblical Archaeology Society Library.