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Mesopotamian Cuneiform (3100 BC)

Cuneiform was a combination writing system composed of pictograms and ideograms (idea symbols) and phonograms (sound symbols). The cuneiform system began as pictures and continued, in part, to convey meaning the way pictures do.

Mesopotamian edubba

The symbol for king is:

Originally a picture of a king, it had the same form but was said differently in many different languages: Lugal in Sumerian, Šarru in Assyrian and Babylonian, Haššu in Hittite.

Because of the need to write names unambiguously, the phonographic system, or writing by speech sounds, forced its way into cuneiform. As words were written, only their sounds were considered, not their meanings.

The symbols and meaning of Hammurabi's name are:

ha + am + mu + ra + bi
('fish' + 'wild bull' + 'year' + '?' + 'innkeeper')

A Sumerian school, the earliest on earth, called an edubba (tablethouse). Here boys studied 12 years to become scribes in the cuneiform script.

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