Online Encyclopedia

CUNEIFORM (from Lat. cuneus, a wedge)

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Originally appearing in Volume V07, Page 632 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CUNEIFORM (from Lat. cuneus, a wedge), a form of writing, ex ensively used in the ancient world, especially by the Babylonians and Assyrians. The word " cuneiform " was first applied in 1700 by Thomas Hyde, professor of Hebrew in the university of Oxford, in the expression " dactuli pyramidales seu cuneifo:mes," and it has found general acceptance, though efforts have been made to introduce the expression " arrow-headed " writing. The name " cuneiform " is fitting, for each character or sign is composed of a wedge (T or -–), or a combination of wedges (-E; ), written from left to right. The wedge is always pointed towards the right (-–) or downwards (T) or aslant( ), or two may be so combined as to form an angle (<) called by German Assyriologists a Winkelhaken, a word now sometimes adopted by English writers on the subject. The word cuneiform has passed into most modern languages, but the Germans use Keilschrift (i.e. wedge-script) and the Arabs mismari (j)t•w•) or nail-writing. In Persia, 40 M. N.E. of Shiraz, is a range of hills, Mount Rachmet, in front of which, in a semicircular form, rises a vast terrace-like platform. It is partly natural, but was Discovery walled up in front, levelled off and used as the base and of great temples and palaces. The earliest European, decipher. at present known to us, who visited the site was a meat. wandering friar Odoricus (about A.D. 1320), who does not seem to have noticed the inscriptions cut in the stone. These were first observed by Josaphat Barbaro, a Venetian traveller, about 1472. In 1621 the ruins were visited by Pietro della Valle, who was the first to copy a few of the signs, which he sent in a letter to a friend in Naples. His copy was not well made, but it served End of Article: CUNEIFORM (from Lat. cuneus, a wedge)
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