Sumerian Questions and Answers



1. Hebrew and Sumerian
2. Permission to Use Cuneiform Writing Sample
3. Timeline of Mesopotamian History
4. Sumerian Version, Biblical Story of Job
5. Sumerian True Type Font
6. "pukku" and "mekku" in Gilgamesh
7. Sumerian Language ba- Prefix
8. Sumerian Eden?
9. Hungarian and Sumerian
10. Enable Sumerian True Type Font
11. Development of Cuneiform From Pictographs
12. Sumerian Word for Venus
13. Sumerian Alphabet?
14. Sumerian "mashkim" as Demons?
15. Zecharia Sitchen; Sumerian Language Suppressed?
16. Hebrew ELOHIM
17. Sumerian Proverbs Page
18. Sumerian Audio File?
19. "The Sumerian Problem"
20. The Deity Ningishzida
21. Organization of the Sumerian Lexicon
22. Cuneiform Symbols in Sumerian Lexicon?
23. Poetry to Woo a Sumerian Girl?
24. Translate Sumerian Alphabet?
25. Letters of Sumerian Alphabet?
26. Importance of Sumerian Invention of Cuneiform Writing
27. Sumer, Not Sumeria
28. Could Sumerian "ur" Mean Ox or Cow?
29. Pronunciation and Meaning of Sumerian Words
30. Is Sumerian the Earliest Written Language?
31. Preflood Mythology - Ziusudra, the Sumerian Noah
32. How to Interpret "dirig-...-she"?
33. The Planet Nibiru
34. Zechariah Sitchin and Extraterrestrials
35. Name of Sumerian Religion?
36. The Sumerian People
37. Meaning of Sumer?
38. Sumerian Speech from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
39. Sumerian Planet Names
40. Who Were the Sumerians?
41. Annotated Version of Lexicon?
42. Origin of Picture of Counting Tokens
43. Another Translation into Sumerian
44. Vowels in Sumerian Writing?
45. Did Sumerian Have Vowel Harmony?
46. Sumerians Live During or Before the Time of Biblical Moses?
47. Different Dialects? - Text Partially in Sumerian
48. Where Does One Learn Sumerian?
49. What is the Relation of Sumerian to Other Language Families?
50. Sumerian Money
51. The Greatest Sumerian Ruler?
52. Vinca Culture Writing - Tartaria Tablets in Romania
53. Sumerian Determinatives
54. Sumerian Vocabulary from a Woman's Viewpoint
55. Sumerian Words in CAPITAL Letters
56. English to Sumerian Dictionary?
57. Sumerian Origins
58. Out-of-Print Jacobsen Book
59. 'I Love You' in Sumerian
60. Determinative Before Month Names
61. Sumerian Words in Akkadian and Hebrew
62. Teachings of Suruppak to His Son Ziusudra
63. Sumerian Freedom Tattoo
64. Age/Location of Sumerian Vocabulary
65. Hungarian Roots
66. Dilmun, Lemuria, and Sumer
67. Need Background for Novel that I Am Writing
68. Disputing the Etymology of the Sumerian Word for 'Breast'
69. Symbols for Mesopotamian Gods?
70. Sumerian and Babylonian Holy Days
71. Yet Another Translation into Sumerian
72. Permission to Use Tokens Picture
73. How Did Writing Start?
74. Books to Study Day-to-Day Life of Sumerians?
75. Necronomicon; Learning Sumerian
76. Sumerian Tenses?
77. Cuneiform Words?
78. Letters or Sounds Missing from Sumerian
79. Sumerian Pictographic Writing
80. History of Bookkeeping and Sumerian Term "shubati"
81. Sumerian "danna" and Akkadian "beru"
82. Dilmun, Paradise, Bahrain, Eridu, Enki
83. How Reliable Is John M. Allegro?
84. Definite Article in Sumerian?
85. Which Style of Cuneiform to Learn?
86. Info on Sumerian Music?
87. What Did the Sumerians Call Themselves?, Sumerian Predecessors?
88. Swastika in Sumerian?
89. Sumerian for Lion?
90. ama, 'mother', a Semitic loan?
91. Creditors and Debits
92. Difference Between Akkadian and Sumerian Languages?
93. Sumerian on Voyager "Golden Record"?
94. Pentagram Symbol?
95. Beer and Travel Proverb?
96. Should I Study Sumerian?
97. Igigi and Anunnaki?
98. Marijuana in Sumerian?
99. Purpose of the Human Race?
100. The Oldest Written Story?
101. Cuneiform for Love?
102. Antiquity of Star Constellations in Sumer?
103. View Cuneiform Text on Clay Tablets at the CDLI
104. Sumerian Dimensional Prefixes and Personal Affixes?
105. Completeness of Sumerian Lexicon?

If you would like to read more questions and answers from John Alan Halloran, in the form of an inexpensive series of Questions About Life ebooks, with new WeJIT technology that gives you the option of interacting with both the author and your fellow readers, see: http://www.questions-about-life.com



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1. Hebrew and Sumerian

>Is Hebrew a daughter language of Sumerian?

No. Hebrew belongs to the Afro-Asiatic language family. Sumerian is a different language family.

>How different are the following languages. Akkadian, Phoenician, Egyptian
>It is believed that Jesus (on the cross) said, Eli eli lama shabatani ( I
>think this to be Aramaic) in Hebrew it would be Eli Eli lama azaftani,
>consequently could I assume that Hebrew is a branch of Aramaic.?

The languages mentioned are all sister languages, spoken simultaneously in different places. Egyptian is related to Semitic languages such as Akkadian, Aramaic, Hebrew, and Phoenician.

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2. Permission to Use Cuneiform Writing Sample

>i am working on an old testament commentary & i would like to include a
>sample illustration of cuneiform script. i was wondering if i might be able
>to use the sample sumerian proverb at url
>http://www.sumerian.org/proverbs.htm

Sure, that is just a scan of a page in Gordon's book on Sumerian Proverbs, and it did not have a copyright notice on it.

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3. Timeline of Mesopotamian History

> I am a student who studies at [snip]. I've recently been given
>a task to research for a timeline based on Mesopotamia in my history
>class. Since I am new to the net, I need some help from u. Could u pls
>suggest me good sites for timelines based on Mespotamia?

Look at the bottom of the Mesopotamia links on my links page, for a site called A Chronology of the Ancient Near East.

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4. Sumerian Version, Biblical Story of Job

>Any idea where I might find a copy of the story, legend of the
>Sumerian Job? thanks.

Samuel Noah Kramer translated a text that he described as a Sumerian Job text starting on page 127 of his book The Sumerians, Their History, Culture, and Character, 1963.

I do not know where the cuneiform text or its transliteration was published or even its museum number.

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5. Sumerian True Type Font

>I love your Sumerian page. By chance do you have a Sumerian True Type Font?
>If so, where did you acquire it?

I don't think that you got to the bottom of the overview page, where it says that the downloadable Winword file archive includes a Sumerian TrueType Font, which I created deliberately with no copyright notice.

The most recent version of the sumerian.ttf font file is dated April 21, 2005 and has a size of 55 KB.

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6. "pukku" and "mekku" in Gilgamesh

>I have read a Swedish translation of the Gilgamesh epos published in
>1965. In the 12th tablet Gilgamesh makes and loses a tambukku and a
>mikkû (the diacritic sign of the last letter should be turned upside
>down, but I cannot get it correct). The translator remarks that it is
>unknown what these things are; they are probably instruments or weapons.
>Do you know whether scholars have been able to establish the meaning of
>these words?

I read the Sumerian version of Gilgamesh and Enkidu going down to the underworld at UCLA last spring with Dr. Englund. We understood the terms to be pukku and mekku and, while it is not completely certain, that they involve a stick and ball or stick and hoop, with which the young men played in a game in the central street, at which it was rather important to win, for some ritualistic or other social reason. It sounded as if at sunset they left the ball or hoop in position, and resumed the next day.

Wolfram von Soden's Akkadisches Handworterbuch has a different point of view from that of Benno Landsberger, who is primarily responsible for the view above. He translates pukku(m) as 'drum' and mekku as 'clapper' or 'drumstick'.

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7. Sumerian Language ba- Prefix

>I am trying to study the Sumerian language.
>So far I know about two main views about the prefix ba-: 1. reflexive,
>medial or passive ("used when there is no transitive subject", as you
>have written in the LSL) and 2. like bi- , expressing a simultaneous,
>logically connected or finished "perfektivisch" process (if I have got
>Victor Christian, Bertraege zur Sumerische Grammatik correctly). But
>this is an old book (from the 1950's, the only one available in
>Bulgaria). I've got the impression that Thomsen's The Sumerian Language
>is "currently the standard text" , expressing the most modern views
>about Sumerian. However, I don't have the book and can't get it for now.
>So could you please tell me which one of these two views is defended in
>Thomsen's and if neither of them - what?

Thomsen, page 179:

"/mu-/ is preferred with animate and agentive subjects, that means that /mu-/ occurs mostly in transitive forms.
"/ba-/ is preferred when the subject is inanimate and/or non-agentive, i.e. most often in intransitive/one-participant verbal forms."

/bi-/ has been claimed to have locative-terminative force as opposed to purely locative force for /ba-/, but Thomsen says on p. 184, that it "is most probably not automatically employed for the reason of concord with a loc.-term. or loc. noun, but it rather serves the semantic differentiation of the verb. It seems to be used with certain verbs or in a specific sense of the verb...."

Peter J. Huber, a scholar of Akkadian and ancient astronomy, sent me the following:

>ba(I): has a separative function. In OBGT it closely correlates with
>Akkadian t-stems. (Thomsen, following Jacobsen, confuses t-stems
>with the Akkadian perfect.) Its position is immediately after the ventive
>marker m and then the b is assimilated: m-ba- > m-ma, and if this is
>followed by a 2nd person pronoun, it becomes m-ma > m-mu (so ba
>is not always straightforward to recognize). In the absence of the
>ventive marker it occupies the first position in the chain, and then it
>cannot always be distinguished from ba(II). A clear case is
>ba-ne-su8-be2-en-de3-en = ni-it-tal2-lak cu-nu-ci = we go away
>to them (OBGT VII, 305).
>
>ba(II): has a stative/passive function. In OBGT VI, it is rendered by
>a C-stem stative/passive, or an Nt-stem passive. Apparently, ba(II)
>occupies the first position in the chain. Note the subtle distinction
>made in OBGT VI, lines 79-84, between the ordinary G-stem stative
>and the C-stem stative/passive: an-gar, an-gar-re-en = cakin,
>caknaku = he is placed, I am placed, vs. ba-ab-gar, ba-ab-gar-re-en
>= cuckun, cuckunaku = he has been placed / I have been placed
>(by somebody unnamed). The forms ba-gar, ba-gar-re-en, ..., ba-na-gar,
>ba-na-gar-re-en in OBGT VI, lines 160-165, are ambiguous; they can
>alternatively be interpreted as ba(I), especially the second series,
>which is two-participant, and the OB grammarian, who rendered them
>by Nt-stem passives, nicely preserved the ambiguity.
>
>Your statement clearly applies to ba(II), but I don't think it is merely a
>question of preference, once one has set ba(I) apart. Of course, it is
>way outside of my resources and my competence to check my above
>syntactical/lexical claims through the unilingual texts.
>
>With my best regards,
>Peter J. Huber

Peter,

Have you read John Hayes' summary on page 256 of his version 2 manual?

I was thinking of the many intransitive sentences that end with ba-ROOT, such as ba-gul, "it was destroyed". As you say, those fall in the category of ba(II).

Thank you for taking the time to try to clarify this issue. I will try to summarize what Hayes has on pages 162 and 256: He agrees that scholars have speculated that there may be two ba- conjugation prefixes that are homonyms. "One is seen chiefly in passive sentences, the other in less definable contexts." Also, the conjugation prefix bi2- sometimes occurs with nominal phrases in the locative-terminative case and the conjugation prefix ba- sometimes occurs with nominal phrases in the locative case. "It is this pattern of co-occurrence which has led several scholars to conclude that bi2- and ba- are not of the same rank as the other conjugation prefixes, and are probably composed of more than one element." So one form of ba- may include an element that signifies the locative case. For a separative meaning, you would expect to find Sumerian nominal phrases ending with the ablative postposition -ta.

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8. Sumerian Eden?

>I was wondering if you could answer a question for me. I have read somewhere
>that the name "Eden" was a Sumerian word. I would have thought it was a
>Hebrew word, but then again, I don't know the relationship of the Sumerian
>language and the Hebrew language.
>
>At any rate, if Eden, Adam, and/or Eve are Sumerian words, would you
>please tell me if they have a translation/meaning?

EDIN is a Sumerian word, but it refers to the steppe land between the two rivers, where the herd animals grazed.

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9. Hungarian and Sumerian

>I am trying to identify the modern and archaic Hungarian words which
>have their alleged origin from the Sumerian logograms on your site.
>
>I would like to publish (a set of) web page(s) of my comparisons. I
>cannot claim to be a professional linguist so my work will have faults
>and mistakes. The pages will simply have the logogram and its meaning
>together with the Hungarian words which I believe 'evolved' out of the
>Sumerian.
>
>I have already examined a few hundred of the logograms and the results
>are interesting. I would like permission to use your information
>concerning the Sumerian logograms on my personal web pages at
>[snip]

Please e-mail to me in advance your proposed use of my material.

Have you seen the similar work by Fred Hamori? There is a link to his Ural-Altaic comparison pages in my links page.

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10. Enable Sumerian True Type Font

>"When you open the SUMERIAN.DOC file, ensure that at File,
>Templates, there is a valid path to the enclosed
>SUMERIAN.DOT template file."
>
>I did all that and added the Sumerian true font file, but it
>seems to make no difference, am I doing something wrong.
>What should it look like?

It should have the tilde over some of the letters g, and it should have the dish under the letter h. Those characters in particular make the special font necessary.

Did you go to Start, Settings, Control Panel, Fonts, and select File and Add New Font?

When you scroll down in the Fonts listbox, does it show you the Sumerian font?

>How kind of you to care.
>
>I have it working now, thank you.

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11. Development of Cuneiform From Pictographs

>Is there another author like Labat that shows
>the early development of cuneiform from pictographs and have
>his identifications been universally accepted?

Labat was a good scholar who worked in the mainstream of Assyriology. His book is not controversial.

Other books that you could check out:

M.W. Green and H.J. Nissen, Zeichenliste der Archaischen Texte aus Uruk [ZATU] (Ausgrabungen der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft in Uruk-Warka, 11; Archaische Texte aus Uruk, 2); Berlin 1987.

P. Steinkeller, review of M.W. Green and H.J. Nissen, Bibliotheca Orientalis 52 (1995), pp. 689-713.

R. K. Englund & J.-P. Grégoire, The Proto-Cuneiform Texts from Jemdet Nasr, Gebr. Mann Verlag, Berlin, 1991.

A. Deimel, Die Inschriften von Fara I: Liste der archaischen Keilschriftzeichen, WVDOG 40, Leipzig 1922.

Y. Rosengarten, Répertoire commenté des signes présargoniques sumériens de Lagas, Éditions E. de Boccard, Paris, 1967.

K. Volk, A Sumerian Reader, vol. 18 in Studia Pohl: Series Maior; Rome 1997 (this practical, inexpensive book includes a nice, though incomplete, sign-list).

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12. Sumerian Word for Venus

>What is the sumerian word for venus?

Most often, Venus as a planet is called Ninanna, the lady of heaven. But Inanna, Sumer's most popular goddess, who had many functions, was identified with the planet Venus, both as the war-like morning star and as the love goddess evening star.

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13. Sumerian Alphabet?

> I am trying to find a Sumerian alphabet. Does one exist? Or is it all
>symbols meaning whole words. If you can help me or direct me to a web site
>that can help I would greatly appreciate it. Thanking you in advance,

When the Sumerians invented their writing system around 5400 years ago, it was a pictographic and ideographic system like the Chinese, and as you know, the Chinese have over a thousand characters to their writing, so it is not alphabetic.

At my web site you can order the book, A Manual of Sumerian Grammar and Texts, by John L. Hayes which will introduce you to the Sumerian writing.

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14. Sumerian "mashkim" as Demons?

>Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the Sumerian word "Maskim" mean one of
>seven demons that were said to devour blood at night. If or if not, could you
>possibly tell me a little about these demons?

Possibly the later Babylonians used the word in this way, by which time Sumerian had been dead as a spoken language for centuries. When the language was spoken, mashkim meant "inspector, monitor, sheriff, commissioner".

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15. Zecharia Sitchen; Sumerian Language Suppressed?

>Zecharia Sitchen translates Sumerian and writes extreme thought provoking ideas.
>I have read all his works, and have read others opinions of his
>translations and conclusions, but not another scholar on Sumerian
>language. What do you make of his translations and conclusions, I am too
>old to learn Sumerian as I am still learning English.

You know the saying, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing?

When looking at early materials, it really helps if you know what their writings meant in the context of their culture, which Sitchen neither knows nor cares about.

>One more question.
>How could Sumerian not be related to any other language? It was my
>understanding that there was a commonality with all spoken languages.

What is the source of your information? And whatever your source is, how could he or she know that?

>Sitchen's books answer a lot of
>questions, and of course, raise many others. Still, looking at the
>Sumerian religious beliefs, and knowing how civilized they were, why
>wouldn't their religion be the most mainstream? I read that there are
>many untranslated Sumerian texts, and that there are many hundreds still
>in museums unnoticed in basements, how was this knowledge suppressed?
>Why are we now just reading about the Sumerians? The Church takes some
>blame, but what of the scientist and linguist? How was it so long ignored?

Not everything is a conspiracy. The Sumerian language was actually remembered in Mesopotamia for 2,000 years after it stopped being spoken. But the Greeks did not know about it, so the existence of the Sumerians was forgotten. The latest cuneiform clay tablet to be dated astronomically was written in the late 1st century A.D. Scholars have been trying to figure out the Sumerian language for about 140 years now. You can find some good introductory books by Samuel Noah Kramer at an on-line bookseller.

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16. Hebrew ELOHIM

>Does the hebrew word ELOHIM have sumerian origins?

There is an Afro-Asiatic root `ilay, which means 'to be high'. In Semitic and Hebrew, it manifests as elow, which is probably the origin of elohim, 'gods'.

So the answer is no, the word does not have Sumerian origins.

Follow-up:
> - the word El in hebrew means god, how would that be of afro-asiatic root?
> where would "ohim" come from when u already have the El? or where El come
>from in the 1st place?

In Hebrew, one adds -im to form the masculine plural.

EL in Hebrew means 'a strong, mighty one, a hero, a god'.

There is no word EL in Akkadian, but there are many Akkadian words beginning with EL that mean 'high, above, over'.

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17. Sumerian Proverbs Page

>I was very pleased to see your page on Sumerian. I'm currently building
>proverb pages at http://cogweb.ucla.edu/Discourse/Proverbs/ and wondered if
>you had trouble uploading the proverb page at
>http://www.sumerian.org/proverbs.htm or if it is simply
>under construction.

>Your page of Sumerian proverbs at http://www.sumerian.org/proverbs.htm is
>unfortunately truncated; it looks like the upload process was interrupted.
>Your readers would very much appreciate a full version!

Sorry there aren't more proverbs there, but it is intended more as an illustration of Sumerian writing and language than as a list of proverbs.

To understand why it ends the way that it does, you have to try clicking on some of the signs in the graphic - different parts of the graphic are mapped to hidden labels for each Sumerian word on its own line.

The page was in the nature of an exercise for me to demonstrate a sample of cuneiform writing and Sumerian sentences to a curious public. If you are interested in Sumerian proverbs, Bendt Alster has published a comprehensive, authoritative book in 2 volumes, Proverbs of Ancient Sumer, 1997, available from Eisenbraun's, to which there is a link at my links page.

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18. Sumerian Audio File?

>Dear sirs, navigating I came about your pages in the net. Actually what
>I need to find is an audio file for sumerian and ancient egyptian languages,
>are there any?
>could you give your advise.

Order the CMAA audio tape of the Joan Goodnick Westenholz lecture, Enheduanna: Princess, Priestess, Poetess, from May 10, 1999 in which the lecturer read quite a bit of Sumerian, tape WAW99-2 in the California Museum of Ancient Art audiotape catalog.

There is also a link at my links page of brief Sumerian and possibly Egyptian greetings from the Voyager spacecraft record.

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19. "The Sumerian Problem"

>I was just wondering what your take on "the Sumerian problem" was. I am in a
>class at NC State on Civilizations of the Ancient near East and I have been
>trying to gather opinions on the so-called Sumerian problem. I have read
>through Tom Jones' book the Sumerian problem and am frankly stumped. There is
>evidence to suggest that they were indigenous to the area and there is also
>evidence to suggest some outside influence...even a migration, perhaps from
>the Indus Valley.

I think that the Sumerian 'problem' is an illusion. The Sumerian lexicon indicates continuity within Mesopotamia and then coexistence with the Akkadians. The map at my web site shows you what I think about the origin of the Sumerians.

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20. The Deity Ningishzida

>Isn't the word Ningishzida a sumerian word for the serpent-god???
>Please enlighten me.

Ningishzida was a guardian of the door to the underworld who has a horned snake as his symbol.

He appears to have been associated with trees, fertility, and snakes. Thorkild Jacobsen wrote that the roots of the tree draw nourishment from deep underground and have the appearance of entwining snakes.

>I do appreciate the information. Is Ningishzida a Sumerian word??

Yes, it means lord of the good tree (or faithful tool). Sometimes there is some interplay between the word for tree and the word for penis, so he could be a god of fertility also.

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21. Organization of the Sumerian Lexicon

>A very basic question/complaint: why not give the Akkadian translations as
>well? I realize of course that not every student of Sumerian knows Akkadian;
>and that your emphasis is on Sumerian; and rightly so. Nonetheless, in my
>opinion a strong case for including the Akkadian translations would be that
>one can gain access to a much wider range of meaning, and therefore a
>more precise understanding of the Sumerian word's specific meaning(s),
>by looking up the Akkadian translations in AHw or CAD.

I would be unnecessarily duplicating the information that is now available at the ISL/Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary web site, which recently added complete cross references to the AHw. There is a link at my web site. Give that a try. You will see that there can be 20 Akkadian words that correspond to a single Sumerian word. There is not a one-to-one mapping between the two languages. What you want is a Sumerian-Akkadian lexicon, equal in size to the Sumerian-English lexicon.

>And, finally, it might be helpful, in the introduction, to explain how the
>CVC words are alphabetized. I think I have it figured out, but I don't
>understand the reasoning behind it.

Since the lexical material is presented in a single document that can be scanned, instead of via a look-up database, the method of sorting by the final consonants allows words with related meanings and forms to often be listed adjacently, e.g., gub3, hab, and hub2 are related words that are listed next to one another.

>But, with these remarks, I don't intend to criticize. You've presented an
>impressive piece of work and an admirable way of 'publishing' it. I will be
>using it and, though silently, thanking you for it!

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22. Cuneiform Symbols in Sumerian Lexicon?

>I have downloaded you Sumerian Lexicon as a Word for Windows 6.0 version. I
>am able to view the document, but cannot see cuneiform symbols. The symbols
>seem to appear as our regular alphabet but with various accent marks etc.
>
>I was able to load the TrueType Sumerian font into windows and I made sure
>that the template had a correct path to the Sumerian.dot file.

The Sumerian true type font is needed for specialized transliteration symbols, such as the g with the tilde over it and the h with the dish under it.

It would take many more than the 256 spaces available in a true type font to display cuneiform.

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23. Poetry to Woo a Sumerian Girl?

> Dear John, What a beginning, eh? Without great ignorance, I've just
>begun a relationship with a beautiful, young Sumerian girl and would love
>to show some devotion to her heritage. I wished to make a prose in her
>native language (I, obviously have no idea of the Sumerian tongue) and
>ventured into your site. I (honestly) was looking for a quick fix, but am
>willing to make the grade. Without getting into ancient texts, is there
>any such poetry I may find upon the net or in the local library, which
>will include beautiful prose? I ask this in all humble nature.

She is putting you on.

There have been no Sumerians for almost 4,000 years.

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24. Translate Sumerian Alphabet?

>hello, i need to translate the sumerian
>alphabet to english alphabet letter please help me .

The Greeks invented the alphabet long after Sumerian had ceased to be a living language. Sumerian writing did not use an alphabet. Sumerian writing started with pictographs and progressed to ideographs and logographs.

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25. Letters of Sumerian Alphabet?

> Can you give me the main letters of the alphabet? Thanks, this is for a
>project.

The Sumerians did not have an alphabet. They wrote with pictograms in a manner similar to the Chinese.

At my links page you will find a link to the Signs of Old Sumerian.

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26. Importance of Sumerian Invention of Cuneiform Writing

>1. Do you think the invention of Sumerian Cuneiform was a major turning point
>in history? Why?

Yes, for the same reasons that A&E Biography put Gutenberg at the top of its list of the most important 100 people of the last millenium.

>2. How was Sumerian cuneiform a big influence and building block for the written
>language over time?

Writing on clay was an inexpensive yet permanent way of recording transactions. The fact that the Sumerians shared their land with Semitic-speaking Akkadians was important because the Akkadians had to turn the Sumerian logographic writing into phonetic syllabic writing in order to use cuneiform to represent phonetically the spoken words of the Akkadian language.

>3. How was Sumerian cuneiform tracked through other cultures as they developed
>their own written language?

The cultural influence of the Sumerians upon later Mesopotamian peoples was enormous. Cuneiform writing has been found at Amarna in Egypt, in the form of an alphabet at Ugarit, and among the Hittites who used it to render their own Indo-European language.

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27. Sumer, Not Sumeria

>Thank you for the proverbs and the cuneiform writing. I teach 6th grade
>social studies and we are presently doing Sumeria. This was interesting to
>read and I will share the site with my students.

Thank you. You will help your students by teaching them that the country is called Sumer, not Sumeria.

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28. Could Sumerian "ur" Mean Ox or Cow?

>I'm very much interested in things Sumerian and enjoying your Sumerian
>Language page.
>Your page suggests that the word Ur means dog or other carnivorous
>animal.The other day, I enjoyed talking with Mr. [snip],who is a
>friendly acquaintance of mine and also a writer, He insisted that the
>Sumerian word Ur means ox or cow according to his own source. I insisted
>the word definitely denotes dog !! So, I would appreciate it if you
>would give me a kind explanation which is right. Is there any
>possibility that the word means ox or cow ? He is now planning to write
>on Sumer and other ancient civilizations, and he also would like to know
>the true meaning of the word. Please help him !! Thank you very much for
>your kind advice in advance.

There is no possibility that ur means ox or cow.

Previously, there was no complete modern lexicon of Sumerian available, so it was possible for proponents of different theories relating Sumerian to this or that language family to quote mangled definitions of Sumerian words and no one would know any better.

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29. Pronunciation and Meaning of Sumerian Words

>I have a question for you; I am a student of languages interested in
>Sumerian. How do people who translate Sumerian cuneiform know how the
>words were pronounced?

Certain Sumerian cuneiform signs began to be used to represent phonetic syllables in order to write the unrelated Akkadian language, whose pronunciation is known from being a member of the Semitic language family. We have a lot of phonetically written Akkadian starting from the time of Sargon the Great (2300 B.C.). These phonetic syllable signs also occur as glosses indicating the pronunciation of Sumerian words in the lexical lists from the Old Babylonian period. This gives us the pronunciation of most Sumerian words. Admittedly the 20th century saw scholars revise their initial pronunciation of some signs and names, a situation that was not helped by the polyphony of many Sumerian ideographs. To the extent that Sumerian uses the same sounds as Semitic Akkadian, then, we know how Sumerian was pronounced.
Some texts use syllabic spelling, instead of logograms, for Sumerian words. Words and names with unusual sounds that were in Sumerian but not in the Semitic Akkadian language can have variant spellings both in Akkadian texts and in texts written in other languages; these variants have given us clues to the nature of the non-Semitic sounds in Sumerian.

>For that matter, how do you know what the words
>mean besides referring to Sumerian/Assyrian bilingual dictionaries?

In fact, bilingual Sumerian-Akkadian dictionaries and bilingual religious hymns are the most important source for arriving at the meaning of Sumerian words. But sometimes the scholar who studies enough tablets, such as the accounting tablets, learns in a more precise way to what a particular term refers, since the corresponding term in Akkadian may be very general.

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30. Is Sumerian the Earliest Written Language?

>i am doing some research, and was wondering if you knew of the earliest known
>written language. is there anything known to exist before the egyptians,
>sumerians, or mesopotamians?

The Sumerians were the first to write spoken language.

The report that writing in Egypt is older than in Sumer is based on archaeologists in Egypt who use calibrated Carbon-14 dating, whereas Sumerologists are a conservative lot who keep quoting the conventional 3100 B.C. date for the invention of writing, when it should be 3400 B.C. according to calibrated C-14 dates.

The last major overview dealing with Mesopotamia as a whole that I know of which collected the various calibrated C-14 dates was that by Mellaart in Antiquity 53 (1979), with important comments in Antiquity 54 (1980) - these comments acknowledged that the extremely high Mesopotamian chronology that resulted should be reduced by an average 100 years due to calibrated dates for wood/timber being too high by that average. The end result was still to support a high chronology rather than a middle chronology, especially for the transition between Uruk IV and Uruk III (AKA Jemdet Nasr). This transition appears to have occurred around 3300 BC using calibrated dates with the 100 year reduction.

You will also find pictures and discussion of a repertoire of symbols in Marija Gimbutas' publications on 'Old Europe', predating Sumerian. But the Vinca culture 'writing' appears more to have been tribal or family heraldic emblems like tatoos, found engraved on pots, with no indication that it represented the words of spoken language.
For so-called writing before the Sumerians, check out works by Alexander Marshack on calendar type markings (Stone Age Europe) and Marija Gimbutas on the Vinca culture writing (Neolithic Europe). Despite such precursors though, it is clear that Sumerian writing was the first in which there was a correspondence between the words of the spoken language and the written symbols.

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31. Preflood Mythology - Ziusudra, the Sumerian Noah

>Could you give me any information on sumerian mythology relating to preflood
>times on the earth. This would be of great help to me. Thank you very much.

A search at http://www.google.com for Ziusudra turns up 1,420 documents.

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32. How to Interpret "dirig-...-she"?

>i am very interested about the sumerian language, i
>have been reading the Sumerian Lexicon and much other sumerian
>related-topics. Now, i was wondering if you could fill a doubt of mine. In
>the lexicon i read the sumerian word for "beyond" is "dirig-...-se" , and i
>do not understand what the middle space with
>the 3 points means. If it isn't much trouble could you explain me why is
>that or give me another sumerian word for "beyond".

The dots substitute for the noun that is there in actual speech. So if you say, dirig-kur-s^e, you are saying 'beyond those mountains'. The kur-s^e in this case indicates 'those mountains there within view', so the speaker says 'exceeding or greater than those mountains there'.

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33. The Planet Nibiru

>I am writing a paper on God, for a philosophy class. I am trying to prove
>that the creation story is a story about the birth of an individual, each and
>every one of us are our own God. I have read all of Zecharia Sitchin's books
>and believe that what he wrote could be true, but I believe that the physical
>world is only a reflection of our collective inner or spiritual world. I am
>curious of how you would translate - Nibiru. I have used your dictionary and
>some other ones and Sitchin translates it as "The Planet of crossing". I get
>the planet or body part but not the crossing. I think that maybe it has
>something to do with a lessening of the physical to equal the spiritual.
>Could that be plausible?

The Sumerians were smart about ethical and practical concerns, but I don't think that they were as abstract as you are being. Neberu is an Akkadian word, not a Sumerian word. It referred to a river crossing, ford, or a ferry (boat). The city of Nippur was probably located at such a spot. The planet Jupiter, which we know was later called Neberu, belonged to the chief deity in the Babylonian pantheon, Marduk. We don't have proof, but earlier it may have belonged to the Sumerian Enlil, the temple god of Nippur and chief deity in the Sumerian pantheon. There is a possibility that Neberu also referred to the North Star. The Sumerians tended to project what they knew on earth onto the heavens.

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34. Zechariah Sitchin and Extraterrestrials

>I am attempting to find an expert in the Sumerian language who can
>verify or debunk Zechariah Sitchin's claims of Sumerian translation. As
>far as I can tell, no one with a scholarly and reputable background has
>ever verified or denied his claims.

>His eight books on the subject of the Annunaki have gone unchallenged
>for years. If you are unfamiliar with his works, it is his contention
>that sumerian texts verify that the human race was genetically altered
>to service a superior extraterrestrial race called the annunaki.

>Can you verify or refute these claims?

>Thank you for your attention to this matter.

I am very familiar with the Sumerian language and culture. There is nothing extraterrestrial about it.

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35. Name of Sumerian Religion?

>what was the name of the sumerian religion

You mean, like Southern Baptists or Roman Catholics?

The Sumerians did not have a word for religion, because worshipping the gods at their temples was basic to their existence.

As you can imagine, it is difficult to have a name for their religion, when they don't even have a word for religion.

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36. The Sumerian People

>I would like to ask you a question concerning the sumerian people. First , were
>they indoeuropeen

I believe that the proto-Sumerian language predates the proto-Indoeuropean language.

> and second, were they blonde people with nordic white skin.

Probably not. They described themselves as the black-headed people and the book by Cavalli-Sforza et al., The History and Geography of Human Genes, suggests that their modern day descendants are the people of Kuwait.

Postscript added January 21, 2014. A 2011 study of the DNA of 143 Marsh Arabs and a large sample of Iraqi controls arrived at the following conclusions: "Evidence of genetic stratification ascribable to the Sumerian development was provided by the Y-chromosome data where the J1-Page08 branch reveals a local expansion, almost contemporary with the Sumerian City State period that characterized Southern Mesopotamia. On the other hand, a more ancient background shared with Northern Mesopotamia is revealed by the less represented Y-chromosome lineage J1-M267*. Overall our results indicate that the introduction of water buffalo breeding and rice farming, most likely from the Indian sub-continent, only marginally affected the gene pool of autochthonous people of the region. Furthermore, a prevalent Middle Eastern ancestry of the modern population of the marshes of southern Iraq implies that if the Marsh Arabs are descendants of the ancient Sumerians, also the Sumerians were most likely autochthonous and not of Indian or South Asian ancestry." "In search of the genetic footprints of Sumerians: a survey of Y-chromosome and mtDNA variation in the Marsh Arabs of Iraq", Nadia Al-Zahery1, Maria Pala1, Vincenza Battaglia1, Viola Grugni1, Mohammed A Hamod23, Baharak Hooshiar Kashani1, Anna Olivieri1, Antonio Torroni1, Augusta S Santachiara-Benerecetti1 and Ornella Semino, BMC Evolutionary Biology 2011, 11:288.

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37. Meaning of Sumer?

>I just wanted to know what the word Sumer itself means
>in the Sumerian language. Could you kindly let me know ?

It is not known why the Akkadians called the southern land Shumeru. The Sumerians called it ki-en-gir15 (literally, 'place of the civilized lords'). The etymology of the Akkadian term is unknown. It could possibly be a dialectal pronunciation of the Sumerian word kiengir. This possibility is suggested by the Emesal dialect form 'dimmer' for the word 'dingir'.

In March 2007, Dr. Nicholas Postgate (University of Cambridge) corresponded with me about the Sumerian term for Sumer, ki-en-gir15.

I wrote to Dr. Postgate,
>>Did you write in your book Early Mesopotamia: Society and Economy at the
>>Dawn of History that ki-en-gi means 'land of the Sumerian tongue'? If so,
>>is that because you think that eme, 'tongue; language' became en, 'dignitary;
>>lord; ancestor (statue); high priest', through vocal assimilation?

He responded with an affirmative,
>Admittedly Sumerologists haven't gone much for consonantal assimilation,
>but going from emegir to engir doesn't seem too far fetched, and it explains
>why it has -r as a final consonant. Aage Westenholz also suggested the same
>etymology independently. It also is Ok given the combinations like ki-unug
>"Warka land" which are also not genitival syntagms. It still seems to me an
>economical solution.

To which I replied,

It seems possible. It turns out that there are not many instances of ki-en-gi-ra2 that can be interpreted as a free-standing genitival syntagm - I only find a couple in The Victory of Utu-Hengal, ETCSL transliteration : c.2.1.6.

4. ki-en-gi-ra2 nij2-a-erim2 /bi2-in\-si-a

21. sig-ce3 ki-en-gi-ra2 {gana2} {(1 ms. has instead:) jic} bi2-kece2

So the paucity of these instances favors your interpretation. I had just never heard it or thought about it until this week.

If you look at my published lexicon's suggested reinterpretation of saj-ji6[gig2]-ga as having originally meant 'native persons', instead of its literal meaning of 'the black-headed', you will see that I am open to consonantal assimilation gradually changing words which were then reinterpreted in the popular understanding and writing.

To which, Dr. Postgate replied,
>Well in fact I think even both those instances can be taken as locatives:
>as suggested by the bi2- prefix in line 2, and by the ETCSL translation
>("in Sumer") in line 21.
>
>Do by all means cite me, I am still happy with it.

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38. Sumerian Speech from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

>This is probably going to sound really strange to you, but ...

>I was watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on TV and they said something
>in Sumerian. I wanted to know what they said so I hopped onto the net to
>see what I could find.

>I found someone else who was trying to find out what it meant and I found
>your dictionary site. I looked through your site, but wasn't too successful as
>I have no knowledge of the language at all. I was hoping you might be able
>to translate it for me.

>The other person who was trying to get a translation wrote the Sumerian
>as follows:

>Sha me-en-den

'we are heart'

>Gesh-toog me-en-den

'we are mind'

>Zee me-en-den

'we are spirit'

>Oo-kush-ta me-ool-lee-a ba-ab-tum-mu-de-en

'from the raging storm we bring the power of the primeval one'

>Im-a sheg-ab.

'heat/boil the wind'

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39. Sumerian Planet Names

>Yesterday, I came across the following words which are supposed to
>be the Sumerian names of the planets:

>Udu-idim-gu-ud = Mercury
>Nin-si4-an-na = Venus
'lady of the rosy dawn'

>Si-mu-ud = Mars
'dark or bloody horns/rays' is the probable translation, but unlike the others, I don't recall actually seeing this term used. Can you tell me where this term occurs?

>Mul-sag-me-gar = Jupiter
sag-me = mesu II = 'cult, rites' and gar = 'to establish', but it is usually written SAG-ME-GAR to show that we are not sure of the pronunciation, because it was also a logogram for Neberu, which calls to mind Nippur, the Sumerian's cult center.

>Udu-idim-sag-us = Saturn

>Of these 'gu-ud' means of course 'gu4-ud' (=bull of sun) and 'sag-us' is
>of course 'sag-us2' (=steady star), 'mul' is 'star' but I'm not sure about the rest.
>Would you be so kind as to point out the correct rendering of the five words?

udu-idim is 'wild sheep'. We have no textual gloss or actual evidence that the signs were read this way, instead of udu-bad, which, meaning 'dead sheep', would refer to the planets as omens, but Benno Landsberger with his extensive knowledge of Sumerian deduced that this is the most probable reading.

From the other meanings of gu4-ud I would infer that the Sumerians themselves knew the planet Mercury, and I may have seen nin-si4-an-na in a Sumerian textual context, but the other names only occur in later contexts, so I don't know how early they were invented and applied.

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40. Who Were the Sumerians?

>Is it possible that you could give more details concerning the Sumerians? Who
>are they? Where did they come from?

>I must admit that I have never heard of this race and I am eager to learn more.

There are some excellent books out there. My favorite introduction is by Samuel Noah Kramer, called History Begins at Sumer: Thirty-Nine Firsts in Man's Recorded History.

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41. Annotated Version of Lexicon?

> I've just had a look at your site. It's a very impressive compilation.
>I'm wondering whether you have produced an annotated version of your
>lexicon, with references to the source-bibliography you list on your page?
>Such a version would be a very useful tool for scholarship. I'd be very
>interested to know whether one is in development or currently available.

No, that would have taken twice as long. If you look at Santag 5, A Concise Dictionary of Akkadian, it doesn't have such references either.

The searchable PSD index has most of the source references. And it is very helpful how it now indexes all of the Sumerian references in the AHw. After you trace down all the PSD index references for a word, though, don't be surprised if you end up with basically the same range of meanings that are given in my version 3 lexicon.

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42. Origin of Picture of Counting Tokens

>I would like to use the pictures of the counting tokens that you used in your
>site (http://www.sumerian.org/tokens.htm) in a piece that I'm working on.
>
>Since I need to print what I'm designing, I need higher resolution pictures.
>Could you please do me the favor of telling me where you got the originals?
>Do you own them or high res. versions of them?

I paid the Louvre museum for black and white photographs back in the 1980s. I am not sure where the package with that photograph is right now.

I went through a library department at UC Berkeley that obtains things like that - you could do the same.

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43. Another Translation into Sumerian

>I've been doing this project where I've been translating the song Twiggy
>Twiggy into any language I can. I was trying to use your dictionary to make a
>Sumerian version but I'm not finding all the words I need and I think there
>may be tricks to it that I'm not aware of. The first 2 lines came out "ñe za
>es dana/ni ñe gul-lum" (I waited three hours/along with my cat) and then the
>next line I couldn't do because there doesn't seem to be a word that means
>'wearing'. If you're interested in helping with a translation, the song goes:
>
>I waited for three hours along with my cat

es danna-am3 su-a-gu10-da mu-da-tush

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44. Vowels in Sumerian Writing?

>Did the sumerians have vowels in their writings?

Yes. Some of the Sumerian ideograms gradually became used as syllabograms, which included the vowel indications.

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45. Did Sumerian Have Vowel Harmony?

> In your opinion, is that possible that the sumerians had vowel harmony
>in their language?

Very definitely the Sumerians had vowel harmony.

Here is the entry for zabar, the Sumerian word for the metal bronze.

zabar[UD.KA.BAR]: bronze (zil; zi; zé, 'to pare, cut', + bar6, 'bright, white'; Akk. siparrum, 'bronze' borrowed before vowel harmony changed Sumerian word; cf., barzil, 'iron') [ZABAR archaic frequency: 1].

It shows the transformation zilbar > zibar > zabar.

According to David Crystal's Dictionary of Language and Languages, Turkish and Hungarian are examples of languages that display harmony as a systematic feature of their sound system.

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46. Sumerians Live During or Before the Time of Biblical Moses?

>I am interested to know if Sumerian were exist as a people either during the
>time of Moses or before?

The Sumerians flourished before the time of Moses, who lived in the middle of the second millenium B.C.E.

The Sumerian language ceased to be spoken before the time of Moses.

In the book of Genesis 11:2, the Bible sets the story of the tower of Babel in the land of Shinar, which is how the Hebrews wrote Sumer. Shinar is also briefly mentioned in the Bible at Genesis 14:1, Isaiah 11:11, Zechariah 5:11, and Daniel 1:2.

In Genesis 11:28-31, the Bible describes how Abraham, the putative ancestor of Moses and all Hebrews, was a native of the Sumerian city of Ur.

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47. Different Dialects? - Text Partially in Sumerian

>I was wondering whether or not there were different dialects to Sumerian?
>I have read what I thought to be some Sumerian text and a lot of the words that
>I was interested in translating into English are not found in your lexicon and others.

>"DINGIR UD KALAMA SINIKU"

The first three words are Sumerian ideograms, and the fourth word is Akkadian. So it is Akkadian and the reader would have substituted the Akkadian words for the Sumerian ideograms, such as elu shamash matu, god sun land. I don't know Akkadian that well, but sanaku means 'to come near, approach'. The Sun god approached the land ?

There is the EME-SAL dialect, or women's dialect, which has some vocabulary that is different from the standard EME-GIR dialect that is in my on-line lexicon. Thomsen includes a list of Emesal vocabulary in her Sumerian Language book. The published version of my Sumerian Lexicon will include all the variant Emesal dialect words. Emesal texts have a tendency to spell words phonetically, which suggests that the authors of these compositions were farther from the professional scribal schools. A similar tendency to spell words phonetically occurs outside the Sumerian heartland. Most Emesal texts are from the later part of the Old Babylonian period. The cultic songs that were written in Emesal happen to be the only Sumerian literary genre that continued to be written after the Old Babylonian period.

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48. Where Does One Learn Sumerian?

>How's it going? I know this is a long shot, but do you know of any school or
>place that teaches one how to speak Sumerian? Thanks for your time.

Where do you live?

You can search the e-mail addresses of Assyriologists - I have a link to them at my links page. See at what universities they teach.

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49. What is the Relation of Sumerian to Other Language Families?

>I have a question: is Sumerian related with the Ural Altaic languages,
>or with the Indo European languages?
>
>Doesn't there exist any relation between Sumerian and the semitic
>language family?

There appears to be some slight relation between Sumerian and both Ural-Altaic and Indo-European. This may just be due to having evolved in the same northeast Fertile Crescent linguistic area.

I don't see any connection at all between Sumerian and Semitic.

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50. Sumerian Money

>During my rather cursory examination of your impressive
>work, I ran across several terms which could be construed
>as economic units of measure; gur, a unit of volume roughly
>equal to 26 bushels, kug or ku, silver or money, and gin or
>gig, a small axe head used as money roughly equal to a shekel.
>Did the Sumerians have a common unit of economic exchange
>@ 2400 to 2300 BC and, if so, what was it?

Our documentation is much better for the Ur III period starting 2100 BC than for the Old Sumerian Ur II, Girsu/Lagash/Adab period that you mention. From the Ur III period we have tablets from different places and times that give the silver equivalents of different quantities of different commodities. For the period that you mention, I know that there were standardized weights and measures, although they were slightly different from the later period.

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51. The Greatest Sumerian Ruler?

>i am a current student in 9th grade. i am doing an in depth research paper.
>and i was wondering if u knew who the greatest ruler was of the sumerians?????

That would probably be King Shulgi of the Third Dynasty of Ur. He reigned for 47 years during a time of great prosperity, from 2094 to 2047 B.C.

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52. Vinca Culture Writing - Tartaria Tablets in Romania

>What explanation can be given to the fact that three clay tablets
>containing sumerian pictographs made with local clay , but 1000 years
>older than the oldest tablets found in Mesopotamia , are found in a region
>where the surrounding cities have sumerian names , URASTIE ,
>SIMERIA ; KUGIR ? Is it possible that sumerian groups have migrated
>as far north as the western Rumania ?

It probably was the case that some early Sumerian-speakers from the Samarra culture made their way north instead of south.

The words that you quote do use the same combination of consonants and vowels as Sumerian, but I would also see if you can derive them from simpler Sumerian words, as is possible with the actual Sumerian lexicon.

Have you visited Fred Hamori's web site which makes many comparisons of Sumerian to Uralic and Altaic vocabulary? There is a link to it near the bottom of my mesopotamian links.

Do dictionaries of Romanian include scholarly etymologies for the words, as dictionaries of English do?

I am familiar with the Vinca culture 'writing', discussed by Marija Gimbutas in her books and the subject of a 1973 UCLA doctoral dissertation by Milton McChesney Winn. There were about 200 symbols used by the Southeast Europe Chalcolithic civilization. But just like the Indus culture script, they mainly occur on pottery. Personally, I believe that they are heraldic family emblems, and not attempts to render speech in written signs. They are not the same as Sumerian writing.

> Yes , the Tartaria tablets are included in the "Vinca" culture , and I
>am familiar with Maria Gimbutas remarkable work , but I have to disagree
>with your conclusion that those three clay tablets "are not sumerian writing" .
> I cannot explain the similarities , but the facts are that they contain
>pictograms absolutely identical with those found in Djemet-Nasr , they
>are carbon dated 1000 years before , and are made of local clay . And
>they definitely are clay tablets , no doubt about it , found in a burial place ,
>and very distinct from the more common pottery symbols found
>throughout southeastern Europe , both in function and in form .
> The problem is that the inclusion of just these three tablets in the
>"Vinca" culture seems , graphically , forced by the
>lack of a better explanation , yet another problem being the evident
>isolation and distant placement of the tablets from
>the rest ( if they indeed belong to a proto-mediterranean culture ,
>more widespread than it is ascertained today ) .

I wrote to an expert on the Jemdet Nasr script. He responded regarding the Tartaria tablets, "There are some graphic similarities, but not so many really, so a discussion of these tablets is not time well spent."

Postscript:

>I am also interested in the Vinca culture "writing" and I found, late, your researches regarding it.
>I will be curious to find out if Tartaria tablets were carbon dated,( by whom and when).

Gimbutas in The Language of the Goddess gives the reference for the three plaques found in the sacrificial pit of Tartaria, near Cluj, Transylvania, dated c. 5200-5000 B.C.

The reference is:

Vlassa, N.
1963 "Chronology of the Neolithic in Transylvania in the Light of the Tartaria Settlement's Stratigraphy." Dacia 7:1-10.

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53. Sumerian Determinatives

> Hello, Mr Halloran. I am in the process of comparing Egyptian and
>Sumerian determinatives. I found an Internet source for Egyptian
>determinatives. Could you please inform me of any Internet (or otherwise)
>source for Sumerian determinatives?

There is actually a decent list of determinatives at the Akkadian web site that is at the top of my links list.

However, the most complete list that I know of is on pages 152-153 of an inexpensive paperback book from Eisenbrauns by Douglas B. Miller and R. Mark Shipp, An Akkadian Handbook.

See also 60. Determinative Before Month Names

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54. Sumerian Vocabulary from a Woman's Viewpoint

>BTW also, I had a little trouble with your definition of the "l" sound. You
>stated "tireless producers of abundance, males". (?) That confuses me. I
>thought the producers were always the females, and the supervisors were the
>males.

You have to look at what are the actual Sumerian words that have just this one consonant. E.g.,

la: abundance, luxury, wealth; youthful freshness and beauty; bliss, happiness; wish, desire [LA archaic frequency: 20; concatenates 4 sign variants].
lá: to penetrate, pierce, force a way into (in order to see); to know; to look after; to have a beard (cf. also, lal) [LA2 archaic frequency: 57].
lu: n., many, much; man, men, people; sheep.
v., to be/make numerous, abundant; to multiply; to mix; to graze, pasture (reduplication class [?]) (cf., lug).
lú: grown man; male; human being; someone, anyone, no one; gentleman [LU2 archaic frequency: 85].
lù: to disturb, agitate, trouble; to fluster, embarrass; to stir, blend.

Males are associated with providing abundance and wealth from the woman's point of view. Don't these associations appear to be from a woman's point of view?

I think that a group of women were the original inventors of the Sumerian language. Although it seems like a big deal to us now, when they started it probably seemed to them like they were just playing an exciting new game, assigning different vowels and consonants as an abstract shorthand for things in their world.

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55. Sumerian Words in CAPITAL Letters

>BTW, what's the difference between the word you give a definition to, and the
>words that are in brackets with capital letters and periods between syllables
>after the word?

That's a reasonable question. The names in capital letters refer to the particular cuneiform sign, without prejudging how the sign is pronounced. That is the name that Assyriologists have given to the inscribed sign - usually its most common pronunciation.

One sign may have several lower-case pronunciations, each of which is a separate word in the spoken language lexicon.

The periods separate different signs. Sometimes one word in the spoken language is represented by multiple written signs.

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56. English to Sumerian Dictionary?

>I am presently studying Sumerian, and have been using the lexicon on your
>website. Do you have, or know where I can find a complete
>English-to-Sumerian/Akkadian dictionary, the opposite way around from yours?

Just download the lexicon in Word for Windows form and use Word's find function to find a particular English word. Or get the Adobe Acrobat Reader with Search and use that with the PDF file.

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57. Sumerian Origins

>Do you think Sumerians are native of Southern Iraq ?
>I dont think so, I think they colonized the UBAIDIAN people.

Why do you think that?

Archaeologists are now saying that Choga Mami ware is transitional between Samarra pottery and Ubaid pottery. This agrees with my belief that mastery of irrigation agriculture is what marked the Sumerians, that they moved down from the middle of Mesopotamia, site of the Samarra culture. The simplest words of Sumerian include words for dikes and channels.

>What do you think of their look ? they looked like mongols ?

Is that the main reason for your opinion about the Sumerians as late colonizers? What do you think, that the Sumerians came in on horseback? Their language is farming-oriented, not warfare-oriented.

The History and Geography of Human Genes by Cavalli-Sforza et al. finds distinctive genes in Kuwait and speculates that Kuwaitis are the genetic descendants of the Sumerians.

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58. Out-of-Print Jacobsen Book

>I am looking for an out of print book by Jacobsen. Title: Toward an Image
>of Tammuz and other Essays.
>Do you have any information on how to buy a copy.

I have only seen that out-of-print book in libraries. I don't own a copy. It is an excellent book, full of Thorkild Jacobsen's scholarly articles.

If your local university library does not have it, I would visit the Interlibrary Loan Department of your local public library. They can get it for you and then you can photocopy what interests you. This advice applies to getting any out-of-print book.

P.S., On June 3, 2008 I received an announcement from Dove Books that this is available as a $54.99 reprint by Wipf and Stock.

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59. 'I Love You' in Sumerian

>I am trying to find out how to spell "I Love You" as a man would say to a
>woman in the following languages but I'm having great difficulty with it.
>
>Sumerian

In Sumerian, you would say, za.e ki-ag2-gu10, which translates as "you are my beloved"

It would be pronounced, ze ki angu, where ang is as in English bong or dong.

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60. Determinative Before Month Names

>You have worked with this and the notations extensively. They are familiar
>to you, but I need a little clarification.
>
>One entry was as follows ...
>
>iti(superscripted)BARA-ZA-GAR -- calendar month 1 at Nippur during Ur III.
>Note that the example you provided above also included the "iti".
>
>I was scanning for the word 'month' in the document and each instance
>(at least up to the B's) contained the above superscript. What is its
>significance? Is it a reference to an article word (such as 'the') that
>separates or indicates that the word following is to mean a 'month' and not
>one of the other possible meanings?

itud, itid, itu, iti, id8; it4, id4: moon; month; moonlight (i3-, 'impersonal verbal conjugation prefix', + tud, 'to give birth; to be born, reborn').

Yes, certain Sumerian words are written before the noun or name as a 'determinative', such as dingir being written before divine names or lu2 being written before male profession names. iti is the determinative written before month names, so that the reader will know that the sign(s) that follow refer to a month. It is thought that determinatives were not pronounced in speech, but only appear in writing.

>The definitional references to the month number and city location and
>historic time period I understand. Is the purpose for providing the reference
>locations and timings to identify 'where' the particular word for the month
>has been encountered written down on a clay tablet?

No. As you may notice in the example, the same month name can refer to a different month depending on the city and period. So this information is provided so that the translator who knows where his tablet is from will know which number of month is referenced.

>In your studies, have any of the months seemed to be numbered, or the
>words that appear to be names of months intimate a numbering sequence?
> Example: the language root for the name of month X is the same as
>number X (numbers 1 through 12 or 13 only) even though the complete
>spellings end up as different.

No, I have not seen numerical Sumerian month names. They are usually the names of seasonal festivals that took place in that month.

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61. Sumerian Words in Akkadian and Hebrew

>As a linguist, a translator with a excellent background in Hebrew, I found
>your monograph utterly fascinating! I can see myself among those people,
>beginning to see things differently that they seem, trying to express my feeling,
>and pronouncing some vowels and consonants .... Like in a dream, you are
>trying to speak and words don't come out, or you speak a language, which
>you think is, say, German, but it is not ....
>
>Several words, or sounds, as you are certainly aware, have lived through the
>millenia and entered into Semitic languages, like "uz", a goat, the same as in
>Hebrew, or even "ga" milk, "khalav" in Hebrew, and "gala" in Greek. I was
>surprised, though, that "ur," does not appear to mean "city" or "town,"
>as in Chaldean and old Hebrew.

That would be:

uru(2)(ki), iri, ri2; iri11: city, town, village, district [URU archaic frequency: 101; concatenation of 5 sign variants; UNUG archaic frequency: 206; concatenates 3 sign variants].

which relates to:

uru3(-m)[ŠEŠ]: n., watch fire; light; glowing, luminous object.
v., to watch, guard; to protect.

As for broad-based connections between Sumerian and Afro-Asiatic, I don't see them.

I can see how the Sumerians created their vocabulary, and in M.L. Foster's article referenced in the footnotes to my Proto-Sumerian paper she appears to show how the Indo-Europeans created their vocabulary, but I don't know if anyone has determined the logic or pattern according to which the first Afro-Asiatic speakers created the words of their vocabulary.

Postscript: See now the salient.pdf abstract by the late L.O. Schuman at http://web.archive.org/web/20050314093817/http://people.zeelandnet.nl/treesello/.
This abstract of an unpublished manuscript has a very deep analysis of the Semitic and 'Afro-Asiatic' word creation process. If anyone reading this ordered Schuman's 356-page manuscript during the year that he offered it before dying in September, 2005, please write to me.

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62. Teachings of Suruppak to His Son Ziusudra

>Sir, according to the book "ATRA-HASIS: The Babylonian
>Story of the Flood by lambert & Millard, pg 19...
>"A literary work, of which copies contemporary with
>those of the King List are extant, professes to be the
>teaching of Suruppak to his son Ziusudra. It consists
>of admonitions of a quite general kind..."
>I'd like to find this record. Do you have any idea of
>where this came from. I found no references in the
>book to locate this.

The bibliography for the Sumerian lexicon at my web site includes the following:

B. Alster, The Instructions of Suruppak: A Sumerian Proverb Collection (Mesopotamia: Copenhagen Studies in Assyriology, Vol. 2); Copenhagen 1974.

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63. Sumerian Freedom Tattoo

>I recently got the following tattoo on my left shoulder (see the attachment).
>According to a company in the USA called Liberty Fund. Inc. This sign was a
>Sumarian design motif for the word "freedom" (ama-gi).
>
>Do you know anything about these motifs and if it actually is Sumarian?
>Would it be correct to say it was carved in a wall about 2000 BC?

Your information is correct. The term ama(-ar)-gi4 meaning 'freedom' is in my on-line lexicon. The jpg shows the transcribed signs ama and gi4 and yes they are in a form appropriate to 2000 B.C.

>Do you have any idea where this motif was found? If you don't know, maybe
>you known somebody who does.

It is not a motif. It is a word that the Sumerians used both in speech and in writing.

The jpg that you sent shows a transcription by a modern scholar. It does not show the actual ancient tablet or inscription that the scholar was looking at. The scholar used an ink pen to make that transcription. The Sumerians used reed styluses to make impressions in clay, so their tablets actually look quite different and are not as easy to read as is a modern scholar's transcription.

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64. Age/Location of Sumerian Vocabulary

>In relation to your Sumerian Lexicon 3.0, I'd need to
>know of what age/location is it.

It would be nice if the lexicon indicated the provenance for which particular words and meanings are attested, but I am just one person and did not have the time to do that. The majority of our texts are from the Ur III and Old Babylonian periods.

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65. Hungarian Roots

> after examining your site of Sumerian expressions, would like to ask
>you a question: ever heard of Dr Sándor Nagy? Specifically referring to
>his publication of "The Forgotten Cradle of the Hungarian Culture";
>(translated by László and Margaret Botos); Patria Publishing Co. Ltd.,
>Toronto, Canada 1973.
>
> In that book he promotes the idea that Hungarian language is a
>'descendant' of the Sumerian folks who populated the Danube basin prior
>to the Magyar conquest in the 9th century. Would appreciate your
>opinion.
>
> I'm supporting a genealogy list of Magyar descendants who are
>searching for their roots (speak, read and write Hungarian) and one of
>the list member sent me samples of Dr. Nagy's book, which I did not read
>- except a few pages - so far.

If you look at the map at my web site, you will see that trade routes head north from the Samarra culture sites. Hungarian does appear to share some simple vocabulary, but not the more complex words. Check out Fred Hamori's web page on Ural-Altaic language connections, on my links page, towards the bottom of the Mesopotamia links.

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66. Dilmun, Lemuria, and Sumer

> I have recently purchased the book, "Looking for Dilmun"

Is that by Geoffrey Bibby? If so, that's a great book. I read that a long time ago.

> and while reading it I came across info. on Sumeria

A lot of people who should know better call it that. The correct name is Sumer.

>....it brought back a book I read
>as a young girl...I can't recall the name of it but it intrigued me even
>back then...I'm sure it was already out of print, I borrowed it and its
>owner was adamant about its return...the book was about an ancient
>civilization, I think Sumeria....although also went by another name as I
>recall...people could communicate by thought and wrote tablets...I think I
>recall people thought it was the lost Atlantis at one time...

You are probably thinking about books regarding the hypothetical civilization of Mu or Lemuria, by Col. James Churchward. I read those books too when I was a kid. Of course, there is no place in actual human history for such a civilization. The only recent discovery that could possibly support the disappearance of such a civilization would be the discovery of the caldera volcano of Toba which erupted around 70,000 B.C.

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67. Need Background for Novel that I Am Writing

>Thank you very much for answering me. Well, the thing is that my novel
>starts in the first part of the summerian civilization, I mean even before
>Sargon I and the other ones.
>
>I speak about several aspects about religion. I already know that they
>didn't believe in a life after death, or inclusive that this "life" was
>really dark when dead. I want to know the name of the ancient gods, and
>specific aspects about their believings in how was suppose to be the life
>after death.
>
>Also if it possible to know some things about the first important cities in
>summerian civilization, how were suppose to be the houses, the palaces, the
>FOOD, or ANY domestic aspect, I will be VERY VERY pleassed.

I am sorry. I am used to answering more specific questions than this. I cannot do the job of educating you.

I suggest that you order and study a 1998 novel, Between the Rivers, by Harry Turtledove. This author already did the background research that you describe and it fills his book.

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68. Disputing the Etymology of the Sumerian Word for 'Breast'

> Hi: I have looked at your Proto-Sumerian Language Invention Process
>web-site again to see what elements would comprise compound words. The
>first word in the list is gaba 'breast' (ga 'milk' + ba 'to give'). It is
>not my intention to dispute the phonetic form and its meaning because
>'milk' can be semantically connected with women's breast and ga + ba seems
>to be a convincing combination at first glance. But it isn't so evident if
>one looks at the cuneiform signs of ga, ba and gaba. Neither ga or ba can
>be detected in the cuneiform sign of gaba which appears to be a unique
>individual sign by itself.

The spoken words were invented long before the written signs. The inventors of the written signs had learned the spoken words as unbroken phonemic sequences which were no longer analyzed into components.

> Could it possibly be that gaba was a neutral
>word used both for men and women?

Yes, that is what the word became.

> In that case milk would have nothing to
>do with the appellation, it simply meant part of the human body we call
>'chest'. This would be confirmed by the Hungarian kebel 'chest' and old
>Turkish gogoz 'chest'. Each o in the Turkish word is marked with dieresis.
>A possible common source for the roots gab, keb and gog may not be too
>difficult to find. The Sumerian gab is present in the Hungarian male
>forenames Gabi and Gabor, also in the surname Kabos (old form Kaba), which
>denote barrel-chested individuals. Thus the -a in the Sumerian gaba may be
>a suffix that forms adjectives. (Both -a and -os are adjectival suffixes in
>the Hungarian language).

Are there regular sound-change rules that connect Hungarian 'kebel' with Turkish 'gogoz'? For the root of the Hungarian words, note the root 'kopa II' meaning 'lungs' in Gyula Decsy's book The Uralic Protolanguage: A Comprehensive Reconstruction, Eurolingua, Bloomington, 1990. Turkish belongs to the Altaic language family.

The suffix -a forms nouns or participial phrases in Sumerian, so applying your logic, the breast or chest would be the thing that gabs, although Sumerian has no such verb, having hab, 'to stink', and gub, 'to stand'.

Personally, I think that the vocabulary of Sumerian is older and more conservative than the vocabulary of Hungarian or Turkish. This would mean that some Hungarian vocabulary could have evolved from an early form of Sumerian. Studies of the rates of lexical change have found that the vocabulary of farming cultures is especially conservative and resistant to change.

> It would be interesting to find out if the
>'milk' + 'to give' logic was applied by the Sumerians for 'udder'. They
>were engaged in animal husbandry, therefore, must have had a word for it.

ubur: female breast, teat (ub4, 'cavity', + ir(2), 'liquid secretion').

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69. Symbols for Mesopotamian Gods?

>I have been trying to find all the symbols for the different gods in
>Mesopotamia. I have only found one version of Anu, and I am not sure if
>it is correct. Do you know of anywhere I might be able to get this
>information?

I suggest the paperback book:

Gods, Demons, and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia by Black and Green.

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70. Sumerian and Babylonian Holy Days

>I am a Pastor seeking information on Sumerian and Babylonian
>worship and ceremonies. - Do we have any knowledge of the
>actual ceremonies, the sights and sounds that would meet a visitor to an
>ancient temple in Sumer and Babylon?
>
>Especially I am trying to find information on the Shapatu, the holy day
>in the middle of every month in the Sumerian and/or Babylonian lunar
>calendar. According to my lexicon, it is the origin of the Hebrew Sabbath.
>I would like to find out as much as I can about what deity was attached to
>this date, and what cermonies and rituals were performed.
>
>I do not expect you to send me a lenghty thesis on this. But a hip shot
>answer from whatever knowledge you may possess would be of great help.
>Plus of course a possible reference to written sources on the subject.

Here is an entry in the recent book, A Concise Dictionary of Akkadian.

shapattu(m), shabattu "15th day of month" OAkk, Bab., OA [UD.15.KAM]; also "period of 15 days, fortnight"

The books that you might examine include:

Babylonian Menologies and the Semitic Calendar, by Stephen Langdon
Cultic Calendars of the Ancient Near East, by Mark E. Cohen

Postscript added January 30, 2014. CDL Press has just announced the publication of:

Hemerologies of Assyrian and Babylonian Scholars
by Alasdair Livingstone
Price:$90; pp. 290; ISBN 9781934309520

Within Babylonian literature there is a widespread but specialized group of texts that deals with the days of the months one by one, the hemerologies, and with the months of the year, the menologies.

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71. Yet Another Translation into Sumerian

>The reason I'm emailing is with a somewhat lighthearted
>research question. I was assigned to write a story about a cat's
>travels through various underworlds and afterlifes. In the story, the
>cat is cast out of each underworld and into the next by being told,
>"Go to hell!"
>
>He makes a visit to a Sumerian netherworld, and is told (after
>wreaking some typically feline destruction), "Go to hell!" So my
>question is...how can we represent that statement in Sumerian?
>
>A quick troll through your paper "The Proto-Sumerian Language
>Invention Process" yields "urugal" (the netherworld) and a couple of
>verb possibilities (éd, è; i and èd, e11), but I am completely stumped
>as to conjugations and declensions, and whether there are any
>prepositional equivalents.

You could use:

urugal-ce3 ba-ra-ed3

where c can be transcribed as sh and you can drop the logogram numbers.

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72. Permission to Use Tokens Picture

> Hello John:
> I would like to use your picture of sumerian tokens for an article that I
>am submitting to [snip]. I am not getting any money for it, and
>plan to put your copyright notice on the figure caption along with your
>name. Sound OK?

The Louvre museum sold me permission to use that photograph about 15 years ago. I think that they retain the rights to it.

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73. How Did Writing Start?

>Intuitively, I imagine that the first kind of written language was
>pictographic, and that at some point there was a breakthrough in the
>discovery of a way of notating the sounds of words. This must sound crude
>and laughable to you, given the depth and specialty of your work, however I
>am genuinely interested in this, and I want to start with an overview of
>written language development worldwide before digging in deeper
>Can you help?

At an on-line bookseller look either for a book by Denise Schmandt-Besserat or for a book by Robert Englund and Hans Nissen.

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74. Books to Study Day-to-Day Life of Sumerians?

>For the past 6 months I have gathered internet
>resources, as far as the Sumerian language is
>concerned, and wish to know what books you would
>suggest for further reading. Due to circumstances, I
>do not have the resources to study at college, but
>wish to know more about the field of anthropology -
>primarily linguistic and cultural. I know of a few
>books that would be helpful, but would like to know
>more about the grammatical structure and day to day
>lives of these people. I would sincerely appreciate
>any information you would have to offer.

You need to get the Thomsen and Hayes books on Sumerian that I sell - and would need those textbooks even if you did study Sumerian at a university.

As far as daily life is concerned, the best books, listed in order of detailed information, are:

D.T. Potts, Mesopotamian Civilization: The Material Foundations; Ithaca, New York 1997.
D.C. Snell, Ledgers and Prices: Early Mesopotamian Merchant Accounts; New Haven and London 1982.
D.C. Snell, Life in the Ancient Near East: 3100-332 B.C.E.; New Haven and London 1997.

Thorkild Jacobsen's writings contain much insightful cultural and linguistic speculation about the Sumerians.

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75. Necronomicon; Learning Sumerian

>Hello. I'm merely 15 but I'm greatly intrigued with the Assyrians and Sumerians.
>This is concerning some Sumerian words from the Lexicon that I'd like to
>know about. You stated that Alal means water.....but in Necronomicon it
>says Alal means Destroyer. It confused me. Do you know much of anything
>about Necronomicon? It was written by Abdul Alhazred (The Mad Arab) in
>about the 8th century A.D. Anyway I'd like to know for sure if it had to do
>with the Sumerians or not and I figured you may know the answer to that
>as well. Is there any way I could buy tapes or books for learning all or
>a majority of the Sumerian language? Thanks for your time and patience.
>I hope to recieve a reply. Until then.....Farewell and Blessed Be.....

My lexicon has alal as 'pipe for making libation offerings to the deceased'. In this way it is associated with death.

Are you sure that the Necronomicon is not a modern invention?

I would go to http://www.google.com and put in the search words Necronomicon and Author.

All I know about it is that it has attracted a number of people with an occult bent to learn Sumerian who would not otherwise. I don't personally own a copy of it.

A number of students of Sumerian are starting by ordering the John Hayes book that I sell from my web site.

>Alright I understand the whole thing about Alal being associated with Death now.
>
>I'm pretty sure that Necronomicon isn't a more common invention but I'll
>do a little more research to make sure. It says on the back cover that it was
>written in the 8th Century A.D. around the area of Damascus by Abdul Alhazred.
>
>Alhazred was known as a hermit who was very well learned for the times
>and bragged about knowing so many languages. He was a philosopher of sorts
>as well as an Astronomer.
>
>That's how I got into Sumerian.....was from Necronomicon. It started out
>that I decided I didn't entirely believe in Christianity and somehow I heard
>about Necronomicon and decided to buy it and check it out. It seemed to make
>more sense to me and I follow the beliefs but I haven't done any of the rituals
>or anything because I can't get the items needed. I still read on more religions
>though.

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76. Sumerian Tenses?

>saw the site--does sumerian have tenses and if so are they past present
>future or something else

Sumerian had two sets of verbal forms, which the Akkadians called hamtu and maru, "quick, sudden" and "fat, slow".

Quoting from the Manual by John L. Hayes, "The difference in function between the two has been interpreted in various ways. It has been argued that the difference was one of tense (past ~ present/future); one of aspect (perfect ~ imperfect); one of Aktionsart (punctual ~ durative, and so on). An explanation in terms of aspect seems to fit the evidence best, and they will be called aspects here." p. 46.

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77. Cuneiform Words?

>Does Your Website have any words in Cuneiform?

Only what you see on the Proverbs page.

Cuneiform refers to a type of writing, not to a language. In the Ancient Near East, different, unrelated languages such as Akkadian, Sumerian, Hittite, and Elamite were written in cuneiform writing.

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78. Letters or Sounds Missing from Sumerian

>In studying your list of Sumerian words, the following letters
>seem to not be in their alphabet:
>c,f,j,o,q,v,w,x,y (although the "x" is there in a different font).
>Am I correct?

The Sumerians had a syllabary, not an alphabet. They may have had the o sound, but the Akkadians from whom we have our knowledge of Sumerian did not and represented it with the u sound.

You are basically correct about the Sumerians not using those sounds.

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79. Sumerian Pictographic Writing

>I am looking for any information
>on the full Sumerian picture
>writing that they used around
>3000 bc. If you know of any
>websites or books that would
>help I'd appreciate it.

For information on proto-cuneiform pictographic writing, at my links page, click on Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative.

Also, if you have the patience for the pages to load or you are on a fast connection, check out the link to Old Sumerian Signs copied from Labat.

See also 11. Development of Cuneiform From Pictographs

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80. History of Bookkeeping and Sumerian Term "shubati"

>Looking for information about the history of money resp.
>the history of bookkeeping, I discovered the interesting
>babylonian word "shubati", mentioned in a publication of
>'The Banking Law Journal'; What is money? by A. Mitchell
>Innes 1913 (*) . Innes translated 'shubati' as "received"
>It seems, that this expression 'shubati' appeared very often
>on babylonian clay tablets, used as records of economic
>transactions.
>
>I would kindly ask you: Could You let me know Your opinion
>resp. Your translation regarding the exact meaning of the word
>'shubati'?

This Sumerian term is well understood. You will find the verb in question in my Sumerian Lexicon in the compound words section under shu...ti, 'to receive'. shu means 'hand' and ti means 'to approach', so the compound means 'to receive'.

ba- is the simplest of the verbal prefixes, used when the subject is inanimate and/or non-agentive (intransitive).

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81. Sumerian "danna" and Akkadian "beru"

>Why can't I find the word beru? Can the word ever signify a "day" or a
>"double-day"?

That is an Akkadian word. Look in the Sumerian Lexicon under danna in the DAN section. beru is the Akkadian equivalent, translated 'double-hour; league'. Never 'day' or 'double-day'.

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82. Dilmun, Paradise, Bahrain, Eridu, Enki

> Thank you for your informative reply. My question pertains to
>Dilmun's location. Some records which you certainly know affirm that Dilmun
>is "30 beru away" from Mesopotamia itself. I have found reasons for
>believing that Dilmun was located in the East Indies, as Dr. Kalyanaraman
>argues in some detail in his Sarasvati site.

I had responded, "I know of no reason to doubt the traditional Sumerological identification of Dilmun as the island of Bahrain. You will find Dilmun, Magan, and Meluhha all referenced in my lexicon."

> You may be right, after all. But it is hard to believe that anyone would
>ever equate this region with Paradise.

If you want to research this further, the one thing that comes to mind is the Sumerian tradition of the antiquity of the city of Eridu (etymologically, 'city' + 'sweet, good; beautiful; favorable; pleasing; fresh (water)'). The god of Eridu, Enki, was the lord of the sweet underground waters for which Dilmun was renowned, according to Geoffrey Bibby in The Search for Dilmun. That tradition of Eridu's antiquity combines with the reputation of Enki as having been the Sumerian Prometheus, bringer of the arts of civilization to Sumer.

Perhaps the Sumerians saw Bahrain as Enki's natural home and hence as the mother land for Sumerian civilization.

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83. How Reliable Is John M. Allegro?

>I've read John M. Allegro's Book "The sacred mushroom and the cross"
>and I want to proove his theses for my interpretation of his book.
>
>Hence I'm not a scientiest for early languages it is quite difficult to
>me to proove his interpretation of sumerian words (which are his points of
>start for several causally determinations).
>
>I tried to find equivalents between Allegros sumerian words in your sumerian
>lexicon - some fit other not - but maybe I'm not familiar enough to proove
>it this way.
>
>So - if you have a position to John M. Allegro it would be very interest in it.

Allegro was not a Sumerologist.

Read:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/10583

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84. Definite Article in Sumerian?

>I thought Sumerian did not have the definite article. You have "a" as the
>article. Can you tell me your source.

On page 241, Thomsen calls /-a/ the subordination suffix, explaining that this is her preference and that most Sumerologists since Falkenstein have called it the nominalization suffix. John Hayes uses the term 'nominalizer' for .a or /a/ throughout versions 1 and 2 of his book. The published version of the Sumerian Lexicon will not use the term 'definite article' for -a:

"nominalization suffix for a verbal form or clause, creating a noun - placed after pronominal suffix and before post-positions or possessive suffixes; also understood as a particularizer, at the end of a relative clause - 'the Noun that Verbs' - ThSLa §483".

"R(hamtu)-a or Adj.-a: either of these forms makes the preceding noun definite - ThSLa §503 quotes a [1978] study by Krecher."
Krecher has a newer article in Acta Sumerologica 15(1993): 81-98, in English, with Yoshikawa's response on pp. 157-183 of that same journal issue.

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85. Which Style of Cuneiform to Learn?

>I wonder if you could help me out here. I am trying to find a kind of
>cuneiform to learn. There seems to be more than one. Which one is the most
>common, and which one is the best? Is it Ugaritic, Old Persian, Sumerian
>etc.? I am a little confused about why they are different from each other.

Cuneiform refers to using reed styluses to render the sounds of the language. They are all descended from Sumerian pictographs.

Which signs and styles of writing to learn depend on which spoken language you want to learn.

The standard cuneiform signs are usually considered to be those of the late Assyrians, which are good mainly for reading Akkadian language tablets from the first millenium B.C. The library of Assurbanipal, king of Assyria, was the first huge library to be discovered, so that is why those are the standard signs. But also the Assyrians were to the Babylonians what the practical-minded Romans were to the Greeks, they organized and standardized the Babylonian signs. The Assyrian signs are the style of cuneiform signs that you will learn from Daniel C. Snell, A Workbook of Cuneiform Signs, available on my Undena Publications order form.

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86. Info on Sumerian Music?

>I have become obsessively interested in sumerian life and culture.
>This came about after seeing a picture of a sumerian 'harp' (actually a lyre)
>that was reconstructed from remains found in the great death pit of
>lady pu-abi (queen shub-ad). My interest has spiralled far beyond the
>question of ancient music.

On the subject of harps and music, I would ask if you have discovered the Reallexikon Der Assyriologie articles on those topics, e.g., A.D. Kilmer, "Musik. A. I. In Mesopotamien." [Music in Mesopotamia: article in English], Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archäologie, Bd. 8, ed. D.O. Edzard (Berlin & New York, 1993-1997), pp. 463-482.?

Dr. Anne Kilmer has a lecture tape/CD, ISF#12. "Music of the Ancient Near East: World's Oldest Song", June 21, 1989, during which Sumerian music was demonstrated, at:

http://www.sumerian.org/cmaacat.htm

And have you discovered the incredibly extensive Music bibliography under the letter M at:

http://web.tiscali.it/ranesorg/issues.htm

Finally, there is a link on my Links page for Musical Theory in the Ancient World - the Mesopotamian Precursors of Pythagoras

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87. What Did the Sumerians Call Themselves?, Sumerian Predecessors?

>I've been reading The Sumerians: Their History, Culture and Character,
>by Samuel Noah Kramer and he mentions on page 40 that the names for
>the cities and the two rivers (rivers: idiglat and buranun - cities: Eridu, Ur,
>Larsa, Isin, Adab, Kullab, Lagash, Nippur and Kish) are not Sumerian words.
>I've read that remnants of a Ubaid civilization have been found below the
>Sumerians and that it is thought a Halef (not sure if I got the spelling right
>on that one) civilization may have predated the Ubaid one. So then is it known
>whether the city and river names are possibly Ubaid or Halef in origin? Like I know
>that where I grew up that many names came from the Native American tribes that
>lived in the area and not English.

>Secondly, I was wondering what the Sumerians called themselves
>and Sumer in their own language. I see in your lexicon that there is kalam
>and ki-en-gir/gi (r) or ki-en-gi(r) for Sumer; dum-gir/gi - for a Sumerian; and
>eme-gir/gi for the Sumerian language. Do I interpret this correctly?

The late S.N. Kramer was very proud of his idea that the Sumerians came from somewhere else and enjoyed a Heroic Age in Sumer which he believed had parallels among other migratory peoples. The idea that the Sumerians were late invaders is, however, probably wrong. There are actually good Sumerian or Akkadian etymologies for most of those city names and if you look in my lexicon you can see the Sumerian etymologies for the Tigris and the Euphrates river names. Nippur comes from an Akkadian word that means "ferry-boat", so it was the site of a river crossing. Thorkild Jacobsen wrote an article about the Sumerian etymologies of Eridu, Ur, and some other cities.

The Halaf culture of northern Mesopotamia was characterized by colorfully glazed pottery that is completely different from Ubaid pottery, so I don't know anyone who thinks that it was a predecessor other than chronologically to the southern Ubaid culture.

The Sumerians either called themselves the 'civilized children' or the 'black-headed people'.

sag-gi6(-ga): black-headed people; Sumerians ('head' + 'black' + nominative; cf., dumu-gir15/gi7 and ki-en-gi(-r); ki-en-gir15/gi7(-r)).

un sag-gi6: black-headed people = Sumerians ('people' + 'heads' + 'black').

dumu-gir15/gi7: freeborn man, Sumerian [in contrast to slaves from foreign countries] ('child' + 'native group').

It seems like originally it may have been sang-gi7, but consonant harmony changed gi7 to ngi6, thereby changing the meaning from 'civilized, native group' to 'black'.


Here is a relevant exchange from the now defunct Language Evolution mailing list:


Date: Thu, 15 Oct 1998 18:24:40 -0400
From: "Peter T. Daniels"
Subject: Re: EvolLang: Proper nouns

Sent by: "Peter T. Daniels"

> Robert Whiting wrote:
> >>And it was Landsberger's impression that many of these names were
> >>non-Sumerian in origin that led him to postulate a pre-Sumerian
> >>proto-population in the area.
> >
> >And Landsberger was so influential that he affected the thinking
> >of a whole generation of Assyriologists. I saw for myself that
> >he was wrong a long time ago. Now others are seeing it.
>
> Gosh, John, don't hurt yourself trying to pat yourself on the
> back :). I think if you research it, you will find that there
> was immediate and continuous opposition to his position. At
> least Jacobsen, Gelb, and Edzard have written against it,
> probably before you were even born. Look especially at
> Albright's position in _Cambridge Ancient History_ I/1 (1970,
> but originally published in fascicle form earlier) where he
> strongly denies Landsberger's proposed substratum. I don't think
> you can claim that he "affected the thinking of a whole
> generation of Assyriologists" except in the sense that he gave
> them something to argue against.
>
> I didn't say that Landsberger's postulate was correct. What I
> said was that the starting point was non-Sumerian place names.
> And even if one dismisses Landsberger's reconstruction as a
> complete fabrication, one is still left with them.

I believe it was Hans Guterbock (who was in Ankara with Landsberger
when he wrote the above-alluded-to articles -- in Turkish, with only
an extensive summary in German, which summary alone is what was
translated by Ria Ellis into English --) who said that Landsberger
invented the highly implausible "Proto-Euphratians," about whom
there was nothing to be said, as an authochthonous substratum in
Sumerian, to make Ataturk happy -- so that he could think there
really were "Turks" in the land before anyone else.

Surely it was here that I mentioned that Michael Astour took one
look at the list of "Proto-Euphratic" words I handed out with a
paper once, and said they're all Semitic loanwords in Sumerian. (I
think it was 1986.) That seems to be communis opinio these days.

- --
Peter T. Daniels grammatim@worldnet.att.net

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88. Swastika in Sumerian?


>I can't remember if I was told or I read it somewhere, but I think
>I heard it. That the sumerian symbol for Fall/or "The Harvest"
>was the same as the sanskrit symbol svastika. Is this true?
>If so do you know where any documentation on this might be found

One finds the swastika as a symbol on pre-Sumerian pottery in northern Mesopotamia. The swastika is not part of Sumerian pictographic written language.

Marija Gimbutas in The Language of the Goddess which collects the signs of Old Europe says that swastikas, whirls, and spirals represent the life-force.

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89. Sumerian for Lion?

>Hi, Could you tell me the word for LION in Sumerian ... and what the idea
>was derived from / what root ideas?


There were three words:

ur-mah: lion ('carnivorous beast' + 'mighty').

pirig(3): lion (poetic); light (bar6/7, 'to shine', + níg, 'thing') [PIRIG archaic frequency: 103; concatenation of 5 sign variants].
pírig: bright.

ug(2): n., rage, anger, fury; storm(-demon); lion; wild animal; lamentation.
adj., furious, strong.
ug4,5,7,8: n., death; dead person.
v., to kill; to die (singular and plural marû stem; plural ‹am#u, which is sometimes reduplicated; cf., úš).
ug6, u6[IGI.É]: n., amazement; gaze, glance (['EYE' + 'HOUSE']).
v., to look at; to stare at, gaze; to be impressed.
adj., astonishing.


The second word may have been related to a myth about how when the bull of the moon gets close to the sun, that is protected by the bright planet Venus, seen as a lion, it gets killed and dies. pirig3 is written with the UG sign.

If you want to read numerous examples of the lion in Sumerian literature, order from Eisenbrauns the new book Animal Symbolism in Mesopotamia, A Contextual Approach, by Chikako E. Watanabe. I just received my copy today. The English is clearly written so the book is easy to read.

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90. ama, 'mother', a Semitic loan?

>Is "ama" (mother) a loanword from Akkadian? (It sounds like
>Semitic words that mean "mother".)

Actually, it is well known among linguists that there is world-wide similarity of words for mother, these are assumed to stem from baby-talk, so one cannot make any conclusions about language relatedness or borrowing from the words for mother.

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91. Creditors and Debits

>"ugu" -- debits part of an account tablet
>
>I'm assuming that only a creditor would be interested in keeping
>a tablet of this nature and that "ugu" refers to payments on account
>from the borrower?

During the Ur III period, the state was the main creditor. The state supplied so much land or so many animals to the individual, who then had to pay the state back.

My teacher at UCLA, Robert Englund, has specialized in Ur III accounting terminology. There is not much in print, but we did use the following book in class:

Snell, Daniel C., Ledgers and Prices: Early Mesopotamian Merchant Accounts. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982.

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92. Difference Between Akkadian and Sumerian Languages?

>What is the difference between the Akkadian and the Sumerian language?

Speakers of the Sumerian language coexisted for a thousand years with speakers of 3rd millenium Akkadian dialects, so the languages had some effect on each other, but they work completely differently. With Sumerian, you have an unchanging verbal root to which you add anywhere from one to eight prefixes, infixes, and suffixes to make a verbal chain. Akkadian is like other Semitic languages in having a root of three consonants and then inflecting or conjugating that root with different vowels or prefixes.

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93. Sumerian on Voyager "Golden Record"?

>I am trying to discover what precisely was said in Sumerian on the
>Voyager-1 space probe's "golden record" for a story I'm writing. You can hear it at
>
>http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/spacecraft/languages/audio/sumerian.au
>
>But the written version I cannot seem to find. I need to know how
>to transliterate it into English.
>
>Wondering if you could possibly help...

silim-ma he2-me-en is translated as 'Welcome!' in line 201 of Nanna-Suen's journey to Nibru at:

http://www-etcsl.orient.ox.ac.uk/section1/c151.htm

It literally means, 'May you be healthy.'

From my lexicon:

silim[DI], sim3

to be healthy, complete, perfect; to be/ make in good shape; to restore (usually considered Akk. loanword, root means 'peace' in 18 of 21 Semitic languages, but Sumerians used word in greeting and root not in Orel & Stolbova's Hamito-Semitic Etymological Dictionary; cf., sil5, 'pleasure, joy', + lum, 'to grow luxuriantly').

silim...dug4/du11/di/e

to greet, say "Hello" ('health' + 'to speak').

silim-še3 gu3...de2

to greet, say "Hello" ('health' + 'regarding' + 'to call, say').

silim-ma he2-me-en

"Welcome" ('may you be healthy').

silim...sum

to greet, say "Hello" ('greeting' + 'to give').

So the Sumerian word silim is related to Hebrew shalom and Arabic salaam, and may be the origin of them. The Sumerian traders who spread the Ubaid culture throughout the Near East starting around 6,000 BC (calibrated) would have used this greeting word.

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94. Pentagram Symbol?

>I have, on many occult websites, come across the claim that the pentagram
>was used in ancient Sumer as a hieroglyph for the word UB, and also for AR.
>How legit is this claim?

That is true. The original sign was a five-pointed star, sign #306 in Labat. ub means 'corner'.

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95. Beer and Travel Proverb?

>http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/07/0723_020724_cuneiform.html
>
>This article mentions a proverb that would roughly translate to "travel is
>hard, but the beer is worth it." Can you show me what that would look like?

That is proverb 2.123 in the 2-volume collection by Bendt Alster, referenced in the bibliography to my on-line Sumerian lexicon.

Alster translates, The pleasure -- it is the beer! The discomfort -- it is the journey!

The key to the proverb is the similarity between kaskal, 'road, journey', and kash, 'beer'.

nam-sa6-ga kash-am3 nam-hul kaskal-am3

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96. Should I Study Sumerian?

>John: I understand most of your email. So do you think it would be a
>good idea to study Sumerian? Do you think I would like it? From what I read
>in your email you are saying that I should do it as a personal interest and
>that it is unlikely I can make a career out of it correct? Why do you like
>it? What do you get from it? Derek

I like being able to read the original texts. I have corresponded with scholars of Sumerian religion who do not know the language, who must rely on secondary sources, and although they are intelligent people they have and are unable to correct misconceptions caused by not understanding the multiple meanings of Sumerian words. To understand the Sumerian religion and culture it helps to be familiar with their language. What I like the most is making a connection with people who lived so long ago through their language. Since we have such a large corpus of texts, we will eventually understand the Sumerians much better than we can the Egyptians or any other ancient people. Also, unlike the Atlanteans or other New Age claims, the Sumerians were real. I learn about the specialized occupations and life of the Sumerians through their language. I recently added the following entry to the lexicon:

(lú)su-si-ig: knacker, a year round collector of hides and other parts of dead/dying animals, who partly tanned the hides before bringing them into town for use in other crafts ('body' + 'to strike down; to silence'; cf., sìg, 'to strike, hurt, beat, flatten, remove, divide'; Akkadian šušikku or šusikkum).

Although 'knacker' is a word in English, I had never heard it before.

I made an effort to attend classes in Sumerian at UCLA, but I cannot say what other people would want to do.

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97. Igigi and Anunnaki?

> Hi John,
> If I read Sitchen's name one more time trying to find the answer to this -
>I am going to scream.
>
> I am collecting information about a particular ancient group of people. I
>am not sure, but, the Anunnaki may be a historical reference to them. Let
>me just say, I am NOT looking for aliens.
>
> Would you please break down the word Anunnaki so that I can understand it.

My lexicon has:

a-nun-na(-k): noble stock; fear, dread ('offspring' + 'master' + genitive).

da-nun-na(-ke4-ne): the gods as a whole; the gods of the netherworld, as compared to the dnun-gal-e-ne, the great gods of heaven.

Search in Google for "a-nun-na".

> The term igigi - how does that translate?

That is under item 861 in Borger's new Mesopotamisches Zeichenlexikon, as dingir i2-gi3-gi3. It looks like a phonetic reading of the signs for 5 1 1, perhaps symbolic of the number 7, which is a number that meant 'uncountable, infinite' in Mesopotamian religion. It can also be interpreted as 5 x (60 + 60) = 600, which was the number of great gods in some traditions.

The Concise Dictionary of Akkadian has Igigu with a circumflex over the u. "the (ten) great gods; the gods of heaven" where it shows the Sumerian as dingir NUN.GAL.MESH.

It appears to be more of an Akkadian word than a Sumerian word, although apparently with its origins in Sumerian cuneiform writing as mentioned above.

There is a good discussion of the Igigi and the Anunnaki at:

http://www.sron.nl/~jheise/akkadian/mesopotamia.html

> Do you think there could be a connection with the later Seven Sages?

Yes. In A Concise Dictionary of Akkadian under apkallu appears "wise man, expert; epith. of gods; of Adapa etc.; pl. "the (seven) sages".

Then if you look up apkallu in the new Borger, he refers to item 143, NUN-ME, read abgal in Sumerian. Note the similarity to NUN.GAL(.MESH) read as Igigu. NUN and ABA/AB 'lake, sea' both relate to the god of wisdom, Enki. The signs for Eridu, city of the god Enki, were NUN.KI.

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98. Marijuana in Sumerian?

> I have heard instances of cavemen using cannabis sativa for religious purposes. Did the Sumerians use cannabis (I don't see why they would as prepackaged food was unavailable to them)?

u2 a-zal-la2 : a medicinal plant, probably distilled into a narcotic (described as "a plant for forgetting worries"); cannabis sativa, hashish (?) ('liquid' + 'to have time elapse' + nominative).

From a period 2000 years later, we know the Akkadian word shim qunnabu. There are many references in Google to qunnabu.

The best reference in Google for a-zal-la is at:

http://www.ukcia.org/research/abel/1ref.htm

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99. Purpose of the Human Race?

>i have read from a book by zecharia sitchin that the sumerian people
>believed that the human race was created for the purpose of gold mining for
>the gods. have you read any information to verify this was indeed a sumerian
>belief? thank you.

Not gold mining in particular, but the Sumerians did believe that the gods created humans in order to work for them. Of course, the ability of the temples to organize mass labor was key to survival in Sumer, where mass labor was needed for irrigation and dredging projects.

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100. The Oldest Written Story?

>Hi! My name is chad I am doing a reseach paper on the oldest written story
>ever found, could you please help me? I have found lots of information but no
>story. Thanks for your time and help.

I refer you to the page:

http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/edition2/general.php

where it is stated that,

"The literature written in Sumerian is the oldest human poetry that can be read, dating from approximately 2500 BCE onwards. It includes narrative poetry, praise poetry, hymns, laments, prayers, songs, fables, didactic poems, debate poems and proverbs."

Narrative poems are stories.

Then, if you look at the page:

http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/edition2/literature.php

there is an overview of Sumerian literature, and the cataloguing system is explained, in which "An initial 1 indicates compositions with a high narrative content, 1.1 to 1.7 being ones in which deities are the principal protagonists and 1.8 ones in which legendary heroes such as Lugalbanda play that role."

There is a catalog at:

http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/edition2/etcslbynumb.php

A Sumerologist discussed your topic in the following scholarly article:

Alster, Bendt. 1976. "On the Earliest Sumerian Literary Tradition." In Journal of Cuneiform Studies 28. 109-126.

If you want my advice, the story Lugalbanda and the Anzud bird is in excellent condition and looks early. You can find this one at:

http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/cgi-bin/etcsl.cgi?text=t.1.8.2.2#

Lugalbanda is mentioned in the Sumerian King List as ruling in Sumer before the famous king Gilgamesh. The Anzud bird was a mythological thunderstorm bird depicted with the roaring head of a lion and the flying body of an eagle.

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101. Cuneiform for Love?

>Good morning Mr. Halloran. If you can, please help me. I am in search of the oldest written symbol for Love. I thought it might be in Cuneiform. Thank you for your time and assistance.

The compound word ki...ag2 means 'to love' and the compound word ki-ag2 means 'beloved', but it is very unusual to find evidence for a noun that means 'love'. I just find one instance of nam-ki-aga2, the abstract noun 'love'.

Attached is a gif image file nam-ki-aga2.gif which has this word in the form of three Sumerian period cuneiform signs.

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102. Antiquity of Star Constellations in Sumer?

> Would you know how far back a recognition of the constellations of Aries
>and Triangulum go in Sumerian knowledge?
> Is this right?
>
> Aries as The Hired Man
> LÚ.HUN.GÁ = argu
>""; Aries
>
> and Triangulum as The Plow:
> APIN = epinnu
>""; Triangulum Boreale with gamma Andromedae
>
> http://www.astronomy.pomona.edu/archeo/outside/starlog.html

There is an article by Wayne Horowitz in the 2005 Jacob Klein festschrift An Experienced Scribe Who Neglects Nothing, "Some Thoughts on Sumerian Star-Names and Sumerian Astronomy", pp. 163-178. He presents the text of The Nippur Forerunner to Tablet 22 of Urra = hubullu, which lists star names. Line 396 has mul gisz apin and line 410 has mul lu2.hun.ga2. Dr. Horowitz surmises that these Sumerian constellation names were in use in third millenium Sumer and Akkad.

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103. View Cuneiform Text on Clay Tablets at the CDLI

>Is there a place that one can type in a word - i.e., "liberty" or
>"Amagi"- and see a picture of the actual cuneiform symbol written in
>clay?
>
>There are websites I have found that have taken the Sumerian symbol for
>Amagi and redrawn it and digitized it, so I know what the Sumerian
>symbol looks like. I'm just curious what it looks like in clay.

You will be able to see those images by searching the cdli texts for ama-gi4.

The cdli site has been experiencing some search incompatibility problems with modern web browsers, but searches work fine with the Opera web browser (which is a free download, and which has some interesting differences from other browsers, and which is a good fallback browser when a site crashes your regular web browser).

ama-gi4 is the older, less complete writing. The fuller Ur III period writing is ama-ar-gi4.

ama(-ar)-gi4
freedom; liberation; manumission; exemption from debts or obligations (early texts omitted the -ar) ('mother' + dative -ra + 'to restore'; cf., dumu-gir15).

Robert Englund gave me the following advice for searching the cdli,

>The search is case sensitive, so to reach archaic attestations type
>"SANGA*". You have 34 sanga in ED IIIa, of course, but apparently the
>person. Search to be complete "*sanga*" (asterisks as wild cards).

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104. Sumerian Dimensional Prefixes and Personal Affixes?

>I was wondering if you could help me. I am going through Hayes'
>Manual of Sumerian Grammar and I am having difficulty grasping
>the concept of the dimensional prefixes (DP) and the personal affixes (PA)
>in his book. He says that they take the place of English pronouns
>and cross-reference or register other grammatical aspects in the
>preceding sentences. I do not understand their function. I am about
>halfway through the book and I feel like this is slowing me down.
>Can you please explain this to me?

The pronominal infixes in the verbal chain normally refer back to an animate singular or plural or an inanimate that occurred earlier in the same sentence, not in preceding sentences. There is a good discussion of these slots towards the end of:

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumerische_Sprache

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105. Completeness of Sumerian Lexicon?

>Thank you for sharing your Sumerian Lexicon. Judging
>from the Questions and Answers section of your web
>page, you occasionally respond to questions from
>novices... My question concerns the accuracy of our
>understanding of the Sumerian Lexicon and how complete
>that understanding is. This simple question is driven
>by my ignorance of many things but certainly
>including:
>
>1) How complete are the Akkadian / Sumerian
>dictionaries ( what percentage of the logograms and
>compound words found in the clay tablets are covered
>by the dictionaries)

If you are asking about the coverage of Sumerian words by the ancient Akkadian word lists, my seat of the pants reaction is that 80 to 90 percent of Sumerian has one or more known Akkadian equivalents. We are heavily dependent on the ancient bilingual lists. The online Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary, I have noticed, tends not to list Sumerian lexemes for which there is no Akkadian equivalent, but my lexicon has many lexemes where the meaning is known only from context. My lexicon tends to have more words that are known only from texts because I worked with so many text publications, gathering words from their indexes. The PSD includes in its collection a large number of Sumerian words that are known only from lexical lists, but for which we have Akkadian equivalents. Someone wrote to me in February, 2006 to tell me that the PSD has 5,666 words. Between the 1999 version 3 of my lexicon and the version 4 that will be published in December, 2006, the number of words in my lexicon grew from 3,766 to 6,400, an increase of 70%. Of course, the number of my sources grew from 36 to 96. As more texts are studied, it would not surprise me if a lexicon of the future is able to define several thousand more compound words and idiomatic expressions.
>
>2) How well do we understand Akkadian?

There will always be room for improvement. I anticipate some future give and take between Sumerian studies and Akkadian studies as Sumerian lexicography comes of age, meaning that sometimes Sumerian fills in a gap in our understanding of an Akkadian lexeme. As you may know, the 26-volume Chicago Assyrian Dictionary of Akkadian is just now being completed. The first volume came out in the mid-1950s. The editors of these volumes were under unwelcome time pressures, so they could not give as much thought to entries as they would have liked. At some point, the earlier CAD volumes should be revised and reissued. You can read the history of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary project at Google Books now - they host the full text of Erica Reiner's 140-page book, "An Adventure of Great Dimension".
>
>3) How can we determine changes in logogram meanings
>over time given the length of time between the bulk of
>the writing and the creation of the dictionaries?

The bulk of Sumerian literature is actually from the same Old Babylonian Nippur school as are the bilingual dictionaries, so there is little time/space separation there. The problem comes when investigating the older administrative texts, of which we have a lot from the NeoSumerian/Ur III period. I spent quite a bit of time researching these texts when I was working on Sumerian metal-related words, enough to encounter words and phrases that had to be defined from use in context. Fortunately, there are Sumerologists who have specialized in studying these texts, to whose works I was able to turn.
>
>4) Is our lexicon complete enough to have known words
>for the entire Sumerian material culture as we
>understand it from excavations. ( nouns to name the
>items, verbs for usage and manufacturing etc.)

The answer to your question is no, but if you are interested in this subject, I recommend to you the book D.T. Potts, Mesopotamian Civilization: The Material Foundations; Ithaca, New York 1997. This book tries to match vocabulary with archaeology.

Beer making is an example of a manufacturing technology which I had to investigate in order to understand Sumerian technical terms related to it. Here is a sample entry which tries to illuminate the process by referring to terms for different stages or elements in the beer brewing process.

titab(2)
kiln-dried germinated malt for crushing into beer mash (cf., bappir; munu4; sun2; a-si3-ga) (til3/ti, 'life', + tab, 'to burn').

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Last modified on January 30, 2014.

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