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Strange Byways In Cuneiform Writing

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Chapter Summary

One might be forgiven for thinking that cuneiform writing was already sufficiently difficult in itself that puns, secret writing or even downright cryptography were altogether unnecessary. The cuneiform script is syllabic, and chronologically and technically wholly pre-alphabetic. This chapter looks the long history of cuneiform records, certain unusual or singular scribal practices do emerge, and it is highlights from these. "Diri" writing is something particularly Mesopotamian named after the first line of a large lexical composition "DIRI = watru". During the first millennium bc more than one system of number-forsign substitution arose, for which we still have only patchy evidence. The natural employment of rebus writings that underlay cuneiform from the first experiments by the earliest scribes probably evolved into a kind of intellectual wedge 'gene'.

Keywords: cryptography; cuneiform writing; Diri writing; Mesopotamian



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