Number Signs

The cuneiform writing system makes use of several different numerical systems, many of which are coded through distinctive cuneiform signs.

The basic repertoire has been put together in several of the background documents for the ATF conventions, but idiosyntactic and previously poorly known number signs are discussed here.

1(asz@45) is an ASZ (single horizontal wedge) rotated 45 degrees counterclockwise. This sign is regularly found after LA2 when it represents a subtraction from a preceding whole number.

1(asz@c90) is a curvilinear ASZ (single horizontal wedge) rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise; thus it resembles a curvilinear DISZ (single vertical wedge)

Notes from the transliteration of BIN 8

The field measurements go like this:

1(bur'u@c) = u@c x u@c 1(bur3@c) = u@c 1(esze3@c) = asz@c + u@c 1(iku@c) = asz@c 1/2(iku@c) = disz@c x disz 1/4 (iku@c) = asz@c x asz 1/8 (iku@c) = disz@c & u@c

Attested Signs


DP 126, rev., col. i, line 3 P220776

In earlier transliterational schema, we had transliterated the first sign as asz@t. We now transliterate as (?) aszx(ASZ@t)-sza4-ni: Although the first sign resembles a simple DISZ, the slight tilt or tenû to the left, indicates that it is actually ASZ@t, pronounced "ash tenuu"


BIN 8, 67, obv., col. 3, line 5 P221530


BIN 8, 67, obv., col. 3, line 1 P221530

These two signs, transliterated as 1/3(asz@cv) and 2/3(asz@cv) respectively, only occur in two texts, BIN 8, 67 and 68. Earlier transliterations have 2/3(asz@cd) for this, but this older convention should be replaced by 1/3(asz@cv) and 2/3(asz@cv) respectively, meaning 2/3 asz, curvilinear, variant. These signs for 1/3 and 2/3 are simplified versions of the ordinary Old Sumerian forms, in which a SZU2 sign normally occurs to the left of the vertical curvilinear wedges, transliterated as 1/3(asz@c) and 2/3(asz@c).

number_signs.txt · Last modified: 2008/05/09 23:01 by sara
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