Old Akkadian Umma Paleography

(return to Old Akkadian Transliterations)

Benjamin Foster presents a typology of Old Akkadian tablet from Umma—the so-called mu-iti tablets—in his <i>Umma in the Sargonic Period</i> (Hamden, Connecticut: Archon Books, 1982; see also reviews by Marvin Powell, JAOS 105(1): 44-145, and H. Waetzoldt, BSOAS 47(1): 122-123). Foster initially divides the tablets into four groups on the basis of tablet shape (Groups I, II, III and IV) and then into three groups on the basis of paleography (Groups A, B and C): Group I corresponds to Group A, Group II corresponds to Group B, but paleography Group C occurs in two of the tablet format groupings, namely Groups III and IV.

Group I/A

Tablet shape: "tablets many of which are round, or, if oblong, have rounded corners such that the over-all impression of the tablet is one of roundness. Many of them are small, round, thick so that they have a pastille or lozenge shape. Most of these tablets have pronounced curvature of the writing surface, obverse and reverse, as well as the sides, top, and bottom of the tablet. The tablets tend to be broad in proportion to their height" (Foster 1982, 4)

Paleography: "Group A has a distinctive script that is often croweded horizontally, written in narrow lines, and contains graphic peculiarities not found in the other groups. Notable are &Scaron;U and the related signs such as DA. These are frequently written with a sharp up-or down-turning of the bottom horizontal so that it intersects the others." (Foster 1982, 4) * AO 5656 P216375

Group II/B

Tablet shape: "also has rounded corners, but tends to be more oblong in shape so that the over-all impression that one gets from the tablet is that it is oblong with rounded corners rather than an elongated ellipse. There is less curvature of the writing surface than in the first group, but it is still present, especially on the reverse" (Foster 1982, 4)

Paleography: "The script of Group B is larger than that of Group A. The rulings are wider, there is more space between the signs, and the writing surface is flatter. This allows the scribe to elongate the wedges and execute all parts of the sign neatly." (Foster 1982, 5)

* USP 24 P217381 * USP 59 P217415 * USP 60 P217416 * MAD 4, 17 P215179 * MAD 4, 19 P215181 * MAD 4, 27 P215189 * MAD 4, 31 P215193 * MAD 4, 32 P214194 * MAD 4, 33 P215195 * MAD 4, 40 P215202 * MAD 4, 41 P215203 * MAD 4, 44 P215206 * MAD 4, 56 P215218 * MAD 4, 65 P215227

Group III/C

Tablet shape: "has rounded corners like the second group, but the obverse tends to be flatter and the tablets thinner and more neatly made. Some are nearly circular, like those of the first group, but they look quite different because they are thinner and have less curvatur of the writing surface. . . . These tablets tend to be narrower in proportion to their height than those of the first group" (Foster 1982, 4).

Paleography: "The script of Group C . . . is large, widely spaced horizontally and vertically, and very neatly made. The small wedges in signs like LUGAL are executed with considerable finesse" (Foster 1982, 5).

Group IV/C

Tablet shape: "has neatly squared corners, a flat obverse and gently curving reverse. The sides of this group may be slightly convex, straight, or slightly concave. The surface of the clay is often carefully prepared by washing in some way; one can sometimes see swirl marks in the clay. These tablets give an over-all impression of elegance and harmonious proportions such that they stand out sharply from the first group, which by contrast seems squat and thick, and from the second group, which seems to bulge at the sides and writing surfaces. The third group, though rounded, gives somewhat the same impression of harmonious proportion that the fourth group does." (Foster 1982, 4)

Paleography: see above under Group III/C

old_akkadian_umma_paleography.txt · Last modified: 2008/08/14 13:29 (external edit)
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