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About the CDLI online sign lists
The Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (CDLI) sees as one of its major goals the implementation of an online sign list for the early phases of cuneiform, ca. 3300-2000 B.C. This represents a period of often rapid development in both the graphic form, and the semantic or phonetic referents of individual signs of the cuneiform repertory that has, due to a number of reasons, not been well documented in the published Assyriological literature. D. O. Edzard's article "Keilschrift" in Reallexikon der Assyriololgie vol. 5 (1976-1980) pp. 544-568 presents the currently most comprehensive overview of early cuneiform development, and includes pp. 557-558 a list of published photographs of 4th and 3rd millennium cuneiform tablets recommended by the author in any attempt to clarify graphic sign development of that period of writing.
The internet distribution of tablet images far outstrips the capabilities of paper publications in documenting the paleography of the volatile phases of cuneiform. As a first step in this documentation and at the same time as a freely available tool for work on the pages of the CDLI and other tablet publication forums, we offer here copies of the major sign list publications for the various historical phases of early Babylonia as these are understood in the general Assyriological literature. These will be replaced in time with electronically generated lists linked to the full grapheme data sets of the CDLI, and from there to glossaries and other interpretive compendia on the one hand, to the specific sign attestations supported by the digital images of the project on the other. These resources will represent the raw data for further paleographic analyses of the sort conducted and published by D. O. Edzard, M. Krebernik, P. Steinkeller, M. Civil and others (see the literature cited in the bibliographical reference Gelb Memorial Library of the CDLI).
The current web presentation of the early cuneiform sign lists derives from an image server program written by Berndt Wischnewski of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin.
The following is a list of the currently available relevant publications, with those sign lists now online linked to their respective URLs.
Late Uruk period (Uruk IV-III), ca. 3300-3000 B.C.
- M. Green/H. J. Nissen, Zeichenliste der Archaischen Texte aus Uruk (ATU 2; Berlin 1987)
- R. K. Englund/H. J. Nissen, Die lexikalischen Listen der archaischen Texte aus Uruk (ATU 3; Berlin 1992)
- R. K. Englund/J.-P. Grégoire, The Proto-Cuneiform Texts from Jemdet Nasr (Materialien zu den frühen Schriftzeugnissen des Vorderen Orients 1; Berlin 1991)
- full list of proto-cuneiform signs (very large file [93 MB])
- G. Dreyer, Umm al-Qaab 1 (1998) 184-187
(Abydos sign list)
Proto-Elamite period, ca. 3100-2900 B.C.
- P. Meriggi, La scrittura proto-elamica. Parte IIa: Catalogo dei segni (Rome 1974)
- Download a copy of J. Dahl's working sign list (30 MB, zip archive)
Early Dynastic I period, ca. 2800-2700 B.C.
Early Dynastic IIIa (Fara) period, ca. 2600-2500 B.C.
Early Dynastic IIIb (Old Sumerian, pre-Sargonic Lagash) period, ca. 2500-2340 B.C.
Old Akkadian period, ca. 2340-2200 B.C. (no current sign list available)
Ur III (neo-Sumerian) period, ca. 2120-2000 B.C.
- F. Thureau-Dangin, Recherches sur l'origine de l'écriture cunéiforme (Paris 1898)
- Ch. Fossey, Manuel d'assyriologie, vol. 2: Evolution des cunéiformes (Paris 1926)
- R. Labat, Manuel d'épigraphie akkadienne (6th ed. Paris 1988)
- R. Borger, Assyrisch-babylonische Zeichenliste (AOAT 33; Neukirchen-Vluyn 1978)
- F. Ellermeier, Sumerisches Glossar (published by the author 1979ff.)
Last modified: 20 March 2008 -sb-