Stele of Assyrian king Assurbanipal (r. 668–627 BC ) of the

Neo-Assyrian Empire (668 BC – c. 627 BC) ritually carrying a

basket to mold the first brick in the rebuilding of E-sagila temple

in Babylon . The E-sagila may be the Tower of Babel found

in the Bible.

See full sized image .


Cuneiform is one of the earliest, if not the earliest form of writing in the world and was in use from  3500 B.C.  to the first century of the common era.  Its use spread from Mesopotamia to the Iranian plateau in the east and to the Mediterranean as far as Syria in the west . Cuneiform spawned the Phoenician, Hebrew, and Arabic scripts, and which ultimately gave rise to our own alphabet as well. Cuneiform has been used as a logosyllabic, syllabic, and alphabetic script.


Cuneiform was used for such varying languages as Semitic such as Akkadian and Indo-European languages such as Hittite  and other isolated language groups such as Hurrian, Elamite and Sumerian. The word, cuneiform is derived from the Latin cuneus "wedge" + form .



Origin of Cuneiform

Proto Cuneiform


Cuneiform in the Akkadian, Babylonian

and Assyrian Empires

The Code of Hammurabi


Cuneiform in the Hittite

and Persian Empires

The last use of Cuneiform


 Deciphering Cuneiform


Famous Works in


The Enûma Elišh

The Epic of Gilgamish


Words and numbers in Cuneiform


Write your name in cuneiform !

Cuneiform links

Cuneiform tattoos


Replica and ancient

cuneiform tablets for sale


Cuneiform: Ancient Scripts


 Cuneiform script on clay tablets is, as far as we know, the oldest form of writing in the world. The resilience of clay has permitted these records to survive for thousands of years, providing a fascinating glimpse into the political, economic, and religious institutions of the ancient Near Eastern societies that used this writing system. A concise and accessible introduction to the topic, this book traces the history of cuneiform from its beginnings in the fourth millennium BC to its eventual demise in the face of the ever expanding use of alphabetic Aramaic in the first millennium BC. The authors explain how this pre-alphabetic system worked and how it was possible to use it to record so many different languages. Drawing on examples from the British Museum, which has the largest and most venerable cuneiform collection in the world, this lively volume includes elementary school exercises, revealing private letters, and beautiful calligraphic literature for royal libraries.



 This how how ancient Iranians wrote different cuneiform scripts i.e.

Old Persian, Achaemenid Elamite and Late Babylonian at the time

 between 6th and 4th centuries B.C. during the Achaemenid Empire.


winged bull t shirt


Scribes (dubsar  ) at the temple yard of Uruk 3,000 BC.

 Seated left is a seal cutter, with an apprentice rolling a seal in clay .

The scribe in front is using a stylus for the writing of numbers .

Next : Origin of Cuneiform

 ©  Thomas Zimmerman 2013

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