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    The Invention of Cuneiform: Writing in Sumer (Hardback) By (author) Jean-Jacques Glassner, Translated by Zainab Bahrani, Translated by Marc Van De Mieroop


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    DescriptionAs the first known system of writing, the cuneiform symbols traced in Sumerian clay more than six millennia ago were once regarded as a simplistic and clumsy attempt to record in linear form the sounds of a spoken language. More recently, scholars have acknowledged that early Sumerian writing - far from being a primitive and flawed mechanism that would be "improved" by the Phoenicians and Greeks - in fact represented a complete written language system, not only meeting the daily needs of economic and government administration, but also providing a new means of understanding the world. Jean-Jacques Glassner offers a compelling introduction to this seminal era in human history. Returning to early Mesopotamian texts that have been little studied or poorly understood, he traces the development of writing from the earliest attempts to the sophisticated system of roughly 640 signs that comprised the Sumerian repertory by about 3200 BC. Glassner further argues - with an occasional nod to Derrida - that the invention of writing had a deeper metaphysical significance. By bringing the divinely ordained spoken language under human control, Sumerians were able to "make invisibility visible", separating themselves from the divine order and creating a new model of power.

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  • Full bibliographic data for The Invention of Cuneiform

    The Invention of Cuneiform
    Writing in Sumer
    Authors and contributors
    By (author) Jean-Jacques Glassner, Translated by Zainab Bahrani, Translated by Marc Van De Mieroop
    Physical properties
    Format: Hardback
    Number of pages: 288
    Width: 152 mm
    Height: 229 mm
    Thickness: 28 mm
    Weight: 680 g
    ISBN 13: 9780801873898
    ISBN 10: 0801873894

    B&T Book Type: NF
    BIC E4L: LAN
    B&T Modifier: Region of Publication: 01
    Nielsen BookScan Product Class 3: S1.5
    B&T Modifier: Academic Level: 01
    B&T Modifier: Subject Development: 01
    BIC subject category V2: CFL
    B&T General Subject: 480
    BISAC V2.8: LAN020000
    B&T Modifier: Geographic Designator: 07
    B&T Merchandise Category: UP
    BISAC V2.8: HIS002000
    B&T Approval Code: A14202000
    BISAC V2.8: FOR002000
    BIC geographical qualifier V2: 1QDAM
    B&T Approval Code: A22820000
    LC subject heading:
    BIC language qualifier (language as subject) V2: 2ZM
    DC22: 492.1
    LC subject heading: ,
    DC22: 492/.1
    LC subject heading: , , ,
    BIC subject category V2: 1QDAM, 2ZM
    LC classification: P211 .G5413 2003
    Thema V1.0: CFL
    Imprint name
    Publication date
    22 December 2003
    Publication City/Country
    Baltimore, MD
    Author Information
    Jean-Jacques Glassner is a research director at the French National Center for Scientific Research. Zainab Bahrani is an associate professor of art history and archaeology at Columbia University. Marc Van De Mieroop is a professor of history and Middle East and Asian languages and cultures at Columbia University.
    Review quote
    Did writing evolve from multiple stimuli into a script that represented a particular language? Or was it invented by a genius at a particular place and time? How did it happen? Jean-Jacques Glassner sets out to answer these questions in this stimulating book, translated from the French, in which he presents his own view--that writing was invented not as a recording device, nor as a primitive linkage of symbols representing objects, but as a purposeful rendering of the Sumerian language.--Stephanie Dalley"Technology and Culture" (01/01/2005)