Given the complex system of cuneiform writing, with its large repertoire of signs, scribesmade efforts to compile lists of signs that grouped them according to graphic shapes, from the simplest to the most elaborate, adding columns to indicate the pronunciation by means of separate syllabic signs. In addition to these sign lists, which had to be memorized by learners of the script, there were also lexical lists, which grouped categories of words for things or animate beings according to a common ideogram (such as “wood,” “metal,” etc.). Given the bilingual or even polylingual nature of cuneiform culture, lists of words initially composed in Sumerian could be given another column in another language, such as Akkadianor Hittite. The lists constitute not only an invaluable tool for the understanding of these ancient languagesbut a veritable repertoire of the material and intellectual culture.
   See also WRITING.

Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. . 2012.

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