LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Clay cuneiform tablet from Mesopotamia, circa 2052 BC. Cuneiform documents were written on clay tablets, by means of a blunt reed for a stylus. The impressions left by the stylus were wedge shaped, thus giving rise to the name cuneiform wedge shaped , from the Latin cuneus wedge . Cuneiform script is one of the earliest known systems of writing. Emerging in Sumer in the late 4th millennium BC, cuneiform writing began as a system of pictographs. In the third millennium, the pictorial representations became simplified and more abstract as the number of characters in use grew smaller, from about 1,000 in the Early Bronze Age to about 400 in Late Bronze Age (Hittite cuneiform). Mesopotamia is a name for the area of the Tigris-Euphrates river system. Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization in the West, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the Akkadian, Babylonian, and Assyrian empires. In the Iron Age, it was controlled by the.
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