The invention of cuneiform: Writing in Sumer
This month we are reading the final chapters of Jean-Jacques Glassner’s The invention of cuneiform: Writing in Sumer (2003).
Glassner’s work is original in both its style and scope. He opens with a Sumerian-centric account of the invention of writing within its historical and cultural context, as drawn from primary archeological and paleographic evidence. He then moves on to critiquing received ideas about cuneiform’s origins, most prominently the Schmandt-Besserat hypothesis that writing evolved from clay tokens. In the concluding chapters he gives provides his own account of the historical-ethnographic setting that gave rise to writing along his theoretical insights on this. This section offers the most scope for discussion so we will be looking at the final two chapters: ‘The triumph of writing’ and ‘A written language?’.
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