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Assyrian Dictionary completed after nearly a century

A project to compile a dictionary of ancient cuneiform (literally: wedge-shaped) writing, started 90 years ago, has now been completed. Took them such a long time, but it was worth it. The Chicago Assyrian Dictionary project was commenced by James Henry Breasted. James was archaeologist and the founder of Chicago University’s Oriental Institute, in 1921. The project aimed to compile a dictionary of the Akkadian language, and the dialects spoken in ancient Mesopotamia.

According to an article published in 1991, Breasted originally imagined the project would last around ten years. An optimistic goal by anyone’s standards, considering the main volumes of the OED took around fifty.

The 21-volume dictionary was based on writing found in clay tablets and stone discovered in Mesopotamia, dating from 2500 BC to AD 100. The archaeology work carried out by the Institute unearthed letters written on clay tablets. The tablets discussing everyday matters such as family and financial worries. The letters provided insight into the everyday lives of ancient Mesopotamians, and as Gil Stein, director of the Oriental Institute put it:

“The Assyrian Dictionary is not simply a word list. By detailing the history and range of uses of each word, this unique dictionary is in essence a cultural encyclopedia of Mesopotamian history. It’s society, literature, law and religion and is an indispensable research tool for any scholar anywhere who seeks to explore the written record of Mesopotamian civilisation.”

Congratulations to the team responsible for this tremendous achievement. Their hard work will enrich our understanding of ancient languages and cultures. Such an achievement!


El Diccionario Asirio

Hace 90 años que se inició el proyecto para compilar un diccionario sobre la antigua escritura cuneiforme. Literalmente: en forma de cuña, y por fin se ha completado. El proyecto del Diccionario Asirio de Chicago fue iniciado en 1921 por James Henry Breasted. James, arqueólogo y fundador del Instituto Oriental de la Universidad de Chicago. El objetivo del proyecto era producir un diccionario de la lengua acadia. Los dialectos que se hablan en la antigua Mesopotamia.

Según este artículo publicado en 1991, Breasted calculó en un principio que el proyecto duraría alrededor de diez años. Una meta demasiado optimista, teniendo en cuenta que solo en los principales volúmenes del OED se emplearon alrededor de cincuenta años.

El diccionario cuenta con 21 volúmenes. Y se basa en la escritura en tablillas de arcilla y piedra descubiertas en Mesopotamia, que data de 2500 aC a 100 dC. Los trabajos arqueológicos llevados a cabo por el Instituto descubrieron las cartas escritas en tablillas de arcilla. Que hablaban de temas cotidianos como la familia y las preocupaciones financieras. Las letras facilitaron información sobre la vida cotidiana de los antiguos mesopotámicos, y como Gil Stein, director del Instituto Oriental ha señalado.

“El Diccionario Asirio no es simplemente una lista de palabras. Al exponer en detalle la historia y la variedad de usos de cada palabra, este diccionario único es, en esencia, una enciclopedia cultural de la historia, sociedad, literatura, derecho y religión de Mesopotamia. Y una herramienta de investigación indispensable para cualquier estudioso que trate de explorar los restos escritos de la civilización de Mesopotamia. “

Felicitaciones al equipo responsable de este tremendo logro. Que sin duda enriquecerá nuestra comprensión de las lenguas y las culturas antiguas.

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