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Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

The Palaeography of Cuneiform Transmission

The Palaeography of Cuneiform Transmission: Old Hittite and Alalakh VII is a joint project of Gerfrid G.W. Müller (Würzburg) and Mark Weeden (SOAS) supported by the British Academy

Cuneiform was a script used for writing various languages across the ancient Middle East for a period of 3,500 years. The discipline of palaeography, the study of hand-writing in its historical and geographical contexts, is extremely under-developed in cuneiform studies, although a firm palaeography of cuneiform documents from specific contexts would be an enormous help for both archaeologists and philologists working on the Ancient Near East. The current research implements part of a larger program of research on the transmission of cuneiform writing in Northern Syria (Alalakh level VII) and Central Anatolia (Old Hittite) in the second millennium BC. Criteria for assessing the date of older Hittite cuneiform tablets have come under criticism as being far too subjective to be of any transferrable use. The old criteria for identifying Older Hittite ductus include "elegance", "crowded script", "deep impressions". The current research aims at using the latest photogrammetric technology to describe these characteristics in measurable terms, for Hittite and Syrian tablets.