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Altorientalische Forschungen

Ed. by Novák, Mirko / Hazenbos, Joost / Mittermayer, Catherine / Suter, Claudia E.

CiteScore 2018: 0.21

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.137
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.709

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Volume 39, Issue 2


Writing in Anatolia: The Origins of the Anatolian Hieroglyphs and the Introductions of the Cuneiform Script

Willemijn Waal
Published Online: 2013-07-26 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1524/aofo.2012.0020


This article argues that the Anatolian hieroglyphic script, which is generally thought to have been an invention of the second half of the second millennium BCE, has its origins already in the late third/early second millennium BCE. The argument that Anatolian hieroglyphs are much older than hitherto assumed is based on a wide array of evidence, such as (signs on) seals and textual data from both Anatolia and the Aegean.

These data imply that Anatolian hieroglyphs, like virtually any other writing system, started out as a simple pictographic script used for basic economic and administrative records and over time developed into a full-fledged writing system, rather than being ‘invented’ in the Hittite Period. It is demonstrated that the enigmatic iṣurtum-documents found in Old Assyrian texts refer to documents written in Anatolian hieroglyphs, similar to the GIŠ.HUR/UṢURTUM/gulzattar documents in the Hittite Period. These documents, which have not been preserved because they were written on the perishable material wood, contained those types of texts that are conspicuously absent from the Old Assyrian and Hittite Periods. Since the Anatolians already had a script of their own, the cuneiform script never became firmly rooted within Anatolian society, and its usage was restricted to certain domains. This would explain why the cuneiform script was introduced (and subsequently abandoned) twice in Bronze Age Anatolia, whereas the Anatolian hieroglyphs continued to be used well into the first millennium BCE.

Keywords: lexical texts; Hittite cuneiform; wooden documents; GIŠ.HUR; IṢURTUM

About the article

Published Online: 2013-07-26

Published in Print: 2012-12-01

Citation Information: Altorientalische Forschungen, Volume 39, Issue 2, Pages 287–315, ISSN (Print) 0232-8461, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1524/aofo.2012.0020.

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