Old Akkadian is the earliest period of the language and can be dated from its appearance in Mesopotamia c.3000 BC to c.1950 BC, when the 3d dynasty of Ur fell. Thereafter, Akkadian evolved into two dialects, Assyrian, the tongue of ancient Assyria , and Babylonian, the language of ancient Babylonia . The history of both Assyrian and Babylonian can be roughly divided into three successive periods designated as Old (beginning c.1950 BC), Middle (c.1500–c.1000 BC), and New or Late (after c.1000 BC). Around 1500 BC, Babylonian began to be widely used, both in the Middle East and in international diplomacy. As time went on, Babylonian even replaced Assyrian to a large extent in the written records and literature of the Assyrian civilization. By the beginning of the Christian era, however, Babylonian had died out, and it remained a lost language until modern times, when it was deciphered during the first half of the 19th cent.
Unlike the other Semitic languages, which employed an alphabetic writing system, Akkadian and its later forms, Assyrian and Babylonian, were written in cuneiform . The Akkadians adopted cuneiform c.2500 BC from the Sumerians, a non-Semitic people who are believed to have invented it.
See also Akkad .
See I. J. Gelb, Old Akkadian Writing and Grammar (2d ed. 1961) E. Reiner, A Linguistic Analysis of Akkadian (1966) D. Marcus, A Manual of Addadian (1978).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Language and Linguistics
Browse By Subject
- Earth and the Environment +-
- History +-
- Literature and the Arts +-
- Medicine +-
- People +-
- Philosophy and Religion +-
- Places +-
- Australia and Oceania
- Britain, Ireland, France, and the Low Countries
- Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltic Nations
- Germany, Scandinavia, and Central Europe
- Latin America and the Caribbean
- Oceans, Continents, and Polar Regions
- Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and the Balkans
- United States, Canada, and Greenland
- Plants and Animals +-
- Science and Technology +-
- Social Sciences and the Law +-
- Sports and Everyday Life +-