There are a lot of people in the world that adore tattoos, not just for their specific, interesting, and mystical designs, but also for their symbolism and meaning. However, there are also those who don’t have such a good opinion about tattoos and don’t like them at all. But, those are rare people, believe us. Tattoos can have different shapes, sizes, and forms, and they can be done with the specific traditional black ink or also in colors. They can also belong to numerous categories, each of them enumerating a great number of tattoo designs. One such specific tattoo design is of writing systems. Today, we are going to talk about the Sumerian writing system and its script, the cuneiform, which is an inspiration for tattooists and tattoo lovers.
Sumerian is the first known language and its script, the cuneiform, is one of the earliest known forms of written expression.
- The history of the cuneiform writing system.
Cuneiform or Sumerian cuneiform is one of the earliest systems of writing, and it was invented by the Sumerians. It is distinguished by its wedge-shaped marks on clay tablets, which are made using a blunt reed for a stylus. The name itself simply means wedge-shaped.
Emerging in Sumer in the late fourth millennium BC to convey the Sumerian language, which has been a language isolate cuneiform writing started as a system of pictograms, stemming from earlier systems of shaped tokens, which were utilized for accounting.
In the third millennium, the pictorial representations became simplified and even more abstract as the number of characters in use grew smaller. The system consists of a combination of logo-phonetic consonantal alphabetic and syllabic signs.
However, the cuneiform writing has been gradually replaced by the Phoenician alphabet during the Neo-Assyrian Empire. By the second century AD, the script had become extinct, its last traces being found in Assyria, as well as Babylonia, and all knowledge of how to read it was lost unless it started to be deciphered in the 19th century.
When people think of the Sumerians, they usually think of cuneiform, which is their style of writing, as we already mentioned before. Cuneiform is the best known Sumerian symbol, and it is the simplest, as well as the earliest of the first written languages in the world.
The cuneiform writing systems have been in use for more than three millennia, through several stages of development, from the 31st century BC down to the 2nd century AD. Ultimately, it has been entirely replaced by alphabetic writing in the course of the Roman ear, and there are no Cuneiform systems which are currently utilized. It had to be deciphered as an entirely unknown writing system in the 19th century Assyriology. Successful completion of its deciphering is dated 1857.
- Cuneiform tattoos – what they represent?
So, as we already said, cuneiform is the distinct system of ancient writing, which was utilized in the Middle East as far back as 4000 BCE. The small but pointy, as well as elongated triangles, were probably formed by pressing a small wedge into the small tablets of wet clay, which served as the surface for writing.
Connected mostly with the Sumerians of southern Mesopotamia, it has been adapted, as well as utilized throughout the region. It was utilized here in many different ways. It has been utilized to record laws, such as the Code of Hammurabi. Also, it has been utilized to record maps, compiling medical manuals, as well as documenting religious stories or beliefs, among the other uses.
Some studies performed on this subject suggest that cuneiform literacy has not been reserved solely for the elite but was also common for the average and ordinary citizens.
The average citizens needed just a basic, functional knowledge of cuneiform script to write personal letters, as well as business documents. More highly literate citizens put the script to more technical use, listing some medicines, as well as diagnoses and also writing mathematical equations. Scholars were the ones that held the highest literacy level of cuneiform and mostly focused on writing as a complex skill and also an art form.
In tattoo art, as with some other existing writing systems in the whole world, cuneiform can be utilized to phonetically spell out some modern words, or it may also be copied directly from some texts from ancient times.
The cuneiform tattoo designs are beautiful, interesting, and also attractive, so there are a lot of people who are simply fascinated by them. Each of the symbols or signs in the Sumerian cuneiform writing system has its meaning, so it depends on the person which one he or she would like to choose. That is why you have to do deep research before you even decide to get your cuneiform tattoo and choose a symbol which you don’t have an idea what it means. But, if you choose to get a tattoo of a modern word, but in the cuneiform style, we suggest you do that, as it is probably the best style you may choose.