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Remembering Akkad

Dictionaries being very much in the news these days (see this story, for example), it occurred to us to remember the Akkadians who came to prominence in Southern Mesopotamia 4360 years ago, i.e., in 2350 BC. The Akkadian civilization lasted for about 125 years, but it was an age of sudden cultural florescence. Today we call this region Iraq writ large, thus the basin of the Tigris and Euphrates, rivers that nourished the earliest civilizations and then, as now, fed the Persian Gulf. But what is the connection here? The connection is that the earliest known dictionaries ever used arose during the Akkadian empire in the form of cuneiform tablets showing Akkadian and Sumerian words side by side. The illustration above shows Mesopotamian writing.  The dictionary therefore goes back a right respectable number of years.  Neither the banning of dictionaries here and there—nor the burning of books generally—ever succeeds. Reference publishers instantly rise from their ashes. They set to work rebuilding whatever Libraries of Alexandria beady-eyed ignorance has happened last to burn—and to fill them with treasures that enlighten all eager readers searching for just the right word.
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Picture credit: http://keidahl.terranhost.com/Summer/WOH1012/Mesopotamia.html.

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