Glossary of an ancient world

Dictionary>> History • Iraq/US

Published: Monday 30 November -0001

imageWork on a dictionary that promises to improve our knowledge of an ancient civilisation has been completed 90 years after it began, outliving nearly 100 lexicographers who worked on it.

The Chicago Assyrian Dictionary decodes the Akkadian language spoken thousands of years ago in what is now Iraq, in parts of Syria, Iran, and Turkey. “About 28,000 entries provide a window into the history, culture, and society of ancient Mesopotamia,” says Martha Roth, editor-in-charge of the University of Chicago-supported project.

Akkadian was the language of one of the world’s earliest law codes, Hammurabi’s code, written in 1790 BC. “Personal letters, official records, recipes, religious texts, and medical prescriptions were references,” says Roth. Hard copy of the 10,000-page dictionary carries an almost US $2,000 price tag although it is also available for free online.

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