Emily Zeran

Early Sumerian at Šuruppak: A Secure Palaeography of the Texts from the EDIIIa “Tablet House”

Friedrich-Schiller University of Jena

Prof. Dr. Manfred Krebernik

This PhD project treats in detail the 138 texts written on clay tablets which can be confirmed to have been found in association with the architectural remains of a certain building at the ancient city of Šuruppak (modern Tell Fāra, Iraq). In doing so, the potential, as well as the limits, of palaeographical studies on cuneiform tablets will be explored, and a new methodology for undertaking such studies will be outlined. The outcome of this study will be a new sign list (NLAK) for the Fāra Period, to replace the Liste der archaischen Keilschriftzeichen of A. Deimel (1923). This new sign list will provide the readings/values of the cuneiform signs (as confirmed by statistical frequency) as well as a full commentary.

Defining a phase of script to the lifespan of one building will establish a “spine” around which other texts from Šuruppak may be grouped, in order to reconstruct the development of script (and its association with archaeological levels/areas) at this site. It is hoped that other such studies on early cuneiform corpora will one day be arranged alongside this in order to create a relative chronology of the (stylistic and linguistic) phases of cuneiform script between 3400-2300 BC. The envisioned “comprehensive palaeography” may also serve as the means by which the hundreds of cuneiform texts deriving from the art market may be re-contextualized.