World’s Oldest Written Language Has Its Own Dictionary Available Online for Free

akkadian free dictionary online

Akkadian cylinder seal. (Photo: Zunkir [CC BY 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons)

Looking to pick up a second language? If you really want to impress your friends, consider Akkadian, the now extinct language of Mesopotamia. And to help you, the University of Chicago has recently made its 21-volume Akkadian dictionary available with a free download online.

All jokes aside, Akkadian is a fascinating language—the earliest Semitic one—that has remained unspoken for 2,000 years. It's only in the last 200 years that scholars have been able to decipher the ancient language thanks to inscriptions on stone and clay tablets. In 2011, the University of Chicago finally published its epic dictionary in its entirety.

The project, which began in the 1920s, spanned more than 90 years as researchers diligently worked to create a comprehensive dictionary of the ancient Mesopotamian language. And while the printed volumes would cost more than $1,000 collectively, the free PDF download means that anyone can now study the language.

The language that brought us the Epic of Gilgamesh is even more complete thanks to the dictionary's ability to place words in context. Through the study of their meaning, we can learn even more about the incredible achievements of Mesopotamian society in fields like medicine, astronomy, mathematics, and linguistics.

h/t: [Open Culture]

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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