Words @ Tablets

Personal Cosmic Game

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Words Win, 8-6

Did the Akkadian scribes of Tell Leilan realize that four thousand years after they scribbled on their tablets that their handiwork would be unearthed and described by archaeologists for clues to the chronology (& meaning) of life (& civilization) on planet Earth?

Tell Leilan Schoolhouse Tablets LinkIt is remarkable that the Tell Leilan archive has survived the passage of time and the other forces of nature. The fact that this ancient archive survived and became of interest to inquiring minds is the inspiration for this particular personal cosmic baseball game.

Lauren Ristvet Lauren Ristvet is a good example of a contemporary inquiring mind. Referred to by her aunt [at the "crackpot chronicles" as]...one of the brightest and best of the younger generation...] Ristvet has helped excavate the ancient Akkadian tablets that comprise the home team for this game. Her knowledge in this area is based on her archaeological work in the Near East.

...[A] one-room house was uncovered with a doorway to the street. Most of this house was destroyed by a large modern pit, rendering excavation difficult. In the northwestern corner of the room, a stack of fragmented Akkadian school texts and one administrative text (studied by L. Milano) was on the floor. (Lauren Ristvet, Thomas Guilderson and Harvey Weiss, "The Dynamics of State Development and Imperialization at Third Millennium Tell Leilan, Syria": 2004).

Lucio Milano is another example of the contemporary inquiring mind that seeks buried wisdom. His research activity bears on the history of Syria-Mesopotamia in the III and II millennia. His main projects concern economic history (history and technology of food and cuisine), philology (publication of III millennium, and especially Ebla texts) and lexicography (administrative Ebla lexikon). Tell Leilan Project at Yale University

Knowledge of the past leads to wisdom in the future and forever the present remains.

The ancient tablets were excavated by archaeologists in 2002. The schoolroom tablets were likely created around 2300 BCE. Archaeologists conclude that the tablets were created during a period when the area was under the influence of a strong Akkadian- organized economic imperialism.

The schoolroom's dimensions are 4.83 by 4.35 meters and its construction is in the typical Akkadian brick style. (Square bricks measuring 35 by 35 by 8 or 9 centimeters). The exciting discovery of the tablets in the schoolroom confirmed the existence of an imperial domain ruled by the Akkadians in the 3rd millennium. Historians and scholars were however for many years apparently baffled at the rapid demise of this civilization in the northern Mesopotamia region of the Near East. The end of the Akkadian empire was sudden.

Sometimes you do need a weatherman to tell you which way the wind is blowing.

Tell Leilan Schoolroom Tablets
Akkadian Schoolroom Tablet
Scientists, including archaeologists, paleoclimatologists and others realized that the empire's rapid collapse was caused by a dramatic shift in the region's climate. Mother nature, as it were, was responsible for the dramatic demise of Akkadian imperial civilization more than four thousand years ago.

This new outlook suggests, for instance, that the Akkadian Empire in Mesopotamia may have been one of the earliest complex societies felled by severe drought. The Akkadian Empire was established around 2300 B.C., linking rain-fed agricultural fields in northern Mesopotamia with irrigation agriculture in the south. The empire stretched from the present-day Persian Gulf into Turkey before it abruptly collapsed less than 200 years later.

By 2170 B.C., archaeological records document a mass exodus from the north, with settlements abandoned and refugees pouring into southern Mesopotamia. Excavations at one of these settlements, Tell Leilan, show that the collapse is marked by a thick layer of windblown dust without any artifacts. Three hundred years later, smaller and more nomadic groups finally ventured north again. Researchers found the same telltale signature of drought in a deep-sea sediment core drilled from the Gulf of Oman. The core documents a dramatic 300-year period of windblown dust that could be dated to roughly the same period as the Akkadian collapse. Chemical traces in the dust allowed the scientists to pinpoint its origins in Mesopotamia.

Are the words needed to advance culture and civilization more central to unearthing the wisdom of the past than decoding which way the wind does or does not blow? This personal cosmic baseball game suggests the answer is yes.

A History of Writing Link

Team Rosters








01-20-2007 21:52:40  
Lineup: Words
Amanuensis        C
Factotum          CF
Diffident         SS
Platonic          3B
Ort               2B
Socratic          1B
Syllogism         RF
Puerile           LF
Metadata          P
Lineup: Tablets
L02-45            3B
L02-44            2B
L02-39            1B
L02-07            LF
L02-19            RF
L02-20            C
L02-18            CF
L02-06            SS
L02-21            P
     Inn. 1: Words
[Starter] L02-21
Amanuensis        8          . . .
Factotum          1B         . . X
Diffident         BB         . X X
Platonic          7          . X X
Ort               6-3        X X .
     Inn. 1: Tablets
[Starter] Metadata
L02-45            BB         . . X
L02-44            4-6-3 DP   . . .
L02-39            2B         . X .
L02-07            5-3        . X .
     Inn. 2: Words
Socratic          1B         . . X
Syllogism         9          . . X
Puerile           BB         . X X
Metadata          2-3 SAC    X X .
Amanuensis        1B         . . X 2
Factotum          2B         . X . 1
Diffident         7          . X .
     Inn. 2: Tablets
L02-19            6          . . .
L02-20            8          . . .
L02-18            7          . . .
     Inn. 3: Words
Platonic          7          . . .
Ort               2B         . X .
Socratic          3B         X . . 1
Syllogism         4-3        X . .
Puerile           4-3        X . .
     Inn. 3: Tablets
L02-06            1B         . . X
L02-21            3-1 SAC    . X .
L02-45            BB         . X X
L02-44            9          . X X
L02-39            1B         . X X 1
L02-07            5-3        X X .
     Inn. 4: Words
Metadata          5-3        . . .
Amanuensis        1B         . . X
                  WP         . X .
Factotum          5-3        . X .
Diffident         1-3        . X .
     Inn. 4: Tablets
L02-19            8          . . .
L02-20            6-3        . . .
L02-18            5-3        . . .
     Inn. 5: Words
Platonic          4-3        . . .
Ort               4-3        . . .
Socratic          8          . . .
     Inn. 5: Tablets
L02-06            5-3        . . .
L02-21            K          . . .
L02-45            5-3        . . .
     Inn. 6: Words
Syllogism         1-3        . . .
Puerile           1B         . . X
Metadata          1-3 SAC    . X .
Amanuensis        HR         . . . 2
Factotum          5-3        . . .
     Inn. 6: Tablets
L02-44            1B         . . X
L02-39            1B         . X X
L02-07            BB         X X X
L02-19            2B         X X . 2
L02-20            1B         X . X 1
L02-18            7 SACF     . . X 1
L02-06            1B         . X X
L02-21            4          . X X
L02-45            E-4        X X X
L02-44            BB         X X X 1
L02-39            6-3        X X .
     Inn. 7: Words
Diffident         3B         X . .
Platonic          1B         . . X 1
Ort               1-3 SAC    . X .
Socratic          1B         . X .
X@4:Platonic      8-2        . X .
Syllogism         1B         . . X 1
Puerile           8          . . X
     Inn. 7: Tablets
L02-07            5-3        . . .
L02-19            7          . . .
L02-20            7          . . .
     Inn. 8: Words
Metadata          K          . . .
Amanuensis        8          . . .
Factotum          1B         . . X
Diffident         K          . . X
     Inn. 8: Tablets
L02-18            K          . . .
L02-06            6          . . .
L02-21            1B         . . X
L02-45            HBP        . X X
L02-44            BB         X X X
L02-39            1-3        X X .
     Inn. 9: Words
Platonic          6-3        . . .
Ort               1B         . . X
Socratic          5-4 F      . . X
Syllogism         1B         X . X
[Relief] L02-15
Puerile           6-3        . X .
     Inn. 9: Tablets
L02-07            4-3        . . .
L02-19            1B         . . X
L02-20            1B         . X X
L02-18            5-4-3 DP   X . .

Words Win, 8-6


Personal Cosmic Baseball Game Report
Words @ Tablets
Published: January 26, 2007

Game Notes

Word catcher Amanuensis with four hits, three runs batted in, and a two run home run has earned the Most Cosmic Player (MCP) of the game award. When not working at the plate, Amanuensis could be seen on the dugout bench charting each pitch sent down the tube by opponent pitchers (L02-21, L02-15).

The Tablets had a wild sixth inning, scoring five runs on five hits, 2 walks, a sacrifice and an error, to tie the game. The error by Word shortstop Ort did not help matters.
Related Links

kyoone'if˘rm [Lat.,=wedge-shaped], system of writing developed before the last centuries of the 4th millennium b.c. in the lower Tigris and Euphrates valley, probably by the Sumerians. The characters consist of arrangements of wedgelike strokes generally impressed with a stylus on wet clay tablets, which were then dried or baked. The history of the script is strikingly parallel to that of the Egyptian hieroglyphic (see also alphabet and inscription ). The normal Babylonian and Assyrian writing used a large number (300ľ600) of arbitrary cuneiform symbols for words and syllables; some had been originally pictographic. There was an alphabetic system, too, making it possible to spell a word out, but because of the adaptation from Sumerian, a different language, there were many ambiguities. A single symbol could be used to represent a concept, an object, a simple sound or syllable, or to indicate the category of words requiring additional definition. Cuneiform writing was used outside Mesopotamia also, notably in Elam and by the Hittites (see Anatolian languages ). There are many undeciphered cuneiform inscriptions, apparently representing several different languages. Cuneiform writing declined in use after the Persian conquest of Babylonia (539 b.c.), and after a brief renaissance (3dľ1st cent. b.c.) ceased to be used in Mesopotamia. A very late use of cuneiform writing was that of the Persians, who established a syllabary for Old Persian. This is the writing of the Achaemenids (mid-6th cent. b.c.ľ4th cent. b.c.), whose greatest monument is that of Darius I at Behistun. Key discoveries of cuneiform inscriptions have been made at Nineveh, Lagash, Uruk, Tell el Amarna, Susa, and Bogazk÷y. Two great names in the interpretation of cuneiforms are those of Sir Henry C. Rawlinson and G. F. Grotefend.

Many attempts have been made (particularly in the early parts of this century) to explain the course of history as a result of large scale climatic change. These theories are called climate determinism. The modern equivalent of this is an explanation from an ecological perspective, in which still external influences (change in natural environment, now including e.g. deforestation etc) are the driving factor. Another school emphasizes the interhuman relations and sociological changes as the dominant process. It is now clear that a combination of these and additional factors play a significant role (cultural changes, technological innovations, new tools). However, a new hot and dry period, starting around 500 BCE, which hastens environmental changes (overgrazing and deforestation) probably did contribute to weaken the Mesopotamian civilization and caused the ''center of civilization'' to move to northern latitudes. Literature: Karl W. Butzer, 'Environmental Change in the Near East and Human Impact on the Land', in Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, J.M.Sasson (ed.), p.123-p.151, Vol.I. with extensive references

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