New Perspectives in the Study of Third Millennium Akkadian: Notes

*  The present article is a revised English version of the author’s “Zur Stellung des Ur III-Akkadischen innerhalb der akkadischen Sprachgeschichte,” in: J.-W. Meyer and W. Sommerfeld, eds., 2000 v. Chr. - Politische, wirtschaftliche und gesellschaftliche Entwicklung im Zeichen einer Jahrtausendwende (=Colloquien der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft, vol. 3; Saarbrücken 2003 [in press]). It is derived from a paper read in March 2003 at the University of Chicago, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of California at Los Angeles. Upon the request of R. K. Englund, the annotated and slightly modified manuscript is made available in this format to reach the wider readership of a networked community.


The abbreviations used here follow the standard of the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative. Additional abbreviations are:

   IMGULA 3/1 W. Sommerfeld, Die Texte der Akkad-Zeit, 1. Das Dijala-Gebiet: Tutub (=IMGULA 3/1; Münster 1999).

   IMGULA 5 M. Hilgert, Akkadisch in der Ur III-Zeit (=IMGULA 5; Münster 2002).


1  For the size of the Akkadian cuneiform text corpus known to date, see most recently C. Peust, "Über ägyptische Lexikographie," Lingua Aegyptia 7 (2000) 254.


2  Throughout this article, the term “phenomenological” refers to phenomenology not in its specific definition as a philosophical methodology, but in its more general sense, i.e., pertaining to the description and classification of phenomena as they appear, without inquiring into their explanation or cause.


3  For selected references to the pertinent secondary literature, see IMGULA 5, p. 5, n. 2.


4  Individual aspects of this “interplay” are analyzed successfully in the context of studies addressing the orthography and (historical) phonology of the Akkadian language; see, e.g., IMGULA 3/1, pp. 18-22; W. Sommerfeld, “Bemerkungen zur Dialektgliederung Altakkadisch, Assyrisch und Babylonisch,”in G. J. Selz, ed., Festschrift für Burkhart Kienast (=AOAT 274; Münster 2003) pp. 569-586 (Sargonic Akkadian); IMGULA 5, pp. 65-79 (Ur III Akkadian); W. Sommerfeld apud W. von Soden, GAG3, pp. 35-36, §30* (Old Babylonian); W. Mayer, Tall Munbaqa-Ekalte II. Die Texte (=Ausgrabungen in Tall Munbaqa-Ekalte, vol. 2 [=WVDOG 102]; Saarbrücken 2001) pp. 36-37 (local dialect, ca. second half of the 2nd millennium B.C.); K. Deller, "Zweisilbige Lautwerte des Typs KVKV im Neuassyrischen," OrNS 31 (1962) 7-26; idem, “Studien zur neuassyrischen Orthographie,” OrNS 31 (1962) 186-196 (neo-Assyrian); M. P. Streck, “Keilschrift und Alphabet,” in D. Borchers, F. Kammerzell and S. Weninger, eds., Hieroglyphen, Alphabete, Schriftreformen (=Lingua Aegyptia ­ Studia Monographica 3; Göttingen 2001) pp. 77-97 (neo- and Late Babylonian); see also A. Westenholz, “The Phoneme /o/ in Akkadian,” ZA 81 (1991) 10-19.


5  J. Huehnergard, "New Directions in the Study of Semitic Languages," in J. S. Cooper and G. M. Schwartz, eds., The Study of the Ancient Near East in the Twenty-First Century: The William Foxwell Albright Centennial Conference (Winona Lake, Indiana, 1996) 256, 262-263.


6  For these socio-linguistic categories classifying the synchronic variations of an (historical) language and correlating with the extra-linguistic dimensions of place, social situation, and social class, respectively, see, e.g., E. Coseriu, Einführung in die Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (Tübingen 1988) pp. 280-286; G. Berruto, “Varietät,” in U. Ammon, N. Dittmar and K. J. Mattheier, eds., Sociolinguistics/Soziolinguistik (=Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft 3.1; Berlin, New York 1987) pp. 266-267.


7  Many examples of such more or less informal personal memoranda, frequently written in the first person, are found within the Old Assyrian text corpus; see, e.g., A. M. Ulshöfer, Die altassyrischen Privaturkunden (=FAOS Beihefte 4; Stuttgart, 1995) pp. 26, 28-30, 245-268, 324-392. For a possible Akkadian business memorandum from the Ur III period, see IMGULA 5, p. 23, no. 11.


8  In addition to I. J. Gelb, MAD 22 and 3, a characterization and documentation of pre-Sargonic Akkadian evidence may be found in A. Westenholz, “Personal Names in Ebla and in Pre-Sargonic Babylonia,” ARES 1 (1988) 99-117; M. Krebernik, “Die Texte aus Fara und Tell Abu Salabih,” OBO 160/1, pp. 261-270. For the textual tradition of the Sargonic period, see, e.g., A. Westenholz, “The Old Akkadian Period: History and Culture,” OBO 160/3, pp. 18-28, 74-78; IMGULA 3/1, pp. 2-3, 5.


9  For a discussion of the difficulties involved in analyzing the semitic onomastic evidence from the Ur III period, see IMGULA 5, pp. 89-91, 95.


10  See, e.g., most recently M. Krebernik, “Zur Struktur und Geschichte des älteren sumerischen Onomastikons,” in M. P. Streck and S. Weninger, eds., Altorientalische und semitische Onomastik (=AOAT 296; Münster 2002) pp. 1-2, n. 1.


11  See, e.g., GAG3, p. 23, §19a; M. P. Streck, Lingua Aegyptia ­ Studia Monographica 3, 88.


12  In addition to the syllabogram inventory used for the graphic representation of Akkadian and the marked indifference toward the phonemic features voiceless, voiced, and "emphatic" (see §2.10, above), the mostly implicit representation of consonantal length may be addressed as another rather obvious characteristic of 3rd millennium Akkadian orthography (see, e.g., GAG3, 11, §7d). Even in cuneiform texts from the Ur III period, only a comparatively small number of Akkadian forms show an explicit expression of consonantal length; see IMGULA 5, pp. 313-315.


13  For a more detailed description of past Assyriological research on 3rd millennium Akkadian sources and the early history of Akkadian, see IMGULA 5, pp. 5-15.


14  A. Ungnad, Materialien zur altakkadischen Sprache (bis zum Ende der Ur-Dynastie) (=MVAG 20/2 [1915]; Leipzig 1916) 4.


15  See IMGULA 5, pp. 7, 12.


16  I. J. Gelb, MAD 22, p. 1.


17  MAD 22, p. 18.


18  MAD 3, p. viii.


19  MAD 22, pp. 18-19; see IMGULA 5, pp. 8-10.


20  A. Westenholz, “Some Notes on the Orthography and Grammar of the Recently Published Texts from Mari,” BiOr 35 (1978) 163, n. 24.


21  R. M. Whiting, AS 22, pp. 16-18.


22  This aspect of the Sargonic orthographic system, with examples of pertinent syllabogram pairs and triples, is discussed by W. Sommerfeld in IMGULA 3/1, pp. 18-22, 26-28, and in “Bemerkungen zur Dialektgliederung Altakkadisch, Assyrisch und Babylonisch,” AOAT 274, pp. 572-576. For the widespread abandonment of these orthographic conventions in the Ur III period, see IMGULA 5, pp. 120-133.


23  AOAT 274, 585-586.


24  Published as IMGULA 5.


25  The central database of the CDLI currently numbers over 57,500 published and unpublished Ur III texts, not including the ca. 1400 Ur III tablets from Garshana to be published by D. I. Owen and R. Mayr. Owen informs me that these texts include many Akkadian language elements.


26  See IMGULA 5, p. 18.


27  See the pertinent entries in the catalog of Akkadian cuneiform texts from the Ur III period provided in IMGULA 5, pp. 20-49.


28  See IMGULA 5, pp. 20-49.


29  For a concise typology of Akkadian proper names in the Ur III period, see IMGULA 5, pp. 51-65.


30  See the examples and discussion in IMGULA 5, pp. 80-85.


31  For the extent and significance of innovative linguistic features in Akkadian personal names from the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st millennia, see M. P. Streck, “Sprachliche Innovationen und Archaismen in den akkadischen Personennamen,” in M. P. Streck and S. Weninger, eds., Altorientalische und semitische Onomastik (=AOAT 296; Münster 2002) pp. 109-122.


32  For evident reflections of socio-cultural innovations in the contemporary Akkadian onomasticon, see M. Hilgert, “Herrscherideal und Namengebung: Zum akkadischen Wortschatz kyriophorer Eigennamen in der Ur III-Zeit,” in N. Nebes, ed., Neue Beiträge zur Semitistik (=Jenaer Beiträge zum Vorderen Orient 5; Wiesbaden 2002) pp. 39-76.


33  For the methodological justification of this comparison, see IMGULA 5, pp. 97-98.


34  See IMGULA 5, pp. 97-168.


35  See IMGULA 5, pp. 98-119.


36  See IMGULA 5, pp. 101-102.


37  Compare R. M. Whiting, AS 22, pp. 123-126, nos. 36 (QA) and 104 (IA).


38  See IMGULA 5, p. 118, no. 266.


39  See IMGULA 5, p. 112, no. 015.


40  See IMGULA 5, p. 671a, s.v. ŠE.


41  See IMGULA 5, p. 104, no. 107.


42  See IMGULA 5, p. 106, no. 167.


43  See IMGULA 5, pp. 106-107, no. 173.


44  See IMGULA 5, p. 114, no. 102.


45  See IMGULA 5, p. 115, no. 131.


46  For a comprehensive list of these syllabograms, see IMGULA 5, pp. 103-119.


47  See IMGULA 5, pp. 120-133.


48  See, with examples, IMGULA 5, pp. 98-99, 330, n. 56.


49  See IMGULA 5, pp. 134-156.


50  This fact was noted already by A. Westenholz, “Some Notes on the Orthography and Grammar of the Recently Published Texts from Mari,” BiOr 35 (1978) 163, n. 24.


51  See IMGULA 5, pp. 158-167.


52  For the currently attested exceptions from this rule, see IMGULA 5, pp. 163-164.


53  See IMGULA 5, pp. 158-167.


54  See §§ 4.6.1 and 4.6.2, above.


55  See § 4.6.3, above.


56  See, with examples, IMGULA 5, pp. 166-167 and n. 197; 263, n. 16; 271, n. 2; 419, n. 29; 462, n. 77; 487, n. 175.


57  Whether the existing differences noted above (§ 4.7) are sufficiently distinctive to warrant a terminological differentiation between Old Babylonian and Ur III Babylonian–the introduction of the latter term was kindly suggested to me by Martha T. Roth–depends on the intended accuracy and specification of the historical categorization. Although it appears reasonable to presume the existence of Ur III Assyrian dialect varieties identical with or ancestral to Old Assyrian, unequivocal textual evidence supporting this hypothesis is still lacking (see §4.6.5, above); the use of the term “Ur III Babylonian” would at least allow us to distinguish between these hypothetically contemporary dialects.


58  Compare S. Parpola, "Proto-Assyrian," in H. Waetzoldt and H. Hauptmann, eds., Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft von Ebla (=HSAO 2; Heidelberg 1988) pp. 293-298.


59  See R. M. Whiting, AS 22, p. 18.


60  See W. Sommerfeld, "Bemerkungen zur Dialektgliederung Altakkadisch, Assyrisch und Babylonisch," AOAT 274, pp. 583-586.


61  The development of a standard language on the basis of a regional language variety as a means of supraregional communication is a widespread and well-known socio-linguistic phenomenon. A “modernization” or “democratization” of the occasionally obsolete standard language may occur through the influence of dialects and colloquial koines simultaneously used within the same socio-cultural or political sphere. For the development of standard languages and the socio-linguistic analysis of related processes, see the concise summary by F. Haneš, “Herausbildung und Reform von Standardsprachen,” in U. Ammon, N. Dittmar and K. J. Mattheier, eds., Sociolinguistics/Soziolinguistik (=Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft 3/2; Berlin, New York 1988) pp. 1506-1516.


62  For this line of argumentation, see W. Sommerfeld, AOAT 274, pp. 584-585.


63  OAIC 53, 15; B. Kienast and K. Volk, FAOS 19, pp. 156-157.


64  OAIC 52, 8; see B. Kienast and K. Volk, FAOS 19, p. 162.


65  For these forms and their historical significance, see W. Sommerfeld apud M. Hilgert, IMGULA 5, p. 170, n. 205.