A cuneiform corpus, interpretation and knowledge transfer

cuneiformThe Cuneiform Commentaries Project (CCP) at the University of Yale in the United States allows anyone, whether a scholar or the general public, to see how people in early history discussed texts and interpreted them.

Ancient writings on cuneiform – clay tablets – have been gathered together on the project website as a corpus (a collection of texts).

The site “houses the world’s oldest cohesive group of hermeneutic texts — about 850 commentaries from Assyria and Babylonia. It provides background information on the genre and a searchable catalog, as well as photos, drawings, and translations of individual commentary tablets. There is also an index of where each commentary originated. Some of the ancient commentaries are fragments, but others have several hundred lines, including one that has about 500 entries. Eventually, the website will provide fully annotated electronic editions of all known commentary tablets“.

The project’s director notes that working on these texts “makes us think in more sophisticated ways about textual interpretation in general […adding that] judges do it when they read the law […]. He also explains that the commentaries “influenced royal decision making, just as legal and religious interpretations have a significant impact on modern life“.

You can read the detailed press release on the Yale website here, and consult the Cuneiform Commentaries Project website here.

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hand gesture body languageYou might also be interested in this post on a translation of ancient Chinese legal texts, and this one about corpus linguistics.

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