Dictionary of the Oldest Written Language–It Took 90 Years to Complete, and It’s Now Free Online

It took 90 years to com­plete. But, in 2011, schol­ars at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go final­ly pub­lished a 21-vol­ume dic­tio­nary of Akka­di­an, the lan­guage used in ancient Mesopotamia. Unspo­ken for 2,000 years, Akka­di­an was pre­served on clay tablets and in stone inscrip­tions until schol­ars deci­phered it dur­ing the last two cen­turies.

In the past, we’ve pub­lished audio that lets you hear the recon­struct­ed sounds of Akka­di­an (Hear The Epic of Gil­gamesh Read in the Orig­i­nal Akka­di­an and Enjoy the Sounds of Mesopotamia). Now, should you wish, you can down­load down­load PDFs of U. Chicago’s Akka­di­an dic­tio­nary for free. All 21 vol­umes would cost well over $1,000 if pur­chased in hard copy. But the PDFs, they won’t run you a dime.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Largest His­tor­i­cal Dic­tio­nary of Eng­lish Slang Now Free Online: Cov­ers 500 Years of the “Vul­gar Tongue”

The The­ater Dic­tio­nary: A Free Video Guide to The­atre Lin­go

Hear The Epic of Gil­gamesh Read in the Orig­i­nal Akka­di­an and Enjoy the Sounds of Mesopotamia

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Comments (5)
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  • Eric Pascual says:

    I com­mend you for mak­ing this mon­u­men­tal work avail­able to the pub­lic, free. It’s a most com­mend­able ser­vice to human­i­ty, most espe­cial­ly to those inter­est­ed in lan­guages. But for­give me, isn’t the old­est writ­ten lan­guage Sumer­ian?

  • There is something older than sumerian says:

    There is some­thing old­er than sumer­ian the tablets of tar­taria are like 7500 years ago

  • Debra Dees says:

    The book of leaves

  • john g. m. sharp says:

    Kudos to the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go for mak­ing this incred­i­ble project avail­able to schol­ars, stu­dents and the gen­er­al pub­lic.

  • Jean-Claude BERNARD of Palaiseau (France) says:

    Many thanks and con­grat­u­la­tions for mak­ing this remark­able work on a fun­da­men­tal cul­tur­al resource avail­able to the gen­er­al and spe­cial­ized pub­lic inter­est­ed.
    How­ev­er, I think that Minoan and Etr­usc lan­guages (though not ful­ly deci­phered yet) might dis­play old­er ver­sions than those of both Akka­di­an and Sumer­ian lan­guages.
    Does this asser­tion make sense ?
    Your answer is wel­comed

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