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Babylonian Ceremonial Script in Its Scholarly Context

By Carole Roche-Hawley


Since the advent of Assyriology in the early nineteenth century it has been known that two distinct scripts were used in ancient Mesopotamian inscriptions and documents. One, usefully characterized as “cursive,” was used for the ephemeral documents of “daily life” as well as on most library and archival texts. The other was a deliberately archaizing script reserved for ceremonial use. This ceremonial script, of Babylonian origin, contained both archaic and archaizing signs, and was in productive use for over two millennia, not only in Babylonia but occasionally also in Assyria and beyond. Yet to date there has been no systematic study devoted specifically to this ceremonial script, nor any published syllabary of the archaic and archaizing signs it employs. This volume attempts to rectify this deficiency by providing a substantive introduction to Babylonian ceremonial script, along with a history of its modern study, and several case studies of how the script was actually used. The introduction is supplemented by an edition of the paleographic lists of the second and first millennia BCE, which contain pedagogical inventories of the archaic and archaizing cuneiform signs, illustrating how the ceremonial script was taught, learned and transmitted in scholarly contexts.


Author bio:

Carole Roche-Hawley is an Assyriologist whose research focuses on the diffusion of Mesopotamian written culture in the Near East in the second and first millennia BCE, and on the history and uses of the various cuneiform scripts. She is a member of the Franco-Syrian Mission de Ras Shamra-Ougarit, and the author of two text editions: from Ras Ibn Hani (Syria) and from Malamir in Elam (Iran). She is research director at the French Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), and since 2022 has been appointed to the French foreign ministry as scientific director at the Institut français du Proche-Orient (IFPO), where she heads the department of archeology and ancient history, covering Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and the Palestinian territories.

Babylonian Ceremonial Script in Its Scholarly Context

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    CEAT vol. 1

    2 vols.

    Vol. 1

    158 pages

    6.30 x 9.45 inches

    978-1-948488-39-6 (hardcover)

    978-1-948488-40-2 (PDF)

    Vol. 2

    192 pages (including 103 plates)

    9 x 12 inches

    April 2024

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