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West Asian numbers – Ancient Mesopotamia

By |2018-04-15T00:37:53+00:00September 16th, 2017|Science, West Asia|

Neolithic counting tokens The earliest way of writing down numbers was to carve notches in tally sticks, and this method spread from Africa all over Europe and Asia. But by about 9000 BC, people in West Asia began to use a different method of counting. Instead of tally sticks, people made clay tokens in different shapes. The shapes meant different [...]

West Asian mathematics – history of math

By |2018-05-10T10:12:08+00:00September 16th, 2017|Science, West Asia|

History of math: Sumerian multiplication table (2700 BC) Cuneiform multiplication table Once people in West Asia figured out how to write down numbers, about 3500 BC, they quickly began to want to use cuneiform to write down other mathematical ideas. (Read more about the invention of numbers) The earliest example of this that we have is from about 2700 BC. It [...]

Inheritance in West Asia – Mesopotamia and Iran

By |2018-04-25T23:41:43+00:00September 15th, 2017|Economy, West Asia|

Akkadian will (in the Louvre museum, Paris) This is the will of a man named Baal-Karad from Syria, who lived about 1300 BC, in the time of the New Kingdom in Egypt and the Trojan War in Greece. The scribe wrote Baal-Karad's will in cuneiform letters on a clay tablet. Baal-Karad said that when he died all his stuff should be divided [...]

The alphabet replaces cuneiform – West Asian writing

By |2018-04-07T17:04:54+00:00September 15th, 2017|Literature, West Asia|

This inscription from Kandahar, in Afghanistan, has Greek writing at the top, translated into Aramaic at the bottom. The Mauryan Indian king Ashoka put it up about 258 BC. When the Assyrian Empire collapsed in the 600s BC, the short-lived Babylonian Empire also used cuneiform writing. But when the Persians took over West Asia in 539 BC [...]

What is cuneiform? Mesopotamia – West Asian writing

By |2018-04-07T17:04:54+00:00September 15th, 2017|Literature, West Asia|

Cuneiform writing (now in LACMA, Los Angeles) Early Sumerian writing West Asia is probably the first place in the world where people figured out how to write. (Though Egyptian people began writing very soon afterwards.) People seem to have begun to write in Mesopotamia about 3000 BC, during the time of the Sumerians. The Sumerians, and everybody else in [...]

Epic of Gilgamesh – Mesopotamian writing

By |2018-04-13T01:43:06+00:00September 15th, 2017|Literature, West Asia|

Epic of Gilgamesh: Gilgamesh and his friend Enkidu fight the monster Humbaba, on an Assyrian cylinder seal from the 600s BC The real king Gilgamesh The Epic of Gilgamesh is a story about a Sumerian king (Gilgamesh) who seems to have lived around 2500 BC, in Mesopotamia. Story-tellers probably began telling this story not long after he [...]

Egyptian hieroglyphs – Invention of Writing

By |2018-04-19T13:54:11+00:00June 17th, 2017|Africa, Egypt, Literature|

Some of the earliest known hieroglyphs (Abydos, ca. 3200 BC) Soon after the Egyptian pharaohs united Egypt into one country, about 3200 BC, they needed government officials to run things, and they needed to keep records. Writing was invented soon afterwards. Nobody's sure whether the Egyptians invented writing for themselves, or got the [...]

Make a cuneiform tablet – Mesopotamia project

By |2018-04-07T17:04:22+00:00June 11th, 2017|Crafts, West Asia|

Cuneiform tablet, made by kids at Laurelhurst School, Portland Oregon About 3500 BC, people in West Asia began to use writing. Because nobody had invented paper yet, these people wrote on clay tablets, scratching the words in with a reed pen. You can use clay and a stick (or a reed) to make [...]