Cuneiform- The Written Language of Ancient Civilization

“Would you like to trade?”
“Yes I would love to!”

Just think, conversation as simple as this, originated from something as complicated as this:


Cumeiform tablet by Adena

Believe it or not, all of these little lines and indents in this clay tablet mean something. I mean really, who knows what? It could be for trade, taxes or law! This ancient art, is from where our language came from. Mesopotamians invented the first written language of “CUNEIFORM!”

You may ask, “What really IS cuneiform?” Well, cuneiform was the worlds first written language invented by the Mesopotamians. Today, Mesopotamia is located in modern Iraq, Syria and parts of Egypt. All in that area is also known as “The cradle of civilization!” Cuneiform was mostly used to keep track of things like trading, (as mentioned in the first part of this post,) and taxes/law.

Let’s imagine a situation:

In 3500 B.C.
You are hot working in the crops, counting the sheep of your land. The people are wanting things from you, but you are losing track. What do you do? Invent a written language of course! Now you will no longer have to worry about losing track of your sheep or your crops and who has payed their taxes and who has not! You are brilliant!

Of course, the Mesopotamians still had a spoken language, everyone has been able to speak a language since the very beginning of time. But a written language is a whole other story. And that is where cuneiform comes in. Cuneiform is not only the first written language, but it is also one of the only written languages originating from pictograms. Below is an example of how pictograms turned into cuneiform.


Pictogram by Adena

To make your own cuneiform language, follow these steps.
1. Draw a simple silhouette of your pictogram.
2. Turn your drawing sideways.
3. Recreate your pictogram from step 2, but only using straight lines detached from each other.

The only thing that’s unrealistic about this picture is that in those days, the Mesopotamian’s didn’t use paper and a pen. They used clay tablets and a wedge shaped stylus made of water reed. (Picture shown below)


This stylus is made out of an alder twig, not a reed.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this post all about cuneiform!