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date: 26 February 2024



  • Stephanie Dalley


  • Linguistics
  • Near East

(1) Term used until 1869 for the language now known as Sumerian. (2) Term used since 1869 for the East Semitic language that is also known by its northern and southern dialects as Assyrian and Babylonian. The language is first attested from personal names of the mid-3rd millennium when it began to supersede Sumerian. It was written on clay, stone, and waxed writing boards in cuneiform script. A few late records preserve transcriptions into Greek. The latest datable records come from the early 1st cent. ce. As a spoken language it was gradually replaced by Aramaic from c.800 bce onwards.


  • E. Reiner, A Linguistic Analysis of Akkadian (1966).
  • J. Huehnergard, A Grammar of Akkadian (1997).
  • J. Huehnergard and C. Woods in R. D. Woodard (ed.), The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World’s Ancient Languages (2004), 218–287.