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A Comparative Approach to Methods of Inscribing Clay Tablets. Interaction and Innovation in Cyprus and Ugarit

Accepted version
Peer-reviewed

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Abstract

Clay tablets of different types played primary roles in Near Eastern and Aegean bureaucratic systems during the Bronze Age. Cyprus stands between these two traditions, but from surviving evidence does not seem to have developed its own well-established tradition of writing on tablets. Nevertheless, small numbers of tablets written in Cypro-Minoan script are found both on Cyprus and at Ugarit. This paper examines the methods of inscription of two sets of Cypro-Minoan clay tablets: three found at Enkomi in eastern Cyprus and four found at Ugarit in Syria. These tablets have been claimed to be strongly influenced by cuneiform, both in the typology and shape of the tablets and in some visual aspects of the signs written on them. However, more recent scholarship has rejected this ‘cuneiformisation’ as superficial resemblance. We compare these documents with examples from the Aegean, Ugarit and elsewhere in Cyprus. We consider features including find context, size and shape of document, layout, text formatting techniques, depth and method of incision and type of implement or stylus. This holistic approach to the physical properties of the documents allows us to better understand Cypriot responses to the wider sphere of Mediterranean and Near Eastern literacy.

Description

Title

A Comparative Approach to Methods of Inscribing Clay Tablets. Interaction and Innovation in Cyprus and Ugarit

Keywords

Is Part Of

New Approaches to the Materiality of Text in the Ancient Mediterranean: From Monuments and Buildings to Small Portable Objects

Book type

Publisher

Brepols

Publisher DOI

Publisher URL

ISBN

978-2-503-60156-4
Sponsorship
European Research Council (677758)