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(1,071 words)

Author(s): Streck, Michael P. (Munich)
[German version] An indigenous term deriving from the capital city of the Akkadian Dynasty (24th-22nd cents.) and refers to the language of the pre-Christian Semitic inhabitants of Babylonia (southern Mesopotamia) and Assyria (northern Mesopotamia). Akkadian is a written language. Its scope and versatility as well as the broad dissemination and chronological range of the literary tradition written in cuneiform script elevated Akkadian to one of the most significant languages of the ancient Orient. [1-5]. Akkadian is mostly described as a north-eastern/northern periphe…


(430 words)

Author(s): Streck, Michael P. (Munich)
[German version] Language of the southern quarter of Mesopotamia, approximately from the Persian Gulf up to Nippur. Whether the oldest cuneiform texts from Uruk (end of the 4th millennium BC) represent Sumerian is debated, but it is plausible, given the lack of attestations of other language traditions in younger texts (Proto-Euphratic). The large majority of cuneiform texts from 3rd-millennium Sumer are written in Sumerian; yet the fact that the orthography only gains accuracy over time prevents …


(157 words)

Author(s): Streck, Michael P. (Munich)
[German version] Designation of a language that is attested in Sumerian and Akkadian from the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC: Sumerian ki; Akkadian šuberû(m). It is found: 1) in a postscript to an incantation that is difficult to understand and possibly written in Hurrian [1]; 2) in a didactic text in the context of writing skills, next to Sumerian; 3) in a letter in the context of language skills, next to Akkadian and Amorite [2]; 4) in lexical lists enumerating languages, next to Sumerian, Akkadian, Am…

Proto-Euphratic, Proto-Tigridic

(370 words)

Author(s): Streck, Michael P. (Munich)
[German version] According to the thesis proposed by Landsberger [5] and expanded by Salonen [7; 8], Proto-Euphratic was one of two prehistoric, pre-Sumerian and pre-Semitic languages. It was located in southern Babylonia, whereas the other, Proto-Tigridic, prevailed in northern Babylonia, Assyria, upper Mesopotamia and Syria. This thesis is based on four postulates: 1) Sumerian has almost solely monosyllabic roots; therefore, polysyllabic roots are mostly borrowed. 2) The Sumerians immigrated to …


(208 words)

Author(s): Streck, Michael P. (Munich)
[German version] (Amurrite). Language of the Semitic, non-Akkadian personal names and loan-words in Sumerian and Akkadian texts of the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC. There are no texts in the Amorite language. The earliest evidence dates from the Ur III period ( c. 2100-2000 BC). By far the most significant part of the documentation dates from Old Babylonian times ( c. 2000-1500 BC). Its use stretched out from its principal area of use in Syria and northern Mesopotamia as far as southern Babylon. The sources dating from the Middle Babylonian era ( c. 1500-1200 BC) are limited to Syria. Amor…


(1,796 words)

Author(s): Streck, Michael P. (Munich) | Tosi, Renzo (Bologna) | Rüpke, Jörg (Erfurt)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient In the Ancient Orient, Akkadian scribes acted as grammarians, adding Sumerian translations to Akkadian flective forms, or who provided abstract grammatical explanations for Sumerian syllables. Grammatical texts took the form of a two-columned list; there were no grammatical rules expressed in sentence form. In order to achieve congruence between the non-isomorphic languages of Sumeria and Akkadia, grammarians made up artificial Sumerian forms, neglected morpho-synta…

Personal names

(4,094 words)

Author(s): Rix, Helmut (Freiburg) | García-Ramón, José Luis (Cologne) | Streck, Michael P. (Munich) | Haas, Volkert (Berlin)
I. General [German version] A. Function The PN is an individual, generally valid sign for naming a person. The need to use a PN exists when a  social contact group is too large to name its members after their role (e.g. mother) and exists in all historically tangible languages. The PN is a universal. Rix, Helmut (Freiburg) [German version] B. Creation of names In antiquity as also today, the PN is usually given soon after birth and kept later; yet it could also be supplemented or replaced by a new name (pseudonyms!). In developed languages, the possibility …