Posts Tagged ‘cuneiform tablets’

1) Victorian sex survey:

“I opened it up and there were these questionnaires”— questionnaires upon which dozens of women, most born before 1870, had inscribed their most intimate thoughts.

In other words, it was a sex survey. A Victorian sex survey. It is the earliest known study of its type, long preceding, for example, the 1947 and 1953 Kinsey Reports, whose oldest female respondents were born in the 1890s.

2) What can happen to an absolutely priceless artefact during WWII:

Within a few years, he’d pawned the tablet, along with rare coins, to purchase the liquor store, the attorney said. But he soon paid back the pawn broker and reclaimed the coins and tablet.

3) Constance McMillen thing. By now everybody surely must know what happened, so I’ll just point to the account of her school mate about the school mate’s trials and tribulations at the hands of the omnipotent attention-whoring Gay Mafia, pulled straight from the comment the cross-burning ignorant hick’s left at another blog (her name was later pulled from her public Facebook profile, and how stupid you have to be to have a public profile when there’s a bunch of data-hungry lawyers prowling the internet in search of damning evidence? The lawyers who, I hope, do have the Screengrap app). Gee, it’s JUST LIKE In the Grove:

What people are failing to realize is that much of the fault of this whole stink lies with Constance, not her mistreatment by the school district, but her crazy-reckless need for attention. It sounds mean and horrible and like we planned it all specifically to embarrass Constance, but we didn’t. We let her have her prom with her girlfriend and her tuxedo and we went to party it up in the “boondocks” not because we wanted her rights violated, but so we could salvage what has turned into a total fiasco

Well. I can think of someone who’s failing to realize things; it’s not “the people” (whoever they might be).

Also, there are some photos from the no gay, disabled,  and otherwise different folks allowed prom here (again, pulled from Facebook accounts of those involved, and  again, not very smart, I’d say. Good for Constance though).

The most spectacularly failtastic bit of fail comes with this, though:

So, I guess it’s OK for two girls to kiss, as long as they aren’t real lesbians? Very cunning. Also, a girl in the other photo is wearing JEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANS.

I mean, jeans. This is hardcore stuff, guys. Like, a step away from fully fledged lesbianism or something. I’d pray for that girl, just in case.

As usual in cases like that, a plucky internet detective uncovered the Facebook groups those people (that is Itawamba blahblah  Highschool students) belong to and unsurprisingly:

And, if you look at the facebook profiles for the “secret prom” attendees you see the same pages recurring in their profiles:

Greenville Christian School
The Charleston Baptist Congregation
Little Creek Baptist Church
“I’m Proud To Be Christian” by Aaron Chavez Religious Center
Prayer In School Religious Center
I Love Jesus Religious Center
Freedom Rally 2010 “A call to Revival”
Dedicated to Christ
Going to Church Religious Center
God id Love Religious Organization
Jesus Daily Religious Organization
I’m a Christian & I’m Proud Religious Organization
The Resolve Tour Religious Organization
ChristBuild Inc Religious Organization
Christ In Action Non-Profit

CUTE. Clearly, what they need is moar Jesus in their lives OH WAIT-

Also, I personally agree with the following comment made about the latest developments in the Constance McMillen’s prom case:

If they [people who organised the no-;esbians-allowed prom — Sendai] keep digging that hole, they’ll soon be swimming in magma.

Dig faster.

I hope the original commenter will forgive me for quoting her verbatim, but I believe the comment i’s indicative of the attitude a sane person ought to preserve in face of the fail exhibited repeatedly by the Itawamba Highschool students, their parents and teachers, may a concert piano fall on their bigoted heads.

4) (I’m thinking about having a book-by-book reading orgy progress report on Twitter. Hmmm)


You know you’re a terrible terrible geek, when you’re laughing hysterically at something, and then immediately realise none of your friends would laugh hysterically with you. They would, maybe, snort contemptuously, shrug, and have one moar coffee to cleanse the dead language aftertaste from the delicate palate.


It is a law of humanities that every philologist ever  will at some point in their career have a terrible  moment of epic fail. This usually starts even before grad school, when you get a classical Japanese poem, which you then proceed to translate thus:

The lost ark of madness

Underwater emu murmurs


The languages especially susceptible to that sort of fail unfair treatment are those in which you don’t have spaces between words in the original notation, because then you have to know where which word ends, and sometimes, you just won’t know.

Until it’s too late!

Another type of  languages in which critical translation failures are likely to occur are the most ancient ones, where you sometimes seriously just won’t know period, or the text is partially damaged, so you’re left to make stuff up as you go theorize make educated guesses about what could fill in the lacunae.


In one corner, we have a Russian team of philologists, I. Diakonoff and N.B. Jankowska(2). In the other, the three cuneiform tablets that they analysed. The tablets were found during a campaign at an Armenian site that is called Argishtihenele. What was found at Argishtihenele apart from the three tablets was the remains of an Urartean fortress, but this is not very relevant to the topic at hand(3).

Now, the three tablets that were found in Argishtihenele were written in Elamite, a language that had been used in Iran a very long time ago(4). This made them terribly remarkable, because it might have actually been the first time tablets in  were found so far up north.

Anyway, D(iakonoff)& J(ankowska) were totally excited and high on coffee and cuneiform(5), and this is most likely the reason why they identified the tablets as little pieces of the Gilgamesh  epos in Elamite(6).

Granted, the tablets were sort of hard to read. As in, partially destroyed, and the cuneiform signs weren’t too easy on the eyes, either. And, to be frank, it may very well be that every philologist ever wants to find a fragment of the Gilgamesh epos in the language they study. Alas! D&J were caught red-handed in their momentaneous incompetence by Heidemarie Koch in the same journal (ZA = Zetschrift für Assyriologie) three years later:

In ZA 80 (1990) haben I.M. Diakonoff und N.B. Jankowska Fragmente dreier elamitischer Tontäfelchen publiziert, die bei Grabungen in der urartäischen Festung Argištihenele gefunden worden sind. Sie deuteten diese als elamische Variante des Gilgameš-Epos aus 8.-7. Jh. vor Chr. Eine genaue Untersuchung der Texte kann indessen zeigen, dass es sich um achämenidische Verwaltungstäfelchen handelt, die von Steuerabgaben und Korndeponierungen sprechen.

(In ZA 80 (1990) I.M. Diakonoff and N.B. Jankowska published fragments of three Elamite clay tablets that were found during the excavations in the Urartean fortress Argishtihenele. They interpreted the tablets as belonging to an Elamite version of the Gilgamesh epos from 8-7 century BCE. However, a careful study of the texts shows that they are in fact  administrative tablets about grain storage and taxes from the Achaemenid period.)

(Mah translation, all mistakes are belong to me. Emphasis also are belong to me)

(Of course, Skitt’s law sometimes also works IRL too, and H. Koch was later corrected by F. Vallat in NABU 1995/46, as duly noted by George in his awesome treatment/translation of the Gilgamesh epic(s))

So, are you laughing yet?

I thought not :(

(1)I made it up. But it’s pretty close to what some of us would sometimes get as the final result of their arduous toils.

(2)They’re actually good philologists, especially Diakonoff whose articles about something I distinctly remember reading. *Cough*. I forget about what, though.

(3) But nonetheless very interesting.

(4) I could tell you when in excruciating detail, but you probably wouldn’t be interested. Meh.

(5) I have to rationalize it away, somehow.

(6) This, I didn’t make up.