Ancient Mesopotamia 3300-331 B.C.E.: Arts Research Article from World Eras

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The Scribal Tradition. The oldest surviving literature in the world is written in the Sumerian language. Although these works may preserve parts of an ancient oral tradition, it is also possible that what was written was as fundamentally new as writing itself. Literacy was highly restricted in the ancient Near East. Only an elite could read and write. Most of the Sumerian literature that survives was written after about 2000 B.C.E., at a time when that language was no longer spoken by the general population but was maintained in schools and temples. Most people at that time spoke various Semitic languages, primarily Akkadian, which has its own literature. The creative process took place in a temple or palace, and it is possible that few ordinary people understood the meaning or imagery of the literature. Little is known about the poets. Few authors are named, and few works are...

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This section contains 4,113 words
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Buy the Ancient Mesopotamia 3300-331 B.C.E.: Arts Encyclopedia Article
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