Scribal Identities, Renaissances, and Dead Languages: From Barber Sumerian to Kitchen Latin
Keywords:mesopotamian writing, cuneiform, sumerian, latin, scribal identity, old babylonian
This article is an investigation of the role of the knowledge of dead languages, namely Latin and Sumerian, for scribal or scholarly identities. While at first glance there is no obvious reason why a “dead language” should be part of the curriculum of people who were about to become the foremost administrators of their time, knowledge of one or more dead languages seems to be a pillar of scholarly self-consciousness in many periods. The three groups under study are Mesopotamian scribes in general, especially those of the Old Babylonian schools; the galas/kalûs, professional lamentation singers that became scribes over the course of time; and Renaissance scholars, for whom a perfect grasp of Latin was of utmost importance. Those who did not meet the expectations of their colleagues were accused of speaking “Barber Sumerian” or “Kitchen Latin” and thereby excluded from the exclusive scholarly circles—or, as the Sumerian school texts put it, from becoming a true member of humanity.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2023 Studia Orientalia Electronica
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.