Archaic Bookkeeping: Early Writing and Techniques of Economic Administration in the Ancient Near EastHans J. Nissan, Peter Damerow and Robert Englund, translated by Paul Larsen (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago, 1993), 169 pp., $34.95.
Anyone interested in the economic life of ancient Babylonia, or in the roots of science, mathematics and writing, would probably appreciate this book. Based on an exhibition catalog of previously unexamined tablets of proto-cuneiform script, it is illustrated with black-and-white photographs of nearly every tablet discussed in the text and with detailed explanatory drawings of their decipherment. This book reports on how the latest computer-assisted decipherment methods have revolutionized our understanding of the earliest writing systems—proto-cuneiform and cuneiform, developed in fourth millennium Babylonia (present-day southern Iraq). The information contained on these tablets reveals much about the social context and function of notation, including how the development of written records influenced patterns of thought, the concept of number and the administration of household economies.
Eretz-Israel: Archaeological, Historical and Geographical Studies, Avraham Malamat Volume (24)