Proto-cuneiform Roundtable 2024

INSCRIBE is pleased to be hosting a roundtable discussion on the invention of cuneiform writing on the 5th of February 2024 in our department here in Bologna. We will be joined by leading specialists in early cuneiform studies. Our aim is to provide a space to discuss the state of Proto-cuneiform studies and outline new directions of research in this field. Proto-cuneiform is one of the earliest inventions of writing and has the potential to offer insights into primary script formation. Although thousands of Proto-cuneiform tablets have been published, the system remains very poorly understood. Important outstanding questions include the nature of signs and the social contexts of writing. We will explore these issues in three thematic discussion sessions, each introduced by short presentations proposing new avenues of research.


Venue: Aula Guglielmi - FICLIT

10.30 Welcome – Silvia Ferrara
10.35 Introduction – Kathryn Kelley

10.45 Discussion on signs types & functions:
Semantic and phonetic priming and their (possible) role in the evolution of Uruk IV / Uruk III scripts - Gebhard Selz

The transmission of scribal knowledge in the late Uruk period: comparing sign repertoires in lexical and administrative corpora - Massimo Maiocchi


13.00 Discussion on products, people, and institutions:
Products and product distribution: Overview and outstanding questions on Uruk’s economy - Kathryn Kelley

"Where is the wise? Where is the scribe?" The archaic colophons and their social setting - Camille Lecompte

14.15 Discussion on document types:
Formats and layouts and the early development of writing in Mesopotamia and Iran Jacob Dahl

Administrative tools in diachronic perspective: inscribed clay tags in proto-cuneiform and later corpora - Palmiro Notizia

15.30 General discussion and comparative perspectives:
Ludovica Ottaviano and Mattia Cartolano


In-person registration here: 

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