In Sumerian (and thus Akkadian, Hittite, etc) cuneiform, there are often several glyphs which have the same pronunciation (as far as we can tell). So the glyphs pronounced /u/ will be transliterated as U/U₁, Ú/U₂, Ù/U₃, U₄, U₅, and so on.

But how are these numbers assigned? Why is 𒌋 U₁ and 𒌑 U₂ rather than the other way around, for instance?

1 Answer 1


In theory, the signs with the lowest index numbers are the most frequent. In practice, the numbers were assigned when the pronunciation of signs were first identified. For example, after u1, u2, u3 were identified the next /u/ sign to be identified got called u4.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.