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Did Eureka lose its H?

Indeed, the Ancient Greek word εὕρηκα would be transcribed heurēka, with an H. The mark that looks like an apostrophe (the "rough breathing" or "spiritus asper") indicates the H ...
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13 votes

Are There Ancient Greek Words Descended From Sumerian?

Yes, a few: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:Ancient_Greek_terms_derived_from_Sumerian They were mostly borrowed via Akkadian, and into other major classical languages of the Eastern ...
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12 votes

What is the difference between Greek zōē and bios?

These two words are actually cognate with each other; they show the differing reflexes in Greek of labiovelar consonants. In the noun ζωή zōē and the corresponding adjective ζωός zōos, the initial ζ ...
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11 votes
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Relation between Hebrew 'סמפוניה' and English 'Symphony'

They both come from Greek συμφωνία.This was used in ancient and mediaeval times as a name for various musical instruments, including a type of drum.
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10 votes

Wordplay in ancient texts

Aristophanes (Knights 21–26), much earlier than the Philogelos, punned on repeating molōmen auto, molōmen auto "let us go, that" ending up sounding like the taboo automolōmen "let us desert". ...
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9 votes
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What language(s) should I learn to read the Epic of Gilgamesh?

From Wikipedia: The literary history of Gilgamesh begins with five Sumerian poems about Bilgamesh (Sumerian for "Gilgamesh"), king of Uruk, dating from the Third Dynasty of Ur (c. 2100 BC). These ...
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9 votes

Why is it that Babylonian king names do not match their Akkadian equivalent?

This comes down to the ambiguities in the Cuneiform script. Cuneiform doesn't have a one-to-one correspondence between signs and sounds. The sign DIŊIR is a good example. The sign started out in ...
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9 votes
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A Lesson in Transcribing Egyptian Hieroglyphics

Short answer: Gardiner's classification system. It's what Unicode (and every major dictionary I know of) uses, and is quite comprehensive; pretty much anything you come across in everyday Egyptology ...
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9 votes
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Is the Dispilio tablet evidence of a pre-Sumerian and pre-Egyptian writing system?

Could this indicate a pre-cuneiform, pre-hieroglyphic writing system? It's possible, yes. But so could the Vinča symbols, or the Jiahu symbols. It's hard to prove a negative (i.e. prove that these ...
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8 votes

Etymology of Sanskrit नारक / नरक [nāraka / naraka]

The etymology is not entirely certain. The historical linguist Manfred Mayrhofer in his Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Altindoarischen (vol. 1, pg. 37) essentially says (this is paraphrased from German)...
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7 votes

What is this language? Is it an ancient language?

Some of these letters are clumsy imitations of Ancient South Arabian script, others are made up. It looks like a fake. Many years ago I worked as a volunteer at the National Museum in San’a. The ...
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7 votes

I have some questions about deciphering an ancient language

Truly, you have a great ambition. Don't give up!! But you cannot learn to talk an ancient language just from the way it is written. Heck, you cannot learn how any language is spoken from the way it ...
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6 votes

Why are the scripts of Crete known as "Linear"?

The linked Linear A Wikipedia article says “Archaeologist Arthur Evans named the script "Linear" because its characters consisted simply of lines inscribed in clay, in contrast to the more ...
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5 votes

Etymology of Sanskrit नारक / नरक [nāraka / naraka]

नर (nara) This is from Proto-Indo-European *h₂nḗr. Cognates include Ancient Greek ἀνήρ, genitive ᾰ̓νδρός, whence English andro-. नरक (naraka) According to hi.wiktionary: पुराणों और धर्मशास्त्रों ...
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5 votes
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Voiced aspirated alveolar trill

There is no phonetic difference between voiceless aspirated vs. unaspirated trill, and phonologically speaking, voiceless trills (and other sonorants) behave like they are aspirates. The distinction ...
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5 votes
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How different is Old Persian / Avestan / Farsi from each other?

Your first question: Avestan and Old Persian are the two attested Old Iranian languages. Both are very close to the reconstructed Old Iranian, and thus to one another. New Persian (Fārsī) is (mainly) ...
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4 votes

Why are the scripts of Crete known as "Linear"?

This has no source except an undergraduate language history class, but… I learned that the scripts were called Linear in opposition to Cuneiform ("wedge-shaped"), the other popular script found on ...
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4 votes
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How did the ancient Greeks say out loud "1" (which was written in another way)?

When counting, the Greeks (like everyone else) obviously used their word for “one”; they did not read the names of the letters that were used as numerals (α´, β´, γ´ etc.). It could be debated which ...
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4 votes

What was the diffusion and the use of dictionaries in ancient times? Every civilization with a dictionary?

As OP clarified in the comments: Bilingual list is a dictionary. Therefore, the oldest dictionaries would be the cuneiform lexical lists. These are attested from close to 4000 BCE, and are ...
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4 votes
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Can you build words by sound in Sumerian Cuneiform?

Yes, Sumerian scribes did sometimes write words entirely or partly phonetically using syllable signs. This could occur for several reasons: As Draconis already noted, grammatical prefixes and ...
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4 votes
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How to decode the Cuneiform ORACC data?

A is the conventional name for a particular cuneiform glyph, typically its most common or best-known pronunciation. But the sign A can be read as a, aya₂, e₄, ea, ŋa₁₀, or many others. The JSON is ...
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4 votes

Did Eureka lose its H?

just wanted to share some images One of the first attested uses in an English text: Source: Euclid, Henry Billingsley, John Dee, François De Foix Candale, John Day, and English Printing Collection. ...
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3 votes

Wordplay in ancient texts

One piece of ancient wordplay is the statement attributed to the oracle at Dodona: Ibis redibis nunquam per bella peribis which, depending on how you group the words, can be taken to bear either of ...
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3 votes

Wordplay in ancient texts

I believe the first recorded occurrence of a pun in written text was around 2100 BC, in the language of the Sumerians. In the epic of Gilgamesh when Utnapishtim warns the ruler of his city about the ...
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3 votes

What is the difference between Greek zōē and bios?

Regarding their meaning/usage during the "Classical" and "Hellenistic" period in non-technical literature, I would say ζωή refers the opposite of "death" in terms of existence, and is used for animals,...
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3 votes

Rules to constructing a proper compound noun in Ancient Greek

See Why "agoraphobia" not "agorophobia"? myia is a first declension noun, so originally in Greek the correct answer was myiaphagia, just as agoraphobia is actually the correct ...
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3 votes
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Rules to constructing a proper compound noun in Ancient Greek

The rules for the formation of compounds are explained in the more elaborate Greek grammars, but I think you are asking about this specific word. In Classical Greek there are quite a large number of ...
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3 votes

I have some questions about deciphering an ancient language

It is theoretically possible to decipher an undeciphered language, such as Linear B (Mycenean Greek). Old Chinese did not require decipherment ("Bone oracle script" did), but it did require a bit of ...
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2 votes

What language(s) should I learn to read the Epic of Gilgamesh?

Sumerian is a language isolate: no other language is known to be related to it. Akkadian and Ugaritic, on the other hand, are Semitic languages: they're related to each other (as well as to Hebrew, ...
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