This book brings together pioneering studies on the world's oldest
literature, composed in the extinct language Sumerian and written on clay
in the cuneiform (wedge-shaped) script. All the contributions are based on
the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature (ETCSL), a project of the
Faculty of Oriental Studies at Oxford University whose focus is on the best
documented period of Sumerian literature, compositions recorded some 4,000
years ago in southern Iraq. The ETCSL consists of transliterations and
translations of nearly 400 compositions and is accessible via the Internet.
It is the only linguistically annotated and translated corpus of an ancient
Near Eastern language.
Each of the main chapters in the book uses the ETCSL to approach a specific
question relating to one or more compositions in the corpus, exploiting the
possibilities the corpus offers for quantitative research and statistical
analysis. In addition to these case studies, the book includes
introductions to Sumerian literary language and corpus-linguistic
approaches to research, as well as a catalogue of compositions. The
material, methods, and results will appeal to those interested in Sumerian,
ancient literature, and the analysis of languages using a corpus.