The development of writing

Not only the shape, but also the use of the sign had been changing. The barley sign could now be used in two ways.

It could represent barley, as on this tablet, which tells us that Urra-ilum was given barley.

It could also be used to represent a sound. The Sumerian word for barley was 'she'. So the barley sign was used to represent the sound 'she' in a word.

For example, this tablet tells us about fig cakes given out from the temple. The Sumerian word for fig cake is 'she-er-ku'.



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