Digging into the past

Hi there again, in this post we will tell you more about the Mesopotamian time, the Akkadian language and our first findings about the clay tablets.

Akkadian

Akkadian was a semitic language spoken in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq and Syria) between about 2,800 BC and 500 AD. It was named after the city of Akkad and first appeared in Sumerian texts dating from 2,800 BC in the form of Akkadian names.

The Akkadian cuneiform script was adapted from Sumerian cuneiform in about 2,350 BC. At the same time, many Sumerian words were borrowed into Akkadian, and Sumerian logograms were given both Sumerian and Akkadian readings. In many ways the process of adapting the Sumerian script to the Akkadian language resembles the way the Chinese script was adapted to write Japanese. Akkadian, like Japanese, was polysyllabic and used a range of inflections while Sumerian, like Chinese, had few inflections.

persian_cuneiform

A large corpus of Akkadian texts and text fragments numbering hundreds of thousands has been excavated. They include mythology, legal and scientific texts, correspondence and.. the oldest recipes.

The recipes

In Bottéro’s book The Oldest Cuisine in the World: Cooking in Mesopotamia we could find some more information about the tablets and its content. There are three tablets with recipes. Tablet C (YBC4648) is the smallest of the three (89 x 137 x 37 mm). It’s also the most damaged one. It contains only three recipes, separated by two horizontal lines after the first, and a single line after the second.  It’s contents connects closely to the other two tablets.

Here you can find two of the three recipes translated by Bottéro:

1 2

Here you can find a study by Alice L. Slotsky from Yale University, she made a transliteration, translation and a working recipe:

Akkadian:
me-e shirim shi-rum iz-za-az me-e tu-ka-an li-pi-a-am ta-na-ad-di [break in tablet] karsum ha-za-nu-um te-te-er-ri me-eh-rum shuhut innu i-sha-ru-tum ash-shu-ri-a-tum shi-rum iz-za-az me-e tu-ka-an li-pi-a-am ta-na-di [break in tablet] ha-za-nu-um zu-ru-mu da-ma sha du-qa-tim tu-ma-la kar-shum ha-za-nu-um te-te-er-ri me-he-er na-ag-la-bi

English Translation:
Meat (cooked in) Water. Meat is used. Prepare water; add fat, [break in tablet], mashed leek and garlic, and a corresponding amount of raw shuhutinnû. Assyrian style. Meat is used. Prepare water; add fat [break in tablet], garlic and zurumu with [break in tablet], blood, and mashed leek and garlic. Carve and serve.

Working Recipe:
Chop/slice/dice: (many) onions, shallots, garlic, chives, leeks, scallions. Fry in oil until soft. Brown all sides of an eye round pot roast in this mixture, add salt to meat and onion mixture. Turn down heat, and simmer until done in a small amount of water to which a quarter to a half bottle of Guiness stout has been added, turning once or twice during cooking. Remove meat. Boil down onion-beer mixtures until it is reduced to a thick

Sulmu!

Sulmu! – That’s Akkadian for ‘hello’!

Welcome on our blog, where we will guide you on our journey, which starts in Mesopotamia!

But first we will introduce ourselfs:

Our team consists of four students, all with a different background: Jana (Industrial Design Engineering-TUD), Samir (Mechanical Engineering -TUD), Omar (Industrial Design Engineering – TU/E) and Meryam (Architectural Engineering – TUD). We also work together with our teacher Jouke Verlinden, designer Maaike Roozenburg, curator of the Wereldmuseum Rotterdam, Alexandra van Dongen and guestcurator Abdelkader Benali.

grouppic2

From left to right: Omar, Samir, Alexandra, Meryam and Jana

In this project, which is part of the Minor Advanced Prototyping at TU Delft, we will be analysing several Mesopotamian clay tablets owned by Yale University by 3D scan. Our goal is to create a prototype that is suited to be in an exhibition in the Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam. Extended by interactive technologies like touch, feel, listen and perhaps smell we hope that the visitors experience the secrets of this ancient scriptures on a whole new level.

Stay tuned!