Ancient Orthographies Resources


The Phaedrus Kit
Earl Jackson, Jr.

Language and the Phaedrus

A working webliography

Nota Bene: This annotated list serves the philological side of the questions surrounding writing that emerge toward the end of the Phaedrus, and are covered in my commentaries Fourteen and Fifteen.

The sites on here about writing systems and morphology are interesting and fun in themselves, but also provide further contexts to understand my argument concerning the peculiarities of Socrates’s use of Theuth and Egypt to make his point.

This page has a sibling page in The Grapho-tekno or technonlogies of writing page, which deals with the philosophical questions around writing, and principally contemporary problems. It is meant to encourage a dialogical response to these Phaedrus issues in terms of :

  • early Jacques Derrida’s critique of Western „logocentrism“ and the theory „deconstruction“ that developed from that
  • our own technological revolution digitally, the „Future of the Book“ debates, etc.

Ancient Scripts of the World
A well organized site that really fires up the imagination!

Linear B
A welcome site about the Minoan language and its once mysterious orthrography.

The Harappa Shards
The pottery shards found in this area of Pakistan have been carbon dated at 5500 years old, which makes the inscriptions on them the oldest writing on record. If you can identify the language, please let someone know.

Ancient Sumerian Counting Tokens
Fascinating but basic introduction to the bullae, the tokens used to count and categorize contents for inventory or merchandising that is one of the origins of writing. And stay tuned for mySamuel R. Delany seminar, where we will really do to town on his use of this history in constructing his magnificent series of sword-and-sorcery tales, collectively known under the title, Return to Nevèrÿon.

Middle Egyptian
Beautifully organized, balanced and richly informative introduction to the „language of the pharoahs“ with special attention to the grammatical/syntactical functions fo the heiroglyphs. You’ll have fun here.

The Papyrus of Ani
Probably much better known under its other title, The Egyptian Book of the Dead. Valuable information on heiroglyphs and the strategies of reading them.

Journal of Cuneiform Studies Home Page
I hope this is still here. I haven’t seen it lately.

Akkadian Language Page
A great introduction to the Grammar and the history of the Akkadian Language. Great when you want a break from Sumarian but don’t want to wander too far away.
The cuneiform writing system
This is the first place to go for learning about cuneiform and the Akkadian language.

Where are all the cuneiform sites going?

The Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus
This is a database in progress to catalog all remaining texts in Assyrian cuneiform. Perhaps not for the beginner. However, if you do find yourself underchallenged with the English version of the site, you can always switch to the Finnish version.

Fonts in Ancient Orthographies
I pray that Curtis Clark maintains this site. If it vanishes, suppose it’s 3 AM and you want to leave a note for the milk carrier in Linear B? Or you’ve just thrown a Rune Oracle and you want it interpreted but the Norse shamaness you want to consult only accepts e-mail if its written in Elder Futhark? And If this site goes, where can you find another way of sending an egreeting in Celtic Ogham? Not C/net! You know you are in the upper regions of Arcana when the most practical font on the menu is Glagolitic! Highly recommended.

Technical uses for the Greek alphabet
Exactly what is says.

The Dead Sea Scrolls
The Library of Congress presents.

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Earl Jackson, Jr.