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The "Write" Stuff

Created by pu2-ke-qi-ri

Fun Trivia : Quizzes : Mesopotamia
The Write Stuff game quiz
"Writing emerged-- for the first time ever-- in fourth millennium BCE in Southern Babylonia. What forces catalyzed the invention of writing? How was this first writing system invented and used? Take this quiz to find out!"

15 Points Per Correct Answer - No time limit  

1. Our setting is Babylonia, the highly fertile area of present-day southern Iraq where the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers run into the Persian Gulf. Which of these best describes the geography of this area?
    A flat, monotonous expanse of desert.
    A wide river valley with fertile soil.
    An extensive series of swamps and marshes.
    Varied local geography creates distinct micro-environments.

2. In the 11th to 7th millennium BCE, the ancient Babylonians developed agriculture. They cultivated wheat for the first time, and domesticated sheep, goats, and cattle. Small settlements developed, which led to the first cities in the 4th millennium BCE. Which of these is NOT a reason why the development of agriculture lead to the development of the first cities?
    Agriculture ties people closely to a smaller plot of land, promoting sedentary lifestyles over nomadic ones.
    Central administration is necessary for building, maintaining, and using irrigation canals.
    Early religion required building cities to atone for the sin of farming and the fall from a nomadic lifestyle.
    Agriculture requires specialization of labor and trade for resources, which is best carried out at a central meeting point.

3. The emergence of agriculture and the development of cities also produced social stratification, and the need for dependent labor. What structure in sixth and fifth millenium Near Eastern settlements became the entity responsible for projecting social power, collecting goods, and redistributing them to its dependent laborers?

4. The explosion of trade and administration in ancient Near Eastern cities required some way of keeping track of the goods. Which of these methods for recording transactions arose?
    Clay sealings, where the design of the seal indicated who had supplied the goods.
    Clay "bullae," balls of clay which enclosed tokens and were covered with seal inscriptions.
    Clay "tokens," which indicated in some way the number and type of goods involved in a transaction.
    All of these.

5. The immediate predecessor of "true" writing, was the innovation of impressing signs onto solid clay tablets. But what separates these "numerical tablets" from true writing?
    The only signs inscribed were numerical signs. The stylus tip was blunt, rather than sharp.
    The signs only indicate numbers and commodities, and do not represent human speech.
    The only signs inscribed indicate commodities. The stylus tip was sharp, instead of wedge-shaped.
    The tablets were inscribed using fingers and fingernails, and not a true stylus.

6. Proto-cuneiform, the first full-fledged "true" writing system, first appeared in Uruk during the Uruk IV period, ca. 3400-3100 BCE, and continued to be used at Uruk and other sites until the end of the Uruk III period, roughly 3000 BCE. What kind of a writing system was proto-cuneiform?
    Logo-Syllabic-- Ideographic signs were combined with syllabic signs.
    Syllabic-- one sign represented one syllable of speech.
    Ideographic (Logographic)-- one sign represented one word or concept.
    Alphabetic-- one sign represented a single speech sound.

7. What language did proto-cuneiform represent?
    Perhaps Sumerian, or perhaps an unknown language-- we don't know.

8. All proto-cuneiform texts are administrative and accounting documents.

9. Since proto-cuneiform was devised for accounting purposes, it's no surprise that numerical signs and the counting system figure prominently in the texts. Which counting system did proto-cuneiform use?
    All of these

10. As time passed, the political situation in Uruk deteriorated, and finally collapsed around 2,900 BCE. Proto-cuneiform, as it had existed, was dead. However, proto-cuneiform was later adopted by the Sumerians, who transformed it into "true" cuneiform, which remained in use until 100 CE, 3,400 years from the dawn of proto-cuneiform. How does this time span compare to the length of time our alphabet, the Roman alphabet, has been in use?
    Cuneiform was used half a millennium longer than the Roman alphabet.
    The two scripts have been in use for about the same length of time.
    The Roman alphabet has been used for a millennium longer than cuneiform.
    Cuneiform was used two millennia longer than the Roman alphabet.

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Compiled Jun 28 12