Page:Discovery and Decipherment of the Trilingual Cuneiform Inscriptions.djvu/24
With so much work still in hand, it was extremely disheartening to learn from Major Rawlinson that he had descried yet another and totally different language in certain inscriptions sent to him from Southern Babylonia. The intelligence was confirmed shortly afterwards by the discovery in the Library of Assurbanipal of large numbers of tablets that served as phrase-books for the acquisition of this newly found language.
representatives, of the Aryan, Turanian and Semitic families. The difficulty of the task that remained was still very great, for it was found that Babylonian and Assyrian were not exactly the same language, but differed from one another at least as much as two strongly marked dialects of the same speech. The decipherer also was greatly impeded by varieties in the method of writing. Two very different systems prevailed in each country, so that there were in fact four different methods of writing the signs to be mastered; and when we consider that the language is written by means of several hundred signs, it was no trifling matter to find that each might be multiplied by four. For a long time, no doubt, the knowledge of Babylonian and Assyrian remained very imperfect, but the labours of many scholars, reacliing over fifty years and working upon the extensive materials gradually accumulating, have cleared up most of the difficulties, and both are now almost as well understood as any other ancient language.
- Later Assyrian includes 570 different signs, but only 300 are in common use (British Museum Guide, edited by E. A. W. Budge, 1900, p. 41).