Tuesday, August 2, 2011

News: The definition of persistence

The definition of persistence
A 90-year project chronicling the ancient Akkadian language culminates in the 21st volume of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary.
By Jeff Carroll
Photography courtesy Chicago Assyrian Dictionary

Technology has changed since these University researchers worked in the 1930s, but the goal remained the same: to build a comprehensive record of early human civilization.

In 1921 a team of University of Chicago researchers, led by editor in charge Daniel D. Luckenbill, began transferring information from excavated clay tablets, unearthed in what is now Iraq, onto five-by-eight index cards. The cards, serving as the University's data set, were reproduced with a hectograph, a hand-operated ancestor of the modern photocopier.

For the first three-plus decades of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary project, this is how it went. Information was gathered, either from existing tablets housed in museums or from new excavations in the former Mesopotamia, then transferred onto cards at the Oriental Institute. In cataloging the 5,000-year-old Akkadian language, researchers created a comprehensive cultural encyclopedia of early human civilization...

See the chronicle of news about the Oriental Institute.

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