Eblaite language

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Spoken in

formerly in Ebla , Syria
speaker extinct
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2

sem (other Semitic languages)

ISO 639-3


The Eblaitische is an extinct Semitic language by the excavation of Epigraphiken in the ancient city of Ebla ( Tell Mardikh ) in what is now Syria was discovered.


20,000 well-preserved cuneiform tablets were found in the ruins of the Ebla Palace . Among other things, bilingual dictionaries in the languages Sumerian and Eblaite were found (so-called Vocabolario di Ebla ). The Eblaite texts were first published in 1975 by Giovanni Pettinato.


Since most of the texts are mainly written in (Sumerian) logograms and contain only a few syllabograms, it is not very easy to determine the linguistic affiliation of Eblaitic. In its first publication in 1975, Pettinato presented Eblaitic as a Semitic, more specifically "old Canaanite" language, which would make it more or less a forerunner of Hebrew. One of his main arguments for this was a sequence of two cuneiform characters, which he interpreted as syllabograms for ik-tub "he wrote" (cf. Hebrew yixtov , Arabic yaktub ). The interpretation of this special word was later rejected. Nevertheless, it is now certain that the Eblaite texts can be read as a Semitic language. The exact classification within the Semitic is still being discussed. It is seen by some as the closest relative of Akkadian , which means that both languages would form an Eastern Semitic subgroup within Semitic, or it is even considered to be a dialect of Akkadian.

Primary sources

Places of publication

Since Ebla was discovered by Italian archaeologists, a large part of the publications on Eblaite are in Italian. Some texts were published twice because two competing research teams were at work in Rome and Naples. After several congresses on Ebla had taken place in the first 20 years after the discovery and numerous studies had appeared, scientific interest has decreased somewhat since the 1990s. Most of the text material and many individual studies on Eblaite have been published in the following journals and series:

  • Archivi Reali di Ebla, Studi
  • Archivi Reali di Ebla, Testi
  • Eblaitica
  • Materiali Epigrafici di Ebla
  • Quaderni di Semitistica
  • Studi Eblaiti

Business documents

Most of the Eblaite texts are economic documents. Due to their formal character, they can usually be translated relatively well. None of the texts is dated, but attempts have been made to establish a relative chronology on the basis of the people mentioned in the texts.

Sumerian-Eblaitian bilingualism (Vocabolario di Ebla)

The important bilinguals that give Eblaite translations for about 1000 Sumerian words (although we understand only less than half of these Sumerian words) are published in the following work:

  • Giovanni Pettinato: Testi lessicali bilingui della biblioteca L. 2769 (= Materiali Epigrafici di Ebla 4). Naples 1982

Literary texts

Some literary texts have also come down to us. The most important of these is a hymn to the sun god Shamash , which is only partially understandable.

Secondary literature


A monographic dictionary has not yet been published. You can use instead:

  • Pelio Fronzaroli: Materiali per il lessico Eblaita, 1 . In: Studi Eblaiti 7, 1984, 145-190
  • Pelio Fronzaroli: The Eblaitic Lexicon: Problems and Appraisal . In: P. Fronzaroli (Ed.): Studies on the Language of Ebla . Florence 1984, pp. 117-157

There are also glossaries for individual text editions, e.g. B. on Archivi Reali di Ebla, Testi 12 and Archivi Reali di Ebla, Testi 13.


  • A. Archi & P. ​​Piacentini & F. Pomponio: I nomi di luogo dei testi di Ebla . Rome 1993
  • M. Bonechi: I nomi geografici dei testi di Ebla . Wiesbaden 1993
  • M. Krebernik: The personal names of the Ebla texts. An interim balance . Berlin 1988
  • J. Pagan: A morphological and lexical study of personal names in the Ebla texts . Rome 1998
  • F. Pomponio: I nomi divini nei testi di Ebla . Ugarit-Forschungen 15, 1983, 141-156
  • F. Pomponio & P. ​​Xella: Les dieux d'Ebla . Munster 1997


  • Giovanni Conti: Il sillabario della quarta fonte della lista lessicale bilingue eblaita . Florence 1990
  • M. Krebernik: On the syllabary and orthography of the lexical texts from Ebla . In: Zeitschrift für Assyriologie 72, 1982: 178-236 and 73, 1983: 1-47


  • W. Sallaberger: The development of cuneiform writing in Ebla . In: J.-W. Meyer et al. a. (Ed.): Contributions to the Near Eastern Archeology dedicated to Winfried Orthmann . 2001, pp. 436-445


A monographic grammar has not yet appeared. You can use instead:

  • A. Archi: Prepositions at Ebla . In: Eblaitica 4, 2002, 1-21
  • Bruno WW Dombrowski: Eblaitic. A study towards the grammar of the Semitic language used in most ancient Ebla - a demonstration of the usefulness of etymology and semantics. In: Studia Etymologica Cracoviensia . Volume 8. (PDF; 14.3 MB) Krakau 2003, pp. 15–81
  • DO Edzard: On the syntax of Ebla texts : In: P. Fronzaroli (Hrsg.): Studies on the Language of Ebla . Florence 1984, pp. 101-116
  • Pelio Fronzaroli: Per una valutazione della morfologia Eblaita . In: Studi Eblaiti 5, 1982, 93-120
  • Pelio Fronzaroli: Notes sur la syntaxe éblaite . In: J.-M. Durand (Ed.): Amurru 1 , Paris 1996, pp. 125-134
  • IJ Yellow: Ebla and the Kish Civilization . In: L. Cagni (ed.), La lingua di Ebla . Naples 1981, pp. 9-73
  • K. Hecker: A problem with Eblaite syntax: word order . In L. Cagni: Ebla 1975-1985 . 1987, pp. 221-247
  • MV Tonietti: Le système prépositionnel de l'éblaite . In: P. Fronzaroli, P. Marrassini (Eds.): Proceedings of the 10th Meeting of Hamito-Semitic (Afroasiatic) Linguistics . Florence 2005, pp. 315-332

Overview representations

  • John Huehnergard, Christopher Woods: Akkadian and Eblaite. In: R. Woodard (Ed.): The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages. Cambridge 2004, ISBN 0-521-56256-2
  • Paolo Matthiae: Aux origines de la Syrie: Ebla retrouvée. Gallimard, Paris 1996, ISBN 2-07-053350-6
  • Michael P. Streck: Eblaite and Old Akkadian. In: Stefan Weninger u. a. (Ed.): The Semitic Languages: An International Handbook. Berlin 2011, pp. 340–359.

Individual evidence

  1. Giovanni Pettinato: Testi cuneiformi del 3rd millennio in paleo-cananeo rinvenuti nella campagna 1974 a Tell Mardikh-Ebla (cuneiform texts of the 3rd millennium in Old Canaan, found on the 1974 campaign in Tell Mardich-Ebla) in Orientalia 44, 361– 374
  2. J. Krecher: Sumerian and non-Sumerian layers in the written culture of Ebla . In: L. Cagni: Il bilinguismo a Ebla . Naples 1984, pp. 139-166, especially p. 142.
  3. ^ MG Biga: The reconstruction of a relative chronology for the Ebla texts . Orientalia 72, 2003, pp. 345-367.
  4. M. Krebernik: Mesopotamian myths at Ebla: ARET 5,6 and ARET 5,7 . In: P. Fronzaroli: Literature and literary language at Ebla . 1992, pp. 63-149.