One of the earliest known systems of writing in the world is Cuneiform which developed in Sumer in the Middle East from about 4000 BC. Of the two million cuneiform tablets which have been found, only about 100,000 have been read or published. This is because there are so few people in the world who can read them.
The Abbey Museum has a small collection of artefacts with Sumerian inscriptions. You can see them in Museum Case 21.
In July we were approached by Dr Luis Siddall from Macquarie University who can read cuneiform. He is working on a cross university project to read and publish all the artefacts with cuneiform script in Australia and New Zealand. The result will be a book on cuneiform and information about the field of Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Australasia.
The project combines expertise from Monash University, Latrobe University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Who would have thought Australia had a community of cuneiform readers?