Stroke order for producing cuneiform signs (from Quaternions)

From: William Overington (
Date: Thu May 02 2002 - 06:24:12 EDT

>> Certainly, quaternions would not be needed for transcribing clay
>> tablets as such, yet could be useful in, say, making an animated movie
>> showing how a particular sign consisting of a number of wedge
>> indentations would have been made.

> "Stroke order"?

Well, what is meant by stroke order? For example, one could have a gif
illustration file showing a picture of a cuneiform sign and the illustration
have modern numbers added to the illustration showing the order in which the
wedges were made. I have no knowledge whatsoever as to whether such an
illustration showing stroke order is unnecessary, just right or insufficient
for the needs of researchers seeking to study cuneiform writing. Hopefully
the title of this posting will lead to someone posting a response. I would
like to know out of interest.

On a more general level as to whether quaternions will be used in research
on analyzing cuneiform tablets, I have no idea. Presumably researchers will
use whatever techniques from whatever disciplines will give the best results
that can be obtained within the constraints of what can be realistically
used for their research. They are already using physics and engineering and
virtual world technology and virtual world software, so the possibility of
using quaternions from mathematics is not unrealistic. Many technologies
can be applied with what I call "devolved precision", that is, precision is
needed in the manufacturing of a tool and the user of that tool benefits
from that precision having been used when the user of the tool applies that
tool to do something else. For example, if someone uses a hand press to
print an original poem on a sheet of paper using metal type using a typeface
such as Garamond Italic and produces a really nice result, then that nice
result uses all of the precision of the cutter of the original metal punches
used for making the matrices from which the type was cast. The person using
the hand press does not work to the precision of the punch cutter, yet has
the benefit of the precision of that punch cutter, who may well have carried
out the work before the poem was written, with no knowledge of the poem.
So, someone applying quaternions need not go into the background of the
invention of quaternions at all, simply benefitting from the fact that the
research of inventing them and establishing many properties was carried out
by mathematicians.

On the matter of cuneiform writing, I read that originally people were
unable to decipher the writing. How did the writing come to be deciphered
please? In relation to Egyptian Hieroglyphics I am familiar with the story
of the Rosetta Stone, where the same text was inscribed in three languages,
one of which used Egyptian Hieroglyphics and one of which was a known
language. How did cuneiform become deciphered please? Does anyone know of
any articles about this on the web please?

William Overington

2 May 2002

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