Wondering how a tablet is transcribed, or how it could be transcribed in the modern digital world. For example, the tablets in the first two images below. I am particularly interested in:

  1. How long it takes (roughly). Say for a single tablet like those below, or whatever calculation unit is easiest (maybe how long to get each letter or a line or something). So maybe it takes 1 day to transcribe a tablet (given we have standard references on the culture's alphabet or symbols). Or maybe 1 month. I don't know, even a year perhaps.
  2. If it's common to run into symbols which don't fit the "standard" reference alphabet/syllabary/symbol set. For example, say we have an Akkadian tablet. We know the Akkadian glyphs, but I'm wondering if it's common that you'll encounter a glyph that's not in the standard reference for the culture/language.
  3. What's typically done when you encounter a symbol you don't know.
  4. If you typically sit down with a magnifying glass with good lighting in a museum with the artifact, or you can work off of a photograph on your laptop sort of thing. Maybe that's the reason for such large / high res scans I've seen here and there on museum websites, it would allow you to analyze it away from the actual artifact directly.

Oh! The key thing I forgot to mention. I don't want to actually translate any tablets. I simply want to know the process for taking say an Akkadian tablet and writing it out in Unicode, or on paper.

Also, just thinking. Maybe they use techniques from computer vision or similar, like creating grayscale images to help in seeing what's going on, like in the last image.

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  • I expect etana.org would be a good place to start. – Spencer Oct 24 '18 at 13:19
  • @Spencer ah that's an awesome website! I've never seen that. Found this from this search to start (I searched "text" because "gilgamesh" doesn't show anything, hmm.). Wondering if you have any suggestions on what to search. Wish they had "browse". Also, maybe instead of texts they have pictures of tablets. I'm not sure what the ABZU thing is. – Lance Pollard Oct 24 '18 at 13:40
  • I'm not sure that this is answerable. It all depends on how familiar you are with the signs that make up a particular script. For your example, I think there were something like 300 signs in general use for the Akkadian language, but the total number of signs is something like 700 - 800. Furthermore, just to keep it interesting, homophony and polyvalency gave Akkadian scribes multiple ways to spell the same sequence of sounds. – sempaiscuba Oct 24 '18 at 14:57
  • Unfortunately, a well-known OCR program has the brand name"CuneiForm", so is overwhelms the Google search results. – Spencer Oct 24 '18 at 15:30
  • Is the transcription scholarly and including line and face numbers? Are the lines right to left; left to right; alternating? – Samuel Russell Oct 24 '18 at 23:42

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