The Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary - PSD
Welcome to the website of the Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary Project (PSD). The PSD is preparing an exhaustive dictionary of the Sumerian language which aims to be useful to non-specialists as well as Sumerologists. In addition, we are developing tools and datasets for working with the Sumerian language and its text-corpora. All materials will be made freely available on this website.
Detail of Sumerian sign list
The Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary Project is carried out in the Babylonian Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology. It is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and private contributions.
- Use the electronic PSD (UPDATED 06/26/06)
- ePSD Print version
- Tools for corpus projects
- Learn about Sumerian
- Read about the project
- PSD in the news
Overview of Sumerian Language and Culture
Ancient Iraq was the home of a major urban civilization which developed during the fourth millennium BCE. Writing was an essential element of this culture, which spread throughout the ancient Middle East, especially up the riverine corridor along the Euphrates and into ancient Turkey. The term 'Mesopotamia' is often used not just strictly to refer to the area between the Tigris and the Euphrates, but by extension to refer to the cultural/geographical zone including Iraq, eastern Syria and parts of Turkey.
Sumerian was used throughout ancient Mesopotamia, especially in the area that now corresponds to southern Iraq. The earliest written texts in the world date to about 3200 BCE, and are probably written in Sumerian. Because Mesopotamian scribal culture was bilingual from the early third millennium BCE to the end of the first millennium BCE, Sumerian was used intermittently throughout the ancient Near East. Texts entirely or partly in Sumerian have been found in modern Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Iran.
Sumerian is a language isolate, meaning that it has no relatives living or dead (though there have been unsuccessful attempts to connect Sumerian to a number of languages).
Sumerian is agglutinative; word roots have grammatical elements glued on before or after them to build up complex grammatical forms.