|The Instructions of Shuruppak is a fragmentary tablet, written in Sumerian. The earliest copies of this text represent some of the oldest literature known - from about 2600 BCE.|
The inscription reads in part:
Do not buy an ass which brays too much.
Do not commit rape upon a man's daughter;
the courtyard will learn of it.
Do not answer back against your father.
| Even at the dawn of the written word, people looked to a more ancient past. Shuruppak's instructions begin by recalling "those far remote days" and "those far remote years" as the source of the wisdom it imparts. |
Linguists estimate that the Proto-Indo-European language was spoken around 5,500 years ago. But they have dated another ancient language, Proto-Afroasiatic — the grandparent of languages like Ancient Egyptian, Hebrew, and Arabic — to 10,000 to 20,000 years old.