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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Spoken in Ebla
Language extinction before the 2nd millennium BCE
Language family Afro-Asiatic
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 sem
ISO 639-3 xeb

Eblaite (also known as Eblan [ISO 639-3]) is an extinct Semitic language, which was spoken in the 3rd millennium BCE in the ancient city of Ebla, at Tell Mardikh (تل مرديخ), between Aleppo and Hama, in western modern Syria. It is considered to be the second oldest written Semitic language after Akkadian.

The language is known from about 17,000 tablets written with cuneiform script which were found between 1974 and 1976 in the ruins of the city of Ebla. The tablets were first translated by Giovanni Pettinato.

Eblaite is a somehow intermediate step between Eastern Semitic languages represented by contemporary Akkadian and North Western Semitic languages represented by the later Ugaritic, Aramaic and Canaanite (Phoenician, Hebrew and the like). Note that the cuneiform script may exaggerate the Eastern affinities due to its intrinsic misadaptation to transcribe Semitic languages.

The fact that literary texts are absent from the 17,000 administrative tablets that document the language reduces the scope of what can be known so far on Eblaite.


  • A. Archi. 1987. "Ebla and Eblaite," Eblaitica 1. Ed. C.H. Gordon. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns. Pages 7–17.
  • Cyrus H. Gordon. 1990. "Eblaite and Northwest Semitic," Eblaitica 2. Ed. C.H. Gordon. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns. Pages 127-139.
  • Cyrus H. Gordon. 1997. "Amorite and Eblaite," The Semitic Languages. Ed. Robert Hetzron. New York: Routledge. Pages 100-113.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

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  1. An extinct Semitic language spoken in the 3rd millennium BCE in the ancient city of Ebla, in modern Syria. It was written in cuneiform script and is considered to be the oldest written Semitic language.




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