“Cat” (sa-a) in cuneiform, Neo-Babylonian style.
Just remember that She of Little Talent did this, so it
is probably wrong.
Today’s tidbit is all the way from Mesopotamia in the first millennium BC. (I remind you that last week’s tidbit was from the same area but roughly a thousand years earlier.) I give you two more ancient ways to say “cat”:
In the Akkadian language (c. 900-626 BC) the word for “cat” is shu-ra-a-nu. In Neo-Babylonian (c. 626-539 BC) it is sa-a. Both of these words refer to domestic cats (unlike the Old Babylonian su-a, which referred to the wildcat). This tells us that by some point in the first half of the first millennium BC, domestic cats were living in Mesopotamia.
There were different words for “wildcat.” In Akkadian it was mu-ra-shu-u, and in Neo-Babylonian it was sa-a-ri.
[She of Little Talent reminds me to tell you that information for this post came from page 45 of David Engels’ fascinating book, Classical Cats (London: Routledge, 1999).]