(C) Trustees of the British Museum, accessed via www.britishmuseum.org
Cuneiform is a cool thing. It's a method of writing that was used to record receipts, songs, stories and law in Akkadian, the language of ancient Mesopotamia. This particular tablet from the seventh century BC is very famous, as it's an excerpt from Gilgamesh (the longest piece of literature in Akkadian) which describes ... a Great Flood which wipes out most of humankind. A man named Utnapishtim, however, has been warned of the flood by the gods and in preparation built an enormous boat, and saved animals of every sort ... You can probably guess the rest of this story.
The fine people at the University of Chicago have recently completed a dictionary of Semitic Akkadian, a mammoth effort which has reportedly taken them ninety years to complete. Now that is marvellous.