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Cuneiform is a writing system developed in ancient Mesopotamia. It was used to write down several languages of the ancient Near East. The Sumerian archaic (pre-cuneiform) writing and Egyptian Hieroglyphic are generally considered the earliest true writing systems, both emerging out of their ancestral proto-literate symbol systems from 3400 to 3100 BC, with earliest coherent texts from about 2600 BC.

During the New Kingdom, the envoys of the pharaoh made use of the cuneiform writing system in their king's diplomatic correspondence with other rulers in the ancient Near East. The language used in this communication was Akkadian, which had become the lingua franca of the Near East in the Bronze Age. These Akkadian cuneiform messages were written down on clay tablets and delivered to royal courts (the most famous surviving example of these are the so-called Amarna letters).

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