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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: June 2019

Part I - Historical Perspectives


The ancient Mesopotamian written culture in cuneiform script on clay tablets, beginning about 3000 BCE and disappearing in the early Christian era, offers abundant evidence for authorship, including individual strategies for remembering the names of people who composed specific literary works and statements about how, why, and when they did so.1 These stand out because the authorship of most Mesopotamian literary and scholarly achievements was unknown in antiquity and remains so today; amidst such general anonymity some authors clearly made special efforts to ensure that their claims and experiences continued to be associated with their handiwork. A contrasting artifice, use of a pseudonym, was intended to associate a text with some notable figure of the past who had no role in its composition, even if it seems unlikely in most cases that ancient readers took such an attribution seriously. Cases of authors’ anonymous self-reference and evident presence in the text may also be suggested, as well as apostrophe, or direct address of the author to the reader.