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Before 2600-middle 17th century BCEBefore 2600-middle 17th century BCE

Dead languages / Semitic /

Semitic language, now extinct, belonging mainly to the influential 3rd millennium BCE city-state, Ebla. The language was used before 2600 lasting possibly until middle 17th century BCE.
There is much confusion and disagreements concerning to what branch of Semitic languages Eblaite belongs. It is suggested everything from North Western, to North Central, to East Semitic. Among the more established theories make it a Canaanite dialect, with Amorite as one of the closest languages. Some scholars declare it quite distinct from Old Akkadian, others suggest the opposite, that it was very close to Eblaite.
The basis for identifying Eblaite as a language is from the wealth of archaeological material. 15,000 clay cuneiform tablets and fragments were discovered at Ebla in 1975. The script used on these tablets is in Sumerian form; texts tell that Sumerian teachers came to Ebla to teach the skills of writing.
Judged from available information, it appears more than likely that Eblaite was widely used, in the 23rd century BCE in the most of the Levant, from the borders to the Hittite regions in the north, to the borders of Egypt in the south.
Clay tablets from Ebla has been of great help in research into the unrelated Sumerian language, as well as the development of Semitic languages, like Hebrew.

By Tore Kjeilen