A vast written corpus

Thousands of texts have been discovered at Mari, helping us understand how the language and its written forms changed over time. The language used in texts written over different periods is systematically a Semitic language identical or similar to the Akkadian language, depending on the context. The writing system used in Mari was always cuneiform.

The influence of Akkad

Political developments in the region left their mark on the writing system and written language of Mari. Following the conquest of Mari by Sargon of Akkad, for political reasons Mari's cultural traditions were strongly influenced by those of Akkad. The use of writing in the administration of Mari seems to have been reformed, mainly in the form of changes to cuneiform signs, the shape of tablets and the expressions used.

Amorite reform

This written culture fell into disuse during the Amorite period. Yahdun-Lim, the first Amorite king of Mari, decided to reform the writing system. Texts were written according to graphic conventions borrowed from central Mesopotamia and its region. The writing style is more modern, the signs change, and they make less use of the dialect characteristic of the period of the shakkanakkus. However, Amorite vocabulary is partially retained in texts written in this period. The Amorite language is mainly attested by proper nouns and certain specific terms with no equivalent in South Mesopotamian Akkadian.