The cuneiform ?u sign is a common, multi-use syllabic and alphabetic sign for ?u, ?, and u; it has a subsidiary usage for syllabic qat; it also has a majuscule-(capital letter) sumerogram usage for ?U, for Akkadian language "q?tu", the word for "hand". The human hand is the shape of cuneiform character ?u, and thus the origin of its creation (late 4th millennium BC, or early 3rd millennium BC).
The scribal usage of a sign allows for any of the 4 vowels (no vowel 'o' in Akkadian), a, e, i, u to be interchangeable; thus a usage for syllabic qat could conceivably be used for the following (k can replace 'q', and d can replace 't'): q, a, or t; also ka, qa, ad, at. (The "?" (shibilant s) is also interchangeable with the other two esses, "s", and "?", for "?u"!)
Media related to ?u (cuneiform) at Wikimedia Commons
Media related to Cuneiform signs, Amarna letters at Wikimedia Commons
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