29905 - Assyriology (1) (LM)

Academic Year 2023/2024

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students will know the various types of Assyriological sources and their main characteristics, and will develop critical mastery of the use of such data sources for the reconstruction of the Mesopotamian civilizations. Students will be aware of the most recent international bibliography on specific issues and will be able to use the digital resources pertaining to this cultural area. Students will be able to expand and adapt their Assyriological knowledge to improve their education in the field of Oriental Studies.

Course contents

The course is subdivided into two parts:

Part 1:

Introduction to the study of the history and culture of the ancient Mesopotamian civilizations (Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians).

Introduction to the cuneiform writing.

Elements of the Akkadian language.

Guide to the electronic resources for the study of Akkadian.

Reading, translation and grammatical analysis of elementary Akkadian texts in cuneiform writing.

Part 2:

Akkadian royal inscriptions: typology, structure, and contents.

Reading, translation and historical-philological comment of Akkadian royal inscriptions in cuneiform writing.

NB Students enrolled in the 6 credit course must follow Part 1. Students who yearn to graduate in Assyriology must enroll in the 12 credit course, which consists of Part 1 + Part 2. Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending.

The syllabus for non-attending students is the same, to be prepared by studying the textbook by D'Agostino et alii and the book by Seminara listed in the course bibliography.

Non-attending students enrolled in the 6-credit course need only bring the textbook by D'Agostino et alii (see course bibliography, below).



I. Finkel - J. Taylor, Cuneiform, London: The Trustees of the British Museum, 2015.

S. Seminara, Le iscrizioni reali sumero-accadiche d'età paleo-babilonese (Atti della Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Classe di Scienze Morali, Storiche e Filologiche - Memorie, Serie IX, Volume XVIII, Fascicolo 3), Roma: Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, 2004-

NB For the 6 credit course only the book by Finkel and Taylor is to be studied.



R. Caplice, Introduction to Akkadian, 4 ed., Roma: Pontificio Instituto Biblico, 2002.

J. Huehnergard, A Grammar of Akkadian, 3 ed., Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 2011. [downloadable from the web site: https://utexas.academia.edu/JohnHuehnergard]



F. D'Agostino, M.S. Cingolo, G. Spada, La lingua di Babilonia. Hoepli.


Teaching methods

Lectures. A number of Akkadian texts will be read, analyzed and commented in class.

Assessment methods

Oral examination. The student will have to read, translate and comment selected passages of the texts that have been read in class. For the students enrolled in the 6 credit course, only the texts read in the first part of the course are to be brought. The others will bring a text of their choice among the ones read in the second part of the course. For the assessment, the ability to read cuneiform texts, to analyze the writing system, grammar, and syntax correctly will be taken into account. The strength of the preparation, speaking ability, and command of the appropriate terminology will represent further assessment elements. In addition, the student must demonstrate his ability to correctly categorize and analyze texts (structure, content, message, Sitz im Leben).

In order to obtain an excellent mark, students must show an excellent knowledge of the cuneiform writing and of the elements of the Akkadian language that have been dealt with in class. Moreover, they must be able to present their arguments with clarity and authority, showing mastery of terminology and critical thinking in dealing with texts.

Students showing lesser preparation and ability but who are nonetheless able to read and translate the texts for the exam and who have a good knowledge of the basic elements of the cuneiform writing will receive a good mark.

Students who do not show an adequate knowledge of grammar and who are not able to translate and comment the texts for the exam will not pass the exam.

NB Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending.

Teaching tools

Internet resources. The sites dedicated to the study and the research in the field of Assyriology will be explored, and instructions on how to use them will be given.

Office hours

See the website of Gianni Marchesi


Quality education

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.