28776 - Assyriology (LM)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

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 Sumerian language.

Guide to the electronic resources for the study of Sumerian.

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

Part 2:

Sumerian royal inscriptions: typology, structure, and contents.

Reading, translation and historical-philological comment of Sumerian 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 do not attend classes should contact me via email (gianni.marchesi@unibo.it) in order to arrange an alternative exam schedule. 



M. Van De Mieroop, A History of the Ancient Near East: ca. 3000-323 BC, 3 ed., Malden: Wiley Blackwell, 2015 [Capitoli 1-14].

G. van Driel, "On 'Standard' and 'Triumphal' Inscriptions", in: Symbolae biblicae et mesopotamicae Francisco Mario Theodoro de Liagre Bohl dedicatae, a cura di M. Beek et alii, Leiden: Brill, 1973, pp. 99-106.

Jerrold S. Cooper, Sumerian and Akkadian Royal Inscriptions, I: Presargonic Inscriptions, New Haven: The American Oriental Society, 1986 [pp. 4-13].

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, [§§ 2-4, pp. 533-556].

NB For the 6 credit course only the book by Van de Mieroop is to be studied.



A. H. Jagersma, A Descriptive Grammar of Sumerian, PhD dissertation, Leiden University, 2010 [downloadable at https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/handle/1887/16107].

K. Volk, A Sumerian Chrestomathy, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2012.

Teaching methods

Lectures. A number of Sumerian 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). Moreover, he should show his knowledge of the basic elements of the history of Mesopotamia before the Persian conquest (chapters 1-14 in the book by Van de Mieroop). 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) and to make historical comparisons between different periods and situations.

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

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 history of Mesopotamia, 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.

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