90280 - Sumero-Akkandian Epigraphy (1) (LM)

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Gianni Marchesi

  • Credits 6

  • SSD L-OR/03

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language Italian

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Archaeology and Cultures of the Ancient World (cod. 8855)

  • Course Timetable from Feb 07, 2022 to Mar 09, 2022


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

Quality education

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students will acquire familiarity with the cuneiform writing that was in use in Mesopotamia from the fourth millennium BC to the end of the first century AD, and will have developed a basic knowledge of one of the ancient Mesopotamian languages. They will have read cuneiform texts of different periods and genres and will be able to analyze these documents critically. In addition, students will have learnt to use the basic tools of the Sumero-Akkadian epigraphy – both the traditional ones and the new tools provided by the web – so as to be able to collect and analyze in a proper manner the epigraphic sources for investigations in the fields of Assyriology, History of the Ancient Near East, and Near Eastern Studies in general.

Course contents

The course this year will focus mainly on the so-called Mesopotamian codes and other legal texts. During the course we will read and comment on original sources in cuneiform writing, especially the famous "Code of Hammmurabi".

Participation in the course of Sumerian-Akkadian Epigraphy is recommended only to those who have attended the course of Assyriology in the academic year 2021-2022 (12 CFU, Laurea magistrale) or to those who already have a basic knowledge of the cuneiform writing and the Akkadian language.

Non-attending students should contact the teacher in order to arrange an alternative exam program.


- C. Zaccagnini, "La formazione del diritto in Mesopotamia. Codificazioni regie e consuetudine nel II millennio a. C.", in AA.VV., La formazione del diritto nel Vicino Oriente antico, Napoli - Roma: Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 1988, pp. 35-50.

- id., "Sacred and Human Components in Ancient Near Eastern Law", History of Religions 33 (1994), pp. 265-286.

- K. R. Veenhof, "The Relation between Royal Decrees and Law Codes of the Old Babylonian Period", JEOL (= Jaarbericht van het vooraziatisch-egyptisch genootschap "Ex oriente lux") 35-36 (1997-2000), pp. 49-83.

- R. Westbrook, "Cuneiform Law Codes and the Origins of Legislation", Zeitschrift für Assyriologie 79 (1989), 201-222.

Teaching methods

Lectures and assignments (cuneiform texts to be translated at home).

Assessment methods

Oral examination. The student will have to read, translate and comment selected passages of the texts that have been read in class. Moreover, the student must also demonstrate knowledge of the essential features of the "Mesopotamian law" and the structural characteristics of the so-called "codes".

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 show his ability to correctly categorize and analyze texts (structure, content, message, Sitz im Leben) and to make comparisons between different textual sources.

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 clearity and authority, demonstrating mastery of terminology and critical thinking in dealing with the specific subject of the course (that is, "Law codes and juridical texts").

Students demonstrating 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 juridical documetation of ancient 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