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Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

Mesopotamian Languages and Literature A: the third millennium

Course Code:
15PNMC021
Unit value:
1
Taught in:
Full Year

The objective of this course is to make an intensive study of a broad selection of the oldest cuneiform texts, those written in southern Mesopotamia in the third millennium BC. The syllabus will normally include the reading of royal inscriptions (e.g. Sargon of Akkade and his successors), letters and literary texts in Old Akkadian and a similar range of texts, inscriptions and documents in the Sumerian of the Early Dynastic (e.g. Lagash I) and Ur III periods (e.g. Gudea, Shulgi). Candidates with no previous experience in Sumerian may take this course.

Prerequisites

The course is specifically designed as a component of the School’s MA Ancient Near Eastern Languages. It is suited to the third or fourth year of the study of Akkadian. Prerequisites are, e.g., Introductory Akkadian and at least one other unit of Akkadian (or equivalent study). Experience of Sumerian (e.g. Introductory Sumerian or equivalent study) is not always essential.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of the course the student should have acquired competence in the reading of advanced-level cuneiform texts in Sumerian and Akkadian dating to the third millennium BC; should have made progress in the reading, translation and interpretation of cuneiform texts in the genres studied; should have a better understanding of the written legacy of ancient Mesopotamia; and should have gained appropriate knowledge of the philological and methodological issues with which Sumerologists and Assyriologists engage.

Workload

The course will normally entail three hours in the classroom each week. Preparation for classes will include the study of passages from the set texts for reading in class.

Scope and syllabus

The course comprises mainly the reading and discussion of a selection of set texts in cuneiform.

Method of assessment

One three-hour written examination taken in May/June (70%); one 3,000 word essay to be submitted on Friday, week 1, term 3 (30%).

Suggested reading

a) Old Akkadian 
  • Gelb, I. J.: Old Akkadian Writing and Grammar. Materials for the Assyrian Dictionary 2. 2nd edn. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961 (abbr. MAD II) 
  • Gelb, I. J.: Glossary of Old Akkadian. Materials for the Assyrian Dictionary 3. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957 (abbr. MAD III) 
  • Frayne, Douglas R.: Sargonic and Gutian Periods (2334-2113 BC). Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia, Early Periods 2. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993 
  • Hasselbach, R.: Sargonic Akkadian. Wiesbaden, 2004 
  • Hilgert, M.: Akkadisch in der Ur-III-Zeit. Münster, 2002 
  • Kienast, B.: Glossar zu den altakkadischen Königsinschriften. Freiburger Altorientalische Studien 8. Stuttgart: Steiner Verlag, 1994
  • Michalowski, Piotr: Letters from Early Mesopotamia. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1993 
  • Westenholz, Joan and Aage: 'Help for rejected suitors. The Old Akkadian love incantation MAD V 8", Orientalia 46 (1977) 198-219 
b) Sumerian 
  • Steible, H.: Die altsumerischen Bau- und Weihinschriften. Freiburger Altorientalische Studien 5/I-II. Stuttgart: Steiner Verlag, 1982
  • Behrens, H., and H. Steible: Glossar zu den altsumerischen Bau- und Weihinschriften. Freiburger Altorientalische Studien 6. Stuttgart: Steiner Verlag, 1983
  • Edzard, D. O.: Gudea and his Dynasty. Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia, Early Periods 3/I. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997 
  • Thureau-Dangin, F.: Les cylindres de Goudéa. Textes cunéiformes du Louvre 8. Paris: Geuthner, 1925 (abbr. TCL VIII) 
  • Frayne, Douglas R.: Ur III Period (2112-2004 BC). Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia, Early Periods 3/II. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997 
  • Falkenstein, A.: Die Inschriften Gudeas von Lagas I. Einleitung. Analecta Orientalia 30. Rome: Pontificium Institutum Biblicum, 1966
  • Kienast, B. and Volk, K.: Die sumerischen und akkadischen Briefe. Freiburger Altorientalische Studien 19. Stuttgart: Steiner Verlag, 1995 
  • Sollberger, E.: Business and Administrative Correspondence under the Kings of Ur. Texts from Cuneiform Sources 1. Locust Valley: Augustin, 1966
  • Edzard, D. O.: Sumerische Rechtsurkunde des III. Jahrtausends aus der Zeit vor der III. Dynastie von Ur. Abhandlungen der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften NF 67. Munich: Bay. Ak. Wiss., 1968
  • Falkenstein, A.: Die neusumerischen Gerichtsurkunden. Abhandlungen der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften NF 39-40, 44. Munich: Bay. Ak. Wiss., 1956-7 
  • Klein, J.: Three Sulgi Hymns. Ramat-Gan: Bar Ilan UP, 1981 Biggs, Robert D: Inscriptions from Tell Abu Salabikh. Oriental Institute Publications 99. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974