SOAS University of London

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

Akkadian Texts 3

Module Code:
Unit value:
Taught in:
Full Year


The course is suited to the third year of the study of Akkadian. Introductory Akkadian and at least one further unit in Akkadian are prerequisites.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course the student should have acquired competence in the reading of advanced-level cuneiform texts in various dialects of Akkadian; 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 Assyriologists engage.


The course will normally entail two or 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

This course places the emphasis on the different dialects that are exhibited by Akkadian in more than two thousand years of history as a written language. Texts will be selected to illustrate those dialects that have not been encountered in previous years, typically six or more of the following dialects: Old Akkadian; Old Babylonian of Mari; Middle Babylonian and Peripheral Akkadian (texts from Susa, Alalah, Ugarit, Emar, Boghazkoy, Nuzi, Amarna); 'hymno-epic' style literary Babylonian; Neo- and Late Babylonian; Old, Middle and Neo-Assyrian.  The course comprises mainly the reading and discussion of a selection of set texts in cuneiform.

Method of assessment

One written examination, of three hours' duration, which tests candidates' ability in the transliteration and translation of selected passages from the set texts in cuneiform, and in translating unseen passages in cuneiform. Questions on the grammar and style of the chosen passages are also included.

Suggested reading

Basic bibliography:
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) 
  • Hasselbach, R.: Sargonic Akkadian: A Historical and Comparative Study of the Syllabic Texts. Wiesbaden, 2005
  • Kienast, B.: Glossar zu den altakkadischen Königsinschriften. Freiburger Altorientalische Studien, 8. Stuttgart: Steiner Verlag, 1994
b) Old Babylonian 
  • Finet, A.: L'accadien des lettres de Mari. Académie Royale de Belgique, Mémoires (Lettres) LI/1. Brussels: Palais des académies, 1956 
  • Groneberg, B. R. M.: Untersuchungen zum hymnisch-epischen Dialekt der altbabylonischen literarischen Texte, 1971 
c) Old Assyrian 
  • Hecker, K.: Grammatik der Kültepe-Texte. Analecta Orientalia, 44. Rome: Pontificium Institutum Biblicum, 1968 
d) Middle Babylonian 
  • Aro, J.: Studien zur mittelbabylonischen Grammatik. Studia Orientalia, 20. Helsinki, 1955 
e) Middle Assyrian 
  • Mayer, W.: Untersuchungen zur Grammatik des Mittelassyrischen. Alter Orient und Altes Testament, Sonderreihe 2. Kevelaer: Verlag Butzon & Bercker, Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1971 
f) Standard, Neo- and Late Babylonian 
  • Groneberg, B. R. M.: Syntax, Morphologie und Stil der jungbabylonischen 'hymnischen' Literatur. Freiburger altorientalische Studien, 14/I-II. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1987 
  • Streck, M. P.: Zahl und Zeit: Grammatik der Numeralia und Verbalsystems im Spätbabylonischen. Groningen: Styx, 1995 
  • Woodington, N. R.: 'A Grammar of the Neo-Babylonian Letters of the Kuyunjik Collection'. PhD thesis, Yale, 1982. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International
g) Neo-Assyrian
  • Hämeen-Anttila, J.: A Sketch of Neo-Assyrian Grammar. State Archives of Assyria, Studies XIII. Helsinki, 2000
h) Peripheral Akkadian 
  • Giacumakis, G.: The Akkadian of Alalah. The Hague: Mouton, 1970
  • Huehnergard, J.: The Akkadian of Ugarit. Harvard Semitic Studies, 34. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989 
  • Izre'el, S.: Amurru Akkadian: a Linguistic Study. Harvard Semitic Studies, 40-41. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1991
  • Labat, R.: L'akkadien de Boghaz-köi. Étude sur la langue des lettres, traités et vocabulaires trouvés à Boghaz-köi. Bordeaux, 1932
  • van Soldt, W.: Studies in the Akkadian of Ugarit. Dating and Grammar. Alter Orient und Altes Testament, 40. Kevelaer: Verlag Butzon & Bercker, Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1991 
  • Wilhelm, G.: Untersuchungen zum Hurro-Akkadischen von Nuzi. Alter Orient und Altes Testament, 9. Kevelaer: Verlag Butzon & Bercker, Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1970


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