SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Advanced Cuneiform Texts: The Age of Empires

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2021/2022
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Taught in:
Full Year

This module offers an intensive study in cuneiform texts written in Mesopotamia in the first millennium BC. Reading is concentrated on the literary Standard Babylonian idiom but study will also be made of the vernacular Neo-Assyrian and Neo- and Late Babylonian dialects. Set texts will be selected from the inscriptions of Assyrian and Babylonian kings, from literary and religious compositions, and from letters, deeds, contracts and other archival documents. Late Sumerian and Sumero-Akkadian bilingual texts may also be studied.

Qualifications for entry

The module 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 module

At the end of the module the student should have acquired competence in the reading of advanced-level cuneiform texts in Akkadian and Sumerian dating to the first 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 Assyriologists and Sumerologists engage.


A total of 22 weeks of teaching, consisting of a 2 hour lecture per week.

Scope and syllabus

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

Method of assessment

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

Suggested reading

a) Standard Babylonian of the first millennium 
  • Grayson, A. K.: Assyrian Rulers of the Early First Millennium BC 1. (1114-859 BC). Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia, Assyrian Periods 2. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991 
  • Grayson, A. K.: Assyrian Rulers of the Early First Millennium BC 2. (858-745 BC). Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia, Assyrian Periods 3. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996 
  • Tadmor, H.: The Inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser III, King of Assyria. Jerusalem: Israel Academy, 1994 
  • Fuchs, Andreas: Die Inschriften Sargons. II aus Khorsabad. Göttingen: Cuviller Verlag, 1994 
  • Thureau-Dangin, F.: Une relation de la huitième campagne de Sargon. Textes cunéiformes du Louvre, 3. Paris: Geuthner, 1912 (abbr. TCL III)
  • Luckenbill, D. D.: The Annals of Sennacherib. Oriental Institute Publications 2. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1924 
  • Frahm, Eckart: Einleitung in die Sanherib-Inschriften. Archiv für Orientforschung, Beiheft 26. Horn: Berger & Söhne, 1997 
  • Borger, R.: Die Inschriften Asarhaddons, K¨onigs von Assyrien. Archiv für Orientforschung, Beiheft 9. Graz, 1956 
  • Thompson, R. Campbell: The Prisms of Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal. London: British Museum, 1931
  • Streck, M.: Assurbanipal und die letzten assyrischen K¨onige. Vorderasiatisches Bibliothek 7. Leipzig, 1916 
  • Piepkorn, A. C.: Historical Prism Inscriptions of Ashurbanipal. Chicago, 1933 
  • Lau, R. J., and S. Langdon: The Annals of Ashurbanipal. Semitic Study Series 2. Leiden: Brill, 1903 
  • Frame, Grant: Rulers of Babylonia (1157-612 BC). Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia, Babylonian Periods 2. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995
  • Langdon, S.: Die neubabylonischen Königsinschriften. Vorderasiatisches Bibliothek 4. Leipzig, 1912 
  • Lau, R. J., and J. Dyneley Prince: The Abu Habba Cylinder of Nabuna'id. Semitic Study Series 5. Leiden: Brill, 1905 
  • Cagni, L.: Das Erra-Epos. Keilschrifttext. Studia Pohl 5. Rome: Päpstliches Bibelinstitut, 1970 
  • Lambert, W. G.: Enuma elis. The Babylonian Epic of Creation. Birmingham: W. G. Lambert, Oxford: Blackwells, 1974
b) Neo- and Late Babylonian 
  • Ebeling, E.: Neubabylonische Briefe. Abhandlungen der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, NF 30. Munich: Bay. Ak. Wiss., 1949 
  • Ebeling, E.: Neubabylonische Briefe aus Uruk. Berlin, 1930 
  • Harper, R. F.: Assyrian and Babylonian Letters. Chicago, 1892-1914 (abbr. ABL) 
  • Grayson, A. K.: Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles. Texts from Cuneiform Sources 5. Locust Valley: Augustin, 1975 
  • San Nicoló, M.: Babylonische Rechtsurkunden. Abhandlungen der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, NF 34. Munich: Bay. Ak. Wiss., 1951 
  • Ungnad, A.: Selected Business Documents of the Neo-Babylonian Period. Semitic Study Series 10. Leiden: Brill, 1908 
  • Kennedy, D. A.: Late Babylonian Economic Documents. Cuneiform Texts 49. London: British Museum, 1968 
  • Clay, Albert T.: Epics, Hymns, Omens and Other Texts. Babylonian Records in the Library of J. Pierpont Morgan 4. New Haven & London: Yale UP, 1923
  • Thureau-Dangin, F.: Rituels accadiens. Paris: Leroux, 1921
c) Neo-Assyrian 
  • Harper, R. F.: Assyrian and Babylonian Letters. Chicago, 1892-1914 (abbr. ABL)
  • Parpola, S.: Letters of Assyrian Scholars. Alter Orient und Altes Testament 5/I-II. Kevelaer: Verlag Butzon & Bercker, Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1970-83 
  • Postgate, J. N.: Fifty Neo-Assyrian Legal Documents. Warminster: Aris & Phillips, 1976 State Archives of Assyria. 12 vols. Helsinki: Helsinki UP, 1987- (abbr. SAA) 
d) Sumerian of the first millennium 
  • Frame, Grant: Rulers of Babylonia (1157-612 BC). Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia, Babylonian Periods 2. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995 
  • Cooper, Jerrold S.: The Return of Ninurta to Nippur: an-gim dím-ma. Analecta Orientalia, 52. Rome: Pontificium Institutum Biblicum, 1978 
  • van Dijk, J.: LUGAL UD ME-LÁM-bi NIR-GÁL. 2 vols. Leiden: Brill, 1983 
  • Maul, Stefan M.: 'Herzberuhigungsklagen'. Die sumerisch-akkadischen Ersahunga-Gebete. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1988 
  • Volk, Konrad: Die balagg-Komposition úru àm-ma-ir-ra-bi. Freiburger Altorientalische Studien 18. Stuttgart: Steiner Verlag, 1989
  • Hruska, Blahoslav: "Das spätbabylonische Lehrgedicht 'Inannas Erhöhung'", Archiv Orientální 37 (1969) 473-522


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