SOAS University of London

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

Languages of the Near & Middle East at SOAS: Akkadian

It was in the ancient Near East more than five thousand years ago that mankind first learned to live in cities, invented writing and developed the first high civilisations. The origins of modern man's spiritual and intellectual adventure were once sought in the Bible and in Greece but the fascinating discoveries of Near Eastern archaeologists have revealed the crucial roles played in forming our common heritage by the peoples of the ancient Near East. Akkadian is the major ancient Near Eastern language, attested in cuneiform inscriptions from the third to the late first millennium BC. Originally spoken in the area of modern Iraq, Akkadian for a long period of time was the common language of education, diplomacy and trade across all regions of the Middle East. Akkadian (with its dialects Babylonian and Assyrian) is a Semitic language, closely related to Arabic, Hebrew and others; it was deeply influenced by Sumerian which was spoken alongside Akkadian in the South of Mesopotamia in the 3rd millennium and earlier.

If you would like to learn Akkadian and the cuneiform script contact Professor Andrew R George ( in the Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East.

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