SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Dr Sam Mirelman

MMus (London), PhD (SUNY Buffalo), PGCE (London), MPhil, PhD (ISAW, NYU).
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Publications


Sam Mirelman
Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Lecturer in Ancient Near Eastern Studies

Centre for Translation Studies (CTS)


London Middle East Institute (LMEI)


Dr Sam Mirelman
Email address:
+44 (0)20 7898 4283
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office No:
Academic Support Hours:
Mondays 3-5pm


Sam Mirelman began his academic career studying music to doctoral level. Since 2004 he has studied Assyriology in London, Munich, Heidelberg and various universities in North America. His research interests include music and performance in the ancient Near East, Sumerian literature and Mesopotamian intellectual history.

His PhD "Text and Performance in the Mesopotamian Liturgical Tradition" (2018, New York) is a study of the performance practice of Sumerian liturgical compositions, as shown by the evidence of late manuscripts. His British Academy postdoctoral research project is entitled "Sumerian-Akkadian Language Contact During the First Millennium BCE". It explores translation techniques between Sumerian and Akkadian, with a focus especially on "exegetical" translations. 



Music and performance in the ancient Near East, Sumerian liturgical texts, Mesopotamian rituals, Sumerian-Akkadian language contact, Mesopotamian intellectual history



Mirelman, Sam (2021) 'Lament and ritual weeping in the "negative confession" of the Babylonian Akītu festival'. Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions, (21), pp 42-74.

Gabbay, Uri and Mirelman, Sam and Reid, Nicholas (2020) 'A Literary Topos of Abundance: Two Emesal Prayers to Enki'. Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und vorderasiatische Archäologie, (110) 1, pp 25-36.

Mirelman, Sam (2017) 'A New Manuscript of Lugal-e, Tablet IV'. IRAQ, (79), pp 155-162.

Mirelman, Sam (2015) 'Birds, Balaĝs and Snakes (K.4206+)'. Journal of Cuneiform Studies, (67), pp 169-186.

Mirelman, Sam (2013) 'Tuning Procedures in Ancient Iraq'. Analytical Approaches to World Music, (2) 2, pp 43-56.

Gabbay, Uri and Mirelman, Sam (2011) 'Two Summary Tablets of Balag Compositions with Performative Indications from Late-Babylonian Ur'. Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und vorderasiatische Archäologie, (101) 2, pp 274-293.

Mirelman, Sam and Sallaberger, Walther (2010) 'The Performance of a Sumerian Wedding Song, CT 58, 12'. Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und vorderasiatische Archäologie, (100) 2, pp 177-196.

Mirelman, Sam (2010) 'Drum Construction in the lilissu Ritual'. Nouvelles Assyriologiques Brèves et Utilitaires, (2010/2) 43, pp 50-51.

Mirelman, Sam (2010) 'The gala Musician Dada and the si-im Instrument'. Nouvelles Assyriologiques Brèves et Utilitaires, (2010/2) 33, pp 40-41.

Mirelman, Sam (2010) 'A New Fragment of Music Theory from Ancient Iraq'. Archiv für Musikwissenschaft, (67), pp 45-51.

Mirelman, Sam and Krispijn, Theo J. H. (2009) 'The Old Babylonian Tuning Text UET VI/3 899'. IRAQ, (71), pp 43-52.

Mirelman, Sam (2009) 'New Developments in the Social History of Music and Musicians in Ancient Iraq, Syria and Turkey'. Yearbook for Traditional Music, (41), pp 12-22.

Mirelman, Sam (2008) 'Tuḫru-Achilles’ Tendon?'. Nouvelles assyriologiques breves et utilitaires, (2008/4) 65, pp 89-90.

Edited Books or Journals

Mirelman, Sam, (ed.), (2010) The Historiography of Music in Global Perspective. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press.

Book Chapters

Mirelman, Sam (2021) 'Mesopotamian Ritual Laments, “Music Therapy,” and the Role of Song in the Conception of the Deity'. In: Eichmann, Ricardo and Shehata, Dahlia, (eds.), Music Beyond Cultural Borders. 33rd Deutscher Orientalistentag. Jena, 19–20 September, 2017.. Rahden/Westfalen: Marie Leidorf, pp 129-135.

Mirelman, Sam (2021) 'Lament, Spectacle, and Emotion in a Ritual for Ishtar'. In: Costello, Sarah and Foster, Karen and Stein, Diana, (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Ecstatic Experience in the Ancient World. Abingdon: Routledge, pp 211-228.

Mirelman, Sam (2021) 'Public Lamentation in Ancient Mesopotamia'. In: Edelman, Diana and Hezser, Catherine, (eds.), The Use and Dissemination of Religious Knowledge in Antiquity. Sheffield: Equinox, pp 36-57.

Mirelman, Sam (2020) 'Tradition and Innovation in Mesopotamian Textuality During the First Millennium BCE: The Case of Balaĝ and Eršema Prayers'. In: Sommerfeld, Walter, (ed.), Proceedings of the 63rd Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale: Dealing with Antiquity – Past, Present, and Future. Marburg, 24–28 July, 2017.. Münster: Ugarit, pp 295-321.

Mirelman, Sam (2020) 'Performative aspects of litanies in Sumerian liturgical prayers, according to selected late manuscripts'. In: Sadowski, W. and Marsciani, F., (eds.), Litany in the Arts and Cultures. Turnhout: Brepols, pp 71-88.

Mirelman, Sam and Gabbay, Uri (2020) '“Skipped Lines” (MU.MEŠ GU4.UD.MEŠ) in Balaĝ and Eršema Prayers'. In: Baldwin, Jessica and Matuszak, Jana, (eds.), mu-zu an-za3-še3 kur-ur2-še3 ḫe2-ĝal2. Altorientalistische Studien zu Ehren von Konrad Volk. Münster: Zaphon, pp 87-116.

Mirelman, Sam (2019) 'Mesopotamische Tonsysteme und Tonschriften'. In: Leitmeir, Florian and Shehata, Dahlia and Wiener, Oliver, (eds.), MUS-IC-ON! Klang und Archäologie vergangener Musikkulturen. Begleitband zur Ausstellung im Martin von Wagner Museum der Universität Würzburg 10. Dezember 2019 bis 12. Juli 2020. Würzburg: Würzburg University Press, pp 83-90.

Mirelman, Sam (2018) 'Mesopotamian Magic in Text and Performance'. In: Panayotov, Strahil V. and Vacín, Luděk, (eds.), Mesopotamian Medicine and Magic. Studies in Honor of Markham J. Geller.. Leiden; Boston, MA: Brill, pp 343-378.

Mirelman, Sam (2016) 'Tierkapelle'. In: Ebeling, Erich and Weidner, Ernst F., (eds.), Reallexikon der Assyriologie und vorderasiatische Archäologie, Vol. 14: Tiergefäß-Waša/ezzil(i). Berlin: De Gruyter, pp 8-9.

Mirelman, Sam and Pongratz-Leisten, Beate (2016) 'Incantation, Incantations. II. Ancient Near East and Hebrew Bible/Old Testament'. In: Furey, Constance M., (ed.), Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception. Berlin: De Gruyter, pp 1038-1043.

Mirelman, Sam (2014) 'The Ala-instrument: its identification and role'. In: Maurey, Y. and Seroussi, E. and Westenholz, J. G., (eds.), Ancient Music in the Near East and Mediterranean Worlds. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, pp 148-171.

Mirelman, Sam and Kilmer, Anne Draffkorn (2013) 'Mesopotamia'. Grove Music Online. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mirelman, Sam (2010) 'The False Decipherment of Cuneiform ‘Notation’ in the Early Twentieth Century'. In: Mirelman, Sam, (ed.), The Historiography of Music in Global Perspective. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, pp 135-144.

Mirelman, Sam (2010) 'Performative Indications in Late Babylonian Texts'. In: Pruzsinszky, Regine and Shehata, Dahlia, (eds.), Musicians and the Tradition of Literature in the Ancient Near East. Vienna: LIT Verlag, pp 241-264.

Mirelman, Sam (2010) 'The Definition of ‘Music’ in Music Archaeology: the Contribution of Historical Ethnomusicology'. In: Eichmann, Ricardo and Koch, Lars-Christian, (eds.), Studien zur Musikarchäologie VII. Rahden/Westfalen: Marie Leidorf Verlag, pp 115-118.

Book Reviews

Mirelman, Sam (2022) 'Review of K. Maiwald, Mesopotamische Schöpfungstexte in Ritualen: Methodik und Fallstudien zur situativen Verortung. Mythological Studies, vol. 3. (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2021)'. Journal of Near Eastern Studies, (81) 1, pp 197-200.

Mirelman, Sam (2021) 'Review of Kaira Boddy: The Composition and Tradition of Erimḫuš (Boston: Brill, 2021).'. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, (84) 2, pp 380-382.

Mirelman, Sam (2020) 'Review of C. Jay Crisostomo, Translation as Scholarship: Language, Writing, and Bilingual Education in Ancient Babylonia (Boston/Berlin: De Gruyter, 2019)'. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, (83) 1, pp 127-128.


This list was last generated on Saturday, 2nd July 2022, 09:26 Europe/London.