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Sumerian 3: Literary Texts


Admission requirements

The course 'Sumerian 2: Gudea' (previously 'Sumerian Texts: Gudea') or demonstrable knowledge of the Sumerian grammar and cuneiform script at an intermediate level.


Sumerian was the primary written language of Southern Mesopotamia until about 1700 BC. It is known to us from more than 100,000 inscriptions and clay tablets that cover a wide range of topics. Apart from large numbers of administrative records, we have many thousands of texts with a historical, legal, religious, or literary content. Studying them gives access to arguably the best documented culture from the third millennium BC.
Students will read and discuss a selection of literary texts from the Old Babylonian period. They will learn to tackle specific challenges related to Old Babylonian Sumerian manuscripts, especially the variations between different ancient copies of the same text. Further, they will read and discuss academic articles about the historical background and broader literary context of the Sumerian works in question.
The source texts and academic articles treated during the seminar tie in with the research specialization of the instructor (dr. Julia Krul): mythology, ritual, liturgy, and other aspects of ancient Mesopotamian religion. This will allow the students to deepen their understanding of the texts' cultural context and to practise analysing ancient sources from an historical perspective.

Course objectives

After this course you can:

  • transliterate Sumerian literary texts written in the Old Babylonian cuneiform script,

  • apply the standard methods of textual criticism that Sumerologists use to reconstruct such texts,

  • identify differences between the Old Babylonian and older Sumerian dialects,

  • critically use a variety of lexicographical resources,

  • translate Sumerian literary texts, and

  • understand the historical and literary context in which they were composed.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


Assessment will be in two parts:

  • a mid-term assignment of about 40 lines of Sumerian not treated during the seminars (40% of the final grade)

  • a written exam on the subject matter of the course (60% of the final grade)


The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that the written exam must have a grade above 5.49.


If the final grade is below 6.0, the written exam can be repeated.

Exam review

Students can view their marked examinations and request (additional) feedback for a period of 30 days after the publication of the grades.

Reading list

The study materials will be provided through Brightspace at the beginning of the course.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte

Registration Studeren à la carte

Registration Contractonderwijs

Registration Contractonderwijs


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Vrieshof


This course will be taught in Dutch if there are no international students participating in it.