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Northwest Semitic Epigraphy


Admission requirements

Regular MA admission requirements.


The subject matter of this course changes every time it is offered. It is usually devoted to an in-depth study of epigraphic material in a Late Bronze or Early Iron Age Northwest Semitic language, such as Ugaritic, Phoenician, etc.

In the academic year 2012-3, it will be offered as an introduction to Ugaritic, the local idiom of Ugarit, a city-state on the northern Syrian coast. The textual corpus dates from the Late Bronze Age, ca. 1400-1200 BCE, and are composed in an ancient Northwest Semitic language that has a special relevance for the historical-comparative study of the linguistic and cultural environment of the Hebrew Bible.

The course consists of a thorough introduction to Ugaritic grammar and close-reading of a selection of texts. We will also address particularly important topics relating to Semitic Linguistics at large, such as the workings of the nominal and the verbal system, problems of comparative reconstruction, and the evolution of Northwest Semitic. A working knowledge of Biblical Hebrew or another ancient Semitic language (e.g., Akkadian, Aramaic, Classical Arabic) would be very advantageous.

Course objectives

Following completion of this course, students are able to independently study and interpret texts written in Ugaritic; they will also have some idea of how to make responsible use of comparative Northwest Semitic evidence.


For the most recent update of the timetable, please, click here
For details of the timetable, consult Prof. H. Gzella. Tel. +31 71 527 2255.

Method of Instruction


A la carte and contract teaching

Not applicable

Required reading

A skeleton grammar for personal use will be provided; prospective participants may also wish to consult the following works to get a general idea of the course and its contents:

  • A. Gianto, “Ugaritic”, in: H. Gzella (ed.), Languages from the World of the Bible (Berlin/New York 2011), 28–54.

  • P. Bordreuil and D. Pardee, A Manual of Ugaritic (Winona Lake, IN 2009).



Contact information

Prof. Dr. H. Gzella


Not applicable.


Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.