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Advanced Sumerian


Admission requirements

Basic knowledge of Sumerian grammar and the cuneiform script.


Sumerian is an ancient Near Eastern language known from well over 100,000 documents which are written in the cuneiform script and date from about 3200 to 100 BC. Sumerian was the primary written language of Southern Mesopotamia until about 1700 BC. During this course the student selects and studies under supervision a corpus of Sumerian texts and writes an essay about this corpus and its historical and cultural context. The student also attends the weekly seminars of the course Sumerian 3.

Course objectives

Students will be able to read, translate, and interpret Sumerian texts independently and put them into their historical and cultural context.


See Timetable Classics and Ancient Civilizations: Assyriology

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

  • Regular tutorials about the selected corpus

Course Load

The total course load is 280 hours (5 ec):

  • 26 hours for attending the seminars

  • 48 hours preparing the seminars

  • ca. 60 hours for the reading list

  • 26 hours preparing the oral examination

  • ca. 120 hours studying the selected text corpus and writing the essay

Assessment method

  • Oral examination of the reading list and of the subject matter of the seminar Sumerian 3 (30% of the final grade). There is no resit for this examination.

  • Draft and final essay on the selected text corpus (70% of the final grade).

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average.

Reading list

The student composes under supervision a reading list that is relevant for the text corpus he selected.


Students are required to register for this course via uSis, the course registration system of Leiden University. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.