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Old Assyrian Archives


Admission requirements

Advanced knowledge of Akkadian and cuneiform writing.


The Old Assyrian dialect of Akkadian is known from the thousands of letters and administrative documents excavated in the lower town of Kültepe, the ancient city of Kanesh. This course will introduce the student to the grammar and vocabulary of Old Assyrian and the accompanying writing system, and to the historical and economic background of the Assyrian presence in Central Anatolia. A representative selection of texts will be read and special attention will be paid to the archival context of these documents.

Course objectives

Students following this course will acquire a thorough knowledge of Old Assyrian grammar and writing and insight into the historical and economic context of the documents.
Students will be able to read Old Assyrian texts from copies or photos of the cuneiform original, and to translate these into English and provide a grammatical analysis. Furthermore, they will be acquainted with the most important scholarly literature on these topics.


Please consult the timetables on the Classics and Ancient Civilizations website.

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total course load is 280 hours, of which

  • Attending seminars: 13 × 2 hours/week = 26 hours;

  • Preparation for lectures: 13 × 4 h/w = 52 h;

  • Study of compulsory literature: 71 h (500 pp.);

  • Research and writing paper (5000 words): 131 h.

Research master students can take this course for 5 EC (= 140 hours). Please contact the teacher for more information about this option.

Assessment method

  • Paper (70%)

  • Oral presentation and contribution in seminars (30%)

Oral presentation: Students are expected to be actively engaged in discussion of the content and issues raised within the documents read each week, and to be able to summarize the material they have studied for the rest of the group in English.

Assessment additional course objectives for the ResMa students:
Research Master students will be expected to address more complex theoretical issues in all their work and in particular in their final paper. They may be asked to engage in the lecturer’s research (e.g. by commenting on work-in-progress), if this seems suitable.

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average. The grade for the final paper should be satisfactory. Should the result be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the teacher.”


Blackboard is used for this course for announcements and course documents.

Reading list

To be announced on Blackboard.


Students are required to register for this course via uSis, the course registration system of Leiden University.


Dr. J.G. Dercksen


The course will be taught in Dutch if all participants are able to communicate in that language.