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Research School Course: Cuneiform Epigraphy

Vak
2015-2016

Admission requirements

This course is compulsory for Research MA students Classics and Ancient Civilizations: Assyriology.

For other interested students regular MA admission requirements apply. Knowledge of Akkadian and Sumerian is not required.

Students who do not know Akkadian and Sumerian are welcome to join us for the first two parts of the course (5 EC). The third part of the course is only accessible to Assyriology students (5 EC).

Description

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the techniques and practices of reading, editing, reproducing and handling original cuneiform inscriptions.

The cuneiform script was in use during more than three thousand years in the Ancient Near East. First developed by the Sumerians in the fourth millennium BC, the script was later adapted to render other languages spoken in the region, such as Akkadian, Hittite, Hurrian and many others. Moreover, whereas the first cuneiform signs were impressed on clay tablets, scribes soon began to experiment with other media such as stone and metal. In the course of these processes, the cuneiform script underwent significant change, from sign shape (paleography) to spelling conventions and material aspects of writing. This course is designed to introduce students to this rich history and to equip them with the practical skills necessary to read, edit, reproduce and handle cuneiform inscriptions. In addition, the course will address archival practices and record management in the Ancient Near East.

In this course, we will work with original clay tablets and other artifacts kept in the Böhl collection at Leiden (NINO, Dutch Institute for the Near East) and we will apply both traditional and digital techniques to the study of these objects. The course consists of three parts. In part one, the student is introduced to the history of cuneiform paleography and the script’s most important epigraphic genres. In part two, students will learn techniques of editing, reproducing and handling cuneiform texts from specialists (hand-drawing, photography, 3D imaging, digital text markup, restoration and preservation). Part three consists of an individual project designed by the student and involving a particular group of cuneiform texts, either in the Böhl collection or another museum (e.g. British Museum, Brussels MAH, Louvre, Berlin VAM).

The course will be taught at Leiden (Institute of Area Studies) in the Autumn term of 2015. It will bring together a diverse group of people, including ResMA students, PhD students, staff, and invited guests affiliated to museums and other universities in the Netherlands and abroad. The group will cooperate closely with NINO at Leiden.

Course objectives

Course objectives of part 1 and 2 (5 EC): – to gain insight into the materiality of writing, archival practices and record management in the Ancient Near East; – to master techniques of editing, reproducing and handling cuneiform texts, including hand-drawing, photography, 3D imaging, digital text markup, restoration and preservation; – to understand the paleographic developments of the cuneiform script over several millennia and regions.

Course objectives of part 3 (5 EC): – to design and carry out an individual project involving a particular group of original cuneiform tablets or other types of cuneiform inscriptions; – to make a complete edition of an unpublished or semi-published text or texts.

Timetable

See the timetables on the Classics and Ancient Civilisations website.

Mode of instruction

Seminar

Course Load

5 EC = 140h, of which:

  • contact hours: 26 (13 × 2h)

  • class preparation: 72 (12 × 6h)

  • two essays: 42

10 EC = 280h, of which:

  • contact hours: 26 (13 × 2h)

  • class preparation: 72 (12 × 6h)

  • oral presentation: 30

  • individual project: 152

Assessment method

In the case of 5 EC:

  • participation: 20%

  • essay 1: 40%

  • essay 2: 40%

If the overall mark is unsatisfactory, the essays can be re-written.

In the case of 10 EC:

  • participation: 20%

  • oral presentation: 20%

  • individual project (paper and research visit to museum): 60%

If the overall mark is unsatisfactory, only the paper of the individual project may be re-written. The mark for the oral presentation and participation will still count in such a case.

Blackboard

Blackboard will be used.

Reading list

To be announced.

Registration

to be announced

Contact

Willemijn Waal

Remarks

Research Master’s students Classics and Ancient Civilizations have to follow one or more courses offered by one of the National Research Schools up to 5 EC per academic year. Therefore it is obligatory for Research Master’s students to join one of the National Research Schools . The Faculty pays your membership fee.

Research MA students Assyriology become a member of OIKOS. Students Assyriology attend the Research School Course: Cuneiform Epigraphy for 10 EC.

For further questions about the Research School membership please contact the student advisor Mrs. J.K. Koning MA.