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Akkadian Literary Texts


Admission requirements

This course is open to MA and research MA students in Classics and Ancient Civilizations.
Knowledge of Akkadian is required.


Writing in ancient Mesopotamia was not only used to count grain, send letters, and produce manuals for the interpretion of omens. The Akkadian textual inheritance includes many texts that are frequently categorized as “literary.” These texts are among the most engaging of the entire Akkadian corpus, offering vivid expressions of Mesopotamian culture and making artful use of the Akkadian language. In this seminar, we will read from numerous lesser known Akkadian texts (from cuneiform copies and transliteration) to get a better sense of Akkadian literature beyond Gilgamesh and Enuma Elish. We will be exposed to different kinds of Akkadian literary production and the various uses of literary texts.
But what does it mean to categorize a text as “literary,” anyway? What distinguishes a literary text from other texts? Our reading of Akkadian texts will be complemented by a discussion of what marks Akkadian texts as literary. This discussion will build on previous efforts by scholars to define the category. We will question whether there is any rational basis for distinguishing between the literary and non-literary, and if so, whether this distinction is useful.

Course objectives

Students will gain broad familiarity with Akkadian literary texts and the purposes they served. Students will also gain insight into how scholars categorize texts and the problems that can arise from such categorization.
Students will become acquainted with literary Akkadian and be able to read and translate Akkadian literary texts.
Students will develop their philological skills, practice their ability to process and discuss primary and secondary Assyriological evidence, and produce a research paper.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Assessment method

  • Seminar



50% research paper
25% presentation
25% participation in and preparation for seminar meetings


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


If the overall grade is unsatisfactory, the paper may be revised following consultation with the instructor.

Exam review

Students will be invited individually to discuss their grades with the instructor upon publication of the results.

Reading list

Readings will be made available to the students.


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

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


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