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Diaspora Communities in the Persian Period


Admission requirements

Knowledge of Aramaic is recommended but not obligatory.


In the Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid Periods the first Judean diaspora communities arose in the Ancient Near East. In this course we will examine the 6th and 5th c. Judean community of Elephantine in southern Egypt and the Al-Yahudu Judean community in rural Babylonia. The approach will be broad. We will examine the historical background and origin of these communities, their historical context, the dimensions of Yahwism and paganism within these communities, their embedding within the dominant culture, their literature and their law systems, questions of written versus spoken language, literacy and use of script. To address these questions the archaeological remains, the onomasticon, and the relevant texts in multiple languages will be studied. We will work with primary sources, written in different languages (esp. Aramaic, Akkadian and Old Persian). These sources are studied in translation or in the original language, depending on the background of the students.

Course objectives

Students who attend this seminar will:

  • acquire expert knowledge of Judean culture in diaspora communities under Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid rule;

  • be able to contextualise the most important primary source texts;

  • critically engage with scholarship on the Achaemenid Empire;

  • strenghten their ability to process and evaluate primary and secondary literature;

  • be trained to carry out original research and to report on its results, both in oral and in written form.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


  • Participation in and preparation for seminar meetings (20%)

  • Oral Presentation (20%) (on the same research topic as the paper)

  • Paper (60%)

The requirements for MA and ResMA students are differentiated: Research MA students will be expected to read additional secondary literature and to choose a paper topic that requires more original research than one-year MA students.


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average of its components. All the components (participation/preparation, paper, oral presentation) need to be sufficient.


In case of an insufficient for the oral presentation and/or the paper, the student will have the opportunity to review the paper but the insufficient for the oral presentation will remain. In case of an insufficient for the participation/preparation, the weighing of the paper will be 80% (and the weighing of the oral presentation will remain 20%), with extra literature to be studied and processed.

Inspection and feedback

Students will receive individual feedback on their presentation and paper.

Reading list

Granerød, G. 2016. Dimensions of Jahwism in the Persian Period. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter.
Kuhrt, A. 2007. The Persian Empire. A Corpus of Sources from the Achaemenid Period. London: Routledge.
The rest of the reading list will be posted on Brightspace at the start of the semester.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website



Students interested in taking this course should contact the coordinator (dr. M.L. Folmer) at the end of August or the beginning of September. Also contact the teacher in case you have doubts on your admissibility to the course.