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Northwest Semitic Epigraphy


Admission requirements

Regular MA admission requirements.


The subject matter of this course changes every time it is offered. It is usually devoted to an in-depth study of epigraphic material in a Late Bronze or Early Iron Age Northwest Semitic language, such as Ugaritic, Phoenician, etc.
The course consists of a thorough introduction to the grammar of the respective Northwest Semitic language and close-reading of a selection of texts. Regardless of the exact subject matter, we will also address particularly important topics relating to Semitic Linguistics at large, such as the workings of the nominal and the verbal system, problems of comparative reconstruction, and the evolution of Northwest Semitic. A working knowledge of Biblical Hebrew or another ancient Semitic language (e.g., Akkadian, Aramaic, Classical Arabic) would be very advantageous.

Course objectives

Following completion of this course, students are able to independently study and interpret epigraphic texts written in the respective Northwest Semitic language; they will also have some idea of how to make responsible use of comparative Northwest Semitic evidence.



Mode of instruction


Course Load

10 EC = 280 hours

  • Contact hours: 24 h

  • Course preparation: 76 h

  • Paper preparation: 180 h

Assessment method

  • Regular preparation (40%)

  • Paper (60%)

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average. Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the essay is to be revised after consultation with the teacher.


Not available

Reading list

  • H. Donner and W. Röllig, Kanaanäische und aramäische Inschriften, 3 vols., 2nd ed. Wiesbaden 1966–1969 (5th ed. of the texts 2002).

  • J. Friedrich and W. Röllig, Phönizisch-Punische Grammatik, 3rd ed. Rome 1999.

  • H. Gzella, “Phoenician”, in: id. (ed.), Languages from the World of the Bible, Berlin / New York 2011, 55–75.

  • D. Harden, The Phoenicians, Harmondsworth 1971.

  • J. Hoftijzer and K. Jongeling, Dictionary of the North-West Semitic Inscriptions, 2 vols., Leiden 1995.


Registration via uSis


Prof. Dr. H. Gzella