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Cultural History of Aramaic


Admission requirements

Knowledge of Biblical Aramaic and/or Targumic Aramaic.


This course encompasses the study of literary, epigraphical and archaeological sources for the cultural history of communities writing in Aramaic. The precise topic varies from year to year. In 2015-2016 the subject of this course will be Aramaic texts from the Achaemenid period. We will read Aramaic texts of many genres such as documentary texts from Elephantine, private letters found at Hermopolis Magna, satrapal letters found in Egypt and Afghanistan, the Ahiqar proverbs found at Elephantine. The texts are datable to the late 6th c. BCE – middle of the 4th c. BCE. Most of them are written in a variety which has been labelled by scholars as ‘Official Aramaic’.

Course objectives

Upon completion of this course, students will be familiar with a variety of a Aramaic which was used as a lingua franca in the Ancient Near East and will be capable to study independently documents written in this variety of Aramaic.


Timetable to be arranged between student(s) and instructor.

For further information see the timetables on the Classics and Ancient Civilizations website.

Mode of instruction

Lecture and seminar

Course Load

280 hours (10 EC):

  • 28 hours in class

  • 78 hours of class preparation

  • 54 hours for the preparation of the oral presentation

  • 120 hours for the writing of the paper

Assessment method

  • Class preparation (30%);

  • Oral presentation (20%);

  • Paper (50%).

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

In case of an insufficient final mark, the student will have the opportunity to give another oral presentation and/or review his/her paper.

Attendance of the course is mandatory.


Blackboard. Documents will be exchanged through Dropbox.

Reading list

The reading list will be handed out during the first class.


Please contact the study advisor.

Students are required to register for this course (5864KHA05R) via uSis, the course registration system of Leiden University.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.


Dr. M.L. Folmer


The course will be taught in Dutch or English, depending on the first language of participating students.