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Reading Source Texts


Admission requirements

Regular MA admission requirements.

A working knowledge of Biblical Hebrew or another ancient Semitic language (e.g., Akkadian, Aramaic, Classical Arabic) would be very advantageous but not strictly mandatory.


This course provides an introduction to the local Semitic language of Sam’al, an ancient city-state in southeast Anatolia (modern-day Zincirli, Turkey). Local royal monumental inscriptions bear witness to unparalleled transition in the written language of the local chancellery from Phoenician to Aramaic, with chronologically directly in between: Sam’alian. Sam’alian is a fascinating, unique Northwest Semitic language that has close affinity with Aramaic and shares traits with Phoenician. From the outset of the Iron Age, this formerly Neo-Hittite state came under the authority of a West Semitic tribe whose rulers made a radical choice to break with the indigenous Luwian-Neo-Hittite epigraphic tradition. These texts, however, evince the continuous cultural interactions with non-Semitic speaking Anatolian people. After a fundamental introduction to the language and the essentials of grammar, we will examine a selection of text specimens of Sam’alian and address the (socio)linguistic and cultural-historical issues of particular interest to the participants as they arise during the course.

Course objectives

Upon completion of this course, students have familiarized themselves with the linguistic features of Sam’alian and its cultural-historical background and have acquired general philological skills to study unvocalized texts independently. They are able to explore this independently in a broader historical-comparative context by consulting the available literature.


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

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

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total course load 10 ec x 28 hours = 280 hours:

  • Contact hours: 26 hours;

  • Course preparation: 76 hours;

  • Paper: 180 hours.

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 paper is to be revised after consultation with the teacher.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • course material, communication.

Reading list

Course material and bibliography will be distributed during class.


Enrollment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.


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


Dhr. P.M. (Paul) Noorlander MA