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Reading Old Babylonian

Course 2018-2019

Admission requirements

Inleiding Akkadisch en spijkerschrift.


This course is designed for students who have completed the first semester of Akkadian. It focuses on deepening and broadening knowledge of Akkadian grammar and the Old Babylonian script through the reading and philological analysis of Old Babylonian texts. These texts will include examples from different genres, exposing students to the different forms and conventions that characterize different modes of Old Babylonian textual production. Among the texts that we will read are Old Babylonian letters, the Zimri-Lim Epic, and royal inscriptions.

Course objectives

Students will master the Akkadian verbal system, including weak verbs and all verbal stems;
Students will become acquainted with the discursive differences between various Akkadian textual genres;

  • Students will become proficient readers of Old Babylonian texts;
  • Students will gain familiarity with the Old Babylonian script.


The timetable

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Attendance and active participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to prepare for and attend all sessions. The convenors need to be informed without delay of any classes missed for a good reason (i.e. due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, family issues, problems with residence permits, the Dutch railways in winter, etc.). In these cases it is up to the discretion of the convener(s) of the course whether or not the missed class will have to be made up with an extra assignment. The maximum of such absences during a semester is two. Being absent without notification and/or more than two times can result in exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

Course Load

The course is 5 EC, which means a workload of 140 hours. The class meetings amount to 26 hours, the midterm will be one hour, the final exam will be two hours, leaving 111 hours over 13 weeks for class preparation and preparation for the midterm and final exams. Students are expected to devote 8 hours per week to memorizing verbal forms and cuneiform signs as well as preparing for the readings of primary sources; two hours of preparation for the midterm and five hours preparation for the final exam.

Assessment method

The grade in the course will be determinated as follows: 20% attendance, 30% midterm exam and 50% final exam. Each of these exams will require the production of full verbal paradigms, answering short open questions about the grammar, identification of cuneiform signs in isolation and in context, and the transliteration, transcription and translation of selected passages (read in class, as well as new ones).

The last class before the final exam will be a review session and students can discuss the exam results in office hours after the end of the term.



Reading list

Reading list (individual chapters from both of the following books will be assigned each week, but students are required to purchase Huehnergard’s grammar):

— Huehnergard, J. 2011. A Grammar of Akkadian, 3rd Edition. Harvard Semitic Studies.
— Kouwenberg, N. J. C. 2010. The Akkadian Verb and Its Semitic Background. Eisenbrauns.


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