Assyriology A

30 credits

Course, Bachelor's level, 5AS101

Autumn 2023 Autumn 2023, Uppsala, 100%, On-campus, The course will be taught in English, if needed

Autumn 2024 Autumn 2024, Uppsala, 100%, On-campus, The course will be taught in English, if needed

About the course

This course provides you with a broad historical knowledge of the Near East, from the first settlements down to the turn of our era and you will become acquainted with one of the first attested languages in the world: Akkadian.

In two modules we study the many cultures that inhabited the area stretching from the Mediterranean east coast, through Syria, Iraq and southern Turkey, to Iran. We see trade, ideas and technology, migrations and conflicts connecting people across the region and beyond. The earliest state formations in Iraq and eastern Syria, Sumer, Babylon and Assyria, take centre stage. Here we find the most varied evidence in the region for investigating human living conditions, their perception of the world, and the historical developments, all due to the number of archaeological finds and hundreds of thousands of preserved cuneiform clay tablets.

Before the alphabet appeared in the Near East, cuneiform writing was used to convey a dozen different languages from a handful of different language families, while hieroglyphs were used in Egypt to write ancient Egyptian. The cuneiform script worked differently from the alphabet: it indicated either whole words or syllables, or it indicated how adjacent characters should be read or understood. During the module Akkadian, we study the Akkadian language and cuneiform by means of seminars and exercises. After only a few weeks, original texts begin being read in cuneiform: a collection of laws or judgments authored by King Hammurapi of Babylon about 3800 years ago, and a couple of his building inscriptions. These texts are valuable as sources of information on life and the perception of the world in his state.