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Reading Akkadian


Admission requirements

Inleiding Akkadisch and 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 cuneiform script through the reading and philological analysis of a range of texts. This course will teach students how to translate cuneiform Akkadian texts in their entirety; the texts chosen will expose them to many facets of Mesopotamian civilisation.
The first part of the courese (until the mid-term exam) focuses on texts produced in the Old Babylonian period. We will read a selection of royal inscriptions, letters, and contracts. In the second part of the course (after the mid-term), we move on to the rich text corpus from the Neo-Assyrian period and read selected passages from famous myths and epics, such as the Descent of Ishtar and the Epic of Gilgamesh.
During some of these classes, we will read from original cuneiform tablets from the Böhl collection (NINO).

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 and Neo-Assyrian texts;

  • Students will gain familiarity with the Old Babylonian script and deepen their knowledge of Neo-Assyrian sign forms.

  • Students will gain hands-on experience of reading from original cuneiform tablets.

  • Students will gain insight in how to use and analyse textual sources for studying the ancient Mesopotamian world.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Atendance is obligatory

Assessment method

Brief weekly tests of grammar and script during the seminars (20% of final grade)
Mid-term exam: translation, transliteration and analysis of a seen and an unseen text passage (40%)
Final exam: translation, transliteration and analysis of a seen and an unseen text passage (40%)

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

The resit will consist of a written exam (translation, transliteration and analysis of a seen and unseen text passage) that will replace the grades of the mid-term and final exam (80%).

Inspection and feedback
How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

  • Huehnergard, J. 2011. A Grammar of Akkadian, 3rd Edition. Harvard Semitic Studies.

  • J. Black, A. George, N. Postgate, A Concise Dictionary of Akkadian

  • sign lists by Labat or Borger


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Vrieshof