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Old Assyrian Archives


Admission requirements

Knowledge of Akkadian grammar and cuneiform writing.


The Old Assyrian dialect of Akkadian is known from the thousands of letters and administrative documents excavated in the lower town of Kültepe, the ancient city of Kanesh. This course will introduce the student to the grammar and vocabulary of Old Assyrian and the accompanying writing system, and to the historical and economic background of the Assyrian presence in Central Anatolia. A representative selection of texts will be read and special attention will be paid to the archival context of these documents.

Course objectives

Students following this course will acquire a thorough knowledge of Old Assyrian grammar and writing and insight into the historical and economic context of the documents.
Students will be able to read Old Assyrian texts from copies or photos of the cuneiform original, and to translate these into English and provide a grammatical analysis. Furthermore, they will be acquainted with the most important scholarly literature on the historical and economic context.

This research seminar contributes to the achievement of learning outcomes 4a and 4c (to give and write a clear and well-argued oral and written presentation on a research topic in accordance with academic standards) of the study programme Classics and Ancient Civilizations.


Please consult the Classics and Ancient Civilizations website.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

Total course load is 280 hours, of which:

  • Attending seminars: 13 × 2 hours/week = 26 hours;

  • Preparation for lectures: 13 × 4 h/w = 52 h;

  • Study of compulsory literature: 71 h (500 pp.);

  • Research and writing paper (5000 words): 131 h.

Assessment method


  • Paper (70%)
    The requirements for MA and ResMA students are differentiated: ResMA students are expected to come up with their own original research topic, find literature, and write a scholarly report; MA students may expect more help in choosing their topic and their papers may consist of an assessment of the status quaestionis on a given question.

  • Oral presentation and participation in seminars (30%)
    Students are expected to actively engage in discussion of the content and issues raised by the documents read each week, and to be able to summarize the material they have studied for the rest of the group in English.


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


The grade for the final paper should be satisfactory. Should the result be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the teacher.

Inspection and feedback

Students will be invited to discuss the paper and the other results for this seminar (participation and oral presentation) individually with the teacher, as soon as the results have been published.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • Communication

  • Providing teaching materials

Reading list

M.T. Larsen, Ancient Kanesh. A Merchant Colony in Bronze Age Anatolia. Cambridge University Press 2015.

Assyrian texts will be made available through Blackboard or during class.


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

Exchange and Study Abroad students: please see the Study Abroad/Exchange website for information on how to register.


Dr J.G. Dercksen