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Middle Assyrian History and Texts


Admission requirements

This class can be taken in fulfilment of the requirements of both the MA and the Research MA program in Classics and Ancient Civilizations (track Assyriology), with differential requirements.
It is open to exchange and study abroad students who meet the requirements. If in doubt, please contact the instructor.

Required knowledge to take this course: knowledge of Akkadian


The Assyrian empire of the first half of the first millennium BCE has been called the world’s first empire, and even the “prototype” empire on which Persia and others built. But the foundations of this empire were forged in the Late Bronze Age, in the Middle Assyrian period (c. 1400-1100 BCE). It is in the Middle Assyrian period that we first find all of the key institutions that characterize the later Assyrian empire, from kingship and the kinds of royal inscriptions for which Assyria is famous to constant warfare, mass deportation, and sophisticated systems of colonization.

In this course we will explore the textual evidence of the Middle Assyrian period: royal inscriptions, letters, administrative texts, literary texts, and others. Through close reading of these texts, we will familiarize ourselves with the outline of Middle Assyrian history and the character of this state. We will also be exposed to the breadth and depth of Assyrian textual production at this time.

Course objectives

  • Become familiar with the history of the Middle Assyrian period and its place in broader ancient Near Eastern history

  • Become familiar with Middle Assyrian texts from all major genres

  • Develop the ability to work with Middle Assyrian texts in the original language

  • Students will develop their philological skills, practice their ability to process and discuss primary and secondary Assyriological evidence, and produce a research paper.

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.


The timetable is available on the MA Classics and Ancient Civilizations website and the Research MA Classics and Ancient Civilizations website.

Course Load

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

  • Seminar meetings: (13 x 2h) = 26 hours

  • Preparation for classes: (13 x 5h) = 65 hours

  • Supplementary readings: (13 x 2h) 26 hours

  • Research paper (6,000 words): 163 hours

Assessment method


  • 55% research paper. The requirements for MA and ResMA students are differentiated: ResMA students are expected to write an original research paper; MA students may write an overview of the history and state of scholarship on a given question.

  • 10% oral presentation. This will be an initial presentation of each student’s proposed paper topic for development with the group.

  • 35% participation in and preparation for seminar meetings


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


If the overall grade is unsatisfactory, the paper may be revised following consultation with the instructor.

Inspection and feedback

Students will first deliver a provisional outline of their proposed papers for review with the instructor. Upon completion of the paper, students will be invited to discuss their grades with the instructor.


Blackboard will be used for providing course materials.

Reading list

A list of scheduled readings will be provided at the beginning of the course.


Dr. Jonathan Valk


Not applicable