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Advanced Sumerian


Admission requirements

The course 'Intermediate Sumerian' (previously 'Sumerian Literature: Gudea') or demonstrable knowledge of the Sumerian grammar and cuneiform script at an intermediate level.


Sumerian was the primary written language of Southern Mesopotamia until about 1700 BC. It is known to us from more than 100,000 inscriptions and clay tablets that cover a wide range of topics. Apart from large numbers of administrative records, we have many thousands of texts with a historical, legal, religious, or literary content. Studying them gives access to arguably the best documented culture from the third millennium BC.

Students in fact participate in the BA seminar 'Sumerian Literary Texts', where they will read and discuss a selection of literary texts from the Old Babylonian period. They will learn to tackle specific challenges related to Old Babylonian Sumerian manuscripts, especially the variations between different ancient copies of the same text. Further, they will read and discuss academic articles about the historical background and broader literary context of the Sumerian works in question.

The source texts and academic articles treated during the seminar tie in with the research specialization of the instructor (dr. Julia Krul): mythology, ritual, liturgy, and other aspects of ancient Mesopotamian religion. This will allow the students to deepen their understanding of the texts' cultural context and to practise analysing ancient sources from an historical perspective.

In addition to the requirements for the BA students, MA students will select a topic related to the course material, give a presentation about this topic to their fellow students and write an essay about it.

Course objectives

After this course you can:

  • transliterate Sumerian literary texts written in the Old Babylonian cuneiform script,

  • apply the standard methods of textual criticism that Sumerologists use to reconstruct such texts,

  • identify differences between the Old Babylonian and older Sumerian dialects,

  • critically use a variety of lexicographical resources,

  • translate Sumerian literary texts, and

  • understand the historical and literary context in which they were composed.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

  • Tutorials on the basis of the student’s needs and interests

Assessment method


Assessment will be in three parts:

  • an oral presentation about the selected text corpus;

  • a written exam on the subject matter of the seminar;

  • a final paper of c. 5000 words on the selected text corpus. The requirements for MA and ResMA students are differentiated: the paper of MA students will be mainly descriptive, with translations of and commentaries to selected texts from their corpus; the paper of ResMA students will also present an innovative and well-argued literary and/or historical analysis of the corpus.


  • Oral presentation: 20%

  • Written exam: 30%

  • Final paper: 50%

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that the Final Paper must always be sufficient.


Both the written exam and the final paper must have a grade of at least 5.50 and can be repeated if their grade is lower.

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

The study materials will be provided through Brightspace at the beginning of the course.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


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

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