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Advanced Sumerian


Admission requirements

Basic knowledge of Sumerian grammar and the cuneiform script.


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. During this course the student selects and studies under supervision a corpus of Sumerian texts and writes a paper on this corpus. The student also participates in the BA course Seminar Sumerian (“Sumerisch werkcollege”), where we will treat a selection of literary texts from the Old Babylonian period.

Course objectives

Students will be able to read, translate, and interpret Sumerian texts independently and put them into their historical and cultural context.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar;

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

Course Load

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

  • 26 (13 × 2) hours for attending the seminars;

  • 48 hours preparing the seminars;

  • 26 hours preparing the written examination;

  • 180 hours studying the selected text corpus, attending the tutorials, and writing the essay.

Research master students can take this course for 5 ec (= 140 hours). Please contact the teacher for more information about this option.

Assessment method

  • a written exam on the subject matter of the seminar (30% of the final grade);

  • a final paper on the selected text corpus (70% of the final grade).


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


Both the written exam and the final paper must have a grade above 5.49 and can be repeated if their grade is lower.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • course material, communication.

Reading list

To be provided at the beginning of the course.


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

Exchange and Study Abroad students: please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.




Dhr. Dr. A.H. (Bram) Jagersma