Assyriology is the study of the languages and civilizations of ancient Mesopotamia. Our PhD program allows students to engage in research concerning what was arguably the first—certainly the best documented—high civilization in history. The Babylonian writing system, cuneiform, spans thousands of years of use, with hundreds of thousands of clay tablets and inscriptions on other media today housed in public and private collections around the world, and many thousands more of these unique historical records becoming available for research each year. The study of Assyriology covers languages including Sumerian and Akkadian, the history of Mesopotamia, an imposing array of literary works, and a material culture that endured for over 3,000 years in pre-Christian Iraq and regions surrounding it in antiquity.
Students in Assyriology will take Sumerian and/or Akkadian as part of their language requirement, and will engage in their respective literature traditions. A course on Mesopotamian history and civilization is a requirement for students to truly delve into the material. The aim of the program is for students to become proficient in one or both of the ancient Mesopotamian languages, and to come to understand all aspects of Mesopotamian intellectual, socio-economic and material culture. This groundwork will give students the tools needed to cultivate and polish their dissertation at the end of their term. The program’s traditionally close association with UCLA’s Center for Digital Humanities and with the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (Los Angeles-Berlin) will, moreover, prepare our Assyriology PhD’s for future research in an increasingly digital academic environment.