Assyriology and Cuneiform Studies examines the languages and civilizations of ancient Mesopotamia and related areas, such as ancient Anatolia. 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 encompasses many different languages, including Sumerian and Akkadian. Through the vast range of preserved textual, material, and archaeological evidence, students may also investigate over three-thousand years of the history, religion, and culture of Mesopotamia and the wider ancient Near East. Such connections are essential: Cuneiform Studies further includes Hittite and related languages such as Luwian, which were spoken in Anatolia in the Late Bronze Age and recorded on clay tablets in a cuneiform script adapted from their Mesopotamian neighbors.

Students in Assyriology will take a minimum of two languages (including Akkadian, Sumerian, Hittite, and others) as part of their language requirement, and will engage in the respective textual traditions surrounding each. Further courses on Mesopotamian history, religion, and literature are also required. The aim of the program is for students to become proficient in the relevant and required ancient Mesopotamian languages, and in doing so come to understand all aspects of the related intellectual, socio-economic and material culture. This groundwork will give students the tools needed to successfully conduct independent and original research in the field.