On this page a list is given of all Ph.D. research which is now in progress. New entries are welcome as long as they concern research in Cuneiform Studies (Assyriology, Hittitology, Ugaritology and Near Eastern Archaeology).
Guidelines for new Ph.D. entries:
De Backer, Fabrice (Strasbourg/France)
- La formation et l'utilisation du personnel
militaire dans l'armée néo-assyrienne
Cette recherche porte sur l'organisation, l'administration, le recrutement, l'équipement, l'entrainement, les techniques et le matériel de combat ainsi que les missions remplies par l'armée néo-assyrienne.
L'objectif principal de ces travaux est de comprendre en quoi la machine de guerre des rois néo-assyriens leur a permis de diriger une grande partie du Proche-Orient ancien. Les sources textuelles, matérielles et visuelles seront utilisées comme base de départ pour ce travail. Contact
Silvia (Kiel/Germany) - Mountain people
in the Ancient Near East: the Case of the Zagros
The research project aims at clarifying the social organization, the way of living and the relationship with the surrounding environment of the ancient people living in the Zagros Mountains. The attention focuses in particular on the early and mid-1st millennium BC when the interaction between the Mesopotamian lowlands and the Eastern Mountains became more and more intense. It is the texts of the people of the plains (first of all the Neo-Assyrian written sources), which give the best information about the Zagros ranges and their inhabitants. With the help of a systematic analysis of both these official documents and the local scanty archaeological remains, an overall picture of the people of the Zagros and their environment should emerge together with a view of the ideological character of their foreign representation. Contact
Barreyra Fracaroli, Diego A.
(New York/USA) - Imâr and Tuttul in
the Land of Dagan. An Alternative State Formation in the Syrian
Upper Middle Euphrates Valley through Old Babylonian Times
This research consists of a textual analysis of the political and social interaction between tribes, cities and kingship in times of the Mari cuneiform archive. This interplay, in a socio-economic context of a pastoralist society, is a hallmark of the political developments in Syria-Mesopotamia during the third and second millennia BCE and represent essentially an alternative trajectory to state formation. Contact
Barsacchi, Francesco G.
(Florence/Italy) - The Storm-Gods in the Anatolian
Religious Tradition of the II millennium BCE
This work aims at providing a systematical study of the cult of the Storm-Gods in Anatolia during the 2nd millennium BCE. The first part of the research will focus on the origins of the cult of this deity called Taru and Tarhun(t) in Hittite cuneiform sources but more generally expressed by the logograms d.ISKUR and d.U. The archaic festivals dealing with the cult of the Storm-God will be examined. In a second part, the various local manifestations of this god in the Hittite Kingdom and their relationship with the official state Pantheon will be analyzed. A study of the local religious festivals which refer to the cult of these deities and of the divine groups associated with them will provide interesting reflections on the influence which the culturally differentiated regions of Anatolia had on the development of the state cult of the Storm-Gods. Contact
(Frankfurt Main/Germany) - Origins and Early Development
of the Standard Mesopotamian Weight System
The thesis concerns the emergence of the standard weight system in ancient Mesopotamia and is part of the graduate research program 'Value and Equivalence' at the University of Frankfurt/Main. Sources under consideration include Sumerian and Akkadian written documents from Archaic, Early Dynastic, and Sargonic periods (c. 3200-2200 BC) of Mesopotamian history.The following issues are being examined: a) the notation of weight units in cuneiform writing; b) goods and objects weighed; c) weighing toolware; d) weighing standards/norms; e) the social context of the process of weighing and its connections to the economic system. The project aims to determine when and where did standard weight system in Mesopotamia emerge, and to describe its early development. Contact
Benati, Giacomo (Turin/Italy)
- The early Dynastic Period at Ur: Chronology, Stratigraphy, Architecture and Materials from the Trial Pits, the Royal Cemetery and the Ziqqurat Terrace
This PhD research seeks to reconsider the Early Dynastic evidence from the so-called Royal Cemetery and adjacent excavated areas at Ur. The original excavation records stored at the British Museum will be systematically examined in order to clarify the stratigraphy of the site. Also, a bulk of relevant artifacts kept at the British Museum and the Penn Museum will be re-examined. This study aims to contribute to the reconstruction of the stratigraphic sequence of the ED period at the site, in order to provide further information on the development of the ED material culture in Southern Mesopotamia. Contact
(Lille/France) - Le droit pénal au Proche-Orient ancien dans la première moitié du IIe millénaire av. J.-C.
Le projet de cette thèse est de présenter de manière concrète comment s'est élaboré puis exercé le droit pénal au Proche-Orient ancien du XXe au XVIe siècle avant notre ère. Ce travail permettra de réunir dans un seul corpus toute la documentation à notre disposition (codes de lois, contrats, procès et documents épistolaires) et d'en faire un commentaire juridique qui ferait ressortir plusieurs points : les disparités géographiques qui pourraient exister dans l'application du droit pénal ; les normes et les disparités dans la rédaction des documents de la pratique tels que les minutes de procès, les contrats et dans une certaine mesure les documents épistolaires ; enfin, ce travail permettra de déterminer si le contexte dans lequel les sources sont rédigées influent sur l'exercice de la justice. Contact
(Jerusalem/Israel) - Studies in Middle Assyrian Chronology
and Its Implications for the History of the Ancient Near East in the 13th Century B.C.E.
This PhD thesis centers on proposing a more precise reconstruction, than has been available hereto, for the chronology of Assyria in the 13th-12th centuries BCE. Furthermore, the implications of the newly-reconstructed absolute chronology of Assyria for the chronology of other major powers of the Ancient Near East in the 13th century BCE (Babylonia, Hatti, Egypt) are explored. It is argued that Ramesses II must have ascended to the throne of Egypt in 1290 B.C.E. and concluded the peace treaty with Hattusili III of Hatti in 1269 B.C.E. On the other hand, it is argued that Shalmaneser I of Assyria completed his takeover of northeastern Syria (Hanigalbat) only in 1263 B.C.E. In other words, the takeover of northeastern Syria by Shalmaneser I, which brought him into a position of constituting a potential threat to the territorial integrity of the Hittite empire, could not have been part of the factors that motivated Hattusili III to seek peace with Egypt. Contact
Boivin, Odette (Toronto/Canada) - The First Dynasty of the Sealand in History and Tradition
This doctoral research is a historical analysis of the polity known as the Sealand during its First Dynasty, which appeared in Southern Mesopotamia in the Old Babylonian period and endured until the Early Kassite period. Attention will also be given to the Sealand in the Mesopotamian historiographic tradition. The approach is mainly philological, complemented with art-historical and archaeological considerations. Contact
Brumfield, Sara (Los Angeles/United States) - Imperial Methods: Using Text Mining and Social Network Analysis to Detect Regional Strategies in the Akkadian Empire
Building upon the traditional methods of philological analysis, this dissertation incorporates emerging technologies in text-mining and social network analysis as a new approach for analyzing large blocks of cuneiform text corpora. Working within the Classical period of the Old Akkadian dynasty, the height of Empire’s reach and influence, these digital tools are deployed to ascertain the level of administrative similarity or difference between the major urban centers. The cities of the Diyala are used as a baseline specifically because of their peaceful relationship with the Akkadian Empire. These parameters explore whether the political relationship (peaceful or rebellious) affected the degree or extent of the Empire’s administrative presence in its various territories. Contact
Çifçi, Ali (Liverpool/UK) - Urartu between East and West: Interpretations of the Socio-Economic Structure of the Urartian State.
The aim of this thesis is to analyze the socio-economic structure of the Urartian state, by using Urartian written sources and archaeological data from excavated sites in eastern Anatolia as well as Armenia and North-West Iran.
Date of completion: 30th September 2013 Contact
Frazer, Mary (New Haven/USA) - Akkadian Royal Letters in Later Mesopotamian Tradition.
This dissertation studies Akkadian royal letters known only from tablets written after the time in which the letters’ correspondents lived. It will include editions, commentaries and comparisons of the texts in question, comparison with relevant texts outside the corpus, and consideration of questions of historicity and function. Contact
Friedrich, Elke (Jerusalem/Israel) -
The Mesopotamian way of sensing the world - with a semantic
examination of Akkadian verbs of perception.
The study aims at illustrating and exploring the idea of sensory perception in Ancient Near Eastern Culture. It shall demonstrate and disclose the emphasis placed on particular senses for the purpose of creating a ranked listing of those senses. For this purpose, the three parts of the study shall cover: a) the importance of sensory organs; b) an analysis of Akkadian verbs of perception and synaesthetic adjectives with regard to their polysemy and hierarchy, and c) some general deliberations on senses, which are either much emphasized, or repressed in the cultural realms of mythology, cosmology and rituals. Contact
Maya (Tbilisi/Georgia) - Weberei
und Textilien in Altanatolien nach hethitischen Keilschriftquellen
und archäologischem Material
Wie im gesamten Orient, spielen in Anatolien Textilien eine wichtige Rolle (tägliche Bekleidung, Ehrengewänder, Geschenke u.a.). Da dieses Thema bisher noch nicht monographisch bearbeitet wurde, ist auf jeden Fall grundlegende Forschung zu betreiben und sind wichtige Ergebnisse zu erwarten. Mein Arbeitsplan ist folgendes: 1.Materialaufnahme: Inventare, Ritualtexte, Geschenksliste, Festbeschreibungen, Lexikalische Listen; 2. Bearbeitung des Materials: Termini für Stoffe, Farben, Terminologie der Weberei; 3. Bearbeitung der neu erscheinenden Keilschrifttexten sowie neuester Fachliteratur; 4. Vergleich des hethitischen Materials mit dem Befund im Mesopotamien (Sumer, Akkad). Neben dem philologischen Material ist auch kurz auf den archäologischen Befund einzugehen. Im historischen Rückblick sollte auch der Textilhandel des sog. altasses. Handelskolonien (20/19. Jhr. v. Chr.) einbezogen werden. Contact
Gertoux, Gérard (Lyon/France) - Approche scientifique d'une chronologie absolue grâce aux synchronismes datés par l'astronomie / Scientific approach to an absolute chronology through synchronisms dated by astronomy
From Herodotus onward, historians tried hard “to reconstruct” a chronology. It was the ancestor of the historical method which then grew richer in information resulting from documents dated in different systems. From the XXth century onward, historians used so-called scientific methods: carbon dating, dendrochronology, astronomy, etc. Although each method has its advantages and its weaknesses, the one which uses eclipses has an indisputable advantage because the movement of celestial bodies can be calculated in retrospect with much precision. It allows a relative chronology to be turned into an absolute chronology either in the case of a total eclipse, or in the case of a set of eclipses accurately described which makes the observed phenomenon unique within a given period. The main interest of the scientific dating is to anchor the historical chronology to pivotal dates. My aim in proposing this method is to show that the interactive combination of historic, calendar and astronomical data allows to increase the number of pivotal dates and to certify them. To illustrate the principle and the advantages of this method of chronological reconstruction, well known events (death of Sesostris III, of Thutmosis III, of Xerxes I, of Herod and of Jesus) the dating of which is debated have been examined. Contact
Giessler, Julia (Berlin/Germany) - Body-styling, Body-modification and its Socio-cultural Aspects in the Ancient Near East.
According to cuneiform tradition several different types of marks have been placed on both, humans and animals, in Mesopotamia as well as adjacent cultures. In the majority of cases these marks were either applied to slaves, alternatively to livestock in private hands, or to the so-called temple oblates and to animals of the holy flock, that was assigned to certain deities. Primarily focusing on sources of the first millennium BCE, this study is meant to detect in a first step the particular nature of these marks, which could vary significantly (from impermanent to permanent, e.g. hairstyles or tattoos). Then, in a further step, the signs’ eclectic meanings will be investigated in order to define legal tenors, cultic significations or even decorative conventions. Contact
Jeffers, Joshua -
Tiglath-pileser I: A Light in a Dark Age.
Tiglath-pileser I was an important Middle Assyrian king who reigned in the late twelfth to early eleventh centuries BCE from his capital city of Assur in northern Mesopotamia. At this time, the Ancient Near East was descending into a "dark age," when documentation for reconstructing history is fairly scarce. The researcher will collect the textual and archaeological material from Tiglath-pileser's reign that has recently become available and promises to bring further illumination to the period. Additionally, specific attention will be given to this king's role as a transitional figure from the Middle Assyrian territorial state of the second millennium to the Neo-Assyrian empire of the first. Contact
Jiménez, Enrique (Madrid/Spain) -
The Winds in Cuneiform Literature.
This research project aims at understanding the phenomenon of the wind in the Ancient Mesopotamian world. First, meteorological wind will be examined taking into account modern and ancient records (archaeoclimatology). Secondly, the role of winds in Akkadian and Sumerian literature (mythological, medical, etc.) will be studied. The main purpose of this project is to analyze, compare and contrast the data collected in order to trace back harmonized streams of tradition as well as changes in the imagery of the winds. The project includes the edition of some hitherto unpublished tablets relevant to this subject. Contact
Lang, Dr. Martin (Innsbruck/Austria) - Motive und Traditionen in den Altmesopotamischen Fluterzählungen (working title). Contact
Langin-Hooper, Stephanie (Berkeley, USA) - Beyond Typology: Investigating Entanglements of Difference and Exploring Object-Generated Social Interactions in the Terracotta Figurines of Hellenistic Babylonia
Date of completion: May 2011. Contact
Meyer-Laurin, Vera (Berlin/Germany) - Orthographie und Lautung. Eine Untersuchung der Suffixe und Enklitika in den altsumerischen Urkunden aus Lagash.
The pre-Sargonic texts from Lagash are the first texts where the suffixes and clitics of the Sumerian language were systematically represented in the writing system. In this study the orthographic rules according to which these grammatical elements were expressed will be investigated. Based on these results the researcher will try to reconstruct the morpho-phonological realities that are reflected in these orthographic rules. A comprehensive catalogue given in an appendix will present the references for all suffixed forms in the investigated corpus, complemented by etymological indications as well as hints to the phonological shape of the respective lexemes in later texts. Contact
Muller, Virginie (Lyon/France) -
Death in the Ancient Near East. A lexical
and historical study based on epigraphic data (late 3rd-1st mill. BC).
Mainly Akkadian and some Sumerian texts provide the primary material for this study, which is a lexical analysis of the semantic field of the death, and of terms, expressions and euphemisms used to refer to dying. All literary genres are examined, especially divinatory texts. The purpose is not only to bring together a corpus, up to here non-existent, by going through the texts systematically, but also to analyze all the terminology and to summarize the subject. This research concerns concrete aspects of death, especially the different ways in which Mesopotamians died and the acts that followed death, such as funerary practices and rites. We are also interested in different feelings, values, and uses attributed to death by the living. Contact
Olijdam, Eric (Durham/UK) -
People without History: Dilmun during the late Early Dilmun Period (ca. 1900-1600 BC).
The late Early Dilmun period is poorly understood as little physical evidence can unequivocally be attributed to this phase. The general consensus -based upon Mesopotamian textual sources and a dearth of archaeological material- is that a collapse of the maritime trade-network triggered a series of catastrophic events in Dilmun which led to an economic, political, social and cultural disintegration. It is true that Dilmun underwent a period of change, but at the same time cultural continuity can be observed to both the previous as well as succeeding periods. Main objectives of PhD: define late Early Dilmun assemblages; factual re-examination of the late early Dilmun period; place Dilmun in the geo-political context of the region during the reigns of Hammurabi and his successors, especially its relation with the illustrious Sealand. Contact
Parys, Magalie (Lille/France) - La maladie mentale au Proche Orient ancien.
La thèse a pour objet de rassembler des textes médicaux cunéiformes en akkadien et sumérien, publiés ou inédits, évoquant et traitant les souffrances psychiques, que l'on peut aujourd'hui considérer comme des troubles mentaux. Les textes du corpus seront à la fois des textes médicaux thérapeutiques et des incantations médicales, dont le choix se fera à partir des signes cliniques décrits. Les textes seront ensuite traduits et analysés, afin de démontrer que les Mésopotamiens avaient bien une conception de la souffrance psychique, et qu'ils la traitaient. Le traitement de ces symptômes sera également approfondi, afin de comprendre si une maladie mentale était traitée systématiquement par un traitement influant sur le psychisme, ou si les traitements étaient plutôt aléatoires. Contact
Peled, Ilan (Tel-Aviv/Israel) -
The Third Gender in the Ancient Near East.
The dissertation aims at investigating the concept of 'Third Gender' in the various societies and cultures of ancient Mesopotamia and the Near East, from as early as mid-third millennium BCE, up until the latest cuneiform texts. Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite and ancient Hebrew texts are surveyed and evaluated, in order to assess this widespread phenomenon of males who were ascribed feminine traits and behavior. Contact
Perini, Silvia (Edingburgh/UK) -
Vessels Production, Use and Distribution in North Mesopotamia and Syria during the Middle Bronze Age.
A Ceramic Functional Analysis from Tell Ahmar (North Syria).
Despite the conspicuous archaeological evidence coming from the recent MBA excavations in North Mesopotamia and Syria, detailed publications about morphological ceramic characteristics and related economic activities (storage, processing, consumption and transportation) are still scarce and when available only refer to local identities. The general aim of this research is to deduce the connections between techno-morphological ceramic characteristics and related economic activities during the MBA. My research will be conducted in three stages: archaeological analysis of unpublished material coming from Tell Ahmar; critiques of existing works and application of findings into a broader context; followed by the discussion and evaluation of how the identified economic processes can be used for further research. Contact
Pfoh, Emanuel (University of Buenos Aires, Argentina) -
Prácticas sociopolíticas en el Levante durante la época de El Amarna (siglo XIV a.C.).
The study shall focus on the socio-political relationships between Hatti and her Anatolian and Syrian subjects as well as between Egypt and her Palestinian subjects during the El Amarna period. Practices of kinship, pseudo-kinship, friendship, patronage and statehood, involving prestige and power, shall be analysed from a historical-anthropological perspective.
Completed: 20 december 2011. Contact
Pitts, Audrey (Cambridge/USA) -
The Royal Family of the Ur III Dynasty: Strategies and Practices of Political and Economic Control
This dissertation will comprise a systematic study of the royal family of the Ur III Dynasty. The first part of the study will identify membership in the family, by both blood and marriage, interrelationships among members, and the various roles or functions attributed to members in the extant records. This evidence will be analyzed in the second part, with the aim of ascertaining how the dynasty gained and maintained political and economic control over Sumer, its peripheral regions, and its vassal states. Aspects to be considered will include various means of coercion and cooption, such as nepotism, diplomacy and military action, as well as the monopolization of goods, labor, institutions, and positions of prestige. Challenges and resistance to the dynasty's hegemony, and factors which led eventually to its loss of control will also be examined. Contact
Schneider, Bernhard (Innsbruck/Austria) -
Baugeschichtliche Untersuchungen zum Ekur-Tempel in Nippur
It is the aim to combine the results of the excavations of the 19th and 20th centuries in the Ekur-Temple of Nippur. Unpublished materials as plans, sketches, photos etc. will be added to and combined with the published material. The stratigraphy of the Ekur-Temple as a whole will be revised as well as architectural details added. As a result it should provide the objects found within the Ekur with archaeological context. Contact
Solans, Bárbara E. (Zaragoza/Spain) - Assemblies, Councils, Magistrates and Monarchs: Seats and Nets of Political Power in Syria-Palestine (II-I Millenium B.C.) Contact
Sternitzke, Katja (Munich/Germany) -
Babylon in the Kassite period
This study aims to give new insight in the Kassite settlement of the ancient city of Babylon. Main sources besides the previous publications of the German excavation team (1899-1917) are the original documentation material and the recovered small finds. The focus lies on the Merkes area with its rich dwelling architecture and the associated burials. Contact
Still, Bastian (London/UK) -
The Social World of the Babylonian Priests
The core research question of this thesis is to what extent is the professional, purity-based hierarchy of the Neo-Babylonian priesthood reflected in the priests' social interaction outside of the institutional context of the temple. Using archives of priestly families from Borsippa this study aims at establishing the identity of the priests' associates in four areas of social interaction: 1) marriage and family formation, 2) circles of trust and intimacy, 3) patterns of landownership, 4) credit operations. Social Network Analysis will underpin the study with a quantitative basis. Contact
Stone, Adam (Cambridge/UK) -
The Importance of the Quotidian and Peripheral - A Diachronic Study of the Deliveries from
the Borders of the Ur III State
My doctorate concerns the Sumerian administrative documents of the Ur III period of Ancient Mesopotamia, particularly those from Tell Drehem. I hope to investigate the relationships between the Ur III administration and those regions on, or beyond, its 'borders'. This relationship has been viewed as relatively static over time, and uniform over space. I think that such a view is not supported by the varied transaction history within the administrative documents, nor by recent work on the nature of 'core vs. periphery' dynamics, nor by our growing understanding of the complexity and variability of Ur III administration and its implementation. How were power and control exerted and extended by the Ur III kings? How were relationships of power conceived and contested in this important region at the end of the Third Millennium BC. Contact
Taylor, Kynthia (Cambridge/USA) -
The Erra-Poem: A Literary and Comparative Analysis
This project seeks to investigate significant literary, historical and religious issues in this poem, including the diachronic nature of the cult of Erra/Nergal, his relationship to his vizier Ishum, the personality of the Seven/Sebetti, the status of Marduk (especially with regard to the problem of evil), representation of the divine, and the text's function in apotropaic magic. Although my analysis will not be confined to the text itself, by situating the text in its intertextual context I hope finally to illuminate and construct coherence in this difficult mythological poem. Contact
Thompson, Richard Jude (Cambridge/USA) -
The Deuteronomistic Covenant and Neo-Assyrian Imperial Ideology: A Study of the Deuteronomistic
History in Its Historical Context
This study investigates Martin Noth's conclusion about the Deuteronomistic History (DH) that the people of Israel had committed apostasy, ceased to obey the law code of YHWH, and thus lost their land. Scholars have challenged Noth's hypothesis and even the existence of such a history. The present study adopts a thematic reading of the DH as a coherent corpus of writing with a consistent message. The study thus hypothesizes that the DH depicts an imperial military covenant. After a survey of the inscriptions of the second-millennium B.C.E. Levant, the Hittite empire, the Neo-Assyrian empire, and the first-millennium B.C.E Levant, the study concludes with a hypothesis that the evidence points to the ideology of the Neo-Assyrian empire, especially that of Tiglath-pileser III, as the historical precedent for the Dtr covenant. The study challenges two presuppositions that underlie both the DH and its scholarship: that of the tôrāh as law and that of YHWH as a unique god. Contact
Toro, Benjamin (Birmingham/UK) -
The Deuteronomistic Covenant and Neo-Assyrian Imperial Ideology: A Study of the Deuteronomistic
History in Its Historical Context
The aim of this research is to explore and elucidate the "Dark Age" showing how this "Assyrian Pax" was an important factor in the development of antique civilization. It will be elucidated how the new Assyrian order was the historical precedent of many imperialist projects in the follow centuries, including the late Babylonian empire, the Persian, the Hellenistic kingdoms and, finally, Rome. For these reasons, special considerations should be attributed to epigraphic, archaeological, diplomatic and literary sources that enable improved vision and understanding of this period of Ancient History. Contact
Tsujita, Akiko (Leiden/Netherlands) -
Nisaba in ancient Mesopotamia
The aim of this research is to make a systematic study of Nisaba (a goddess of grain and writing) in ancient Mesopotamia, considering document genres and worship places, and historical transition of her worship and character. Contact
Velhartická, Shárka (Berlin/Germany) -
Studien zu den Huwaššanna-Texten (CTH 691-694)
This thesis aims to collect and catalogue all the texts belonging to the Huwaššanna-Rituals, CTH-Numbers 691-694. The stress is laid on the precise classification of the texts, their transcription, translation and commentary. This thesis is based on an uncompleted work of PD Dr. phil. Cord Kühne. Prof.Dr.Jörg Klinger is preparing his work for publication parallel to my thesis in order to make it possible to distinguish later from the original research of C.Kühne. Contact