Department of Ancient Cultures

Ancient Near Eastern Studies

The field of Ancient Near Eastern Studies is devoted to the ancient cultures of the Middle East from ca. 4000 BC to the Hellenistic age, covering the regions of modern Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Iran, and neighbouring areas.

The philological disciplines (most importantly Assyriology and Hittitology) concentrate on the decipherment and interpretation of cuneiform texts from the various cultures of the ancient Near East; they also study the structure and development of ancient Near Eastern languages, the most important of which are Sumerian, Akkadian (Babylonian and Assyrian) and Hittite.

The archaeological disciplines study the material culture, the settlements and the art of the ancient Near East. Archaeologists also conduct excavations and surveys in the Middle East.

Together, philologists and archaeologists labour to reconstruct the culture and history of the civilizations of the ancient Near East, many aspects of which form the starting point for our own cultural history.