This version of the course guide is provisional until the period for editing the new course guides ends.

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Language and Culture in the Ancient Near East

Code: 104218 ECTS Credits: 6
Degree Type Year Semester
2503702 Ancient Studies OT 4 0


Jordi Vidal Palomino

Use of Languages

Principal working language:
catalan (cat)
Some groups entirely in English:
Some groups entirely in Catalan:
Some groups entirely in Spanish:


Agustí Alemany Vilamajo


It is recommended to have taken the subject of "History and Civilization of the Ancient Near East"

Objectives and Contextualisation

Acquire a specialized lexicon on the main languages and cultures of the Ancient Near East.

Achieve a global understanding of the subject.

Acquire work methodology that allows identifying characteristics of the literary texts of the Near East.

Acquire basic notions about the grammar of the main languages of the Ancient Near East.


  • Be able to express oneself orally and in writing in the specific language of history, archaeology and philology, both in one's own languages and a third language.
  • Extract and interpret data from texts written in an ancient language in different formats applying knowledge of the auxiliary sciences of history (epigraphy, numismatics, codicology, palaeography, etc.).
  • Interrelate linguistic, historical and archaeological knowledge of the ancient world with knowledge of other areas of the humanities, mainly ancient literature, philosophy and art.
  • Students must develop the necessary learning skills to undertake further training with a high degree of autonomy.
  • Understand and interpret the evolution of ancient societies in the Mediterranean – from Egyptian civilisation to the disbanding of Western imperial Rome – through analysis of the political, historical, social, economic and linguistic factors.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Autonomously searching, selecting and processing information both from structured sources (databases, bibliographies, specialized magazines) and from across the network.
  2. Compare linguistic features of Greek and Latin to draw conclusions about their common origins.
  3. Describe the main historical and social features of the Egyptian, Sumerian, Acadian, Persian and Mycenaean cultures.
  4. Draw historical-social conclusions based on a reading of simple documents written in the ancient non-Indo-European languages.
  5. Preparing an oral and written discourse in the corresponding language in a proper and organized way.
  6. Relate the history and culture of the non-Indo-European ancient civilisations to the Greek civilisation and the Roman civilisation.
  7. Submitting works in accordance with both individual and small group demands and personal styles.


Unit 1. Sumerian language: Origin and disappearance of the Sumerian Language; Grammatical sketch of Sumerian

Unit 2. Akkadian language: History of the Akkadian Language; Grammatical sketch of Akkadian

Unit 3. Sumero-Akkadian literature: The mythological cycles; The royal epic; Hymns, praises, lamentations and curses; Wisdom texts; Humorous texts; Other compositions

Unit 4. Hittite language: Periodization and monuments of Hittite; Grammatical sketch of Hittite

Unit 5. Persian language: History of the Persian language in the pre-Islamic period; Grammatical sketch of Old Persian

Unit 6. Indo-European literatures of the Ancient Near East: the nature of Hittite cuneiform texts (Myths, Epics, Annals, Hymns and Wisdom literature); the Achaemenid royal inscriptions; the Avestan corpus and Pahlavi literature


The teaching methodology will consist of the combination of lectures, reading of specialized bibliography, classroom practices and resolution of exercises.

The teaching methodology and the evaluation proposed in the guide may undergo some modification subject to the onsite teaching restrictions imposed by health authorities.

Annotation: Within the schedule set by the centre or degree programme, 15 minutes of one class will be reserved for students to evaluate their lecturers and their courses or modules through questionnaires.


Title Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Type: Directed      
Lectures 87 3.48 1, 2, 4, 3, 6
Type: Supervised      
Classroom practices, resolution of exercises 30 1.2 2, 4, 3, 6
Type: Autonomous      
Readings 30 1.2 1, 2, 4, 3, 5, 6


The evaluation of the subject will consist of two activities.

(1) Exam of the first part (50%)

(2) Exam of the second part (50%).

In order to make an average between the two activities it will be necessary to have obtained a minimum qualification of 4 in every exam.

On carrying out each evaluation activity, lecturers will inform students (on Moodle) of the procedures to be followed for reviewing all grades awarded, and the date on which such a review will take place.


Students will obtain a “Not assessed/Not submitted” course grade unless they have submitted two exams.

In order to participate in the re-evaluation, it will be necessary to have presented at least one of the two programmed evaluation activities.

In the event of a student committing any irregularity that may lead to a significant variation in the grade awarded to an assessment activity, the student will be given a zero for this activity, regardless of any disciplinary process that may take place. In the event of several irregularities in assessment activities of the same subject, the student will be given a zero as the final grade for this subject.

In the event that tests or exams cannot be taken onsite, they will be adapted to an online format made available through the UAB’s virtual tools (original weighting will be maintained). Homework, activities and class participation will be carried out through forums, wikis and/or discussion on Teams, etc. Lecturers will ensure that students are able to access these virtual tools, or will offer them feasible alternatives.


Assessment Activities

Title Weighting Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Exam of the first section of the subject (Sumerian & Akkadian) 50% 1.5 0.06 1, 4, 3, 5, 7, 6
Exam of the second section of the subject (Hittite & Persian) 50% 1.5 0.06 1, 2, 4, 3, 5, 7, 6


Sumerian and Akkadian Languages

Caplice, Richard, 2002: Introduction to Akkadian (4 ed.), Roma: Pontificio Istituto Biblico.

Civil, Miquel, 2020: Esbós de gramàtica sumèria, Barcelona: Universitat de Barcelona.

Huehnergard, John, 2000: A Grammar of Akkadian, Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns.

Jiménez Zamudio, Rafael, 2017: Nueva gramática de sumerio, Alcalá de Henares: Universidad de Alcalà.

Malbran-Labat, Florence / Vita, Juan Pablo, 2005: Manual de lengua acadia, Zaragoza: CSIC.

Rubio, Gonzalo, 2015: “The languages of Ancient Near East”, in Daniel C. Snell (ed.): A companion to the Ancient Near East, Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 79-109.

Thomsen, Marie-Louise, 1984: The Sumerian Language, Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag.

Von Soden, Wolfram, 1995: Grundriss der akkadischen Grammatik, Roma: Pontificio Istituto Biblico.


Sumerian and Akkadian Literature

Bottéro, Jean / Kramer, Samuel Noah, 2004: Cuando los dioses hacían de hombres, Madrid: Akal.

Ehrlich, Carl S. (ed.), 2009: From an Antique Land. An Introduction to Ancient Near Eastern Literature, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Foster, Benjamin, 1996: Before the Muses. An Anthology of Akkadian Literature, Bethesda: CDL Press.

Michalowski, Piotr / Veldhuis, Niek (ed.), 2006: Approaches to Sumerian Literature, Leiden: Brill.

The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature:

Verderame, Lorenzo, 2016: Letterature dell’antica Mesopotamia, Firenze: Le Monnier Università.

Verderame, Lorenzo, 2017: Introduzione alle culture dell’antica Mesopotamia, Firenze: Le Monnier Università.


Hittite and Persian languages

Brandenstein, Wilhelm / Mayrhofer, Manfred, 1964: Handbuch des Altpersischen, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz (Spanish trans. A. Tovar, Madrid: CSIC 1958).

Carruba, Onofrio (ed.), 1992: Per una grammatica ittita. Towards a Hittite Grammar. Pavia: Gianni Iuculano.

Friedrich, Johannes, 1952: Kurzgefasstes hethitisches Wörterbuch. Heidelberg: Carl Winter (reprint 1991).

Friedrich, Johannes, 19672Hethitisches Elementarbuch. 2 vols. Heidelberg: Carl Winter.

Held, Warren H. / Schmalstieg, William R. / Gertz, Janet E., 1988. Beginning Hittite. Columbus, Ohio: Slavica Publishers.

Hinz, Walter, 1973: Neue Wege im Altpersischen, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Hinz, Walter, 1975: Altiranisches Sprachgut der Nebenüberlieferungen, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Kent, Roland G. [19532Old Persian. Grammar, Texts, Lexicon, New Haven: American Oriental Society.

Mayrhofer, M. & Schmitt, R. (ed.) [1979-]: Iranisches Personennamenbuch, Wien: VÖAW.

Puhvel, Jaan, 1984-: Hittite Etymological Dictionary. Berlín-Nova York-Amsterdam: Mouton De Gruyter.

Kloekhorst, Alvin, 2008: Etymological Dictionary of the Hittite Inherited Lexicon. I-II. Leiden: Brill.

Schmitt, Rüdiger (ed.), 1989: "Altpersisch", in Schmitt, Rüdiger (ed.) Compendium Linguarum Iranicarum, Wiesbaden: Ludwig Reichert, p. 56-85.

Tischler, Johannes, 2001. Hethitisches HandwörterbuchMit dem Wortschatz der Nachbarsprachen. Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachen und Literaturen der Universität Innsbruck


Indo-European Literatures of the Ancient Near East

Beckmann, Gary, 2011: "Hittite Literature", in Ehrlich, Carl. S., From an Antique Land. An Introduction to Ancient Near Eastern Literature. Lanham-Boulder-New York-Plymouth: Rowman & Littlefield, p. 215-254.

Bernabé, Alberto, 1987: Textos literarios hetitas. Madrid: Alianza Tres.

Bernabé, Alberto / Álvarez-Pedrosa, Juan Antonio (ed.), 2000-2004: Historia y leyes de los hititas, I-II, Madrid: Akal.

Cereti, Carlo, 2001: La letteratura pahlavi. Introduzione ai testi con riferimenti alla storia degli studi ed alla tradizione manoscritta. Milano: Mimesis

Darmesteter, James, 1892-93: Le Zend-Avesta I-III, Paris: Adrien-Maisonneuve (reprint 1960).

García Trabazo, José Virgilio, 2002: Textos religiosos hititas. Mitos, plegarias y rituales. Madrid: Trotta.

Lecoq, Pierre, 1997: Les inscriptions de la Perse achéménide. Paris: Gallimard.

Schmitt, Rüdiger, 1991: The Bisitun Inscriptions of Darius the Great: Old Persian Text (Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum I.1), London: School of Oriental and African Studies.

Schmitt, Rüdiger, 2000: The Old Persian Inscriptions of Naqsh-i Rustam and Persepolis (Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum I.2), London: School of Oriental and African Studies.

Yar-Shater, Ehsan (ed.) [1982–] Encyclopaedia Iranica, Londres: Boston & Henley.