Assyriology

Study the rich history of ancient Mesopotamia. Join the MA Classics and Ancient Civilisations specialisation in Assyriology at Leiden University, one of the leading centres for learning and research in ancient Middle Eastern history. Learn from pre-eminent scholars in the field who will train you in the skills to read primary texts in a variety of languages and graduate with a comprehensive knowledge of the region’s society, economy and culture.

Choose a Master’s specialisation in Assyriology at Leiden University:

  • Learn from the world-class scholars at Leiden University. Your teachers will be experts in the languages and cultures of the ancient Middle East and active researchers engaged in projects directly connected to the syllabus. Leiden University is a leader in the Mesopotamian and Anatolian cultures that used the cuneiform script as a writing system —invented pre-3000 BC.
  • Follow research programmes at other top universities outside the Netherlands during an exchange at one of our partner universities – including Cambridge, Münster, and Heidelberg.
  • Learn to read primary texts from the region at an advanced level. Choose between a wide range of languages including Sumerian, Akkadian and Hittite and a host of minor languages such as Elamite.
  • Study through the Netherlands Institute for the Near East (NINO), home to a library reputed to have one of the finest collections of books and journals on Mesopotamia and Anatolia in the world, as well as a world-class collection of original cuneiform documents from all periods of Mesopotamian history.
  • Combine courses from Assyriology with courses from other MA programmes within the Faculties of the Humanities and Archaeology.

A combination of courses in Hittite and Luwian from MA Linguistics with those from Assyriology would provide a comprehensive programme in Hittite and Anatolian Studies, and similarly with courses from the specialisation Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology.

Leiden’s Mesopotamian and Anatolian studies programmes have gained international recognition with the success of projects like the Altbabylonische Briefe in Umschrift und Übersetzung series, which consists of a corpus of epistolary texts from the Old Babylonian period. You will be learning from acclaimed academics immersed in the latest research and engaged in actively expanding our knowledge of the field.

It is also possible to study Assyriology within the two-year Research Master’s programme Classics and Ancient Civilisations.

Check out the programme in Assyriology.

Master details

  • This is a specialisation of: Classics and Ancient Civilisations
  • Degree Master of Arts in Classics and Ancient Civilisations
  • Mode of study Full-time
  • Duration 1 year
  • Start date September, February
  • Language of instruction English
  • Location Leiden
  • Croho/isat code 60821

Prof. Van Soldt

Wilfred van Soldt

“Mesopotamia can rightly call itself the birthplace of our civilisation.”

“Being able to read cuneiform script gives me access to a number of ancient languages of Mesopotamia, such as Akkadian and Sumerian. The language gives me access to the culture of the time; I experience how people lived then, how they thought, worked and practised science. Personally,

I am very interested in Babylonian astronomy. Anyone cycling towards the Sterrenwacht, the Leiden observatory, in order to look at the heavens using an atlas of the stars, should realise that Mesopotamia gave us the wheel, writing and astronomy and can rightly call itself the birthplace of our civilisation. Without knowing about this past, we can hardly expect to explain the present day.

Our programme is located in the Netherlands Institute for the Near East (NINO) where there is a unique collection of cuneiform tablets.

Leiden is specialised in six cuneiform languages. In addition, the expertise in Leiden is focused on the second and third millennium before Christ, in particular on Early Sumerian, Old Assyrian, Old and Middle Babylonian periods and Akkadian from peripheral areas.

The MA in Languages and Cultures of Mesopotamia and Anatolia is unique in the Netherlands. We work closely with the Universities of Ghent, Leuven, Heidelberg, Münster and Cambridge; students from the research master’s programme spend at least one semester studying at one of these partner universities. Because each department has its own specialisation, we are able to offer complementarity.

We have seen enormous growth in the interest in this special field in recent years, probably because of events in Iraq.”

Find your master's at Leiden University