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Assyriology (research) (MA)

About the programme

Classics and Ancient Civilizations (Research) covers two years and can be studied in four programmes, one of them is the Assyriology (Research) programme. When you choose to study Assyriology, you will both be guided through the broadness of Assyriological sub-disciplines, as well as gradually led to develop your own specific research skills.

About our Common Courses
With all other Classics and Ancient Civilizations specialisations, the ResMA Assyriology shares two compulsory Common Courses. These courses are geared towards connecting the various disciplines and cross-fertilising work in your own specialisation. Students of all specialisations  examine cultural phenomena that transcend their own discipline and engage in discussions with fellows from neighbouring fields. Since classes in the research master level always follow recent trends in research, specific topics presented in the Common Courses may change every year.

Common courses

Slavery in the Ancient World
This Common Course looks into the phenomenon of slavery in the world of the Ancient Mediterreanean. It deals with such questions as : how did the different cultures define slaves? How and why were people enslaved? How did ancient societies think about and relate to enslaved people as individuals and to slavery as a practice? How inclusive were ancient debates about democracy and freedom? To what extent has slavery in different ancient societies been conceived and defined according to classical and modern ideas?

Libraries and Archives in the Ancient world
All ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern civilizations had their archives and libraries. Kings, priests, philosophers and private persons organized collections of documents, in order to preserve knowledge and to make it available for contemporary or future readers. Famous ancient libraries include the Royal Library of Ashurbanipal, temple libraries in Egypt, the Qumran Library, the library of Alexandria, the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum, and the Library of Caesarea. But what were the functions of these libraries? Who founded and who funded them? Who had access to the collections, and how were these buildings organized? In answering these questions we will be comparing the different forms that libraries adopted in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine, Greece and Rome.

Tutorial and Elective
Next to the Common Courses, you will follow a tutorial which serves as a first step in the planning of your thesis. Additionally, you take another elective course within your specialisation area.

Thesis and Thesis Seminar
In the fourth semester, you are expected to start writing your thesis. In addition to individual guidance by your supervisor, the Research Career seminar will bolster up your work on the thesis by training you in specific writing and presentation skills. You will also learn, based on your thesis preparation, how to write a research proposal on the basis of academic requirements used by the Dutch Research Council (NWO). Moreover, you will learn how to the process of blind peer-review works and how to write a paper that is admissible to a peer-reveiwed journal.

The programme offers a wide range of electives, including:

  • The Sumerian language, and history and culture of the third millennium BC
  • The Akkadian language, specifically Old and Middle Assyrian, Old Babylonian, Amarna Akkadian, Neo-Babylonian and Late Babylonian, and the society and culture of these periods
  • The Hittite language and Anatolian history and culture
  • The Elamite language
  • Cuneiform epigraphy
  • Mesopotamian religion
  • Trade and economy
  • Cultural contacts
  • History of Babylonian medicine and science
  • History of Empire

Research master’s students also take a course offered by a research school. OIKOS (the Dutch Research School in Classics) offers a module on Cuneiform Epigraphy where you will learn the skills required to handle, read and edit original cuneiform inscriptions.

For a more detailed programme, see the Prospectus.

Please note that this guide applies to the current academic year, which means that the curriculum for next year may slightly differ.

Caroline Waerzeggers

Professor of Assyriology

Caroline Waerzeggers

"When you visit us at Leiden University, there is a big chance that you will find the students and staff of Assyriology reading and working together in the NINO library. Even the most obscure publications in the field are on the shelves here. And, hidden away in our vault, there are three thousand clay tablets from all paleographic phases of the cuneiform script that we can use in our classes. The nearby museum of antiquities is another great place for hands-on education. Our staff covers a variety of languages and cultures, spanning 3000 years of history, from Sumer to Babylonia and from Assyria and Anatolia. And our students? They come from all over the world and share the same passion for ancient Mesopotamia!"

Willemijn Waal

Researcher and University Lecturer

Willemijn Waal

"Hittitology is a relatively small and young discipline. Though today much is known about the Hittites and their language, many open questions remain and new – at times revolutionary – discoveries are still being made. During class, students learn to critically study and analyze the available (textual) sources and to evaluate their reliability for reconstructing the history of the Hittite Empire."

Admission and Application

Do you want to find out if you are eligible for this Master's Programme?

Check the entry requirements

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