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Discussion of Ancient Mesopotamia

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Questions from a longtime lurker
Completely stolen from epilogia.  Awesom
dremlet wrote in abzu
Name or Nickname: Phinnie
Age: 24
Occupation: I'm currently in IT but will be graduating next year and moving on to grad school (finally!).
How did you first form an interest in ancient Mesopotamia?: I've always been intrigued by the concept of "what happened before", whether it was regarding historical geography or cultural developments. I became fascinated by aspects of Biblical history as a kid when I realized that the stuff they taught at church could be related back to actual, tangible places and before long I was completely lost to the intrigues of the ancient world. True bliss came the first time I took a history of civilizations course that actually delved into what came before Greece! Soon after, I discovered a copy of Dr. Kramer's "39 Firsts" and was hooked on Sumerology.
Which culture from ancient Mesopotamia is your personal favorite?: Most definitely Sumer, though I've an interest in just about all of them.
Can you read cuneiform?: Sadly, no. Not yet.

I'm a current undergrad who will be graduating next year with a degree in Religious Studies. I'm looking forward to grad school, but I was hoping that some of you might be able to offer some advice. You see, I'm particularly interested in attending a school that would allow a duel program to study both the current and ancient Near East, but from what I've seen online, very few seem to have any sort of rigorous course offerings to ancient studies and those that do don't seem inclined to allow a concurrent course of study.

My question to you all is, do any of you know of universities that would allow this? Likewise, if you've any recommendations to make, I'd be more than grateful to hear them.

Thanks again!

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It would be hard to do something like that for grad school. What sort of dissertation would you write? And it would be impossible to do two dissertations. To be sure, you could do one-- say, focusing on the ANE-- and carry it to more modern parallels or something. But doing a "dual" ancient/modern program isn't really possible.

You can, of course, take classes in one to make yourself broader. It may help with jobs if you can market yourself like that. Harvard, Yale, Chicago, and UCLA both have strong programs in both. Probably Michigan, too. But you should really talk to professors about taking classes in modern Middle Eastern language and history. My guess is that the demands of ANE study are going to be such that also delving into more modern politics will be quite difficult...

brandeis has a very strong ANE department. and i'm sure they'd have a pretty good modern middle east program.

good luck finding a program :)

If it might be of some convience, I can mention some ANE departments Ive recently catalogued. Though this answer lacks some of the specifics of your question, which I cant address, you might find the urls helpful in the event the right answer doesnt surface here in the next little while. Cheers.

Yale University:
Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations - http://www.yale.edu/nelc/ [Sumerian]
Faculty Ive heard of/read:
Benjamin R. Foster (Curator of the Yale Babylonian Collection)
William W. Hallo ( Emeritus Professor)

Pennsylvania University:
Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations - http://www.sas.upenn.edu/nelc [Sumerian]
Faculty Ive heard of/read:
Grant Frame (Associate Professor of Assyriology in Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations)
Stephen J. Tinney (Clark Research Associate Professor of Assyriology; Associate Curator, Babylonian Section, University Museum (Sumerian language and literature)
Åke W. Sjøberg (Emeritus Clark Research Professor of Assyriology; Emeritus Curator, Tablet Collection, University Museum (Sumerian))
Note: The ePSD an effort begun by Åke W. Sjøberg, is currently being directed by Stepen J. Tinney, and is housed in the Babylonian section of Penn Museum.
also - http://www.upenn.edu/researchatpenn/article.php?555&soc

University of Chicago:
Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations - http://humanities.uchicago.edu/depts/nelc/index.htm [Sumerian]
Faculty Ive heard of/read:
Walter Farber , Professor of Assyriology
Robert D. Biggs, Emeritus Professor of Assyriology
Miguel Civil , Emeritus Professor of Sumerology

Cornell Univerity:
Department of Near Eastern Studies, http://www.arts.cornell.edu/nes/index.html [Sumerian]
Faculty Ive heard of/read:
David I. Owen - Bernard and Jane Schapiro Professor of Ancient Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, http://www.arts.cornell.edu/jwst/owen.html
Alhena Gadotti - Postdoctoral Associate Akkadian, http://www.arts.cornell.edu/nes/faculty/docs/gadotti.html.pdf

University of Michigan:
Department of Near Eastern Studies, http://www.umich.edu/~neareast/index.html [Sumerian}
Kelsey Museum of Archaeology at the University of Michigan
Faculty Ive heard of/read:
Piotr Michalowski - George G. Cameron Professor of ancient Near Eastern languages and civilizations, http://www-personal.umich.edu/~piotrm/cv1.html

University of California, Berkeley
Department of Near Eastern Studies, http://neareastern.berkeley.edu/ [Sumerian]
Faculty Ive heard of/read:
Niek Veldhuis - Associate Professor of Assyriology, http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~veldhuis/
Wolfgang J. Heimpel (Emeritus), Professor of Mesopotamian and Sumerian cultures.
Note: Hosts the Digital Corpus of Cuneiform Lexcial texts (DCCLT) http://cuneiform.ucla.edu:16080/dcclt/

University of California (Los Angeles)
Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, http://www.nelc.ucla.edu/ [Sumerian]
Faculty Ive heard of/read:
Robert K. Englund - Professor of Assyriology & Sumerology, http://www.nelc.ucla.edu/Faculty/Englund.htm
Note: Hosts the Cuneiform Digital Library Project (CDLI) http://cdli.ucla.edu/

Johns Hopkins University
Department of Near Eastern Studies, http://www.jhu.edu/neareast/
Faculty Ive heard of/read:
Jerrold S. Cooper - W. W. Spence Professor in Semitic Languages, http://www.jhu.edu/neareast/cooperpublications.htm
Note: Hosts the Digital Hammurabi Project, http://www.jhu.edu/digitalhammurabi/

Brandeis University:
Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, http://www.brandeis.edu/departments/nejs/courses/ [Sumerian]
Faculty Ive heard of/read"
Tzvi Abusch, Ph.D - Assyriology, Religion, Hebrew Bible, Magic and Mythology of the Ancient Near East
see http://www.brandeis.edu/facguide/ under "A" for Abusch's key publications

Also possibly:
Hebrew Union College
University of Minnesota
Columbia University
Ohio State university
Brigham Young University

Note, though, that Penn is really almost dead in terms of real Mesopotamian studies. I wouldn't recommend it. And Columbia's also no longer a real option for real ANE. However, one COULD do something in the Modern Middle East and then do ANE on the side. I don't think OSU has much ANE, but Minnesota may.

. . . and, Cooper has retired from Hopkins and is returning to the West Coast; however, Raymond Westbrook will remain Professor at Hopkins

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