Sumerian Language Online Course Syllabus
This three-week intensive course is an introduction to the Sumerian language. Students will learn the language by studying several Sumerian royal inscriptions and administrative texts, including those of famous city-state rulers and kings such as Eannatum, Lugalzagesi, and Gudea. Some bilingual texts (in Akkadian and Sumerian) of kings like Sargon and Hammurabi will also be discussed. Thus, this course will give students not only a command of the grammar of Sumerian but also of a large part of the Sumerian corpus and general Ancient Near Eastern text genres. Since this is an intensive introductory course, we will be covering texts from the Old Sumerian to Neo-Sumerian (Ur III) and Old Babylonian periods in order to properly analyze and put in context the development of the language and cuneiform writing system.
Week 1 - Old Sumerian Texts (2700-2350)
Students will learn about how the Sumerian writing system (cuneiform) works and about many of its peculiarities during the first week. The phonetics and probable pronunciations will be discussed, with a special focus on learning both the “long” and “short” forms of the signs/words (learning both sign values with the final consonants included/excluded). The general grammar (utilizing the grammars by Hayes and Foxvog) will be discussed, including the Sumerian case system and verbs. Royal inscriptions from A Sumerian Chrestomathy by Volk will be read, including texts from kings such as Ur-Nammu and Gudea. These texts will supplement the main readings in normalized Sumerian (in Latin letters), which in the first week will be from the Old Sumerian period (~2700-2350BC).