A Mesopotamian treasure trove in New Haven

24 Oct

We all know about hieroglyphics and Egyptology, but very few of us know about even the existence of Assyriology, or the fact that there are more written documents from Mesopotamia than from all of antiquity combined.

We really need those who are passionate about the cradle of civilization; the birthplace of writing, the wheel and earthly law. We need that passion to bring Mesopotamia to the same level of popularity and common knowledge as Ancient Egypt.

Well, there are such people, tucked away in places where few people feel comfortable treading, but should.

I read a very interesting Q&A with such a person, an Assyriologist and expert on the long-extinct Akkadian language. Yale Daily News published an interview this month with Benjamin Foster, Laffan Professor of Assyriology and Babylonian Literature, as well as the curator of the Yale Babylonian Collection. According to Foster, Yale’s collection is the largest Babylonian collection in the entire United States. He points out that the collection compares worldwide with those kept by the British Museum, the Louvre and even those in Baghdad!

In the interview, Foster says that despite the collection having 45,000 tablets with Akkadian writings that range in subject from law materials to the earliest women’s writings, many “Yalies” even are unaware that their school holds such a treasure trove of the world’s history.

Now we all know.

The interview ends on a lovely note with Foster’s passionate explanation of his favorite Akkadian word and its definition. You can find the full Q&A here.


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Posted by on October 24, 2011 in Akkadian


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