Current PhD Research

Witzig, Sophia MA (Lyon/France) – Fonctions administratives et rôles politiques des gouverneurs de province dans l’empire d’Ur III (2112-2004 av. J.-C.) : le cas des gouverneurs de Girsu/Lagaš

This doctoral dissertation falls within the context of previous studies conducted on Ur III political history by assyriologists (see for instance J. Dahl on Umma). The project aims at shedding a new light on the administration of Ur III “core provinces”. It relies on prosopographical studies of the Girsu/Lagaš governors and builds upon the significant amount of textual sources – available online mainly thanks to the BDTNS – so as to answer questions regarding the following points:

-The distribution of power among the local elite
-The appointment of governors and their relation with the royal family
-The role of the governors with respect to taxation
-The extent and the nature of the governors’ social network

Sophia Witzig
University Lumière-Lyon II
Archéorient Laboratory
MSH Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée
7 rue Raulin – 69365 LYON cedex 07, France

Nicholas Kraus – Cuneiform Education in Sargonic Mesopotamia

The purpose of this dissertation is to examine cuneiform education in Sargonic Mesopotamia, with the aim of understanding the structure, goals, development, and context of scribal education in this period. The material used for this study includes all texts that can be considered school texts or didactic in nature. The investigation will first cover the texts at each stage in the education process and second, the curriculum of education will be examined as a whole, in its socio-historical context and in relation to other didactic structures from Mesopotamia.



Leroy, Pauline (Lille/France) – Contacts et échanges entre Haute-Mésopotamie, Syrie et Levant à l’époque amorrite

La thèse a pour objet d’étudier les échanges à longue distance sur une vaste région géographique qui comprend la Haute-Mésopotamie, la Syrie et le Levant, à partir de l’étude des corpus de documents disponibles pour le début du IIe mill. av. J.-C. : Mari, Tuttul, Terqa, Tell Leilan et Chagar Bazar en Syrie, Tell Rimah en Irak du nord, Alalah en Turquie et Hazor en Israël. Les échanges seront envisagés sous leurs diverses formes, c’est à dire aussi bien les échanges commerciaux, que les échanges dits de prestige relevant du don et du contre-don, et qui englobent notamment les présents diplomatiques et les dots des mariages dynastiques. Ce sujet a pour but d’établir une typologie et un cadre des échanges, des produits et des circuits ainsi que d’étudier les moyens de transport et les acteurs qui entrent en jeu. Un aspect de ce travail de recherche concerne les déplacements du personnel spécialisé.



Brumfield, Sara (Los Angeles/United States) -Imperial Methods: Using Text Mining and Social Network Analysis to Detect Regional Strategies in the Akkadian Empire

Building upon the traditional methods of philological analysis, this dissertation incorporates emerging technologies in text-mining and social network analysis as a new approach for analyzing large blocks of cuneiform text corpora. Working within the Classical period of the Old Akkadian dynasty, the height of Empire’s reach and influence, these digital tools are deployed to ascertain the level of administrative similarity or difference between the major urban centers. The cities of the Diyala are used as a baseline specifically because of their peaceful relationship with the Akkadian Empire. These parameters explore whether the political relationship (peaceful or rebellious) affected the degree or extent of the Empire’s administrative presence in its various



Boivin, Odette (Toronto/Canada) -The First Dynasty of the Sealand in History and Tradition

This doctoral research is a historical analysis of the polity known as the Sealand during its First Dynasty, which appeared in Southern Mesopotamia in the Old Babylonian period and endured until the Early Kassite period. Attention will also be given to the Sealand in the Mesopotamian historiographic tradition. The approach is mainly philological, complemented with art-historical and archaeological considerations.



Matuszak, Jana (Tübingen/Germany) – „Und du willst eine Frau sein?“ Ein sumerisches Streitgespräch zwischen zwei Frauen (Zwei Frauen B / Dialog 5)

The dissertation project aims at establishing an editio princeps of the best preserved Sumerian literary debate between two women (Two Women B / Dialogue 5). On this basis, the structure and the development of the dialogue, the underlying principles of rhetoric, and the text’s relevance for scribal education (including its usage of Emesal) will be analyzed and compared to other Sumerian debates. Finally, the role of women in the society of the early 2nd millennium BC as displayed in this and other literary texts of the period will be discussed and compared to relevant contemporary economic and legal documents. Email:, Institut für die Kulturen des Alten Orients (IANES) Abteilung für Altorientalische Philologie Burgsteige 11 Schloss Hohentübingen 72070 Tübingen, Germany Tel.: +49-7071-29-77148


Quillien, Louise (Paris/France) – Les textiles en Mésopotamie, 750 – 500 av. J.-C : techniques de production, circuits d’échanges et significations sociales

This dissertation will focus on three points. First, what is the place of raw materials and finished textiles in the general economy of Mesopotamia? These raw materials are acquired locally but also by long distance trade. In particular, the circulation of the wool between temples, palace, market, and private persons is an important aspect of Mesopotamian economy. Secondly, what is the technical process of textile manufacturing? The cuneiform sources reveal the organization of labour and the specialization of textile craftsmen. They help to reconstruct the « chaîne opératoire » of textile production. Thirdly, what are the social uses of textiles? They may vary according to social status, gender, geographic origin. They also have an important role in patrimonies, social exchanges, and religion.


University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne
ArScAn-HAROC laboratory
21 Allée de l’Université
92000 Nanterre.T
el.: +33-


Completed PhD Research

Liu, Changyu (Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Germany) – Organization, Administrative Practices and Written Documentation at Puzriš-Dagan during the Reign of Amar-Suen

Date of Completion: June 2015

This dissertation aims to clarify the way that the Puzriš-Dagan organization functioned, by providing a comprehensive study of its organization, administrative practices and the written documentation dating to the reign of Amar-Suen, the third king of the Third Dynasty of Ur (ca. 2112-2004 BC). This study depends on the most abundant Sumerian textual data hitherto, which constitute a promising source for Assyriological studies regarding the understanding of the political, socio-economic, and religious history of the Ancient Near East. By a statistical analysis of text formulary and written documentation, this thesis also contributes to the understanding of ancient Mesopotamian bookkeeping.


Nurmikko, Terhi (Southamphton/United Kingdom) – Ontological Representation of Sumerian Literary Narratives.

This doctoral research project examines the potential of existing semantic technologies such as OWL ontologies for the representation of the narrative structures as expressed in the content of Sumerian literary compositions. Thus far, the project has focused on the processes necessary for the publication of the composite texts as published by the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature ( in machine-readable formats. The Linked Open Data publication paradigm and issues of Knowledge Representation play a significant role in this project, which is focused exclusively on Assyriological data.



Dicks, Ainsley (Yale University, New Haven, U.S.A.) – Catching the Eye of the Gods: The Gaze in Mesopotamian Literature

Date of Completion: May 2012

The dissertation examines over 1600 instances of vision verbs compiled from the Mesopotamian literary corpus and reveals that Sumerian and Akkadian both differentiate between inward-moving visual perception (i.e. sight) and outward-moving visual action (i.e. gaze). Moreover, each language has at least one verbal formulation that refers to gaze that has the capacity to affect its object. This influential gaze is under the almost exclusive purview of the gods and is subject in its use to strict hierarchical restrictions whereby it is always exerted by a higher-status being on a being of lower status and never the reverse. The dissertation establishes more precise definitions for Sumerian and Akkadian verbs of vision, uncovers Mesopotamian ideas about power and status, and proposes, based on the incidence of influential gaze, that Mesopotamians distinguished gods from human beings as active from passive.


Langin-Hooper, Stephanie (Berkeley, USA) – Beyond Typology: Investigating Entanglements of Difference and Exploring Object-Generated Social Interactions in the Terracotta Figurines of Hellenistic Babylonia

Date of completion: May 2011

Langin Hooper Dr. Stephanie (Berkeley, USA) E-Mail:


De Zorzi (Vienna/Austria) – The divinatory series Šumma izbu (La serie divinatoria Šumma izbu)
Date of completion: 2011

De Zorzi Nicla Università Ca’ Foscari, Dorsoduro 1686-30123 (VE), Italy/ Universität Wien, Institut für Orientalistik, Spitalgasse 2, Hof 4, A- 1090 Vienna, Austria. E-mail:


Ahrens, Alexander (Bern/Switzerland – Damascus/Syria) – Meaning, Socio-Political Function and Influence of Egyptian Imports (Aegyptiaca) and Egyptianizing Objects in the Northern Levant during the Second Millennium BCE
The aim of this thesis is to describe and analyze the socio-political function and influence Egyptian imports and local Egyptianizing objects had on the northern Levantine elites during the 2nd millennium BCE.

Ahrens Alexander Tegernseer Landstraße 203, D-81549 München, Germany. Tel.: + 49-89-2371.6456. E-mail: ahrens.alexander[at]


Boschloos, Vanessa (Brussels/Belgium) – The geo-chronological distribution of Egyptian scarabs in the northern Levant (Syria and Lebanon) from the late 3rd millennium to the late Iron Age

Various publications on the subject stress the importance of further study of this type of seal and its impact on Egyptian – Levantine relations. So far, specialists have mostly been concentrating on scarabs from the southern Levant (Israel and Jordan) but this study of scarabs from Syria and Lebanon hopes to complete the research started by others. The researcher has been able to study private and public collections (Brussels, Paris, Beirut, Damascus, etc.) thus collecting information on provenance/archaeological context, iconography, chronology and typology of the numerous scarab seals found in this region. The aim of this research is to use these parameters to study distribution patterns and the intensity and evolution of Egyptian influence in the northern Levant and to confront the archaeological data with the historical context. Local imitations for example, but also the identification of local seal workshops, can provide us with a clearer understanding of these contacts.

Boschloos Vanessa. Vrije Universiteit Brussel. E-mail:


de Vries-Melein, Martine (Utrecht/Netherlands) – Hematite in Mesopotamia ca. 3500-300 BC

Date of completion: July 2, 2005

Hematite, shadanu, was used for cutting small objects like beads, seals, weights. In metallurgy it was used as a flux in smelting copper and as a rich iron ore. As hematite is not indigenous in Mesopotamia, it had to be imported, like many basic materials. Combining archaeological, philological, metallurgical and geo-archaeological data, this study aims to expand our knowledge about a typical feature of Mesopotamian society, its dependence on contacts with the surrounding territories.



Gräff, Andreas – Greek presence in the Ancient Near East between the Neo-assyrian Empire and the end of cuneiform culture

The Dissertation aims at discussing all relevant sources for the presence of greek persons in Mesopotamia and Iran and determining the function of these people and changes in the role of greeks in the near east according to cuneiform as well as greek and latin sources.

Gräff Andreas. Karlsruher Straße 7, 10711 Berlin, Deutschland. E-mail:


Jackson, Samuel (Sydney/Australia) – A comparative look at pre-first-millennium B.C. ancient Near Eastern law collections

The thesis compares various aspects of these collections and attempts to place the differences between them in their cultural/societal context. The results question the assumption of many that the ancient Near East shared a common culture. New insights on the comparative method in general are made as well as a critique of those who have attempted it previously. The thesis gives insights into the cultural differences and similarities within the ancient Near East as well as more general insights into how cultures operate. The thesis also critically analyses previous historiography on this issue and places movements within this in their historical and intellectual contexts.

Jackson Samuel 55 Gascoigne, St Kingswood, NSW 2747, Australia. Tel.: +61-2-47318909. E-mail:
Date of completion: Oct 1, 2006


Justel Vicente, Josué-Javier (Zaragoza/Spain) – The Social Position of Women in Syria during the Late Bronze Age
Date of completion: April 25, 2007

Justel Dr. Josué J. UMR 7041-Equipe HAROC. Maison René Ginouvès, boîte 17.21 allée de l’Université, 92023 Nanterre, France. Tel.: +49 341 97-37-020. Fax: +49 341 97-37-047. Email:


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