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Department of Near Eastern Studies

Cornell University Cornell University Near Eastern Studies

Ancient Languages


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Ancient NES Languages

Akkadian

NES 1410/6410: Akkadian I: Code of Hammurabi 
This course is a basic introduction to Akkadian, the language that dominated the writing of ancient Iraq for 2,500 years. It was the language of the empires of Babylonia and Assyria and the Epic of Gilgamesh. Students will become familiar with the basic grammar of Akkadian and will, by the end of the semester, be reading and translating the Code of Hammurabi in the original cuneiform script.

NES 1411/6411 - Akkadian II: Historical & Literary Texts
This course continues basic instruction in the Akkadian language by translating some of the most important documents of Ancient Iraq, such as Sargon’s Eighth Military Campaign, the Cyrus Cylinder, the Descent of Ishtar, and the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Biblical Hebrew

NES 4102/6012- Biblical Hebrew Prose: Judges
This is a topics course. The book of Judges in the Bible contains an array of traditions about how the Israelites came to settle in the land of Canaan and their often violent encounters with their Canaanite neighbors. Through reading the book of Judges in the original Hebrew, this course will address issues such as the relationship between violence and identity, the intersections of text and archaeology, Israelite ethnicity, the social, religious and political function of the Judge as charismatic leader, and the way all of these illuminate the evolving relationship between Israel its God, Yahweh.  Close attention will be paid to matters of grammar, syntax, and vocabulary in order to develop students' skills in reading biblical Hebrew prose and to enhance their understanding of the Hebrew language itself as a window on ancient Israelite thought.  Students will be expected to utilize commentaries, biblical Hebrew grammars and lexicons in their preparation of assigned texts.  Prior training in Biblical Hebrew is required.

Hieroglyphic Egyptian

NES 1450 - Ancient Egyptian I: Introduction to Middle Egyptian Hieroglyphs
For over two thousand years, from the Middle Kingdom (ca. 2100 BCE) into the Roman era, Egyptian monuments were inscribed with hieroglyphs of the Middle Egyptian writing system. In this first of three courses in Ancient Egyptian, students are introduced to the script, phonetics and structure of this classic phase of ancient Egyptian writing. Working with excerpts from actual ancient Egyptian texts, students will learn to use a hieroglyphic sign list and dictionary, and transliterate hieroglyphs into a standardized form that facilitates study of the language’s grammar and syntax. In this first course students will translate nominal, adjectival, and adverbial sentences from Egyptian into English and vice versa, and be introduced to the verbal system, building an Egyptian vocabulary in the process. Having passed this course, students will be prepared for the more advanced verbal forms and more complete texts studied in the second course, Ancient Egyptian II.

NES 1451 - Ancient Egyptian II: Introduction to Middle Egyptian Hieroglyphs
For over two thousand years, from the Middle Kingdom (ca. 2100 BCE) into the Roman era, Egyptian monuments were inscribed with hieroglyphs of the Middle Egyptian writing system. In this second of three courses in Ancient Egyptian, students will learn the complete Middle Egyptian verbal system and continue to enrich their Egyptian vocabulary. We will also begin translating complete literary and religious texts, including the fantastic tale of a sailor’s maritime misadventures and divine encounters (“The Shipwrecked Sailor”) and a hymn in honor of the sun god (“The Litany of Re”). After passing this course, students will be prepared for the richer, more complex texts studied in the second course, Ancient Egyptian III.

Sumerian

NES 3661/6661 Sumerian Language & Culture I
This course focuses on a intense introduction to Sumerian language and grammar with additional readings in literature in translation. Particular emphasis is placed on the reading and interpretation of original texts from the Cornell collection and their use in the reconstruction of Mesopotamian history and culture in the third millennium B.C.E.

NES 3662- Sumerian Language and Culture II

A continuation of NES 3661, the course will continue the intensive introduction to Sumerian language and grammar with additional readings in Sumerian literature in translation. Particular emphasis will be placed on the reading and interpretation of original texts from the Cornell collection and their use in the reconstruction of Mesopotamian history and culture in the third millennium BCE.