Onomastics Training Week

From 29 May to 1 June, the Persia & Babylonia project is organising an interactive Onomastics Training Week in Venice, Italy. During this week, participating graduate students (MA/PhD) will learn from experts about the many-faceted name material in Neo-Babylonian and Late Babylonian sources. This includes names in other languages such as Egyptian, Anatolian, Greek, Old Persian and Elamite. Each topic will be explored in a lecture, followed by a workshop allowing students to deal with concrete examples.

View the programme


As a graduate student (MA/PhD), you can register to join the training week free of charge! Please send an e-mail with your name and affiliation to persiababylonia@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

Please note that travel and accomodation is not provided.


Architecture, Archaeology, and Iraqi Palaces – An Interview with Dr. David Kertai

By Uzume Wijnsma

Dr. David Kertai is an expert on the Assyrian Empire and the architecture of Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq). He is currently affiliated with the Martin Buber Society in Jerusalem, and he is conducting research on the architecture of ancient Babylonian palaces. David recently visited Leiden for a conference on Nineveh at the National Museum of Antiquities. Persia and Babylonia met with him there to discuss his work, the (im)possibility of excavating in Iraq, and how he ended up in the discipline of Near Eastern Archaeology in the first place.

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António de Gouveia and the Fascination with Persepolis

Exhibition poster with a photograph of Antoin Sevruguin

By Ivo Dos Santos Martins

Until 6 May 2018 the National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden) in Leiden is hosting the exhibition Fascination with Persepolis. This exhibition is inspired by the work of photo-historian Dr. Corien Vuurman whose doctoral dissertation was published in 2015. Although relatively small, the exhibition takes full advantage of its limited space to convene a coherent and compelling narrative of the men and women who contributed to unveiling Persepolis anew. Not included in this iconographic exhibition for obvious reasons (there isn’t a single image that depicts him), is the Portuguese priest Fryer António de Gouveia (1575-1628), who was one of those rediscoverers.

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Across the Ocean – A trip to the USA in the service of Assyriology

By Melanie Groß

In mid-November 2017, when the sky over Leiden was grey and draped with clouds, I was given the opportunity to cross the big pond for a three week work and study trip. I visited some major cities on the east coast of the United States, which all had been founded in the early 17th century by European immigrants.

Boston Skyline

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Orientalists Day

On 25 January 2018, the Persia & Babylonia project is organising the annual Orientalists Day at Leiden University. This symposium about the Ancient Near East is meant for students, scholars and interested people. There will be lectures in both Dutch and English.

If you wish to attend, please send an e-mail to persiababylonia@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

Five travel grants are made available for PhD or (research) MA students from the Netherlands and Flanders in order to participate. Please apply before 15 January 2018 (based on first come, first served) through persiababylonia@hum.leidenuniv.nl.


10.00-10.35 Coffee and tea
10.35-10.45 Welcome by Caroline Waerzeggers
10.45-11.15 Klaas Veenhof
De familiegod in de Oudassyrische samenleving
11.15-11.45 Carolien van der Brugge
De Assyrische koningen tussen 934 en 746 v. Chr.: Heersers of Handelaren?
11.45-12.15 Jan-Wim Wesselius
Taal, grammatica en stijl in het bijbelboek Daniel
12.15-12.45 Daan Nijssen
Hoe bereik ik een jong publiek?
12.45-14.15 Lunch break
14.15-14.45 Lara Weiss and Nico Staring
The Walking Dead at Saqqara: The making of a cultural geography
14.45-15.15 Jonny Russell
The Theory of Healing in Ancient Egypt: A Lexicographic Analysis of Biophysical and Cultural Realities in Healing Papyri from the Ancient Nile Valley
15.15-15.30 Tea break
15.30-16.00 Melanie Groß
Business and Family Life in Babylonian Sippar during Persian Rule
16.00-16.30 Christina van der Wal Anonby
Near East, Far Out: A history of Kumzari
16.30-17.00 Caroline Waerzeggers
– NINO’s future
– Next Orientalists Day?
17.00 Drinks

Assyriology: an Alice in Wonderland house – An interview with Dr. Seth Richardson

By Uzume Wijnsma

Dr. Seth Richardson is a historian who mostly studies the Old Babylonian period (ca. 2000-1600 BCE) of ancient Iraq. Among his topics are the ancient state and political legitimacy. In 2017 he gave a guest lecture at Leiden University.

First things first: Why did you choose to go into Assyriology?

That’s a very difficult question. I suppose everybody’s answer will be different. Mine, maybe, is even more different. I was a historian, I knew I wanted to study history, and I took some years to try and figure out what historical discipline I would choose to work on in graduate school. At a certain point I really decided, mostly as a reaction to having done American history, that I wanted something that did not have a lot of boundaries. I didn’t want something very ‘pigeon-holed’, so to say. So I decided I was going to do world history. This was a great, grand idea: there are people who do world history.

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Inaugural lecture by Caroline Waerzeggers

On Friday 1 December, Caroline Waerzeggers presented her inaugural lecture before an audience of family, friends, colleagues and students. “The future of Assyriology is sitting right in front of me,” she concluded.

During the inaugural lecture

With the Persia & Babylonia project team

Vacancy for Research assistants

The Leiden University Institute of Area Studies invites applications for three or four 1.5-year research assistant positions in Assyriology. The assistants will enter data drawn from Babylonian cuneiform sources into a prosopographical database. This relational database is a key research tool to be established within the scope of the ERC-funded project, “Persia and Babylonia: Creating a New Context for Understanding the Emergence of the First World Empire,” directed by prof. Caroline Waerzeggers.

More information »

Mesopotamia in Marburg

By Maarja Seire

This summer I visited the 63rd Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale (RAI). This conference is closely connected to the work of the International Association for Assyriology (IAA) and is organised by a host institution, which this year was the Philipps-Universität Marburg. In fact, RAI takes place at different institutions every year. In the majority of cases, it is held at one of the European universities, but RAIs have also taken place in North America, Asia, and Africa.

RAI typically lasts five days, this summer from July 24–28. The topic for this RAI was “Dealing with Antiquity: Past, Present & Future”. It attracted about 450 participants — a record number, demonstrating the necessity of such an event and the debate about the ancient Near East. But what exactly happens during a Rencontre?

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