Onomastics Training Week in Venice: Names, Names, Names

Nicky van de Beek & Maarja Seire

From 29 May to 1 June, members of the Persia & Babylonia project and graduate students from other universities participated in an intensive onomastics training week in Venice. At Ca’ Foscari University, they studied and dissected a great variety of names found in Babylonian sources. Altogether there were 13 lectures followed by exercises based on the onomastic material. The topics covered spelling of the names in Babylonian, as well as foreign names from many other languages, such as Aramaic, Elamite, Greek and Egyptian, but also contained discussions of family names and socio-onomastics.

After engaging in the lectures, discussions and exercises, students and teachers joined in a well-deserved drink or a leisurely walk through town. Getting around in this labyrinth-like city was quite an adventure — many of us got lost on several occasions, being fooled by familiar-looking bridges, dead-end streets, and streets that were not mentioned on the map. Luckily, we always ended up at one of the famous sites such as the Rialto Bridge or San Marco Square.

Those who were more actively inclined also had occasion to board a dragon boat for a refreshing rowing trip on the Grand Canal, cheered on by organiser Paola Corò (a surprisingly good gondola singer!) and many Venetians and tourists along the route. Our attempts to compete with motor boats on the canal have been memorialized in several photo albums around the world.

The Onomastics Training Week was co-organised by the Persia & Babylonia project and the Humanities Faculty of Ca’ Foscari University. The contents of the lectures will be published in a textbook that will help students tackle the study of this interesting but complex material.

Thanks to organising the workshops in Venice, many participants and teachers could also attend the Neo-Babylonian Network Meeting held there at the beginning of the week. Several members of the Persia & Babylonia project presented a paper and received feedback from specialist researchers.

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.

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