Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts
Department of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies

CAMS 471: Sumerian

CAMS 471: Sumerian


Rubio, Gonzalo


Tues, Thurs


4:35 - 5:50 P.M.


Sackett Bldg 320


Introduction to the Sumerian language and the cuneiform writing system. CAMS 471 Sumerian (3)(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements. Sumerian was the language originally spoken in the south of Ancient Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) during the third millennium b.c.e. After it died out as a spoken language, Sumerian became the essential cultural vehicle for a wide variety of literary, scholarly, and religious genres, and it was preserved in writing until the practical disappearance of the Mesopotamian civilization by the second century of our era.

This course aims to familiarize students with the basics of Sumerian grammar and enable them to read royal inscriptions from the Early Dynastic and Ur III periods (3rd millennium b.c.e.) as well as provide them with a preliminary introduction to some literary and non-literary texts. Students will be introduced to a variety of genres: royal inscriptions, administrative documents, letters, incantations, and literary texts. Because of the specific nature of the writing system and the fact that most Sumerian texts are available only in copies, students will also be introduced to the cuneiform script, its basic structure, and a basic repertoire of signs.

Students will be required to do all the assigned exercises in advance, and participate in class. Special emphasis will be put on class participation: every students will be asked to read and translate in class. Furthermore, occasional quizzes are by no means a remote possibility. In addition, there will be a mid-term and a final examination. This course complements other existing courses in areas such as Ancient Near Eastern studies, biblical studies, Classics, Ancient History, and Linguistics. Moreover, this is one of the courses in CAMS that provide an introduction to as essential language of the Mediterranean and Near Eastern regions.