The Sector of Ancient Middle Eastern Studies

The Sector of Ancient Middle Eastern Studies

The Sector of Ancient Middle Eastern Studies of the IOCS is a satellite research unit of the Department of History and Philology of the Ancient Middle East.

The close connection between the Sector and the Department of History and Philology of the Ancient Middle East makes the most important aspect of its activities the work on educational products facilitating the teaching of various disciplines of the Ancient Near East studies. The teaching and research are inseparable practically starting from the first semester. This is why the modern, high-quality teaching of Ancient Near East studies is impossible without constant methodical supply. One of the main tasks among the staff members’ activities is to prepare modern teaching aids for the lectures at the Department.

A special place is occupied by the M.A. programs which are offered not only to the graduate students of the Department but also to the students of other universities of Russia. The faculty members of the Sector supervise on term papers, theses and graduate research, as well as render consultation services to the graduate and post-graduate students.


The Sector’s research activity is also closely related to the disciplines taught at the Department. The tasks of the Sector include the promotion of linguistic aspects of the Ancient Near East studies: descriptive grammar of Akkadian language, synchronic and diachronic study of the language of the earliest Akkadian texts, comparative grammar of the Semitic languages and Semitic etymology, translation of commentaries on the Old Testament Books. The results of the extensive work of the IOCS faculty members in this field are most prominent in the recently published monumental edition, The Languages of the World. Semitic Languages (Volume 1), which immediately became a highly sought-after reference work used by students in many practical and theoretical disciplines.

The creation of the Sector was also aimed at giving a new impetus to those branches of the Ancient Near East studies which are underrepresented at the IOCS: primarily the historical disciplines which are to be developed in close cooperation with the faculty and graduates of the School of History of the Lomonosov Moscow State University.

   The Semitic Languages

A special attention in the activities of the faculty members of the Sector is focused on the projects of translating and commenting of the Ancient Near East literary works. This includes, first of all, a fundamental project of a new commented translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh which is being carried out by a group of the IOCS faculty members. The basis of this work is the classical translation by I. M. Diakonoff. Among the other promising projects of this kind are translations of several important historical sources which have never appeared in Russian (such as Old Babylonian letters from Mari, inscriptions of Old Babylonian and Old Assyrian kings, letters from El Amarna) as well as of some literary works (such as Ugaritic epics, Sumerian and Akkadian incantations).

Analysis of the Ancient Near Eastern texts is impossible without the use of various museum collections. The Sector is cooperating with the two leading Russian collections of the cuneiform tablets, the Hermitage (St. Petersburg), and the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts (Moscow). The curators of the cuneiform collections work closely with the IOCS in various fields of scientific and teaching activities. Other types of museum collections (Aramaic magic bowls, various pieces of West Semitic epigraphic materials, early Arabian papyri) are also highly promising. The various possibilities of cooperation include practical training of the students, publication of previously unpublished texts, additional research, re-edition and commenting of the previously published texts, etc.


Contacts: Tel.: + 7 (495) 250-62-12  E-mail: