Ancient Near Eastern Studies

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Ancient Near Eastern Studies is the study of language and culture of the ancient Near East . Her research interests range from the appearance of the first cuneiform texts in the late 4th millennium BC to the last surviving cuneiform texts in the first century a. Z. Since the first large text finds came from ancient Assyria , ancient oriental studies in Germany are traditionally also referred to as Assyriology . The geographical research area of ​​Ancient Near Eastern Studies includes the areas of ancient Mesopotamia (today in the area of Iraq and Syria ) and the Levantine coast (today Syria and Lebanon ). The marginal areas of research interest include Asia Minor (especially Anatolia ) and Persia (now Iran ) as well as Egypt for the so-called Amarna period .

In German university policy, ancient oriental studies are classified as a minor subject .


Ancient Near Eastern Studies is a philological and historical discipline. Its main source is around 550,000 texts that have survived thousands of years in cuneiform script on clay tablets. Along with the ancient Egyptian text corpus, these cuneiform texts represent the oldest and, after ancient Greek, the most extensive text material of all ancient times. Most of these texts, however, are still unpublished in numerous museums and private collections around the world; Archaeological excavations also bring new clay tablets to light every year, so that the number of texts continues to grow.

The investigation of the material evidence of the Ancient Orient is the task of Near Eastern Archeology . Ancient Egypt is treated by Egyptology , even if the ancient Near East and ancient Egypt are sometimes combined under the term Ancient Orient in a broader sense. The Old Palestine, the world of the Old Testament, although historically and factually belonging to the Old Orient, is traditionally examined by (Old Testament) theology / Hebrew studies.

Sub-areas of ancient oriental studies

Ancient Near Eastern Studies is divided into the following sub-areas, which are defined by language (for a comprehensive overview and classification, see Ancient Near Eastern Languages ):

Akkadian (Akkadistik), the (east) Semitic (i.e., related to Arabic) language of the Babylonians and Assyrians, once spoken in Mesopotamia (Iraq, Syria), also used throughout the Middle East and from the 3rd to the 1st millennium BC. Continuously occupied. Akkadian is geographically and chronologically the most widespread and, according to the number and diversity of its texts, the best attested language of the ancient Orient.

Sumerian ( Sumerology ), the oldest traditional language of mankind, not related to any other language, the language of the writers from the southernmost quarter of Mesopotamia, from the 3rd to the early 2nd millennium BC. BC (and in cult and science even later).

Hittite ( Hittitology ), the oldest documented Indo-European language of the inhabitants of Asia Minor (Turkey) from the middle of the 2nd millennium BC (i.e. related to German, English, Latin, Greek and ancient Indian). In addition to Hittite, there are the poorly known languages Luwian (written in cuneiform and a separate hieroglyphic script), Palaic (both related to Hittite) and Hattic (an isolated language that is not related to any other).

Amurritic, Ugaritic , Phoenician and Altaramaic ( Aramaic ), four closely related (northwest) Semitic languages from the 2nd and 1st millennium BC BC, spoken in Syria. Amurrian can only be reconstructed through a very large number of personal names and a few loan words in Akkadian. The other three languages ​​are passed down through texts in the oldest alphabets in the world. Also closely related is Old Hebrew , the Old Testament language of the Bible.

Hurrian and Urartian , two related idioms that cannot be genetically linked to any other language, the former in the 3rd and especially the 2nd millennium in Mesopotamia (Iraq, Syria) and Asia Minor (Turkey), the latter in the 1st millennium BC. Spoken in Southeast Turkey and Armenia.

Elamish , an isolated language from southwest Iran, from the 3rd to the 1st millennium BC Chr., However a little unevenly occupied.

Old Persian , the Indo-European language of the Achaemenid Empire from the 2nd half of the 1st millennium BC. BC, written in its own wedge syllabary.

On the basis of research into languages ​​and scripts, Ancient Near Eastern Studies deals with all aspects of ancient Near Eastern cultures, insofar as they do not primarily require material sources: political history, everyday history, religious history, legal history, literary history, scientific history, economic and social history, gender studies, etc.


Ancient Near Eastern Studies are taught at the following German universities: Free University Berlin , Leipzig , Mainz , Jena with the Hilprecht state collection of Near Eastern antiquities, Göttingen , Münster , Marburg , Würzburg , Heidelberg with the Uruk-Warka collection , Tübingen , University of Freiburg and Munich . For the ancient Near Eastern and Near Eastern archeology about it is, the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) and the German Oriental Society to name (DOG). In Austria, Ancient Near Eastern Studies are taught at the Universities of Vienna and Innsbruck , in Switzerland at the Universities of Bern and Geneva , and in the Netherlands at the University of Leiden . See renowned researchers .


  1. From the Paleolithic to the middle of the 2nd millennium .
  2. The end of the 2nd millennium .
  3. The first half of the 1st millennium .

Web links

Wiktionary: Ancient Near Eastern Studies  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. see page of the Small Subjects for Ancient Near Eastern Studies