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The Cambridge Mesopotamia Diary

The Cambridge Mesopotamian Community is a vibrant hub of events and activities of many kinds, from public outreach to collaborations with artists, appearances in the media, and innovative teaching projects.  

To give prospective students and other interested parties an idea of what goes on, we are keeping a record, starting in Autumn 2015, of initiatives over and above teaching and the Tuesday seminar series.


October: 4-hour reading seminar "Sumerian Crime Stories" on 25th Oct. by Dr Vitali Bartash, University of Munich (convened by Christoph Schmidhuber).

Cuneiform-writing stall as part of the Festival of Ideas (21st Oct), run by two PhD students, two staff members, and an affiliated scholar (convened by Peerapat Ouysook).


June: Filming The Poor Man of Nippur.

- Prof. Tzvi Abusch, visiting scholar at St John's Scholar, gives extracurricular reading sessions on the first incantation in Maqlû and on the second šuilla prayer to Nergal.

- Academic visit to the British Museum, with tours of the Mesopotamian galleries and conservation department, and handling tablets in the Ur project room.

April: Dr Henry Stadhouders invited to Cambridge from 24th to 28th April to run extracurricular Akkadian reading sessions on KAR 223, Egalkura incantations, and a medical text.

- Lynette Talbot runs an hour-long session on Akkadian and Hammurabi's Lawcode at a widening participation event for four schools in Islington.

March: Marie Besnier and Lynette Talbot each present a Mesopotamian-themed stall at the Science Festival in the McDonald Institute (attended by c. 1000 children and parents).

Second edition of the Egypt/Mesopotamia Conference for Sixth Formers (attended by 59 school students, parents and teachers).

- Marie Besnier's board game Esagil: Treasure Hunt in Babylon presented to the public at a 'Family First Saturday' at the Fitzwilliam Museum.

February: a staff member gives talk on Assyriology at the Godolphin and Latymer school Ancient World Breakfast Club.

January: the University's Teaching and Learning Innovation Fund agrees to sponsor the creation of high-fidelity replicas of cuneiform inscriptions in the British Museum (the Taylor Prism, Ištar's Descent and a tablet of Hammurapi laws in Neo-Assyrian script) for use in teaching.

November: Andrew George (SOAS, University of London) gives a four-hour masterclass on copying Cuneiform tablets to a mixed audience of Undergrad, MPhil and Doctoral students.

- Martin Worthington featured in BBC radio 4 programme In Our Time.

October: Marie Besnier's board game Esagil: Treasure Hunt in Babylon presented to the public at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology for a full week, by a team of student and staff volunteers.

- A staff member and three Undergraduate students hold a presentation on Assyriology at Ormiston Academy, Sudbury.

- A Graduate student runs a stall on Mesopotamian Medicine at the Archaeology and Prehistory Day, as part of the Festival of Ideas.

All year: course Babylonic Cuneiform run by Nicholas Postgate at the University of the Third Age.


September – Guo Honggeng (Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing) in Cambridge as Visiting Scholar at the McDonald Institute.

- Two Undergraduates' readings of the Incantation for Tooth Worm added to the website of recordings in Babylonian and Assyrian hosted by SOAS, University of London.

- Staff members collaborate in Artist Sally Stenton's Festival of Ideas Project Stone Paper Cloud.

July - a staff member convenes the three-night residential St John's College Archaeology Summer School, attended by 43 sixth formers. Feedback forms vote Akkadian language the most popular component after excavation and punting!

- the University's Public Engagement Seed Fund agrees to fund the production of Marie Besnier's board game Esagil: Treasure Hunt in Babylon.

June - Mesopotamian staff and student visit to the British Museum, including a private viewing of the Tablet Room with Jon Taylor, and a gallery tour by Irving Finkel.

- a staff member gives a presentation on Babylonian Literature at the St John's College Languages Study Day.

May – first edition of the Egypt/Mesopotamia Conference for Sixth Formers, co-organised by the Mesopotamian and Egyptian sections of the Division of Archaeology.

April - a staff member takes part in the St John's College North West Access Tour, giving presentations on Ancient Mesopotamia.

March - an Undergraduate student gave a talk on Assyriology to sixth formers at Parmiter's School in Watford.

February – Augusta McMahon featured in the BBC programme Museum of Lost Objects.

January-March – Gösta Gabriel (University of Göttingen), in Cambridge as a visiting scholar at the McDonald Institute, convenes an extracurricular Sumerian reading group.