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Mesopotamian Research at Cambridge

Mesopotamia at Cambridge

Current Excavations and Excavation Reports 


Abu Salabikh

Abu Salabikh is a Sumerian city of the late 4th and 3rd millennium, from which came cuneiform texts of about 2500 BC which are the world’s earliest known library.  Nicholas Postgate directed excavations there from 1975 to 1989, at which point work was suspended after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Four volumes of the final report are published, and work continues on two or more further volumes.


Kilise Tepe

Archaeological research at the mound of Kilise Tepe in southern Turkey, at the western limit of the Assyrian empire in "Rough Cilicia". The final excavation season was in 2012 and the project is now engaged in publishing its results (for the first instalment see 


Tell Brak

Archaeological research at Tell Brak in the Upper Khabur plain of northeastern Syria has recovered evidence for one of the world's first cities and earliest civil wars. Excavation at Brak was halted after the March-May season of 2011, due to the current political situation in Syria, but the publication of results directed by Dr Augusta McMahon continues.


Ziyaret Tepe

Archaeological research at Ziyaret Tepe, a Neo-Assyrian provincial capital, 60 km east of Diyarbakir in the upper Tigris region of southeastern Turkey.

Tell Brak Pots                  Excavations 2010            


Current book projects

Ea's Duplicity in the Gilgamesh Flood Story

A new theory about Ea's message to the Babylonian Flood hero, as reported in Gilgameš Tablet XI.  The study ranges across a wide span of subjects, including narratology, Mesopotamian religious faith, demon types, lexicography, and divine names.  Author: Martin Worthington.  The manuscript is with Rutledge and will be published in the 'Ancient Word' series in 2019.

Questions and Etiquette in the Akkadian world

An exploration of sociolinguistic aspects of questions (who asked them and who doesn't, and why) in Akkadian literature and letters. Author: Martin Worthington.  Expected date of completion: 2019.

The Poor Man of Nippur and Other Essays on Babylonian Literature

A collection of literary-critical essays on 'minor masterpieces' of Babylonian literature, analysing them in both philological and narrative terms, and asking new questions of them.  Author: Martin Worthington.  Expected date of completion: 2020.

A Grammar of Neo-Assyrian

A descriptive grammar of Neo-Assyrian, the official language of the Assyrian Empire from c. 1000 to c. 600 BC, drawing on all published sources. Author: Martin Worthington.  Expected date of completion: 2025.


Previous Projects

This research project studied the scholarship of Assyria and Babylonia by editing the contents of four ancient libraries as the Corpus of Ancient Mesopotamian Scholarship (CAMS), and by analysing their changing socio-political contexts.

Bulletin on Sumerian Agriculture

A series of eight volumes publishing the results of conferences held initially in Cambridge and then in other centres of Assyriology (e.g. Leiden, Heidelberg and Barcelona) in the 1980s and 1990s (Vols. 1-8 1984-1995). Edited by J.N. Postgate and M.A. Powell.

The early centuries of Assyria

There are more administrative archives from the early centuries of Assyria (14th-11th centuries BC) than from any other Late Bronze Age state. Nicholas Postgate’s book Bronze Age Bureaucracy: Writing and the practice of government in Assyria (Cambridge U.P. 2013) describes the written evidence for the administrative system, not only in Assyria but also in the neighbouring centres of Nuzi, Alalakh and Ugarit.