skip to primary navigationskip to content

Dr Laura Selena Wisnom

Dr Laura Selena Wisnom

Lecturer in Assyriology (temporary cover)

Department of Archaeology
Downing Street

Cambridge CB2 3DZ
Office Phone: +44 (0) 1223 333525


I initially read Classics at the University of Oxford, before taking up graduate work in Assyriology. My MPhil and DPhil (Oxon) focused on Babylonian poetry, and alongside my research I wrote a trilogy of plays set in ancient Assyria. Subsequently I held an AHRC Cultural Engagement Fellowship at The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH), working to build links between theatres and the university. In Oct 2016 I was elected to the first Junior Research Fellowship in Manuscripts and Text Cultures at The Queen's College, Oxford. I will teach Akkadian at Cambridge until April 2019.


Research Interests

  • Mesopotamian literature
  • Intertextuality
  • Akkadian metre
  • Divination and omens
  • Manuscript studies


My research centres on the languages, literature, and culture of ancient Iraq, with a particular emphasis on poetry and divination. In literature I specialise in intertextuality, exploring the significance of allusions to other works. I am also developing a new system for analysing Akkadian metre, which is not yet well understood. 

My current project examines the rules and symbolism of divination, specifically extispicy: divination from the entrails of sacrificial sheep. The aim is to understand the rules and symbolism of Babylonian logic: why do they connect certain signs with certain outcomes, and how does the underlying theory work? Interdisciplinary and comparative methods play an important role and I use methodology from Classics and anthropology across my research.



I am involved in the teaching of the following courses:

  • A4/G22 Akkadian language I
  • ARC34 Akkadian language II
  • ARC35 Akkadian language III
  • G23 Advanced Akkadian
  • ARC24 Mesopotamian literature


Other Professional Activities

Board member of the Workshop for Manuscripts and Text Cultures, The Queen’s College, Oxford

Founding member of the Theatre and Performance research network, TORCH

Fellow of the Advanced Seminar in the Humanities, Venice International University 2013-14


Key Publications

‘Stress patterns in Enūma Elish: a comparative study’, KASKAL 12 (2015), 485-502

‘Bringing Assyria to the Stage’, Altorientalische Forschungen 43.1-2 (2016), 203-7