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Department of Archaeology



After a PhD thesis about Mesopotamian gardens (EHESS – Paris, 2003), I first obtained a two-years postdoc in China (NENU) to teach Akkadian and History of Mesopotamia, then a second postdoc in the project MESPERIPH supervised by Carole Roche-Hawley (CNRS – Paris). The project was about the transmission of Mesopotamian scholarly texts to the “periphery” in the Late Bronze period.

I landed in Cambridge in 2009 to join the project GKAB supervised by Eleanor Robson in the HPS department ( When the project ended, I started to give supervisions to first year students in Akkadian, and got more and more interested in outreach projects. In 2016, I got funding from the University of Cambridge to create and develop a board game about Mesopotamia (Esagil, Treasure Hunt in Babylon, award winner of the of the public engagement starter fund). Since then I am much involved in outreach, mainly with families and primary schools.


My main research interest lies in Mesopotamian knowledge and scholarship, that I explore through divinatory series and lexical lists. I first focused on ways and means of transmission to see how the scholarly texts were received by non-Mesopotamian scribes.

In the past year, I adopted a history of science perspective to study those texts. Lists, both lexical and divinatory, were for Mesopotamians a way to classify and express their understanding of the world. I explore new ways to question them, hopefully free from the “Western, scientific” point of view strongly embedded in the classical vision of the world.

Rather than studying divinatory series to comprehend divination processes, I favour the vertical reading to the horizontal one to explore “Mesopotamian” ways of reasoning.

In a recent study, I suggested to interpret lexical lists through folk taxonomic principles. Without denying that they are above all teaching and learning tools, I propose to use them as sources to explore a “Mesopotamian taxonomy” to better understand Mesopotamian relationship to the natural world, Before Nature (Rochberg 2016), and their ways to express it.



Key publications: 

“Si quelqu’un aperçoit un tesson fiché en terre…”, in F. Briquel-Chatonnet, E. Capet, E. Gubel and C. Roche-Hawley (eds.), Nuit de pleine lune sur Amurru: Mélanges offerts à Leila Badre, Paris: Geuthner (2019), pp. 49-61.


“Under the shadows of the Assyrian Orchards”, in Y. Heffron, A. Stone and M. Worthington (eds.), At the Dawn of History: Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Honour of J. N. Postgate, Eisenbrauns (2017), pp. 7-24.


“Diffusion et transmission de la série Šumma Izbu: les textes de la ‘périphérie’ au Bronze Récent”, in C. Roche-Hawley and R. Hawley (eds.), Devins et Lettrés dans l’orbite de Babylone. Travaux réalisés dans le cadre de l’ANR Mespériph 2007-2011, (Orient et Méditerranée 16), Paris: de Boccard (2015),pp. 239-301.


“On the Junipers of Ugarit. Part II: the word diprānu and the genus Juniperus”, with R. Hawley, P. Boutrolle et Cl. Chanut, Devins et Lettrés dans l’orbite de Babylone. Travaux réalisés dans le cadre de l’ANR Mespériph 2007-2011, (Orient et Méditerranée 16), Paris: de Boccard (2015),pp. 81-156.


“Remarques préliminaires sur la place des textes d’Emar et d’Ougarit dans l’établissement de la liste lexicale Ur5-ra = ḫubullu III” Scribes et érudits dans l'orbite de Babylone, (Orient et Méditerranée 9), Paris: de Boccard (2012), pp. 119-138.


“On the Junipers of Ugarit. Part I, The Word dīpranu and its wanderings”, in collaboration with R. Hawley, P. Boutrolle et Cl. Chanut, Scribes et érudits dans l'orbite de Babylone, (Orient et Méditerranée 9), Paris: de Boccard (2012), pp. 201-259.


« La quête des produits exotiques » dans P. Bordreuil, F. Briquel Chatonnet et C. Michel, Les débuts de l’histoire, Le Proche-Orient, de l’apparition de l’écriture à la naissance du monothéisme (Paris, édition Lamartinière, 2008), p. 191-195.


« Quelques remarques sur les paysages de Sumer », JAC 20, 2005, p. 37-59.


Entries for the Dictionnaire de l’Antiquité, sous la direction de Jean Leclant, PUF, 2005 : « Sumer », « Faune », « Flore ».


“Vegetation in Mesopotamian Temple Precincts: Gardens, “Sacred Groves” or Potted Trees?”, JAC 19, 2004, p. 59-87.


“Temptations’ Garden: the Gardener a Mediator Who Plays an Ambiguous Part”, in S. Parpola et R. M. Whiting (éd.), Sex and Gender in the Ancient Near East, Proceedings of the 47th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, Helsinki, July 2-6, 2001 CRRAI 47, (Helsinki, 2003), p. 59-70.


« Les archéologues à la recherche d’un mythe : les découvertes des jardins suspendus de Babylone », dans Actes de la Table Ronde : Rêver l’archéologie au XIXe siècle : de la science à l’imaginaire (St Etienne, , Mémoires du Centre Jean-Palerne XXIII (St-Etienne, 2001), p. 297-323.


« Les jardins urbains dans le Proche-Orient antique », Revue de la Société Française d’Histoire Urbaine n°1, Juin 2000, p. 25-45.


« La conception du jardin en Syro-Mésopotamie à partir des textes », Ktema n°24 (Actes de la Table Ronde, Paysage. 3-13 décembre 1997), 1999, p. 195-212.

Teaching and Supervisions


During Michaelmas term 2020, I will be responsible for the following courses:

  • M1/G30 (Babylonian – year 1)
  • M4/G34 (Babylonian – year 2)
  • M5 (Babylonian – year 3)
  • M3/G32 (Mesopotamian Culture Paper: Religion and Scholarship)
Research supervision: 

This coming year, I will probably supervise Year 2 and Year 3 students in Babylonian, maybe Year 1.

Other Professional Activities

I am the owner of Esagil Games (, a small outreach business devoted to Mesopotamia. I offer sessions about Sumer in primary schools and on Zoom (since the lock-down). I created activities for outreach events such as the Festival of ideas and Festival of Science in the past years. I am currently working on a game topic book about Sumer for children, that I hope to publish on-line by the end of 2020.

Job Titles

Teaching Associate in Assyriology

General Info

Available for consultancy
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Assyriology and Mesopotamian Languages

Contact Details


Person keywords: 
Divinatory series; Lexical lists; Akkadian; Mesopotamia; History of Science
Assyriology and Mesopotamian Archaeology
Geographical areas: 
Mesopotamia and the Near East
Periods of interest: 
Copper/Bronze Age
Iron Age