Assyriology – University of Copenhagen

Main Fields of Study

Assyriology is the study of the languages and cultures of ancient Mesopotamia, the area that is today Iraq and Syria. Ancient Mesopotamia, sometimes also referred to the ancient Near East, is often called the ‘cradle of civilization’, because it is one of the places where the first writing and the first cities were developed sometime around 3300 BCE. The writing system, which was deciphered in the mid-1850s, is called cuneiform, after the wedge-shaped signs that were impressed onto clay tablets. Our written record from ancient Mesopotamia is unrivalled, reaching into the hundreds of thousands of clay tablets that are now housed in museums around the world.

The University of Copenhagen has a long-standing tradition in Assyriology, reaching back to Valdemar Schmidt (1836-1925), who introduced the subject to Denmark. Some of the foremost scholars in the field either received their degrees from at Copenhagen or taught here.

The main language of ancient Mesopotamia is called Akkadian, which belongs to the same language family as Hebrew and Arabic but is significantly older. Akkadian is attested in two main dialects, Assyrian (in the north) and Babylonian (in the south).

Study Programmes

Language of Instruction

The courses are primarily taught in English. Some courses have been taught in Danish if only Danish students attend, but will be taught in English if just one international student is present. All examinations can be conducted in English.

You can find a list of current and upcoming courses taught in English on the Faculty’s course catalogue.