I received my BA with honors from Washington University in St. Louis, MO in 2009, where I majored in Classics and English Literature and minored in Legal Studies. From there, I moved to the East Coast to pursue a Ph.D. in Assyriology at Yale University. I completed my M.Phil. in Assyriology with a Comparative Semitic Languages minor in 2013, and spent a research year from 2013-2014 at Heidelberg University in Germany on a DAAD grant.

uni sydney ashurbanipal and me

My doctoral research focused on the interplay between royal power and official religious cult in Assyria from c. 1000-600 BCE and I received my Ph.D. in Assyriology with distinction from Yale University in May 2017.

I was also a lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at Fairfield University, teaching several classes during Fall 2015-Fall 2016.

I have also taught academic writing in English, including working as the Coordinator for Writing Advisors at the Graduate Writing Lab within the Yale University Center for Teaching and Learning.

rune readingIn 2018, I went to work at the University of Vienna as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow in the Department of Near Eastern Studies.

I stayed at the University of Vienna as an Universitätsassistentin until 2023, when I took on a new role as an Assistant Professor at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Department of Art & Culture, History, and Antiquity. If you are interested in studying ancient history at the VU, whether at the undergraduate or graduate levels, please do feel free to contact me!

Previously, I was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki, where I worked within the team “Society and Religion in the Ancient Near East” as part of the Center of Excellence: Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions. I am still an associate member of this project.

In addition, I am an affiliated member of two other Academy of Finland-funded projects at the University of Helsinki: the Center of Excellence: Ancient Near Eastern Empires and Semantic Domains in Akkadian Texts.

You can contact me at s.s.zaia (at) vu.nl or follow me on Academia and Twitter @shana_zaia