Interested in finding out more about the Neo-Assyrian Empire or Mesopotamia in general?
I’ve collected some of my favorite resources for the public, educators, and specialists alike here and will continue to update as more resources become available.
Want accessible and accurate historical information about the Assyrian Empire? You can:
- Pick up a copy of Ancient Assyria: A Very Short Introduction by Karen Radner, one of the foremost scholars of ancient Assyria
- Browse Assyrian Empire Builders, which explores how the Neo-Assyrian Empire got its start
- Explore the Knowledge and Power in the Neo-Assyrian Empire project, which handles some of the most important topics relating to the Empire
- Check out the Gates of Nineveh blog by Christopher Jones, which covers a diverse range of topics, from longer historical articles to issues related to antiquities, crisis archaeology, and heritage
- If you’re ready to delve more deeply into Neo-Assyrian studies, check out the amazing Neo-Assyrian Bibliography on Zotero, run by Heather D. Baker and Melanie Groß, it’s an excellent list of scholarly literature about Neo-Assyrian topics
- This massive and very useful page about online resources about Mesopotamia is a fantastic collection for specialists
- University of Leiden’s library hosts this large database of resources related to the Ancient Near East
If you’re interested in primary source material, there’s a wealth of Assyrian texts available online in the original Akkadian (and sometimes Sumerian) with English translations.
So, if you are curious about what our text sources are like, you can freely read through them, thanks to the hard work by a number of different projects! You’ll find we know a surprising amount of detail about this ancient period.
- Royal inscriptions are texts commissioned by the kings, most of which detail their yearly military campaigns and building projects, providing an important source of historical and ideological information
- State Archives of Assyria: these archives contain texts that showcase the inner workings of the Empire, including letters to and from kings, administrative, legal, and economic texts, as well as rituals and prophecy
Not strictly just Assyria, but close to my heart as someone who works on ancient Mesopotamian religion, is Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses Here, you can find overviews of some of the most important Mesopotamian deities across history
Want to learn Akkadian? Or, are you teaching Akkadian for the first time (even perhaps to yourself)? Just want an introduction to what Akkadian is? Try these resources:
- Introduction to Cuneiform Writing and Reading with Cécile Michel (multiple languages available)
- Learn Cuneiform with Irving Finkel (British Museum), which can also help you design an in-class assignment (all you need is clay and chopsticks!)
- “Complete Babylonian: Teach Yourself” by Martin Worthington
- “A Grammar of Akkadian” by John Huehnergard, there is a key to the exercises available separately so you can teach yourself a full introductory course
- A handy chart of basic cuneiform syllables in Neo-Assyrian script, courtesy of the Foundation for Finnish Assyriological Research
- Theo van den Hout gives an overview about scribes
- A PDF generator for ORACC texts, coded by M. Willis Monroe, particularly useful if you are teaching and want to have ORACC texts in cuneiform for your students to read
- Cuneify, a tool to turn syllables and logograms into cuneiform signs, I’ve found it useful for creating exercises and quizzes for class
- Seeing a lot of strange abbreviations that everyone else seems to know? Try looking in the CDLI list of abbreviations!
- Did you know that the ENTIRE Chicago Assyrian Dictionary is available for download online, for free? You might not need it until your Akkadian is more advanced (we generally use the Concise Dictionary of Akkadian in intro classes), but it’s good to know it’s there!
- Curious to know what the Akkadian texts you’re reading would have sounded like? Check out this wide assortment of recordings by prominent scholars, with texts from various genres and time periods
Excellent videos and visuals for your classroom or personal entertainment:
- The Open Educational Resources for the Ancient Near East is a MASSIVE database of resources, compiled by Tiffany Earley-Spadoni, and is currently the best one-stop-shop for web-based ANE material, from images to podcasts to primary texts, and much more
- The Poor Man of Nippur, the world’s first film entirely in Babylonian Akkadian (subtitles available in a number of different languages), including a “Behind the Scenes” video
- Learn about the Old Assyrian traders and their letters from Mathilde Touillon-Ricci
- Digital Hammurabi, a YouTube channel by two Assyriologists, Megan Lewis and Joshua Bowen, with an associated website
- The Rise and Fall of Assyria (TEDEd lesson) by Marian H. Feldman
- LearningSites, descriptions, maps, and visualizations of important ancient sites in Mesopotamia and beyond
- The British Museum has a huge collection of Mesopotamian artifacts, especially from Assyria, and you can search digital images online (and use the images, subject to their terms)
- Also, check out this impressive and extensive collection of 3D models of Assyrian reliefs from the British Museum, courtesy of Daniel Pett
- Same with the Penn Museum, which has a lot of objects from Ur in southern Iraq
- This mesmerizing video about the lost wax casting technique is based on a Roman sculpture, but Mesopotamians used this technique too and watching this short video really clarifies how it works!
- This excellent tutorial about making mudbricks is useful for understanding the time and effort it took to build the magnificent palaces, temples, and cities.
- This fabulous list of videos about all kinds of topics in Assyriology, from language to history, by the Ancient World On Line (AWOL), itself a wonderful resource for all things Assyriology!
- The Pleiades Project is collecting information about geographical sites; it started with Greco-Roman data but is increasingly improving its Ancient Near East sites, definitely worth checking out.
- There are many excellent Gilgamesh adaptations out there, I was recently sent this one by Kinoko Evans and it is absolutely delightful.
- A fantastic, catchy, and surprisingly informative rewrite of Souljaboy’s “Crank That” by Mr. Nicky’s World History Songs called “Ancient Mesopotamia”
Add some Assyriology to your social media!
On Facebook, you can follow pages of specific collections such as the Yale Babylonian Collection and the Oriental Institute-University of Chicago and individual departments such as the Assyriology at the University of Leiden and Altorientalisches Institut Leipzig (Ancient Near Eastern Department, University of Leipzig). Many of these pages post both local events and more general information.
For those interested in individual projects, groups such as University of Helsinki’s Ancient Near Eastern Empires tend to have a presence on several social media platforms and their own websites, so look them up and follow them for the latest news!
There are also less academically-focused pages that are quite interesting, such as Popular References to the Ancient Near East, which is really valuable for anyone teaching about reception history, modern identities in the Middle East, and orientalism.
Speaking of popular culture, you might enjoy some of the Mesopotamia-themed board games, such as Assyria or Tigris and Euphrates and the educationally-minded offerings at Esagil Games (designed with teachers in mind!).
But if you like games, you should try out the modern adaptation of the Royal Game of Ur, a game that was found in the Royal Tombs of Ur in southern Mesopotamia and dating to around 2500 BCE. There’s a great video about this amazing find and how it’s played, featuring Tom Scott and Irving Finkel, check it out!
Individual assyriologists, museums, and departments are also active on Twitter. I won’t name specific accounts but if you search “Assyriology” or “cuneiform” you will find it quite well represented!
If you still can’t find information about a topic that you’re looking for related to ancient Assyria, let me know!
Hopefully this will get you started and more will be added soon ~
Last updated: October 2020