Mesopotamia at Cambridge
Britain has been a centre for Assyriology since the early days of exploration, study and research in Mesopotamia. It has a lengthy tradition of active fieldwork, beginning with the explorations of Layard at Nimrud and Nineveh in the 1840s, continuing through the 1920s-1950s with the research of Sir Max Mallowan at Nimrud, Arpachiyah, Tell Brak and Chagar Bazar; Sir Leonard Woolley at Ur and Seton Lloyd at Tell Uqair, Eridu and Tell Hassuna. In Iraq British archaeological teams excavated in the 1960s-1980s at Tell al-Rimah, Abu Salabikh, Umm Dabbaghiyah, Choga Mami, and on numerous rescue projects, embracing more modern scientific techniques. The unrivalled collections of tablets and artifacts in the British Museum in particular have inspired generations of scholars.
Since the Second World War, Cambridge has been one of the leading centres for the study of ancient Mesopotamia. Cambridge-based excavation projects are working today at Tell Brak, Syria and Kilise Tepe and Ziyaret Tepe, Turkey. The Cambridge emphasis has always been on exploiting the combination of the archaeological with the textual data which Mesopotamia offers, for in no other Old World civilization do we have a comparable opportunity to match a rich archaeological record with 3000 years of written documents from governments, temples, schools, legal systems and individuals. Undergraduate and M.Phil. teaching covers the languages and literatures, the history and both the prehistoric and the historical archaeology of Mesopotamia. Our PhD students' research has covered topics as diverse as domestic architecture, ceramic production, textile industry, Anatolian domestic religion, Sumerian bureaucracy, settlement history in Syria, Yemen, and Turkey, etc. Current staff and post-doctoral research treats themes of prehistoric conflict, early urbanism, government practices, and the nature of knowledge. Please see the Research page for further details.
For current staff, post-doctoral researchers and graduate students please see the People page.