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Akkadian is the umbrella term that covers all the Semitic dialects spoken in the North (Assyria) and the South (Babylonia) of Ancient Mesopotamia (modern Iraq). Akkadian is first attested in the mid 3rd millennium BCE, and it remained in continuous use until the Parthian period (141 BCE–224 CE).  During the second millennium BCE (Late Bronze Age), Akkadian became the lingua franca of the Near East, and texts in this language can be found in places as distant as Amarna (Egypt), Hattusa (Turkey), and all over Syria (Ugarit, Emar).

Akkadian is a Semitic language, so it belongs to the same family as Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic.  Moreover, the writing system used for Akkadian (Mesopotamian cuneiform) was first used to write Sumerian.  Akkadian is the language of the famous "Code of Hammurabi," the "Babylonian Gilgamesh," and a large corpus of royal inscriptions, letters, administrative and economic documents, literary and mythological compositions, religious hymns, and historical chronicles, as well as medical, astronomical, mathematical, and magical texts.


Our department offers Akkadian (CAMS 472) with regularity and Advanced Akkadian (CAMS 521) when there is sufficient demand.

Student Testimonial

“The day I changed my major to Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies was one of the happiest of my college career.  Even before switching to CAMS,  I was interested in what the department had to offer. (...)
An undergraduate advisor suggested LATIN 003 as a way of easing into college life, as I had taken Latin classes throughout high school and had performed well on the Advanced Placement exams.  The beginning was rough, but I enjoyed the challenge of translating Latin prose and the information that the texts conveyed.  Although I pursued an Advertising degree during my first two years of college, I continued to sign up for Latin courses, and by the end of my sophomore year, I had realized that Classics, not Advertising, was the right major for me. In addition to the Latin courses, I also studied the ancient civilizations of Rome, Greece, and Egypt in the CAMS major.  All of these classes were interesting, educational, and taught by knowledgeable faculty members.   The CAMS faculty is always helpful; they provide insight into the class material and make suggestions for outside reading during office hours and after class.  When I wrote my senior thesis for the Honors College, I received much help from the CAMS faculty while researching and writing the thesis.  Now that I have received my diplomas from Penn State, both in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies and Spanish, I have decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Education.  I have been accepted at the Complutense University of Madrid, one of the oldest universities in Europe, to study secondary education, specializing in classical languages.  I am confident that the education I received at Penn State, notably in the CAMS department, will aid me greatly in my postgraduate studies and in securing a teaching job, whether in the United States, Spain, or elsewhere.”

Celia Meehan
2010 CAMS graduate

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