Sumerian was a language spoken in Ancient Mesopotamia (modern Iraq). It is first attested in the archaic texts from Uruk (late 4th to early 3rd millennium BCE). By the end of the 3rd millennium, Sumerian had died out as a spoken language. However, it was still used in writing until the disappearance of the Mesopotamian civilization during the Parthian period (141 BCE–224 CE).
The corpus of Sumerian texts is unique in the Ancient World. It includes literary and mythological compositions, songs, love poetry, liturgical compositions, law collections, royal inscriptions, magical texts, and scholarly works, alongside vast numbers of economic, administrative, and legal documents. Sumerian is the language of the first laws ever written (those of Ur-Namma, 21st century BCE) and of the earliest literary compositions telling the deeds of legendary kings (Lugalbanda, Enmerkar, Gilgamesh).
Sumerian is an isolate, that is, it is not related to any other language or language family, a fact that adds to its intriguing nature. The writing system used for Sumerian, Mesopotamian cuneiform, was eventually used for Akkadian as well.
Our department offers Sumerian (CAMS 471) with regularity and Advanced
Sumerian (CAMS 520) when there is sufficient demand.