An ambitious project to identify, explain and provide citations for the words written in cuneiform on clay tablets and carved in stone by Babylonians, Assyrians and others in Mesopotamia between 2500 B.C. and A.D. 100 has been completed after 90 years of labor, the University of Chicago announced June 5.
To mark the completion of the 21-volume Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, the Oriental Institute at the University, where the project was housed, will hold a conference Monday, June 6, during which scholars from around the world will discuss the significance of the achievement.
“I feel proud and privileged to have brought this project home,” said Martha Roth, editor-in-charge of the dictionary and dean of Humanities Division, who has been working on the project since 1979. “I feel this will be a foundation for how to do more dictionary projects in the future.”
“The Chicago Assyrian Dictionary is one of the most important and unique contributions of the Oriental Institute to understanding the civilizations of the ancient Near East,” said Gil Stein, director of the Oriental Institute. “The Assyrian Dictionary is the single most impressive effort I know of to systematically record, codify and make accessible the Akkadian language that forms the heart of the textual record of civilization in the place of its birth: Mesopotamia.
“The Assyrian Dictionary is not simply a word list. By detailing the history and range of uses of each word, this unique dictionary is in essence a cultural encyclopedia of Mesopotamian history, society, literature, law and religion and is an indispensable research tool for any scholar anywhere who seeks to explore the written record of Mesopotamian civilization,” he added.