This website collects recordings of modern Assyriologists reading ancient Babylonian and Assyrian poetry and literature aloud in the original language. It is the first undertaking of its kind, and accordingly some explanation of its aims is called for.
It is intended to serve several purposes, some for Assyriologists, and some for the wider public. First, it aims to foster interest among students of Babylonia and Assyria in how these civilisations’ works of verbal art were read aloud in the past, and how they should be read aloud today.
Second, it provides a forum in which scholars who have theories about Babylonian and Assyrian pronunciation, metre, etc. can present a concrete example of how their theories sound in practice. (In this function the archive does not of course aim to replace scholarly discussion in established channels, but rather to provide a useful complement to written publications).
Third, as a record of the ways in which contemporary scholars read Babylonian and Assyrian, it will some day serve a historical function. Many great Assyriologists, including some who had influential theories of Babylonian metre and phonology, passed into history without leaving a single recording of how they read Babylonian and Assyrian. This archive will provide at least some record of how scholars read Babylonian and Assyrian in the twenty-first century.
Finally, but not least, the questions which students of ancient languages most frequently hear from laymen are: "How did they sound? And how do you know?". This website is meant to serve as an introduction to these issues, providing the public with some idea of how modern Assyriologists think Babylonian and Assyrian were pronounced.
The RecordingsSpecial characters (tsade and tet) are in Steve Tinney's Ungkam font, derived from sil.org's Gentium font. To display them correctly, download the font from oracc.museum.upenn.edu/doc/user/fonts. The download is free. There are both a Mac Suitcase version and a Win/Linux OpenType version.
The Old Babylonian Period (c. 1900-1500 BCE)
Ammi-Ditana’s Hymn to Ishtar
The Codex Hammurabi
The Epic of Gilgamesh, Old Babylonian Version, Tablet II
- Lines 1-38, read by Antoine Cavigneaux
- Lines 1-36, read by Stephanie Dalley
- Lines 1-239, read by Karl Hecker
- Lines 1-61, read by Jacob Klein
- Lines 85-111, read by Michael Streck
- Lines 1-47, read by Nathan Wasserman
- Lines 87-105, read by Aage Westenholz
The Epic of Gilgamesh, Old Babylonian Version, BM+VAT
The Epic of Anzû, Old Babylonian Version, Tablet II
Atra-Hasīs, Old Babylonian Version, Tablet I
Diviner's Prayer to the Gods of the Night
Incantation for Dog Bite
Letter of Marduk-nāṣir to Ruttum (AbB III 15)
Letter of Kurkurtum to Erīb-Sîn (AbB XII 89)
The First Millennium BC
The Epic of Gilgamesh, Standard Version, Tablet XI
- Lines 1-29, read by Stephanie Dalley
- Lines 1-163, read by Karl Hecker
- Lines 8-44, read by Victor Hurowitz
- Lines 1-34, read by Nathan Wasserman
- Lines 92-139, read by Martin West
The Babylonian Poem of the Righteous Sufferer (Ludlul bēl nēmeqi), Tablet II
- Lines 1-26, read by Antoine Cavigneaux
- Lines 1-46, read by Mario Fales
- Lines 1-26 and 56-82, read by Brigitte Groneberg
- Entire Tablet, read by Karl Hecker
- Lines 1-55, read by Margaret Jaques Cavigneaux
- Lines 1-55, read by Gebhard J. Selz
- Lines 1-33, read by Nathan Wasserman
The Babylonian Epic of Creation (Enūma elîš), Tablet I
Ištar's Descent to the Netherworld
The Šamaš Hymn
And see also: