Thorkild Jacobsen

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Thorkild Jacobsen
Born(1904-06-07)7 June 1904
Died2 May 1993(1993-05-02) (aged 88)
ResidenceUnited States
NationalityDanish
Alma mater University of Copenhagen (M.A.)
University of Chicago (PhD, 1929)
Known forThe Treasures of DarknessSumerian King List
Awards Guggenheim Fellowship
Scientific career
Fields Assyriology
Institutions University of Chicago (1929-1962),
Harvard University (1962-1974)

Thorkild Peter Rudolph Jacobsen (Danish:  [tˢoɐ̯kil ˈjækɒpsn̩] ; 7 June 1904 – 2 May 1993) was a renowned historian specializing in Assyriology and Sumerian literature. He was one of the foremost scholars on the ancient Near East.

Assyriology is the archaeological, historical, and linguistic study of not just Assyria, but the entirety of ancient Mesopotamia and of related cultures that used cuneiform writing. The field covers Sumer, the early Sumero-Akkadian city-states, the Akkadian Empire, Ebla, the Akkadian and Imperial Aramaic speaking states of Assyria, Babylonia and the Sealand Dynasty, the migrant foreign dynasties of southern Mesopotamia, including; the Gutians, Amorites, Kassites, Arameans, Suteans and Chaldeans, and to some degree post-imperial Achaemenid Assyria, Athura, Sassanid Syria, Assyria, and Assuristan, together with later Neo-Assyrian states such as Adiabene, Osroene, Hatra, Beth Nuhadra and Beth Garmai, up until the Arab invasion and Islamic conquest of the mid 7th century amino domina(AD). Some Assyriologists also write on the further Assyrian continuity of the Assyrian people as well as the Mandaeans into the present day.

Sumer Ancient civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia

Sumer is the earliest known civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia, modern-day southern Iraq, during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze ages, and one of the first civilizations in the world along with Ancient Egypt, Norte Chico and the Indus Valley. Living along the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates, Sumerian farmers were able to grow an abundance of grain and other crops, the surplus of which enabled them to settle in one place. Prehistoric proto-writing dates back before 3000 BC. The earliest texts come from the cities of Uruk and Jemdet Nasr and date to between roughly c. 3500 and c. 3000 BC.

Ancient Near East home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East

The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, ancient Iran, Anatolia/Asia Minor and Armenian Highlands, the Levant, Cyprus and the Arabian Peninsula. The ancient Near East is studied in the fields of Near Eastern archaeology and ancient history.

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Biography

Thorkild Peter Rudolph Jacobsen received, in 1927, an M.A. from the University of Copenhagen and then came to the United States to study at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, where, in 1929, he received his Ph.D.

University of Copenhagen public research university in Copenhagen, Denmark

The University of Copenhagen (UCPH) is the oldest university and research institution in Denmark. Founded in 1479 as a studium generale, it is the second oldest institution for higher education in Scandinavia after Uppsala University (1477). The university has 23,473 undergraduate students, 17,398 postgraduate students, 2,968 doctoral students and over 9,000 employees. The university has four campuses located in and around Copenhagen, with the headquarters located in central Copenhagen. Most courses are taught in Danish; however, many courses are also offered in English and a few in German. The university has several thousands of foreign students, about half of whom come from Nordic countries.

University of Chicago Private research university in Chicago, Illinois, United States

The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1890, the school is located on a 217-acre campus in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, near Lake Michigan. The University of Chicago holds top-ten positions in various national and international rankings.

He was a field Assyriologist for the Iraq Expedition of the Oriental Institute from 1929 to 1937) and in 1946 became director of the Oriental Institute. He served as Dean of the Humanities Division from 1948 to 1951, as an editor of the Assyrian Dictionary from 1955 to 1959, and as Professor of Social Institutions from 1946-1962.

In 1962, Jacobsen became a professor of Assyriology at Harvard University, where he remained until his retirement in 1974. Beyond being an expert translator, he was a brilliant interpreter whose insights led to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the institutions and normative references of Sumerian and Akkadian culture. [1]

Harvard University Private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with about 6,700 undergraduate students and about 13,100 postgraduate students. Established in 1636 and named for its first benefactor, clergyman John Harvard, Harvard is the United States' oldest institution of higher learning. Its history, influence, wealth, and academic reputation have made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world. It has often been cited as the world's top university by most publishers.

Jacobsen retired as a professor of Assyriology at Harvard University in 1974. In 1974 he served as a Visiting Professor at UCLA where he helped develop a strong Assyriology program. Dr. Jacobsen served 1993 as president of the American Oriental Society, an organization of scholars. He was 88 years of age when he died in Bradford, New Hampshire. [2]

American Oriental Society

The American Oriental Society was chartered under the laws of Massachusetts on September 7, 1842. It is one of the oldest learned societies in America, and is the oldest devoted to a particular field of scholarship.

Bradford, New Hampshire Town in New Hampshire, United States

Bradford is a town in Merrimack County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 1,650 at the 2010 census. The main village of the town, where 356 people resided at the 2010 census, is defined as the Bradford census-designated place (CDP), and is located in the northeast part of the town, west of the junction of New Hampshire routes 103 and 114. The town also includes the village of Bradford Center.

Selected works

Sumerian King List Sumerian stone tablet

The Sumerian King List is an ancient text in the Sumerian language, listing kings of Sumer from Sumerian and neighboring dynasties, their supposed reign lengths, and the locations of the kingship. This text is preserved in several recensions. The list of kings is sequential, although modern research indicates many were contemporaries, reflecting the belief that kingship was handed down by the gods and could be transferred from one city to another, asserting to a hegemony in the region.

Partial list of excavations

Awards

Guggenheim Fellowships are grants that have been awarded annually since 1925 by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to those "who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts."

Related Research Articles

Lugal public official

Lugal is the Sumerian term for "king, ruler". Literally, the term means "big man." In Sumerian, lu "𒇽" is "man" and gal "𒃲" is "great," or "big."

Simo Parpola Finnish academic

Simo Kaarlo Antero Parpola is a Finnish Assyriologist specializing in the Neo-Assyrian Empire and Professor emeritus of Assyriology at the University of Helsinki.

Eshnunna Sumerian city-state

Eshnunna was an ancient Sumerian city and city-state in central Mesopotamia. Although situated in the Diyala Valley north-east of Sumer proper, the city nonetheless belonged securely within the Sumerian cultural milieu.

Ephraim Avigdor Speiser was an Jewish Polish-born American Assyriologist. He discovered the ancient site of Tepe Gawra in 1927 and supervised its excavation between 1931 and 1938.

Miguel Civil was an expert on Sumer and Ancient Mesopotamian studies at the University of Chicago Oriental Institute. According to his colleague, Christopher Woods, at the time of his death, Civil knew Sumerian better than anyone since it was last spoken 4000 years ago.

Seton Howard Frederick Lloyd, CBE, was an English archaeologist. He was President of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq, Director of the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara, Professor of Western Asiatic Archaeology in the Institute of Archaeology, University of London (1962–1969).

William Wolfgang Hallo was professor of Assyriology and Babylonian Literature and curator of the Babylonian collection at Yale University. He was born in Kassel, Germany.

Adolf Leo Oppenheim, one of the most distinguished Assyriologists of his generation was editor-in-charge of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute from 1955 to 1974 and John A. Wilson Professor of Oriental Studies at the University of Chicago.

Andrew R. George is a British academic best known for his edition and translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Andrew George is Professor of Babylonian, Department of the Languages and Cultures of Near and Middle East at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

Khafajah

Khafajah or Khafaje is an archaeological site in Diyala Province (Iraq). It was part of the city-state of Eshnunna. The site lies 7 miles (11 km) east of Baghdad and 12 miles (19 km) southwest of Eshnunna.

Tell Agrab archaeological site in Iraq

Tell Agrab is a tell or settlement mound 12.6 miles (20.3 km) southeast of Eshnunna in the Diyala region.

Hans Gustav Güterbock was a German-American Hittitologist. Born and trained in Germany, his career was ended with the rise of the Nazis because of his Jewish heritage, and he was forced to resettle in Turkey. After the Second World War, he immigrated to the United States and spent the rest of his career at the University of Chicago.

Gutian is an extinct unclassified language that was spoken by the Gutian people, who briefly ruled over Sumer as the Gutian dynasty in the 22nd century BCE. The Gutians lived in the territory between the Zagros Mountains and the Tigris. Nothing is known about the language except its existence and a list of names of Gutian rulers in the Sumerian King List.

Jack M. Sasson, now retired, taught most recently as Mary Jane Werthan Professor of Jewish Studies and Hebrew Bible at Vanderbilt Divinity School and before that as a Professor of Classics at Vanderbilt University. His research focuses primarily on Assyriology and Hebrew Scriptures, writing on the archives from eighteenth century BCE found at Mari, Syria, by the Euphrates, near the modern-day Syria-Iraq border as well as on biblical studies.

Hursag köy in Orhangazi, Turkey

Hursag is a Sumerian term variously translated as meaning "mountain", "hill", "foothills" or "piedmont". Thorkild Jacobsen extrapolated the translation in his later career to mean literally, "head of the valleys".

Reverend George Aaron Barton, Ph.D. was a Canadian author, Episcopal clergyman, and professor of Semitic languages and the history of religion.

James Kinnier Wilson is a British Assyriologist. He was Eric Yarrow Lecturer, from 1955 until 1989, and is Emeritus Fellow, Wolfson College, Cambridge.

Edin is a placename featured on the Gudea cylinders as a watercourse from which plaster is taken to build a temple for Ningirsu:

Clay plaster, harmoniously blended clay taken from the Edin canal, has been chosen by Lord Ningirsu with his holy heart, and was painted by Gudea with the splendors of heaven, as if kohl were being poured all over it.

Tell Asmar Hoard

The Tell Asmar Hoard are a collection of twelve statues unearthed in 1933 at Eshnunna in the Diyala Governorate of Iraq. Despite subsequent finds at this site and others throughout the greater Mesopotamian area, they remain the definitive example of the abstract style of Early Dynastic temple sculpture.

Ancient Mesopotamian underworld concept of the underworld in ancient Mesopotamian culture

The ancient Mesopotamian underworld, most often known in Sumerian as Kur, Irkalla, Kukku, Arali, or Kigal and in Akkadian as Erṣetu, although it had many names in both languages, was a dark, dreary cavern located deep below the ground, where inhabitants were believed to continue "a shadowy version of life on earth". The only food or drink was dry dust, but family members of the deceased would pour libations for them to drink. Unlike many other afterlives of the ancient world, in the Sumerian underworld, there was no final judgement of the deceased and the dead were neither punished nor rewarded for their deeds in life. A person's quality of existence in the underworld was determined by his or her conditions of burial.

References

  1. Thorkild Jacobsen, was professor of Assyriology at Harvard (Boston Globe. Boston, MA: May 6, 1993)
  2. Thorkild Jacobsen, Scholar, Wrote of Cuneiform (New York Times. May 5, 1993)
  3. Thorkild Jacobsen. 1968, Near Eastern Studies (John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation) "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2009-11-02.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

Sources