Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024

Module CLAS2921: The Literature & Language of Ancient Babylon: An Introduction

Department: Classics and Ancient History

CLAS2921: The Literature & Language of Ancient Babylon: An Introduction

Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham

Prerequisites

  • None.

Corequisites

  • For students in the Classics Department, please refer to the Regulations for your degree programme. For students from other Departments, there are no corequisites.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.

Aims

  • The aims of the course are to introduce students to the language and literature of the ancient Babylonians.
  • and to enable them to engage meaningfully with an important and highly influential body of ancient texts within their cultural context.

Content

  • This course offers an introduction to the language and literature of ancient Babylon.
  • Weekly classes provide an introduction to the basic grammatical concepts of Akkadian (Old Babylonian) grammar.
  • On alternate weeks, the language classes are supplemented with thematic seminars on such issues as the religious background of Babylonial literary production, Sumero-Akkadian bilingualism, the cuneiform writing system, genres of text, performance contexts, and the status of writing in a largely oral/aural culture.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A knowledge of the key texts of Babylonian literature, of the contexts in which they were written and read, and of modern approaches to them; a knowledge of the Akkadian language sufficient to enable the student to begin reading continuous texts in the original language.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • An ability to interpret a group of diverse and complex texts on the cusp of literature, theology and philosophy; to place those texts in their cultural and historical context; and to read extracts from at least one of those texts in the original language with the help of sign lists and vocabulary lists.
Key Skills:
  • An ability to engage in an informed and sophisticated way with the literature and language of an alien culture; a capacity to sustain a clear, well-structured and well-defended argument in written form; the skills needed to plan, execute and evaluate an oral presentation in a seminar setting.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • This course offers an introduction to the language and literature of ancient Babylon.
  • Classes (2x weekly) provide an introduction to the basic grammatical concepts of Akkadian (Old Babylonian) grammar and Neo-Assyrian cuneiform.
  • In addition to studying the language, the classes include thematic seminars on the various genres of Akkadian literature, including narrative epics, divination, religious compositions and scientific texts.
  • The course is assessed by one 3,000-word commentary (40%), exploring in greater detail a passage treated in the thematic seminars, and by a two-hour language exam (60%) which tests linguistic knowledge of Akkadian.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials 2 1 per Term 1 Hour 2
Language Classes 44 2 Per Week 1 Hour 44
Preparation and Reading 154
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written Examination 2 hours 100% Yes
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative commentary 3,000 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

One formative exercise


Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University