Skip to main content

Scribal Performance and Textual Standardization in Mesopotamian Lexical Lists


The project challenges prevalent models of cultural unity and canonization in the transmission of scholarly texts during the last phases of Mesopotamian cuneiform writing in the 1st millennium BCE by analyzing the transmission of the so-called lexical lists, one of the most characteristic genres of the Mesopotamian sciences and foundational to scribal education. Building on own prior research on literary standardization and geographies in 2nd–1st millennium Mesopotamia, the project has two concrete aims: 1) to establish the distribution of texts across archaeological contexts, scribal circles, and institutions in order to define specific repertoires within textual communities; and 2) to define the transmission within these communities in terms of dynamic scribal practices, based on close readings of the interplay of form, format, and content of a subset of ca. 147 cuneiform tablets. A major aspect of the project is the digitalization of the sources in collaboration with two databases: Achemenet (CNRS/Nanterre) and the Digital Corpus of Cuneiform Lexical Texts (University of California at Berkeley). Training, including a 3-month secondment as visiting fellow in Berkeley, will focus on the development, design, and implementation of large-scale, open-access digitalized textual corpora and on data standards. The project will be hosted at the CNRS in Nanterre and supervised by Prof. Cécile Michel, an expert on Mesopotamian literacy and sciences and principle investigator of a major research cluster on manuscript cultures. Integration into the team of the ArScAn-HAROC will provide support for the project's development and an ideal interdisciplinary research environment for comparative analysis. Communication measures are designed not only for a scholarly audience, but to communicate the history of cuneiform writing and Mesopotamian education to a wider international audience, including measures addressed to stakeholders in the Near and Middle East.


Net EU contribution
€ 195 914,88
Rue Michel Ange 3
75794 Paris

See on map

Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Paris
Activity type
Research Organisations
Non-EU contribution
No data