For about 3,500 years (34th century BC - 1st century CE) cuneiform writing has served as documentation, preservation, and dissemination of knowledge content. The high cultural and political performance of the Middle Eastern empires was closely linked to the development and use of this medium. Characteristic for the Ancient Oriental cultures is therefore not least the extraordinary richness of written legacies, which give very precise information on how man in a seemingly foreign world acted and thoughtfully shaped his life and opened up the world.
In Assur, the former capital of the Assyrian Empire, located in what is now northern Iraq, German excavations revealed numerous, mostly broken clay tablets at the beginning of the 20th century, which are described with cuneiform texts. Among them are about 4,500 manuscripts of ‚literary‘ content written in Babylonian, Assyrian or Sumerian. They pass on descriptions of festivals and rituals, reports of deeds of kings, chronicles, myths, fables, hymns, prayers, astronomical, medical-therapeutic, pharmacological, and divinatory treatises, dictionaries and much more and testify to the astonishingly high epistemic potential of the ancient oriental cuneiform culture.
The team of the Research Centre views and deciphers thousands of fragments of clay tablets, reconstructs coherent text passages, and presents the unpublished ‚literary‘ cuneiform texts in the series of editions “Cuneiform texts from Assur literary content” (KAL), whose volumes contain transcriptions, translations, comments, facsimile drawings, and glossaries. The aim is to regain this once extremely powerful knowledge and to transfer it into today’s world, in order to give new impetus to research into the cultural history of the Ancient Orient and to promote an understanding of the intellectuality of the Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians.