Jacob L. Dahl


Associate Professor of Assyriology; Fellow of Wolfson

Faculty / College Address:

Oriental Institute / Wolfson College



Research Interests:

I am a specialist of the pre-Classical cultures and languages of the Near East. I have written on early Babylonian socio-economic history, early Near Eastern writing systems, and Sumerian literature. I work on the decipherment of proto-Elamite, the last undeciphered writing system from the ancient Near East with a substantial number of sources (more than 1600 tablets divided between the Louvre Museum and the National Museum of Iran). Initially inspired and influenced by archaic cuneiform from Mesopotamia, proto-Elamite was a very short-lived writing system (ca. 3100 - 2900 BC) used across much of what today constitute the Islamic Republic of Iran.

As a co-PI of the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative <http://cdli.ucla.edu> I seek to document and safeguard Mesopotamia’s contribution to our shared world history by making its ancient records available freely online.

Current Projects:

  • late 3rd millennium BC administrative history, publication of 350 texts in Oslo
  • joint publication (on-line) of ca. 300 Ur III texts in Aleppo National Museum, Syria, with Dr Bertrand Lafont (CNRS, Paris)
  • joint publication (on-line) of ca. 90 Ur III texts in the Institut Chatolique de Paris, with Dr Bertrand Lafont
  • publication of ca. 150 proto-Elamite texts and fragments in the Louvre
  • re-edition of ca. 1000 proto-Elamite texts and fragments in the Louvre
  • proto-Elamite sign-list
  • edition of new proto-Elamite texts from Iran with colleagues from Teheran University

Courses Taught:

  • History and Civilizations of the Ancient Near East
  • Akkadian and Sumerian texts, all levels

Recent Publications:

  • “Early Writing in Iran”. In Potts, D.T., Oxford Handbook of Iranian Archaeology (Oxford University Press) (2013), 233-262.
  • (with M. Hessari and R. Yousefi) “The proto-Elamite tablets from Tepe Sofalin”. Iranian Journal of Archaeological Studies 2/1 (2013), 57-73.
  • (with Cameron A. Petrie and Daniel T. Potts) “Chronological Parameters of the Earliest Writing System in Iran.” In Petrie, C.A. (ed.), Ancient Iran and its Neighbours: Local Developments and Long- range Interactions in the 4th Millennium BC. (2013), 353-378.
  • “Frühe Schrift im Iran”. In N. Crüsemann et al. Uruk 5000 Jahre Megacity: Begleitband zur Ausstellung "Uruk--5000 Jahre Megacity" im Pergamonmuseum--Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (2013), 202-203.
  • “The proto-Elamite seal MDP 16 no 198”. CDLN 2013:2.
  • (with Béatrice André-Salvini) “L’écriture proto-élamite: la numérisation à l’aide du déchifrement des premières écritures”. In Grande gallerie: le journal du Louvre 2013/2, 28-29.

Full Publications

Further Info:

Boards and Committees:

Research students:

  • Moudhy al-Rashid (Mental Illness and Mental Health in Ancient Mesopotamia)
  • John Nicholas Reid (The Evolution of Slavery and Labour Practices in Early Mesopotamia from Uruk to the Fall of Babylon in the Longue Durée)