Jacob L. Dahl


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 PI of the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative <https://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:

  • digitization and publication of proto-Elamite and cuneiform tablets in the National Museum of Iran, Tehran
  • re-edition of ca. 1000 proto-Elamite texts and fragments in the Louvre
  • proto-Elamite sign-list
  • digitization of cylinder seals in the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Ashmolean Museum see http://sespoa.huma-num.fr

Courses Taught:

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

Recent Publications:


  • Ur III texts in the Schøyen Collection. Cornell University Studies in Assyriology and Sumerology Volume 39 (Eisenbrauns, Pennsylvania State University Press University Park, PA). 2020. (https://www.eisenbrauns.org/books/titles/978-1-57506-738-4.html)

  • Proto-Elamite Tablets and Fragments. Textes cunéiforme du Louvre 32 (Khéops / Louvre éditions Publishing, Paris). 2019.


  • (with B. Lafont and N. Ouraghi). “Nouvelles recherches sur la collection des sceaux-cylindres orientaux de la Bibliothèque nationale de France”, Syria 96, 2019, p. xxx.

  • (with K. Kelley,  D. Young, K. Martinez and J. Hare). A structured light approach to imaging ancient Near Eastern cylinder seals: how efficient 3D imaging may facilitate corpus-wide research. In K. Kelley and R. Wood (eds.), Digital  Imaging  of  Artefacts:  Developments  in  Methods and  Aims. Archeopress (2018). 47-72.

  • (with Laura F. Hawkins and Kathryn Kelley). Labor Administration in Proto-Elamite Iran. In A. Garcia-Ventura, ed., What’s in a Name? Terminology related to Work Force and Job Categories in the Ancient Near East. Alter Orient und Altes Testament (2018). 15-44.

  • The Proto-Elamite Writing System. In J. Álvarez-Mon, G. P. Basello, Y. Wicks eds., The Elamite World. Routledge 2018. 383-396.

  • "The Production and Storage of Food in Early Iran". In M. Bianca D’Anna, C. Jauß, J. C. Johnson, eds., Food and Urbanisation. Material and Textual Perspectives on Alimentary Practice in Early Mesopotamia. ORIGINI Preistoria e protostoria delle civiltà antiche 37.1 (2015). 67-72.

  • "Corrections to J. L. Dahl, 'A Babylonian Gang of Potters'". Cuneiform Digital Library Notes 2014:16 (2014).

Full Publications

Link to Publons page: https://publons.com/author/1625457/jacob-l-dahl#profile

Link to ResearchGate page: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jacob_Dahl

Further Info:

Boards and Committees:

Current DPhil students:

  • William Skelton (co-supervised with Moudhy Al-Rashid)
  • Christie Carr
  • Virginia Girardi
  • Antonia Edwards-Freshwater
  • Talah Anderson (co-supervised with Paul Collins)
  • Benjamin Caspi (co-supervised with Paul Collins)


  • Former research students:
Photograph of Jacob Dahl