Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Manual of Akkadian (a Review)

This thin book by Dr. David Marcus is a good introductory grammar of Akkadian. It contains long extracts from the Law Code of Hammurabi, “The Descent of Ishtar”, and “The Annals of Sennacherib” in cuneiform.

Each chapter contains an extract from one of these texts and a discussion of the grammar points that the student needs to know to translate them. Texts in the first five chapters are shown in Cuneiform, normalized transliteration and in translation. After chapter five, only the cuneiform is given, the student must work out the normalization and translation for himself. This does present a problem for anyone trying to teach themselves Akkadian. If you get stuck with a passage, you will not be able to check your work.

The book is concise (it has 180 pages) and has a very good sign list and dictionary at the rear. If this work has a flaw it is the binding. The book cannot be opened flat. On the other hand, it is light and can be carried around easily.

While I would recommend John Huehnergard’s “A Grammar of Akkadian” over Dr. Marcus’ book for a self learner, this work is nevertheless a valuable addition to the scholar’s library.

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