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Assyriology (from Greek Ἀσσυρίᾱ, Assyriā; and -λογία, -logia) is the archaeological, historical, and linguistic study of not just Assyria, but the entirety of ancient Mesopotamia (a region encompassing what is today modern Iraq, north eastern Syria, south eastern Turkey, and north western and south western Iran) and of related cultures that used cuneiform writing. The field covers Sumer, the early Sumero-Akkadian city-states, the Akkadian Empire, Ebla, the Akkadian and Imperial Aramaic speaking states of Assyria, Babylonia and the Sealand Dynasty, the migrant foreign dynasties of southern Mesopotamia, including; the Gutians, Amorites, Kassites, Arameans, Suteans and Chaldeans, and to some degree post-imperial Achaemenid Assyria, Athura, Seleucid Syria, Assyria (Roman province), and Assuristan, together with later Neo-Assyrian states such as Adiabene, Osroene, Hatra, Beth Nuhadra and Beth Garmai, up until the Arab invasion and Islamic conquest of the mid 7th century AD. Some Assyriologists also write on the further Assyrian continuity of the Assyrian people into the present day.
The large number of cuneiform clay tablets preserved by these Sumero-Akkadian and Assyro-Babylonian cultures provide an extremely large resource for the study of the period. The region's (and indeed the world's) first cities and city-states such as Ur are archaeologically invaluable for studying the growth of urbanization.
Scholars need a good knowledge of several languages: The three main languages of Mesopotamia; Akkadian (including its major dialects), Sumerian and Imperial Aramaic and Eastern Aramaic dialects, together with such neighbouring languages as Biblical Hebrew, Hittite, Elamite, Hurrian, Indo-Anatolian, Old Persian and Canaanite for comparative purposes, and the knowledge of writing systems that use several hundred core signs. There now exist many important grammatical studies and lexical aids. Although scholars can draw from a large corpus of literature, some tablets are broken, or in the case of literary texts where there may be many copies, the language and grammar are often arcane. Moreover, scholars must be able to read and understand modern English, French, and German, as important references, dictionaries, and journals are published in those languages.Read more...