Susanne Paulus

Susanne Paulus
Associate Professor of Assyriology
On leave winter 2024, spring 2024
Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures 317
Ph.D., University of Münster, 2011
Teaching at UChicago since 2015

Academic Bio

Susanne Paulus is an Associate Professor for Assyriology. Her main research focus is on the Social, Legal and Economic History of the Ancient Near East, especially of the Middle Babylonian Period/Kassite Period (1500–1000 BC). Despite its wealth of surviving information, this period is one of the lesser studied of Babylonian history, although it’s bridging function between the epochs of Old and Late Babylonian times, which are much better understood, is clearly acknowledged.

Only 10 to 15 % of the rich material (more than 12.000 texts) from cities like Nippur and Ur is published in an accessible way. On the basis of an accurate edition of new or badly published archival material, she describes and analyzes problems linked to those texts. She combines traditional methods of archival reconstruction, diplomatics, prosopography with newer instruments of Digital Humanities to reconstruct archival contexts, family structures, administrative organization and finally the social-political and economic landscape of Babylonia. In her ongoing research special emphasis is given to legal rules and social norms regarding redistribution, sale, debt management, and connected issues of jurisdiction.

Her interest does not only cover the internal structure and administration, institutions and daily life, but also its history, chronology, international relations and intellectual heritage of Babylonia. Furthermore she researches the topic of antique forgeries, applying methods such as diplomatics to better understand how and why inscriptions and documents were forged in Antiquity.

Susanne Paulus teaches regulary Mesoptamian Literature in the Ancient Near Eastern Thought and Literatur sequence (Civilizations Core). She teaches Introduction to Babylonian (Elementary Akkadian) and advanced classes in Akkadian focusing around legal and economic textual material from different periods of Mesopotamian history.

Her signature Humanities class, “The Age of Innovation: Famous Firsts 5,000 Ago” explores the first legal and administrative systems, the first schools, and the first records of women, family, and daily life using original texts and objects from the ISAC collections.

Selected Publications

Recent & Regularly Taught Courses

  • NEHC 20004/30004 Ancient Near Eastern Thought & Literature 1 : Mesopotamian Lit
Affiliated Departments and Centers: Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures
Subject Area: Cuneiform Studies, Akkadian Language Program