John Wee

John Wee
Assistant Professor of Assyriology
On Leave, 2019-2020
The Oriental Institute 320
Ph.D., Yale University, 2012
Teaching at UChicago since 2015

Academic Bio

John Wee is a historian of science, medicine, and mathematics in Mesopotamian and Greco-Roman antiquity. He considers these histories relevant to our modernity, not only as a lineage to the present, but also as relatable strategies of problem solving in indigenous cultures of thought. In clarifying the language, categories, and imagery by which ancient authors explained their world, we begin to appreciate how we have constructed ours.

John read Assyriology and Classical History at Yale University (Ph.D. with distinction, 2012), where he received the William J. Horwitz Prize, the Samuel K. Bushnell fellowship, and a scholarship for yearlong study at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg. Arriving at the University of Chicago as Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar (2012–2014), he was subsequently appointed Assistant Professor (2015–) at the Oriental Institute and in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC) with association in Classics.

He is the author of monographs on Knowledge and Rhetoric in Medical Commentary (2019) and Mesopotamian Commentaries on the Diagnostic Handbook Sa-gig (2019) and is the editor of The Comparable Body: Analogy and Metaphor in Ancient Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Greco-Roman Medicine (2017). His articles and essays explore the cultural histories of astronomical and medical ideas, scientific and mathematical language, and scholasticism in ancient commentaries.

Recent & Regularly Taught Courses

  • HIPS 17300 Science, Culture, & Society in Western Civilization I: Ancient Greek and Roman Science
  • SIGN 26045 Before the Zodiac: Astronomy and Mathematics as Ancient Culture
  • AKKD 30326 Akkadian Medical Texts
  • AKKD 20601 Intermediate Akkadian: Myths of Creation and Destruction
  • AKKD 30375 Akkadian Literature - Late Period
Affiliated Departments and Centers: Oriental Institute
Subject Area: Cuneiform Studies