Scribal education in Sargonic Mesopotamia

Nicholas Kraus – Yale University

This paper is a presentation of research on the education of scribes in Mesopotamia during the Sargonic period (c. 2335-2150 BCE). Sargonic rule was a turning point for the social and political structures of Mesopotamian city-states, as they became subjects of Akkadian hegemony. At this time, an education in cuneiform writing was primarily intended to train scribes as administrators for civic and imperial institutions. This paper will present the evidence for scribal education, focusing upon the individual topics represented in the curriculum, as demonstrated by the Sargonic school tablets. The scribal curriculum included exercises in simple signs, lexical lists of names and realia, mathematics, plans and drawing, and literature. In addition, an overall model for scribal education in the Sargonic period will be suggested, in order to contextualize education in its social and historical setting.