MPhil & Part III Manager
Research interests: Science, technology and medicine in the ancient and medieval Middle East; history of mathematics; history of Assyriology and Middle Eastern archaeology
With Professor Steve Tinney of the University of Pennsylvania, I run the AHRC-funded research project The Geography of Knowledge in Assyria and Babylonia. The other team members are Marie-Françoise Besnier and Greta van Buylaere, with website design by Ruth Horry.
I am the Chair of Council the British Institute for the Study of Iraq (formerly the British School of Archaeology in Iraq).
My latest papers are downloadable from Academia.edu.
- With K. Radner (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Cuneiform Culture, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.
- With H.D. Baker and G.G. Zólyomi (eds.), Your Praise is Sweet: a Memorial Volume for Jeremy Black from Students, Colleagues and Friends, London: British Institute for the Study of Iraq, 2010.
- With J. Stedall (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Mathematics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
- Mathematics in Ancient Iraq: a Social History, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008.
Winner of the History of Science Society's Pfizer Prize for the Best Scholarly Book, 2011
Awarded an Honorable Mention in the British-Kuwait Friendship Society Prize in Middle Eastern Studies (2009), administered by the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES).
- With W.L. Treadwell and C. Gosden (eds.), Who Owns Objects? The Ethics and Politics of Collecting Cultural Artefacts, Oxford: Oxbow Books 2006.
- With J.A. Black, G.G. Cunningham, and G.G. Zólyomi, The Literature of Ancient Sumer, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2004; paperback 2006.
- With M. Campbell-Kelly, M. Croarken, and R.G. Flood (eds.), The History of Mathematical Tables from Sumer to Spreadsheets, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2003.
- Mesopotamian Mathematics 2100–1600 BC: Technical Constants in Bureaucracy and Education (Oxford Editions of Cuneiform Texts, 14), Oxford: Clarendon Press 1999.
- With S.J. Tinney, and N. Veldhuis I steer the Open Richly Annotated Cuneiform Corpus, 2010– . For the latest development see the Oracc Notes and News blog.
- With M.-F. Besnier, P. Clancier, G. Cunningham, F. Reynolds, and S.J. Tinney, The Geography of Knowledge in Assyria and Babylonia, including The Corpus of Ancient Mesopotamian Scholarship, Universities of Cambridge and Pennsylvania, 2007–12.
- With K. Radner, S.J. Tinney, and R. Horry, Cuneiform Revealed, Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for History, Classics and Archaeology, 2009.
- With K. Radner, S.J. Tinney, and R. Horry, Knowledge and Power in the Neo-Assyrian Empire, Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Philosophy and Religious Studies, 2007–11.
- With S.J. Tinney, Digital Corpus of Cuneiform Mathematical Texts, Oracc, 2007– .
- With J.A. Black, G.G. Cunningham, G.G. Zólyomi, et al., The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, Oxford 1998–2006.
- With W.L. Treadwell, Iraq: Navel of the World, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford 2004.
- With J.N. Postgate, The Threat to World Heritage in Iraq, 2003.
- Bibliography of Mesopotamian Maths, 1996.
Contributions to books
- 'The production and dissemination of scholarly knowledge', in K. Radner and E. Robson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Cuneiform Culture, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011, 557–76.
- 'The discovery of Professor von Saalbrandt: a Philadelphia story', in W. Heimpel and G. Frantz-Szabo (eds.), Strings and Threads: a Celebration of the Work of Anne Draffkorn Kilmer, Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2011, 207–30.
- 'Learning mathematics and science in the ancient Middle East', in N. Al-Mulki and F. Fasanelli (eds.), Building Mathematical and Scientific Talent in the BMENA Region (Broader Middle East and North Africa), Washington, DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2011, English section 9–27; Arabic section 9–30.
- 'Empirical scholarship in the Neo-Assyrian court', in G. Selz and K. Wagensonner (eds.), The Empirical Dimension of Ancient Near Eastern Studies (Wiener Offene Orientalistik 6), Vienna, 2011, 603–30.
- With K.S. Isma'el, 'Arithmetical tablets from Iraqi excavations in the Diyala', in H.D. Baker, E. Robson, and G.G. Zólyomi (eds.), Your Praise is Sweet: a Memorial Volume for Jeremy Black from Students, Colleagues and Friends, London: British Institute for the Study of Iraq, 2010, 151–64.
- With N. Ohgama, 'Scribal schooling in Old Babylonian Kish: the evidence of the Oxford tablets', in H.D. Baker, E. Robson, and G.G. Zólyomi (eds.), Your Praise is Sweet: a Memorial Volume for Jeremy Black from Students, Colleagues and Friends, London: British Institute for the Study of Iraq, 2010, 207–36.
- 'Mathematics education in an Old Babylonian scribal school', in E. Robson and J. Stedall (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Mathematics, Oxford University Press, 2008, 199–228.
- 'Numeracy', in T. Gowers and J.E. Barrow-Green (eds.), The Princeton Companion to Mathematics, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008, 983–991.
- 'Whose heritage? National and international interests in in cultural property in post-war Iraq', in D. Panizza and P. Ragoni (eds.), La salvaguardia dei beni culturali nel diritto internazionale, San Ginesio: Centro Internazionale Studi Gentiliani, 2008, 413–426; Italian translation 427–441.
- 'Secrets de famille: prêtre et astronome à Uruk à l'époque hellénistique', in C.M. Jacob (ed.), Les lieux de savoir, I: Lieux et communautés, Paris: Albin Michel, 2008, 440–461.
- 'Literacy, numeracy, and the state in early Mesopotamia', in K. Lomas, R.D. Whitehouse, and J.B. Wilkins (eds.), Literacy and the State in the Ancient Mediterranean, London: Accordia Research Institute, 2007, 37–50.
- 'Mathematics, metrology, and professional numeracy', in G. Leick (ed.), The Babylonian World, London: Routledge, 2007, 414–427. [256 KB PDF file]
- 'Mesopotamian mathematics', in V.J. Katz (ed.), The Mathematics of Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, India and Islam: a Sourcebook, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007, 57–186.
- 'The clay tablet book in Sumer, Babylonia, and Assyria', in S. Eliot and J. Rose (eds.), A Companion to the History of the Book, Oxford: Blackwell, 2007, 67–83.
- 'Gendered literacy and numeracy in the Sumerian literary corpus', in G. Cunningham and J. Ebeling (eds.), Analysing Literary Sumerian: Corpus-Based Approaches, London: Equinox, 2007, 215–249. [252 KB PDF file]
- 'The long career of a favourite figure: the apsamikku in Neo-Babylonian mathematics', in M. Ross (ed.), From the Banks of the Euphrates: Studies in Honor of Alice Louise Slotsky, Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2007, 209–224. [580 KB PDF file]
- 'Pythagoras', in M. Streck et al. (eds.), Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archäologie, vol. 11, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2006, 134–135.
- With W.L. Treadwell and C. Gosden, 'Introduction', in E. Robson, W.L. Treadwell, and C. Gosden (eds.), Who Owns Objects? The Ethics and Politics of Collecting Cultural Artefacts, Oxford: Oxbow Books 2006, ix–xvii. [248 KB PDF file]
- 149 of the 381 cuneiform copies (i.e., some 40 percent) in S.M. Dalley, Old Babylonian Texts in the Ashmolean Museum, mainly from Larsa, Sippir, Kish, and Lagaba (Oxford Editions of Cuneiform Texts, 15), Oxford: Clarendon Press 2005.
- 'Introduction', in J.A. Black, G.G. Cunningham, E. Robson, and G.G. Zólyomi, The Literature of Ancient Sumer, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2004, xix–lxiii.
- 'Mathematics and counting devices', and 'Balances, weights and measures', in B. Fagan (ed.), The Seventy Great Inventions of the Ancient World, London: Thames and Hudson 2004, 247–249; 253–254.
- 'Accounting for change: the development of tabular book-keeping in early Mesopotamia', in M. Hudson and C. Wunsch (eds.), Creating Economic Order: Record-keeping, Standardization, and the Development of Accounting in the Ancient Near East (International Scholars Conference on Ancient Near Eastern Economies, 4), Bethesda: CDL Press 2004, 107–144. [148 KB PDF file]
- 'Counting the days: scholarly conceptions and quantifications of time in Assyria and Babylonia, c. 750–250 BCE', in R. Rosen (ed.), Time and Temporality in the Ancient World, Philadelphia: University Museum Press 2004, 45–90.
- 'Tables and tabular formatting in Sumer, Babylonia, and Assyria, 2500-50 BCE' in M. Campbell-Kelly, M. Croarken, R.G. Flood, and E. Robson (eds.), The History of Mathematical Tables from Sumer to Spreadsheets, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2003, 18–47. [932 KB PDF file]
- With M. Campbell-Kelly, M. Croarken, and R.G. Flood, 'Introduction', in M. Campbell-Kelly, M. Croarken, R.G. Flood, and E. Robson (eds.), The History of Mathematical Tables from Sumer to Spreadsheets, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2003, 1–17. [192 KB PDF file]
- 'More than metrology: mathematics education in an Old Babylonian scribal school', in J.M. Steele and A. Imhausen (eds.), Under One Sky: Mathematics and Astronomy in the Ancient Near East (Alter Orient und Altes Testament, 297), Münster: Ugarit-Verlag 2002, 325–365. [1.5 MB PDF file]
- 'Guaranteed genuine Babylonian originals: the Plimpton collection and the early history of mathematical Assyriology', in C. Wunsch (ed.), Mining the Archives: Festschrift for C.B.F. Walker, Dresden: ISLET 2002, 245–292. [504 KB PDF file]
- 'Technology in society: three textual case studies from Late Bronze Age Mesopotamia', in A. Shortland (ed.), The Social Context of Technological Change: Egypt and the Near East 1650–1150 BCE, Oxford: Oxbow Books 2001, 39–57.
- 'The uses of mathematics in ancient Iraq, 6000–600 BC', in H. Selin (ed.), Mathematics Across Cultures: the History of Non-Western Mathematics, Dordrecht: Kluwer 2000, 93–113.
- 'Mesopotamian mathematics: some historical background', in V.J. Katz (ed.), Using History to Teach Mathematics, Washington DC: Mathematical Association of America 2000, 149–158. [188 KB PDF file]
- 'Building with bricks and mortar: quantity surveying in the Ur III and Old Babylonian periods', in K.R. Veenhof (ed.), Houses and Households in Ancient Mesopotamia: Papers Read at the 40e Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, 1993, Leiden/Istanbul 1996, 181–190.
- With G. Chambon, 'Untouchable or unrepeatable? The upper end of the Old Babylonian capacity and area systems', Iraq 73, 73–127.
- With K. Clark, 'The cuneiform tablet collection of Florida State University', Cuneiform Digital Library Journal 2009:2 (online only).
- With K. Clark, 'Ancient accounting in the modern mathematics classroom', BSHM Bulletin 23 (2008), 129–142.
- Clark, K. 'The cuneiform tablet collection of Florida State University', Cuneiform Digital Library Journal 2009:2. [Online only; free access]
- 'Mesopotamian medicine and religion: current debates, new perspectives', Religion Compass 3 (2008). [Online, subscription only]
- With B. Lion, 'Quelques textes scolaires paléo-babyloniens rédigés par des femmes', Journal of Cuneiform Studies 57 (2006), 37–53.
- 'A new manuscript of Ninmeshara (ETCSL 4.07.2), lines 109-139', Orientalia 74 (2005), 382–8.
- 'Four Old Babylonian school tablets in the collection of the Catholic University of America', Orientalia 74 (2005), 389–98.
- 'Influence, ignorance, or indifference? Rethinking the relationship between Babylonian and Greek mathematics', BSHM Bulletin 4 (Spring 2005), 1–17. [2.4 MB PDF file]
- 'Mathematical cuneiform tablets in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford', SCIAMVS–Sources and Commentaries in Exact Sciences 5 (2004), 3–65. [2.5 MB PDF file]
- With B. Foster, 'A new look at the Sargonic mathematical corpus', Zeitschrift für Assyriologie 94 (2004), 1–15.
- 'Iraq: the history of mathematics and the aftermath of war', BSHM Newsletter 49 (2003), 1–9. Reprinted in Revue d'Histoire des Mathématiques 9 (2003), [311–15].
- 'Bird and Fish in the Old Babylonian Sumerian literary catalogues', NABU–Nouvelles Assyriologiques Brèves et Utilitaires, 2003/3: no. 68.
- 'Words and pictures: new light on Plimpton 322', American Mathematical Monthly 109 (2002), 105-120. Winner of the Mathematical Association of America's Lester R. Ford Prize 2003. Reprinted in M. Anderson, V.J. Katz, and R.J. Wilson (eds.), Sherlock Holmes in Babylon and Other Mathematical Tales, Washington DC: Mathematical Association of America 2003, 14–26. [968 KB PDF file]
- 'Neither Sherlock Holmes nor Babylon: a reassessment of Plimpton 322', Historia Mathematica 28 (2001), 167–206. [208 KB PDF file]
- 'The tablet house: a scribal school in Old Babylonian Nippur', Revue d'Assyriologie 95 (2001), 39–67.
- 'Mathematical cuneiform tablets in Philadelphia, I: problems and calculations', SCIAMVS–Sources and Commentaries in Exact Sciences 1 (2000), 11–48. [4.5 MB PDF file]
- With D. H. Fowler, 'Square root approximations in Old Babylonian mathematics: YBC 7289 in context', Historia Mathematica 25 (1998), 366–378. [240 KB PDF file]
- 'Counting in cuneiform', Maths in School 27/4 (1998), 2–9.
- 'Three Old Babylonian methods for dealing with "Pythagorean" triangles', Journal of Cuneiform Studies 49 (1997), 51–72.
Book reviews and comment pieces
- Review of Harrison, R.L. Numbers and M.H. Shank (eds.), Wrestling with Nature: From Omens to Science, Harvard University Press 2011, Centaurus 54 (2012): 192–3.
- Review of F. Rochberg, In the Path of the Moon: Babylonian Celestial Divination and its Legacy, Brill 2010, Isis 102 (2011): 754–5.
- Review of A. Attia and G. Buisson, Advances in Mesopotamian Medicine from Hammurabi to Hippocrates, Brill 2009, in Medical History 55 (2011), 251–2.
- 'In the plural'. Review of D. Charpin, Reading and Writing in Babylon, Harvard University Press, 2010 and M. Worthington, Complete Babylonian, Teach Yourself Books 2010, in The Times Literary Supplement, 22 July 2011.
- Review of D. Lehoux, Astronomy, Weather, and Calendars in the Ancient World: Parapegmata and Related Texts in Classical and Near-Eastern Societies, Cambridge 2007, in British Journal for the History of Science 43 (2010), 228–9.
- Review of C. Proust, Tablettes mathématiques de Nippur, Istanbul 2007, in Annals of Science 67 (2010), 288–90.
- Review of W.G. Lambert, Babylonian Oracle Queries, Winona Lake 2007, in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 72 (2009), 559–60.
- Review of S. Cuomo, Technology and Culture in Greek and Roman Antiquity, Cambridge 2007, in British Journal for the History of Science 42 (2009), 451–3.
- 'Written in the body'. Review of Z. Bahrani, Rituals of War: The Body and Violence in Mesopotamia, in Times Literary Supplement (10 October 2008), 27.
- 'Book of the week'. Review of P.G. Stone and J. Farkhach Bajjaly (eds.), The Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Iraq, 2008, in Times Higher Education (31 July 2008), 44–45.
- Review of Y. Goren, I. Finkelstein, and N Na'aman, Inscribed in clay: Provenance study of the Amarna tablets and other ancient Near Eastern texts, 2006, in American Journal of Archaeology 111 (2007), 806–807.
- Review of H. Hunger, A.J. Sachs, and J.M. Steele, Astronomical Diaries and Related Texts from Babylonia, V: Lunar and Planetary Texts, Vienna 2001, in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 17 (2007), 61–63. [56 KB PDF file]
- Review of J.-J. Glassner, The Invention of Cuneiform: Writing in Sumer, trans. Z. Bahrani and M. Van De Mieroop, Baltimore 2003, in American Journal of Archaeology 110 (2006), 171–172.
- 'A handful of dust from Babylon'. Review of M. Polk and A.H. Schuster (eds.), The Looting of the Iraq Museum, Baghdad: the Lost Legacy of Ancient Mesopotamia, London 2005, in Times Higher Education Supplement, 19 August 2005.
- Review of F. Rochberg, The Heavenly Writing: Divination, Horoscopy, and Astronomy in Mesopotamian Culture, Cambridge 2004, in Bryn Mawr Classical Review (June 2005).
- Review of R. Mercier, Studies on the Transmission of Medieval Mathematical Astronomy, Aldershot 2004, in BSHM Bulletin 5 (2005), 41–42. [212 KB PDF file]
- Review of A. Imhausen, Ägyptische Algorithmen: Eine Untersuchung zu den mittelägyptischen mathematischen Aufgabentexten, Wiesbaden 2003, in Aestimatio: Critical Reviews in History of Science 1 (2004), 73–79. [100 KB PDF file]
- Comment on Michael Seymour, 'Ancient Mesopotamia and modern Iraq in the British press, 1980–2003', Current Anthropology 45 (2004), 364. [36 KB PDF file]
- Review of A.R. George, The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic: Introduction, Critical Edition, and Cuneiform Texts, 2 vols., Oxford 2003, in Bryn Mawr Classical Review (April 2004).
- 'String theory'. Review of G. Urton, Signs of the Inka Khipu: Binary Coding in the Andean Knotted-String Records, Austin 2003, in American Scientist (April 2004).
- Review of J. Høyrup and P. Damerow (eds.), Changing Views on Ancient Near Eastern Mathematics, Berlin 2001, in Archiv für Orientforschung 50 (2003-04), 356–362.
- 'Satisfaction, subversion, and the reluctant reader'. Essay review of S. Cuomo, Ancient Mathematics, London 2001, in Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science Part A 34 (2003), 423–429. [72 KB PDF file]
- Review of J. Høyrup, Lengths, Widths, Surfaces: a Portrait of Old Babylonian Algebra and its Kin, Berlin 2002, in MAA Online: Read This! (2002).
- Review of N. Swerdlow (ed.), Ancient Astronomy and Celestial Divination, Boston 1999, in Isis 92 (2001), 148–149. [364 KB PDF file]
- Review of P. Bienkowski and A. Millard (eds.), Dictionary of the Ancient Near East, London 2000, in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 11 (2001), 379–381. [52 KB PDF file]
- Review of J. Huehnergard, A Grammar of Akkadian, Atlanta 1997, in Journal of Jewish Studies 49 (1998), 131–133.
- Review of K.R. Nemet-Nejat, Cuneiform Mathematical Texts as a Reflection of Everyday Life in Mesopotamia, New Haven 1993, in Bibliotheca Orientalis 52 (1995), 424–432.
Journalism and broadcast media
- Contributions to the series East to West: Between Two Rivers, Lion TV, broadcast in Turkey (20 episodes as The River Flows West), 2011; in Australia (7 episodes), May 2012. Reviewed in the Sydney Morning Herald, 16 May 2012. Not yet broadcast in the UK.
- Contributions to A History of the World in 100 Objects: the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus, presented by Neil MacGregor, 10 February 2010, plus contributions to the book (chapter 17).
- More or Less – Babylonian numbers, presented by Tim Harford, 9 January 2009. [with link to podcast]
- Contributions to The Story of Maths. Episode 1: the language of the universe, presented by Marcus du Sautoy, BBC 4, October 2008.
- In Our Time – The Library of Nineveh, presented by Melvyn Bragg, BBC Radio 4, 15 May 2008.
- Contributions to Painting with Numbers: Zero to Infinity, presented by Marcus du Sautoy, Brook-Lapping productions for Teachers TV, filmed May 2006.
- Contributions to The Story of 1, presented by Terry Jones, BBC TV 1, 28 September 2005.
- Contributions to A Further 5 Numbers, presented by Simon Singh, BBC Radio 4, August–September 2005.
- In Our Time – Archaeology and Imperialism, presented by Melvyn Bragg, BBC Radio 4, 14 April 2005.
- In Our Time – Pi, presented by Melvyn Bragg, BBC Radio 4, 2 September 2004.
- Contributions to In the Footsteps of Muhammad, presented by Edward Stourton, BBC Radio 4, June–July 2004.
- In Our Time – Babylon, presented by Melvyn Bragg, BBC Radio 4, 3 June 2004.
- In Our Time – the Alphabet, presented by Melvyn Bragg, BBC Radio 4, 18 December 2003.
- 'Cradle to grave', Oxford Today 16/1 (Michaelmas 2003).
- 'Iraq's museums: what really happened', The Guardian, 18 June 2003. Reprinted in L. Dodd (ed.), The Guardian Year 2003, London: Atlantic, 2003, 83–84.
- 'Commentary: method to madness in museum looting', Los Angeles Times, 17 April 2003.
- 'Comment: "The collection lies in ruins, objects from a long, rich past in smithereens"', The Guardian, 14 April 2003.