Research Laboratory for the Ancient Near East – intensive course

Masterclass Sprachkurs-Stipendium Konzept 1. HFLAO Gil Breger

Have you ever thought about working on cuneiform tablets for six weeks with other, like-minded Assyriologists? During the intensive summer course, Heidelberg Research Laboratory Ancient Near East, ten highly motivated junior scholars per year are granted an opportunity to decipher a corpus of unpublished cuneiform texts under the guidance of renowned senior researchers. In each Research Laboratory, visiting scholars from Germany and abroad are involved in the teaching and work programme.

The feeling of community fostered by the close cooperation of teachers and students, the international character of the course, as well as the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to form lasting connections with academic peers are the features that make up the unique character of the Research Laboratory. This is where new and innovative pathways are sought and tried for the first time.


Every year the Heidelberg Research Laboratory will be focusing on a different topic, be it the healing arts of the Ancient Near East, representations of the divine and of the transcendent, or the historiographic practices of the Assyrian rulers.

The topic of the 5th Research Laboratory (2025) will be middleassyrian Texts.

A suitable corpus of unpublished texts will be selected for each of the topics. The participants will then be tasked with editing it. They will be supported along the way by our international research team.

Each participant will devote themselves to the exploration of a cuneiform tablet, from decipherment to transliteration, philological commentary, and translation, up to and including the preparation of an autography.

The close, individual supervision, the daily exchanges with colleagues, and the company of like-minded, highly motivated individuals make the Research Laboratory a unique learning experience, full of new discoveries. The participants have the chance to hone their philological skills by undertaking a text edition, and simultaneously make their first steps as scholars on their way to be published.

For the duration of the programme, the participants are offered accommodation free of charge. Additionally, we fully cover the costs of transportation to and from Heidelberg.
Please remember to reserve extra time after the summer school to work on the last stages of the publication. 


Although every participant has their own text to work on, the Research Laboratory actively encourages collegial exchange of knowledge. The problems and difficulties that arise in the process of edition can be at any time discussed with the supervising scholars or with other participants. During the weekly jour fixe chosen questions and issues regarding both the individual as well as group work can be considered more in-depth. Skills necessary for the preparation of a digital autography can be acquired during a specialised course. The weekly colloquium has as its aim the presentation of current research projects undertaken by the participants, e.g., their doctoral dissertations. The integrated seminar allows the entire group to discuss important texts and secondary sources relevant to the chosen topic of the entire course.

At the end of the six-week course, the participants will have developed the basis of a joint publication, which will include the heretofore unpublished texts, made for the first time available by the participants themselves. 

Visiting scholars, leading specialists in the areas chosen for each Research Laboratory, will enrich the discussion with their unique contributions..


Weekly schedule (example; without one-time events such as guest lectures, Berlin trip, and excursions) can be found here.



The 5th Heidelberg Research Laboratory Ancient Near East will take place in summer 2025 (June/July). The application process will probalby start in October 2024 but will be announced in due time on this website.


The application form can be found here.


The target group of the Heidelberg Research Laboratory Ancient Near East – intensive course are motivated and highly performing junior scholars who have already begun the more advanced levels of study in Assyriology. Learning from each other and with each other is an important element of the Research Laboratory. We are therefore looking for participants who are committed to the discipline, who will bring to the table not only their exceptional knowledge of cuneiform, Sumerian, and Akkadian, but also their analytical skills, their capacity for scientific reasoning as well as their critical thinking. We are primarily seeking doctoral students and postdocs, but we will nonetheless also consider applications from advanced MA students.


Heidelberg Research Laboratory Ancient Near East intends to make lasting contribution towards international networking of junior scholars as well as actively support the multilingual character of Assyriology as a discipline. We therefore expect that our candidates to be proficient not only in English but also in German. The seminars and lectures will be held partially in German, partially in English. In order to benefit as much as possible from the time spent in Heidelberg, we would like you to have a good passive and active command of both languages (ideally C2). A lesser proficiency need not be a hindrance to your application, but a B2 level in both languages would nonetheless be desirable at the moment of application.


For the application you will need:

  • a completed application form (available during open application periods),
  • a motivation letter in which you describe the level of your required skills and the reason for your application,
  • a CV in a tabular format with your photograph,
  • all relevant certificates and university records that for instance confirm your linguistic competence.

We kindly ask you to save all these items in the above order as a single pdf-file (in MacOS with the preview tool).

You can send your completed application via e-mail to


Additionally, you will need two letters of recommendation which are to be addressed directly to Professor Maul and Professor Faist and sent via e-mail to . Please remember to plan your application in advance so that the letters of recommendation do reach us in time. All applications will be checked only after the application period is closed. This means that the letters of recommendation can arrive before your application reaches us.


We look forward to hearing from you!


What is Heidelberg Research Laboratory – intensive course?

The Research Laboratory is a six-week intensive course during which a group of highly motivated Assyriologists work together towards the goal of deciphering and editing a previously unpublished group of cuneiform texts. In this task, a team of experienced specialists guides them.


Why should I apply for the Heidelberg Research Laboratory Ancient Near East?

During the Heidelberg Research Laboratory, you will acquire the skills necessary for working with unpublished cuneiform texts. You will profit immensely from the guidance of renowned senior scholars, the possibilities for networking as well as the international character of the course. Those with whom we study together later become our co-workers and colleagues.


When does the next Heidelberg Research Laboratory Ancient Near East take place?

The fifth intensive course will take place in summer 2025.


When can I apply?

The application periods will start on the 1st of October and end in the first week of December.


I have no MA degree yet. Can I still apply?

What counts for us is what you know and what you are prepared to learn. The Heidelberg Research Laboratory Ancient Near is aimed above all at doctoral candidates and postdocs. We do however encourage advanced MA students with excellent Akkadian and Sumerian knowledge, experience with cuneiform texts and preferably also experience in scholarly research to try their chances at applying as well.


When do I find out if my application was successful?

After the end of the application period, we will screen the applications and choose the participants. In order to leave you as much time as possible for planning and scheduling, we will do our best to inform you about the results before the end of the year.


What are the estimated costs of participation for me?

For the duration of the programme, the participants will be provided accommodation in Heidelberg free of charge. The costs of transportation to and from Heidelberg will be reimbursed. The cost of meals, however, you will have to meet on your own. You will be able to use the canteens of the Heidelberg University: the most affordable “dish of the day” costs 2,50 €.


Will I be able to take my family with me?

We will be happy to support you if you decide to come to Heidelberg with your life partner and/or your child(ren). We will also do our best to subsidy your travel and stay. Please note, however, that we book the accommodations for the upcoming Research Laboratory before we have chosen the participants and we initially do not take any additional guests into account. It is therefore not impossible that you will have to find accommodation for your family on your own. If your application is successful and you would like to travel to Heidelberg with your family, please let us know as soon as possible.


Where will the participants live during the Research Laboratory?

Some participants will be housed at the Guest House of the University. The Guest House provides single rooms as well as double suites. The rest of the participants will reside in a flat with a shared kitchen and two bathrooms. If you need separate accommodation for health reasons or if you require accessible accommodation, please let us know as soon as possible.


Will I be able to eat and/or cook vegan or kosher during the Research Laboratory?

Since no group meals are scheduled, you can eat on your own and according to your dietary needs. All guest accommodations are equipped with a kitchen, and shopping facilities are situated in their vicinity. The rooms in which the Research Laboratory will take place are located in the middle of the Old Town (Altstadt), where you will have your pick of restaurants with different cuisines. In addition to the dish of the day, the university canteens also serve a buffet, where dishes containing gluten, as well as vegetarian and vegan options are marked with special signs. In cases of serious allergies, however, we would advise against the use of canteens as the meals may still contain trace amounts of allergens.

The Heidelberg University also maintains a kosher canteen that serves daily specials during the semester. This canteen requires reservation in advance. You can reach it in about 15 minutes on foot from our venue.


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