Nimrod Madrer

Title: Existential phrases in Semitic languages

University: Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Supervisors: Nathan Wasserman, Steve Fassberg

Abstract: Existential phrases constitute a broad, yet elusive, part of all Semitic languages. Linguistics point at two general functions for such phrases: 1. A copulative function, i.e., “semantically empty” verbs that mark the tense, mood and aspect of the sentence, or that carry negation or description (namely, a=b, a is part of, or can describe b). 2. A “proper” existential function – “there is” – pointing at objects or states of an actual existence and that can be further described. Such verbs often accompany locative (there is an elephant in the room) or by possessive markers (I have a book).
The literature dealing with such phrases is restricted and incomplete and many questions of this matter are left unattended. In my thesis I intend to regard existential phrases in Semitic languages (and in specific in Akkadian) with regard to three levels – morphology (collecting and describing the words, prepositions and radicals that constitute the “Proto-Semitic” existentials and the ones that are innovations of specific languages), syntax (tenses, modii and, generally, the grammar of each of existentials), and context (e.g., which existentials serve predominantly as copulae and which as “proper existential”, context dependencies of the uses of the various existentials and differences in context and uses between “Proto-Semitic” existentials to language-specific ones, inter and intra lingually). Altogether, I hope to shed light on the roles and function of existential phrases in Semitic languages and to compose a concise and comprehensible collection and description of them.

Keywords: Semitic languages, philology, grammar, existential, Akkadian


Tommaso Scarpelli

Title: Das Wetter in der Mesopotamischen Kulturgeschichte des II. und I. Jahrtausends V. Chr.

University: Universität Leipzig

Supervisor: Prof. Michael P. Streck


The aim of the project is to provide an overview on the human perception of meteorological phenomena. Many different texts describe the consequences of natural events on everyday life and how weather phenomena were considered with regard to the supernatural. This work treats the dependent relationship of the Mesopotamians with weather during the 2nd and 1st Millennium B.C. only by means of philological methodology. It is possible to summarize the main sources for this research as follow: everyday texts, letters and administrative texts, omens, documents from the Mesopotamian divinatory tradition, meteorological recordings from the 1st Millennium B.C., literary compositions. The first task of the work consists in collecting both detailed and brief attestations dealing with atmospheric events, that are contained in cuneiform letter corpora from two Millennia, and to present them in chronological order. The texts should be analyzed in each geo-climatic context, in order to provide a better understanding of the use of natural resources in Mesopotamian cultural history. The weather appears in omen compendia as part of the protasis, or as part of the apodosis. After collecting meteorological omens and integrating them to the Enūma Anu Enlil Tablets 42-49 (previously edited by E. Gehlken), they will be examined and compared to each other as well as to omens drawn from other phenomena with which weather is combined, such as astral events. A first edition of unpublished omen tablets in the British Museum is also planned with a view to investigate a continuous development of weather divination throughout two Millennia. In conclusion, a study on weather terminology will be provided together with idiomatic and regional expressions: figures of speech are often based on meteorological elements, so they offer another key to unlock Mesopotamian perceptions of weather.

Keywords: Akkadian, weather, environment, everyday life, divination, letters, philology, cultural perception, lexicon