Penn scholars awarded humanities grants

Grant Frame, an associate professor of Assyriology in the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations in the School of Arts & Sciences (SAS) has been awarded a two-year, $250,000 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant for his Royal Inscriptions of the Neo-Assyrian Period (RINAP) Project.

The grant brings the total NEH funding Frame has received for the RINAP Project to nearly $950,000 since 2008.

Frame and his research team are editing and translating all of the known royal inscriptions of the Neo-Assyrian kings from the reign of Tiglath-pileser III (744-727 B.C.E.) to that of the last Assyrian ruler Ashur-uballit II (611–609 B.C.E.).

“Many of these royal inscriptions of the kings of the Neo-Assyrian period have never been translated into English or published before,” says Frame, who is also associate curator of the Penn Museum’s Babylonian Section and an expert on ancient Mesopotamian languages, history, and culture in the first millennium B.C.E.

The texts provide a rich history lesson on the lives of ancient Assyrians and Babylonians, describing the military and hunting exploits of their kings, and frequently mentioning Israelite and Judean kings of the Hebrew Bible, as well as rulers such as King Midas, who appears in the works of classical authors.

The project involves translating royal inscriptions into English from the cuneiform writing system and the Standard Babylonian dialect of Akkadian. Texts are published in print volumes and online in the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative and Open Richly Annotated Cuneiform Corpus.

Frame says that RINAP Online helps preserve ancient Neo-Assyrian history and make it more accessible, while also providing information on the Mesopotamian languages, religion, and literature. Scholars, students, and those interested in ancient history can search Akkadian and Sumerian words appearing in the inscriptions and English words used in the translations on the RINAP website.

Four books have been published so far by the RINAP Project; Frame is working on a fifth. The latest grant is for a sixth book, which will include most of the official inscriptions of Ashurbanipal (668c.-631 B.C.E.). Frame hopes to complete the Project with a seventh volume containing the remainder of Ashurbanipal’s inscriptions and those of his successors, up until the fall of Assyria.

Two other SAS scholars received $6,000 NEH summer stipends to support their research.

Michelle Pinto, a teaching fellow in the Benjamin Franklin Scholars Integrated Studies Program and a visiting scholar in the Department of History, received a grant for research on “France and the Construction of Postwar Africa, 1946-1966.”

Catriona MacLeod, the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor in the Humanitiesa and a professor of German in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, was awarded a grant for her project, “Cutouts, Collages, and Inkblot Poems in German Romanticism.”

Grant Frame