Introduction by Cécile Michel, IAA President

Dear colleagues, members of the IAA,

Cécile MichelAs you may know, on July 24 in Warsaw, during the general meeting of the International Association for Assyriology, I was elected as the new president of the Association for the next four years. I am extremely honored for the confidence placed in me. With the help and goodwill of all IAA members, I shall do my best to be worthy of this trust.

For those who do not know much about me, let me introduce myself briefly.

Cécile Michel

I am Director of Research at the National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS), working in Nanterre (near Paris, France) as member of the team Histoire et Archéologie de l’Orient Cunéiforme (HAROC, Laboratory Archéologies et Sciences de l’Antiquité). A last PhD student of Paul Garelli (1924-2006), my main work deals with the decipherment, publication and analysis of the private archives from Kültepe (ancient Kaneš, Anatolia, 19th century BCE). Using Old Assyrian and Old Babylonian as my major sources, I conduct researches on trade and society, women and gender, daily life and material culture (among them, food, stones, metals, animals, textiles, architecture). In collaboration with the Centre for Textile Research (Copenhagen), I head the French-Danish Research Cooperation Program: Textiles from Orient to Mediterranean (2012-2014).

I have published studies on historical geography and on the chronology of the 2nd millennium BC.I am also carrying research on literacy, writing and computing, and on the history of mathematics within the frame of the European Research Council advanced grant Mathematical Sciences in the Ancient World (SAW, dir. K. Chemla). I address these various issues in an interdisciplinary approach: the colleagues with whom I work include are archaeologists, anthropologists, ethnologists, agronomists, mathematicians, astronomers, sinologists.

Trying to answer to an interview in Turkish at Kültepe with the help of Fikri Kulakoğlu, Director of Kültepe excavations (on the left). Kültepe mound, August 2014.
Trying to answer to an interview in Turkish at Kültepe with the help of Fikri Kulakoğlu, Director of Kültepe excavations (on the left).
Kültepe mound, August 2014.

Having for fifteen years participated in excavations in France, I have had a specific interest in realia and experiments. I now visit Kültepe regularly during the excavation season. With Fikri Kulakoğlu, Director of the excavations, we organized this past September an international conference at the site (1st Kültepe International Meeting, see article in this mār šiprim issue).

Among my various scientific responsibilities, I am a member of the Scientific Committee of the Institute of Human and Social Sciences of the CNRS (2014-2018, involvement in the national politics of Human Sciences), and a member of the Scientific and Technic Council in charge of the characterization and quantification of scientific production in Humanities. You will find a complete CV and list of publications (many of them available as pdf) here.

The New IAA Board Members

During the Warsaw Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, new board members were elected: Heather Baker, Steven Garfinkle and Caroline Waerzeggers. It is my pleasure to present them briefly below:

Caroline Waerzeggers
Caroline Waerzeggers

Caroline Waerzeggers is currently Assistant Professor in Assyriology at Leiden University (The Netherlands). Specialized in the first millennium BC, she focuses her research on the establishment of the Persian Empire in Babylonia. She heads an ERC starting grant project entitled “By the Rivers of Babylon” ( which evaluates the Babylonian context of the Judean deportees who returned home after the fall of Babylon to build the Second Temple of Jerusalem.

Caroline has been elected by the board as the new treasurer for 2014-2018.

You will find a complete CV and list of publications here.

Steven Garfinkle
Steven Garfinkle

Steven Garfinkle is a Professor of History at Western Washington University (Bellingham, USA). His primary research deals with the economy of the Ur III state; he has edited various collections of Neo-Sumerian tablets. He is the editor of the Journal of Ancient Near Eastern History. His current research focuses on the origins of commerce and state formation in early Mesopotamia.

A bibliography for Steven is available here.




Heather D. Baker has recently been appointed Assistant Professor in Ancient Near Eastern History at the University of Toronto (Canada). She is an Assyriologist who has also trained as an archaeologist and has worked on numerous Near Eastern excavations, especially in Iraq. She has held research positions in Helsinki, with the State Archives of Assyria Project, and in Vienna, where she has been leading a project on the Neo-Assyrian royal household since March 2009. Her work focuses on the history and material culture of Assyria and Babylonia in the first millennium BC. She is particularly interested in urbanism and the built environment, and in the integration of textual and archaeological evidence. Publications include four edited fascicles of The Prosopography of the Neo-Assyrian Empire and a monograph, The Archive of the Nappahu Family.

Heather’s bibliography is available here.

In the name of the IAA, I would like to thank warmly all the colleagues who stepped out of the board during the general meeting of the IAA in Warsaw. Our warmest thanks to our retiring treasurers, Theo J.H. Krispijn (2010-2014) and Jeannette Fincke (2006-2010, and board member 2010-2014), to Cornelia Wunsch (board member 2006-2014), and naturally to Piotr Michalowski who has been the President of the IAA for the last five years.

Honorary Members

During the Warsaw Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, two great scholars have become permanent members of the IAA Honorary Council: David I. Owen of Cornell University and Jack M. Sasson of Vanderbilt University (and former IAA president). I address my warmest congratulations to both of them.

Statement on the Present Situation in Syria and Iraq

My first task, as President of the IAA, was to write, with the help of the board members, the following statement concerning the present situation in Syria and in Iraq. It is on the front page of the IAA website in several languages. It will be also published and widely diffused.

Statement of the International Association for Assyriology concerning the cultural heritage of Syria and Iraq

The International Association for Assyriology declares its grave concern about the ongoing and worsening situation in Syria and Iraq. Beyond the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Iraq since 1990 and in Syria since 2011, the cultural heritage of these two countries is in great danger. Irremediable damage is being caused to the legacy of ancient Mesopotamia, the cradle of human civilization. Museums have been plundered, and archaeological sites have been heavily damaged or destroyed.
In Iraq, sites inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List or submitted on the Tentative List are in danger or already much devastated: Assur (Qal’at Sherqat), Hatra, Samarra, Nineveh, Ur, Nimrud, Babylon, the Marshlands, etc. It is also the case with other important archaeological sites not recorded by UNESCO, such as Sippar, Larsa, Uruk, and many others. The Iraq Museum in Baghdad has been looted (2003).
In Syria as well, sites inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage List or submitted on the Tentative List have suffered serious damage: Aleppo’s citadel, Bosra, the old city of Damascus, Palmyra, Ebla, Dura-Europos, Mari, Tell Sheikh Hamad, Apamea, Krak des Chevaliers, Hama, Homs. The museums of Raqqa, Hama, Deir ez-Zor and Idlib have been plundered.
The ancient civilisations of Syria and Iraq play a vital role in their modern identities. The devastation wrought in these countries strikes a heavy blow against the cultural life of the region, and against a significant part of mankind’s shared cultural heritage. Furthermore, the damage to monuments and museums threatens an important source of future tourist income that could help communities rebuild towards a brighter future.
The International Association for Assyriology, which gathers scholars from around the world working in Cuneiform Studies and Near Eastern Archaeology, makes a public appeal for the preservation and the protection of sites, monuments and museums of Syria and Iraq.
August 2014

The board of the IAA will discuss in a near future various other actions to be carried out in the name of the association. We would, for example, like to help a little some students and post-docs attending to the Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale. The aim of the IAA is also to defend worldwide threatened departments, institutes or other institutions dealing with the ancient Near East. The members of the board and I are ready to receive alerts from anyone belonging to these institutions which might disappear.

Up to now, the IAA board was discussing matters by email, and there was only one board meeting every year, during the Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale. In order to be more efficient, we plan to use modern technologies and have three or four video meetings per year. If you wish to submit ideas of actions, to alarm us about the situation in your institution, to inform us about any important matter concerning our discipline, please feel free to contact us.

Cécile Michel, August 2014