Jacob L. Dahl


Professor of Assyriology; Fellow of Wolfson 

Faculty / College Address:

Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern StudiesWolfson College



Research Interests:

I am a specialist of the pre-Classical cultures and languages of the Near East. I have written on early Babylonian socio-economic history, early Near Eastern writing systems, and Sumerian literature. I work on the decipherment of proto-Elamite, the last undeciphered writing system from the ancient Near East with a substantial number of sources (more than 1600 tablets divided between the Louvre Museum and the National Museum of Iran). Initially inspired and influenced by archaic cuneiform from Mesopotamia, proto-Elamite was a very short-lived writing system (ca. 3100 - 2900 BC) used across much of what today constitute the Islamic Republic of Iran.

As a PI of the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative <https://cdli.ucla.edu> I seek to document and safeguard Mesopotamia’s contribution to our shared world history by making its ancient records available freely online.

Current Projects:

  • digitization and publication of proto-Elamite and cuneiform tablets in the National Museum of Iran, Tehran
  • re-edition of ca. 1000 proto-Elamite texts and fragments in the Louvre
  • proto-Elamite sign-list
  • digitization of cylinder seals in the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Ashmolean Museum see http://sespoa.huma-num.fr

Courses Taught:

  • History and Civilizations of the Ancient Near East
  • Akkadian and Sumerian texts, all levels

Recent Publications:


  • Ur III texts in the Schøyen Collection. Cornell University Studies in Assyriology and Sumerology Volume 39 (Eisenbrauns, Pennsylvania State University Press University Park, PA). 2020. (https://www.eisenbrauns.org/books/titles/978-1-57506-738-4.html)

  • Proto-Elamite Tablets and Fragments. Textes cunéiforme du Louvre 32 (Khéops / Louvre éditions Publishing, Paris). 2019.


  • “Proto-Elamite,” in Encyclopedia of Ancient History: Asia and Africa, edited by Daniel T. Potts, Ethan Harkness, Jason Neelis, and Roderick McIntosh. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons. Accepted.

  • Neo-Sumerian Temple Treasure Inventories. Forthcoming.

  • (with Bansal R, Choudhary H, Punia R, Schenk N, Pagé-Perron É). How Low is Too Low? A Computational Perspective on Extremely Low-Resource Languages. ACL-IJCNLP SRW, 2021.

  • (with B. Lafont and N. Ouraghi). “Nouvelles recherches sur la collection des sceaux-cylindres orientaux de la Bibliothèque nationale de France”, Syria 96, 2019, 1-26.

  • (with K. Kelley,  D. Young, K. Martinez and J. Hare). A structured light approach to imaging ancient Near Eastern cylinder seals: how efficient 3D imaging may facilitate corpus-wide research. In K. Kelley and R. Wood (eds.), Digital  Imaging  of  Artefacts:  Developments  in  Methods and  Aims. Archeopress (2018). 47-72.

  • (with Laura F. Hawkins and Kathryn Kelley). Labor Administration in Proto-Elamite Iran. In A. Garcia-Ventura, ed., What’s in a Name? Terminology related to Work Force and Job Categories in the Ancient Near East. Alter Orient und Altes Testament (2018). 15-44.

  • The Proto-Elamite Writing System. In J. Álvarez-Mon, G. P. Basello, Y. Wicks eds., The Elamite World. Routledge 2018. 383-396.

Full Publications

Link to Publons page: https://publons.com/author/1625457/jacob-l-dahl#profile

Link to ResearchGate page: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jacob_Dahl

Further Info:

Boards and Committees:

Current DPhil students:

  • William Skelton (co-supervised with Moudhy Al-Rashid)
  • Christie Carr
  • Virginia Girardi
  • Talah Anderson (co-supervised with Paul Collins)
  • Benjamin Caspi (co-supervised with Paul Collins)
  • Yishan Xie
  • Sepideh Yeganeh
  • Lara Bampfield (co-supervised with Paul Collins)