University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Delnero, Paul, Ph.D.

Paul Delnero, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Assyriology, Department of Near Eastern Studies, Johns Hopkins University
Elected: 1997 (Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations)

Paul Delnero is an Assyriologist who specializes in the history, culture, and society of Ancient Mesopotamia, with a particular emphasis on the study of the Sumerian language and its grammar. His dissertation, “Variation in Sumerian Literary Compositions: A Case Study Based on the Decad,” was written on the subject of textual variation in duplicates of Sumerian literary narratives. The primary aims of this work were to answer fundamental questions pertaining to how and why scribes were trained in antiquity, and to develop a text-critical methodology for editing Sumerian literary compositions that takes into account the means by which the sources for these texts were produced. Specifically, the role of memorization in scribal training and the errors in recall that occurred while copying from memory were identified as one of the most common causes of textual variation in the duplicates of these texts. This topic is treated in the article "Memorization and the Transmission of Sumerian Literature" (2012). 

In addition to a book entitled The Textual Criticism of Sumerian Literature (2012), Delnero has also written articles on the topics of the Sumerian verbal elements mu-ni- and mi-ni-, the conjugation prefixes im-ma- and im-mi-, and the pre-verbal pronominal element /n/, as well as the place of Sumerian literary extract tablets in the training of scribes, and the function of the so-called "literary catalogues" in archiving collections of Sumerian texts in antiquity. His current project is a study of Sumerian cultic, liturgical texts and the political and cultural roles of ritual in Mesopotamia at the beginning of the second millennium B.C.E.

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