Richard L. Zettler, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Associate Curator-in-charge of the Near East Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum
Date appointed: 2001
Richard L. Zettler earned his B.A. from the University of Notre Dame du Lac (Department of History), and his M.A. and Ph.D., with honors, from the University of Chicago (Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations) in 1975 and 1984, respectively. He is an Associate Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania and an Associate Curator-in-charge of the Near East Section at the Penn Museum. He is currently serving as Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.
He taught at the University of California, Berkeley in 1985–1986 before coming to the University of Pennsylvania in 1986–1987.
In the late 1970s, he worked at Nippur and Umm al-Hafriyat in southern Iraq, where he was Assistant Director and archeological supervisor, and at Üç Tepe, located in the upper Diyala River basin (Hamrin). He directed excavations at Tell es-Sweyhat on the upper Euphrates in Syria from 1989–2007. Tell es-Sweyhat is an Early Bronze Age site, which was occupied during the 3rd millennium B.C.E. Prof. Zettler co-curated (with Senior Fellow Holly Pittman and Donald P. Hansen, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University) Penn Museum's "Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Ur," a traveling exhibit that appeared at venues across the United States from 1998–2007. He collaborated on the re-installation of the exhibition of the Penn Museum's artifacts from the Royal Cemetery of Ur, entitled "Iraq's Ancient Past: Rediscovering the Royal Cemetery of Ur" in 2009. He is also involved in other projects, including efforts to make more of the collections from Sir Leonard Woolley's 1922–1934 excavations at Ur, sponsored by the British Museum and Penn Museum, available to scholars and the general public by digitizing Woolley's field records, as well as artifacts in the holdings of the Iraq Museum, British Museum and Penn Museum.
Prof. Zettler's research focuses on the Near East during the 3rd and early 2nd millennia B.C.E. His particular interests include urbanism and the socio-economic organization of complex societies, as well as methodological complexities of integrating archaeological and documentary data. He has written numerous articles and interpretative studies, excavation reports, and catalogues. His books include: The Ur III Temple of Inanna at Nippur: The Operation and Organization of Urban Religious Institutions in Mesopotamia in the Late Third Millennium B.C., Berliner Beiträge zum Vorderen Orient 11, Berlin: 1992; Excavations at Nippur: Kassite Buildings in Area WC-1, Chicago: The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 1993; Subsistence and Settlement in a Marginal Environment: Tell es-Sweyhat, 1989–1995 Preliminary Report, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, 1997; Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Ur,Philadelphia: University Museum Publications, 1998 (co-edited with Lee Horne). He is currently working on the publication of the excavations of the temple of Inanna at Nippur, which took place in the 1950s and early 1960s, as well as his own excavations at Tell es-Sweyhat.