Thorkild Jacobsen

Thorkild Peter Rudolph Jacobsen (Danish: [ˈtsʰɒːkʰil ˈjɑkʌpsn̩]; 7 June 1904 – 2 May 1993) was a renowned Danish historian specializing in Assyriology and Sumerian literature. He was one of the foremost scholars on the ancient Near East.

Thorkild Jacobsen
Born(1904-06-07)7 June 1904
Died2 May 1993(1993-05-02) (aged 88)
Alma materUniversity of Copenhagen (M.A.)
University of Chicago (PhD, 1929)
Known forThe Treasures of Darkness Sumerian King List
AwardsGuggenheim Fellowship
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Chicago (1929-1962),
Harvard University (1962-1974)


Thorkild Peter Rudolph Jacobsen received, in 1927, an M.A. from the University of Copenhagen and then came to the United States to study at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, where, in 1929, he received his Ph.D.

He was a field Assyriologist for the Iraq Expedition of the Oriental Institute from 1929 to 1937) and in 1946 became director of the Oriental Institute. He served as Dean of the Humanities Division from 1948 to 1951, as an editor of the Assyrian Dictionary from 1955 to 1959, and as Professor of Social Institutions from 1946–1962.

In 1962, Jacobsen became a professor of Assyriology at Harvard University, where he remained until his retirement in 1974. Beyond being an expert translator, he was a brilliant interpreter whose insights led to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the institutions and normative references of Sumerian and Akkadian culture.[1]

Jacobsen retired as a professor of Assyriology at Harvard University in 1974. In 1974 he served as a Visiting Professor at UCLA where he helped develop a strong Assyriology program. Jacobsen served 1993 as president of the American Oriental Society, an organization of scholars. He was also an elected member of the American Philosophical Society[2] and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[3] He was 88 years of age when he died in Bradford, New Hampshire.[4]

Selected worksEdit

  • Sumerian King List (1939)
  • The Temple Oval at Khafajah - chapter by Thorkild Jacobsen (1940)
  • The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man: An Essay of Speculative Thought in the Ancient Near East (1946; 1977) with Henri & Henriette Frankfort, John Wilson, William Irwin
  • Towards the Image of Tammuz and Other Essays on Mesopotamian History and Culture - edited by William L. Moran (1970)
  • The Treasures of Darkness: A History of Mesopotamian Religion (1976)
  • The Harps that Once... Sumerian Poetry in Translation (1987)

Partial list of excavationsEdit



  1. ^ Thorkild Jacobsen, was professor of Assyriology at Harvard (Boston Globe. Boston, MA: May 6, 1993)
  2. ^ "APS Member History". Retrieved 2022-11-15.
  3. ^ "Thorkild Peter Rudolph Jacobsen". American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2022-11-15.
  4. ^ Thorkild Jacobsen, Scholar, Wrote of Cuneiform (New York Times. May 5, 1993) [1]
  5. ^ Thorkild Jacobsen. 1968, Near Eastern Studies (John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation) "Thorkild Jacobsen - John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation". Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2009-11-02.


External linksEdit