Mesopotamian and Egyptian Cosmogonies

ETC and Philiminality Oxford are pleased to announce the Reading Group on Mesopotamian and Egyptian Cosmogonies!

Mesopotamian and Egyptian cosmogonical texts are amongst the oldest surviving tales about the beginning of the universe and humankind. In this reading group, we are interested in exploring aspects of the philosophy, philology, literature, archeology, history, and religion of the so-called Sumerian Debate between Sheep and Grain and the Debate between Winter and Summer (late 3rd/early 2nd millennium BCE); the Babylonian Enuma Elish (perhaps late 2nd millennium BCE); as well as the Egyptian Pyramid Texts (ca. 2300 BCE) and Coffin Texts (from ca. 2050 to 1710 BCE).

We will be going over the texts in translation to make the reading group as accessible as possible to those with no prior background in the texts and traditions under consideration. To this end, each session will be moderated by an expert on the texts, who will briefly introduce the readings and guide discussion.

Suggested readings will be shared with those who sign up. We ask that you at least read the relevant primary texts (in translation) ahead of each meeting; though note that none of the secondary literature is required reading for our discussions. Please also feel free to come to the sessions with questions about the texts, as there will be plenty of time for interactive discussion.

The meetings will be held in even weeks of Hilary Term (i.e. the Oxford Winter term) on Mondays, from 3:00–4:30PM (UK time). All sessions will be held on Zoom. Please note that sessions will be recorded, and sent out only on demand.


Week 2 (25th January)

Christie Carr (Oxford)

Sumerian Debates

Week 4 (8th February)

Dr Bernardo Ballesteros Petrella (Oxford)

A Babylonian Creation Myth: Enuma Elish

Week 6 (22nd February)

Jordan Miller (Oxford)

Egyptian Pyramid Texts

Week 8 (8th March)

Dr Ilaria Cariddi (Firenze)

Egyptian Coffin Texts

Week 10, Friday (26th March)

Special Workshop with Prof. Marc Van de Mieroop and Prof. Katja Goebs (see here)