Laffan Professor of Assyriology & Babylonian Literature; Curator of the Yale Babylonian Collection
Benjamin R. Foster (A.B. Princeton, 1968; M.A. 1973, M.Phil. 1974, Ph.D. 1975, Yale), Laffan Professor of Assyriology and Babylonian Literature and Curator of the Yale Babylonian Collection, was appointed to the Yale faculty in 1975. His research interests focus on two main areas: Mesopotamia, especially Akkadian, literature, and the social and economic history of Mesopotamia.
His current research includes the history of Oriental scholarship in Europe and the United States, for which various preliminary essays have appeared, and The Age of Agade, a general study of the Akkadian period. His teaching experience includes all periods and text types of Sumerian and Akkadian and all periods of Mesopotamian history, as well as the history of the medieval and modern Middle East.
In the area of Akkadian literature, he is author of Before the Muses (1993, 1996), a two-volume anthology of annotated translations from Akkadian literature of all periods (revised edition 2004). An abridged, paperback version of this work appeared as From Distant Days (1995). He translated the Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh for the Norton Critical Editions series, The Epic of Gilgamesh (2001), and is author of Akkadian Literature of the Late Period (2007), as well as twenty or more articles on various aspects of Akkadian literature.
In the area of history, especially social and economic history, he is author of two books, Umma in the Sargonic Period (1982) and Administration and Use of Institutional Land in Sargonic Sumer (1982), as well as about forty articles, most of them dealing with the third millennium B.C.E. He is also active in the publication of primary source material, including one book, Sargonic Tablets from Telloh in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum (1982), and about twenty articles of text publications.
He is co-author, with Karen Foster and Patty Gerstenblith, of Iraq Beyond the Headlines: History, Archaeology, and War (2005), a history of Iraq from earliest times to the present.
In addition, he is author of four small monographs and translations, various brief philological notes, and about seventy book reviews. His current research includes a history of oriental scholarship in the United States, of which preliminary studies have appeared in periodicals. His teaching experience includes all periods and text types of Sumerian and Akkadian and all periods of Mesopotamian history from the fourth millennium B.C.E. to the Muslim conquest.