Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On the CAD

 [First posted 4/14/11. Updated 6/15/11. Updated 9/30/11]

With the announcement on April 13, 2011 of the appearance in print and online of last volume of the The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, the project is complete.
I am collecting here a variety of things most but not all of them open access, written about the CAD:

For a selection of the reporting on the completion of The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, see: News Roundup: The Completion of the Assyrian Dictionary

On Monday, June 6, 2011 2:00 pm, the Oriental Institute celebrated the completion of the Assyrian Dictionary with a symposium:
An Adventure of Great Dimension: A Conference Celebrating the Completion of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary (CAD)

Annual Reports of The Chicago Assyrian Dictionary Project

By Matthew W. Stolper, Professor,  The Oriental Institute and the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, The University of Chicago
(This article originally appeared in The Oriental Institute News and Notes, No. 129, May-June 1991, and is made available electronically with the permission of the editor.)

I. J. Gelb, Introduction, The Assyrian Dictionary, Volume 1: A, Part 1, pp. vii-xxi
(This article constitutes the Introduction to the first volume (A 1 - 1964) of The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (CAD))

Erica Reiner's history of the CAD: An Adventure of Great Dimension: The Launching of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary is available online

Biographical Memoirs: Erica Reiner, by Martha Roth, PROCEEDINGS OF THE AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY VOL. 153, NO. 3, SEPTEMBER 2009.
ERICA REINER was born 4 August 1924, in Budapest, to Imre,
a young lawyer, and Clara (née Ehrenfeld), both from well-to-
do modern Orthodox Jewish families. Erica and my mother,
Anna Reiner, close fi rst cousins, spent school vacations together either
in the country at my mother’s or in the city at Erica’s. My mother talked
about the elegance of Erica’s Budapest home—the Fräulein teaching
French and German to Erica and her sister, Eva; shopping at the best
stores; always the best schools. At university in Budapest, Erica studied
French literature and Semitics. Her father was by then a prominent
lawyer, and later a member of the Judenrat in the ghetto. Even during
the darkest days of 1944–45, when Jews were restricted and then pro-
hibited from public life, Erica refused to stop attending classes; she
simply removed her yellow star and went to lectures. Although many
members of the Reiner family, particularly of the older generation,
shared the fate of most Hungarian Jewry, many of Imre’s immediate
and extended family whom he had brought into the shrinking Budapest
ghetto (including my mother), survived long enough to see liberation.
In 1948 Erica received her licence from Péter University in Buda-
pest, and went off to Paris to continue her studies in French literature.
There she lived with her mother’s brother, Michel Gyarmaty, who was
the artistic director of the Folies Bergères. Michel’s apartment, like his
stage sets, was elaborate, gilded, and baroque, and he introduced Erica
to a new and exciting life in postwar Paris. In addition to giving her the
decorating and entertaining style for which Erica became famous at the
University of Chicago in Hyde Park, two important events in those
years shaped her life. First, when Erica realized that she and later her
family would not return to Hungary and that a career in French litera-
ture would elude her in Paris, she switched her studies to Semitic lan-
guages and linguistics, and began studying with Professor Jean Nou-
gayrol. Second, the twenty-four-year-old Hungarian beauty had a tragic
love affair. Her Spanish lover, an engineering student, eventually re-
turned to Spain; but he left her with a deep commitment to his Catholic
faith, which Erica made her own. As devout a Jew as she had been be-
fore, in Paris she turned her passion to Catholicism and remained a de-
vout Catholic for the rest of her life...

 In Memoriam Erica Reiner, 1924–2005 appeared in the Oriental Institute 2005-2006 Annual Report

Obituary from the University of Chicago News and Information Office: Erica Reiner, 1924-2005, Published Jan. 3, 2006


How We Wrote the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary
By Martha T. Roth, The University of Chicago
Journal of Near Eastern Studies, April 2010, Volume 69, Number 1 [hyperlinks added below], and is accessible online to subscribing individuals and institutions
With the final volume of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary (CAD) due for publication, it is time to set down the practices and norms of writing the articles followed by the past generations of Editors in order to assist future generations of readers in using the Dictionary. The history of the project has been told by I. J. Gelb in his “Introduction” to CAD A/1, published in 1964, and by Erica Reiner in her 2002 An Adventure of Great Dimension. Each of these two works, idiosyncratic and subjective, is important for understanding the personalities and decision-making of the formative years of the Dictionary. Yet the only published “guides” to reading the CAD are A. L. Oppenheim’s 1956 “Foreword” to the first published CAD volume and notes imbedded within a 1966 review by J. A. Brinkman. What follows, then, is based on the oral legacy passed on by Erica Reiner, and on a variety of documents, manuals, and files used by the Editors in Charge (A. Leo Oppenheim, Erica Reiner, and Roth) and especially by the manuscript Editors Richard T. Hallock (G, Ḫ), Elizabeth Bowman (D, E, I/J, Z, Ṣ), Marie-Anne Honeywell (Ṣ), Jane Rosenthal (A/1), Jean Eckenfels (B, A/2), Marjorie Elswick (A/2, K, L, M/1, M/2), Claire Lincoln, Peter T. Daniels (N/1, N/2, Q, S, Š/1, Š/2, Š/3), Julie Robinson (S, Š/1, Š/2, Š/3), Carol Meyer (Š/1, Š/2, Š/3), and Linda McLarnan (R, P, Š/1, Š/2, Š/3, T, Ṭ, U/W)...

The CAD was funded over the years by the federal governement.  See: Your Tax Dollars at Work

Chicago Assyrian Dictionary Featured on WFMT’s Critical Thinking

The University News office reported that just one month after its completion was announced in early June, the dictionary logged 100,000 downloads from the Oriental Institute’s website. The 21-volume Chicago Assyrian Dictionary Project, completed 90 years after the project began, was also the subject of a two-part discussion on WFMT’s Critical Thinking, hosted by University of Chicago alum Andrew Patner.
Editor-in-charge Martha Roth, the Dean of the Division of the Humanities, and Robert Biggs, a retired professor of Assyriology who has been working on the dictionary since 1963, spoke with Patner in late August and early September about this fascinating project.
To listen to Part 1, click here.
To listen to Part 2, click here.

There are many journalistic accounts of and comments on the CAD, notably Israel Shenker's piece Akkadians Had A Word for It in the May 21, 1978, Sunday New York Times Book Review [available online for a fee], republished as the essay A Gaggle of Dictionaries in his collection Harmless drudges : wizards of language--ancient, medieval and modern (Bronxville, 1979).

And of course, the CAD itself

The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (CAD) | List of volumes in print
  • Volume 1:1, A:1. 1964.
  • Volume 1:2, A:2. 1968.
  • Volume 2, B. 1965.
  • Volume 3, D. 1959.
  • Volume 4, E. 1958.
  • Volume 5, G, 1956 
  • Volume 6, H [het]. 1956.
  • Volume 7, I/J. 1960.
  • Volume 8, K. 1971.
  • Volume 9, L. 1973.
  • Volume 10:1, M:1. 1977.
  • Volume 10:2, M:2. 1977.
  • Volume 11:1, N:1. 1980.
  • Volume 11:2, N:2. 1980.
  • Volume 12, P. 2005.
  • Volume 13, Q. 1982.
  • Volume 14, R. 1999.
  • Volume 15, S. 1984.
  • Volume 16, S [tsade]. 1962.
  • Volume 17:1, S [shin]:1. 1989.
  • Volume 17:2, S [shin]:2. 1992.
  • Volume 17:3, S [shin]:3. 1992.
  • Volume 18, T. 2006.
  • Volume 19, T [Tet]. 2006.
  • Volume 20, U/W. 2010.
  • Volume 21, Z. 1961.
As well as:

Materials for the Assyrian Dictionary (MAD)

An earlier roundup on the CAD by me: Projects: The CAD [updated Sept 10, 2008]

News Roundup: The Completion of the Assyrian Dictionary

A selection of the reporting on the completion of The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

The definition of persistence
A 90-year project chronicling the ancient Akkadian language culminates in the 21st volume of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary.
By Jeff Carroll

Chicago Assyrian Dictionary hits 100,000 downloads
William Harms
August 1, 2011

La Stampa


By Paul Ridden
06:47 June 14, 2011
Scholars finally crack code for 2000-year-old language
Catholic Online - ‎Jun 14, 2011‎

MobyLives13 June 2011

June 10th, 2011

02:11 PM ET (blog) - Kristina Chew - ‎Jun 10, 2011
VOA News
June 09, 2011

L'Università di Chicago completa il dizionario dopo 90 anni di lavoro
June 8, 2011

New York Times
Published: June 07, 2011

The Guardian - ‎Jun 7, 2011‎ (blog) - ‎Jun 6, 2011‎

Wall Street Journal (blog) - Christopher Shea - ‎Jun 6, 2011

By William Mullen, Tribune reporter:23 p.m. CDT
June 5, 2011

By Nick Allen, Los Angeles
10:00AM BST 06 Jun 2011

Released: 6/5/2011 2:30 PM EDT
Source: University of Chicago

Huffington Post
SHARON COHEN | June 4, 2011 09:56 AM EST

After 90 years, U. of C. completes dictionary documenting humanity’s earliest days
BY KARA SPAK Staff Reporter/ Jun 3, 2011 8:08PM

And see also: On the CAD

See the chronicle of news about the Oriental Institute.

Monday, June 6, 2011

News: Four more on the completion of the CAD

After 90 Years, a Dictionary of an Ancient World
New York Times
Published: June 07, 2011

Ninety years in the making, the 21-volume dictionary of the language of ancient Mesopotamia and its Babylonian and Assyrian dialects, unspoken for 2,000 years but preserved on clay tablets and in stone inscriptions deciphered over the last two centuries, has finally been completed by scholars at the University of Chicago.

This was the language that Sargon the Great, king of Akkad in the 24th century B.C., spoke to command what is reputed to be the world's first empire, and that Hammurabi used around 1700 B.C. to proclaim the first known code of laws. It was the vocabulary of the Epic of Gilgamesh, the first masterpiece of world literature. Nebuchadnezzar II presumably called on these words to soothe his wife, homesick for her native land, with the promise of cultivating the wondrous Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

On all levels, this was the language of enterprise, the irrigation of lands and shipments of cultivated grain, and of fate foretold. Medical texts in Babylonia gave explicit instructions as to how to read a sheep's liver to divine the future.

At a conference on Monday, historians, archaeologists and specialists in ancient Semitic languages assessed the significance of the comprehensive dictionary, which Gil Stein, director of the university's Oriental Institute, said "is an indispensable research tool for any scholar anywhere who seeks to explore the written record of the Mesopotamian civilization."
One scholar who has relied on the project's research at various stages since the 1960s, Jerrold Cooper, professor emeritus in Semitic languages at Johns Hopkins University, said the dictionary's importance "can't possibly be overestimated." It opens up for study "the richest span of cuneiform writing," he said, referring to the script invented in the fourth millennium B.C. by the earlier Sumerians in Mesopotamia...

University of Chicago institute completes dictionary of ancient language after 9 decades
21-volume sets will be sold to libraries for $1,400 each

Some might wonder if it is a bit late in the game, but scholars at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute have finally completed the Assyrian Dictionary, listing 28,000 words of a language that hasn't been used for more than 2,000 years. 

Published in 21 volumes, the dictionary project was started in 1921. In all, 88 scholars worked 90 years to compile it. At $1,400 a set, it will be sold mostly to universities, enabling students and scholars to study and read a reproduction of millions of original documents — sun-baked clay cuneiform tablets — left behind by the world's first civilizations.

Wedge-shaped indentations pressed into the clay formed the first known written language. The tablets hold the written history of life over 2,500 years in early nation-states in what is modern-day Iraq. The writers recorded transactions, laws, marriages, divorces, legal disputes, literature, religious texts and personal correspondence. The vast correspondence even includes a bratty letter from a spoiled rich kid...

Scholars complete dictionary of lost language after 90 years
A dictionary of a long dead language has been completed after a team of scholars worked on it for 90 years.
By Nick Allen, Los Angeles

10:00AM BST 06 Jun 2011

The project to create the Assyrian dictionary, based on words recorded on clay or stone tablets unearthed from ruins in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, began at the University of Chicago in 1921.

The language had not been spoken for more than 2,000 years.

Over several generations scholars from Vienna, Paris, Copenhagen, Jerusalem, Berlin, Helsinki, Baghdad and London travelled to Chicago to work on the endeavour.

The Chicago Assyrian Dictionary is now officially complete. It contains 21 volumes of Akkadian, a Semitic language, with several dialects, including Assyrian, that was in use for 2,500 years Gil Stein, director of the university's Oriental Institute, said: "The Assyrian Dictionary gives us the key into the world's first urban civilisation.

"Virtually everything that we take for granted has its origins in Mesopotamia, whether it's the origins of cities, of state societies, the invention of the wheel, the way we measure time, and most important the invention of writing...

Huge Ancient Language Dictionary Finished After 90 Years
Released: 6/5/2011 2:30 PM EDT
Source: University of Chicago

21-volume work details the language and culture of ancient civilizations in Mesopotamia

Newswise — An ambitious project to identify, explain and provide citations for the words written in cuneiform on clay tablets and carved in stone by Babylonians, Assyrians and others in Mesopotamia between 2500 B.C. and A.D. 100 has been completed after 90 years of labor, the University of Chicago announced June 5.

To mark the completion of the 21-volume Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, the Oriental Institute at the University, where the project was housed, will hold a conference Monday, June 6, during which scholars from around the world will discuss the significance of the achievement...

And see also: On the CAD

See the chronicle of news about the Oriental Institute.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

An Adventure of Great Dimension: A Conference Celebrating the Completion of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary (CAD)

An Adventure of Great Dimension: A Conference Celebrating the Completion of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary (CAD)
When: Monday, June 6, 2011 2:00 pm
Where: Oriental Institute, Breasted Hall
1155 East 58th Street, Chicago, IL
This conference, sponsored by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, marks the completion this year of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary (CAD). Ninety years in the making, the CAD is internationally recognized as the authoritative reference and research resource for the ancient Akkadian language. The detailed entries in the CAD constitute an unrivalled “cultural encyclopedia” for ancient Mesopotamia. The conference highlights the centrality of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary’s current and future intellectual contribution to Mesopotamian studies. Leading scholars in Mesopotamian studies will discuss the ways that the CAD has enriched research in their particular fields of study –Art History, Archaeology, Sumerology, and History and Biblical Studies. The conference will also feature a talk presenting an overview of the CAD project by Editor–in-Charge and Dean of the Humanities Prof. Martha Roth.

The conference will be held in the Oriental Institute’s Breasted Auditorium, 1155 East 58th St., Monday June 6, 2011, from 2:00-6:00 pm, and will be followed by a reception in the Edgar and Deborah Jannotta Mesopotamian Gallery.

2:00PM — Welcome
Gil J. Stein, Director of the Oriental Institute, The University of Chicago

2:10 PM — “The Assyrian Dictionary”
Martha T. Roth, CAD Editor-in-Charge and Dean of the Humanities, The University of Chicago

2:40 PM — “The CAD: Oxygen for the Sumerologist”
Jerrold S. Cooper, Johns Hopkins University

3:10 PM — Coffee break

3:30 PM — “The Achievement of the CAD: Notes from the Periphery”
Peter Machinist, Harvard University

4:00 PM — “Archaeological Perspectives”
McGuire Gibson, The University of Chicago

4:30 PM — “Art Historical Perspectives”
Irene Winter, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

5:00 PM — “Concluding Remarks of a Dictionary Worker”
Hermann Hunger, University of Vienna

5:30 PM — Questions and discussion

6:00 PM — Open reception for speakers and all conference attendees in the Edgar and Deborah Jannotta Mesopotamian Gallery
Cost: FREE
Contact: Oriental Institute - Events Coordinator
Follow me on twitter
Find me on facebook
Calendars: OI, Conferences, Forums, Lectures, Special Events
Persons with disabilities who need an accommodation in order to participate in this event should contact the event sponsor for assistance. For events on the Student Events Calendar, please contact ORCSA at (773) 702-8787.
Information on Assistive Listening Device

And see also: On the CAD

Saturday, June 4, 2011

News: Ancient world dictionary finished – after 90 years

Ancient world dictionary finished – after 90 years
SHARON COHEN | June 4, 2011 09:56 AM EST | AP
CHICAGO — It was a monumental project with modest beginnings: a small group of scholars and some index cards. The plan was to explore a long-dead language that would reveal an ancient world of chariots and concubines, royal decrees and diaries – and omens that came from the heavens and sheep livers.

The year: 1921. The place: The University of Chicago. The project: Assembling an Assyrian dictionary based on words recorded on clay or stone tablets unearthed from ruins in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, written in a language that hadn't been uttered for more than 2,000 years. The scholars knew the project would take a long time. No one quite expected how very long.

Decades passed. The team grew. Scholars arrived from Vienna, Paris, Copenhagen, Jerusalem, Berlin, Helsinki, Baghdad and London, joining others from the U.S. and Canada. One generation gave way to the next, one century faded into the next. Some signed on early in their careers; they were still toiling away at retirement. The work was slow, sometimes frustrating and decidedly low-tech: Typewriters. Mimeograph machines. And index cards. Eventually, nearly 2 million of them.

And now, 90 years later, a finale. The Chicago Assyrian Dictionary is now officially complete – 21 volumes of Akkadian, a Semitic language (with several dialects, including Assyrian) that endured for 2,500 years. The project is more encyclopedia than glossary, offering a window into the ancient society of Mesopotamia, now modern-day Iraq, through every conceivable form of writing: love letters, recipes, tax records, medical prescriptions, astronomical observations, religious texts, contracts, epics, poems and more...

See the chronicle of news about the Oriental Institute.

Friday, June 3, 2011

News: After 90 years, U. of C. completes dictionary documenting humanity’s earliest days

After 90 years, U. of C. completes dictionary documenting humanity’s earliest days

Story Image Martha Roth, finished a 90 year project at the University of Chicago, creating a 21-volume dictionary of language and culture of ancient Mespotamian, here her work at U of C Oriental Institute, 59th and University Avenue, Thursday, June 2, 2011. | John H. White~Sun-Times.
Love notes and divorce papers. Accounting ledgers and legal briefs. Omens, letters between kings, thoughts on the benefits of flaxseed and the fortune-telling properties of sheep livers.
All were carved in stone or written in cuneiform on clay tablets in ancient Mesopotamia — the cradle of human civilization — between 2500 BC and AD 100. Scholars at the University of Chicago have worked for nearly a century on a comprehensive guide for those reading the ancient language in which some of the earliest days of human history were written.
Ninety years in the making, the 21-volume, 28,000-word Chicago Assyrian Dictionary is complete. Started in 1921, the dictionary was created over the years by about 85 employees writing on millions of index cards in up to five large offices at the school’s Oriental Institute at University Avenue and 58th Street.
The first volume was published in 1956. Forty years after that, the current editor saw the beginning of the end.
“My goal since I took over in 1996 as the editor in charge was to bring the project to an end, not keep it going,” said Martha Roth. “My way of understanding my job was to complete it.”
The dictionary project was started by Oriental Institute founder James Henry Breasted, a Middle Eastern archeologist who envisioned the Chicago school being able to “recover the lost story of the rise of man.”
Organized more like an encyclopedia, the dictionary is a primary source used by scholars, students or any one researching ancient Mesopotamia. While it’s called the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, the Assyrian language is a dialect of Akkadian, another Semitic language. All Akkadian dialects are included in the Chicago dictionary.
While Roth has been the project’s editor since 1996, she first started working on the dictionary in 1979 as a post-doctorate with a “brand new PhD in Assyriology.” Her degree was from the University of Pennsylvania, where she worked on a Sumerian dictionary project inspired by the Chicago Assyrian dictionary.
Roth joined the U. of C. faculty in 1980 and in 1996, she was named the dictionary’s editor. She said she never found the project overwhelming — though the end of the project came as an “abrupt jolt.”
“It’s hard for many people to understand the kind of stick-to-it this kind of project takes,” she said. “It’s not just this current world where everyone’s attention span is short. Many people like to dabble in things. They don’t like to sit for hours.”
Or in her case, years. Spending time developing the entries brought her a rare depth of insight and diversity of scholarship, she said.
“Usually a scholar will specialize in a particular genre or period,” she said. “When you work on a project like this dictionary project, it’s like basically being in an intellectual smorgasbord. You’re sampling things all the time.”
At various points during the project’s long history, scholars tried to modernize the process, including attempting to put portions of the project on IBM hole punch cards in the 1960s. Transferring all the cards onto computers would have taken decades, Roth said. Instead, they now are going into a safe archive.
For Roth, now that the dictionary is complete, there won’t be any celebratory vacation to lands near the Fertile Crescent. She’s still working as a professor as well as dean of humanities and doesn’t anticipate her schedule freeing up.
“You don’t retire from being an Assyriologist,” she said. “I’ve always been engaged in working in legal history and now I’m able to spend more time with that. I look forward to it.”

See the chronicle of news about the Oriental Institute.