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Jonathan S. Tenney

Assistant Professor


Jonathan S. Tenney is Assistant Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Studies and a specialist in Assyriology and the civilizations of Mesopotamia.  He offers courses in the history and archaeology of the ancient Near East and the Akkadian, Sumerian, and Egyptian languages.  In 2010, he was awarded the Dissertation of the Year Award by The American Academic Research Institute in Iraq and he came to Cornell from the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) where he served as a postdoc fellow at the Centre of Identity Formation.  Professor Tenney is primarily interested in using quantitative measures in conjunction with cuneiform sources to achieve a better understanding of the social and economic forces that affected ancient Near Eastern populations. He has just released his first book, Life on the Bottom of Babylonian Society: Servile Laborers at Nippur in the 14th and 13th Centuries B.C, which is a study of the population dynamics, family structure, and legal status of publicly-controlled servile workers in Kassite Babylonia.  It compares some of the demographic aspects proper to this group with other intensively studied past populations, such as Roman Egypt, Medieval Tuscany, and American slave plantations.

Courses Taught

  • Akkadian Language I: Code of Hammurabi
  • Elementary Akkadian II: Historical and Literary Texts
  • Akkadian Language IV: Introduction to Assyrian
  • Ancient Iraq: Cities, Migrations, and Kings
  • Myth and Religion in Mesopotamia
  • Sumerian Language and Culture I
  • Sumerian Language and Culture II
  • Introduction to the Ancient Near East


  • Jewish Studies Program
  • Near Eastern Studies

Graduate Fields

  • Near Eastern Studies


  • Assyriology and Babylonian history
  • forced labor and comparative slavery
  • historical demography, household structure and marriage patterns in Babylonia
  • quantitative and economic history
  • Kassite Period in Babylonia
  • ancient Mesopotamian migration



  • Life at the Bottom of Babylonian Society: Servile Laborers at Nippur in the 14th and 13th Centuries B.C. Culture and History of the Ancient Near East 51.  Leiden: Brill, 2011.
  • Middle Babylonian Administrative and Legal Documents Concerning the Public Servile Population of Nippur.  Leiden: Brill (forthcoming).
  • “Hamoukar: A Summary of Three Seasons of Excavation,” co-authored with McGuire Gibson et al. Akkadica 123 (2002): 11-34.
  • “Babylonia.  History.” In The Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception, vol. 3.  Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2009—.
  • “Kassites,” and “Kassite Period.”  In The Encyclopedia of Ancient History.  New York: Wiley and Blackwell, 2011—.
  • Various articles in The Prosopography of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.  Helsinki: Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus  Project, 1998-2002.
  • —“Iakin-Lu,” vol. 2/1 (2000) 488-89.
  • —“Kabti-ilani,” vol. 2/1 (2000) 594.
  • —“Kabti-ili,” vol. 2/1 (2000) 594.
  • —“Natnu,” vol. 2/2 (2001) 938-39.