The Melammu Project

General Description of the Melammu Database

If this text leaves you with any questions, try our FAQ.
To find out more about the technical specifications of the database, see here.


This database contains documented links between the civilizations of Ancient Mesopotamia (Assyria, Babylonia and Sumer) and contemporary and later civilizations that show the impact and continuity of religion, political systems, art and iconography, literature, and other cultural and social phenomena as a result of both direct influence and of cultural diffusion.

Each entry consists of the following fields:

Topic: Topics related to the database, taken from the hierarchical list of topics. Contributors are free to add new topics to the list.
Keywords: Words or phrases that (very) shortly summarize the entry (e.g., "omens - astrology - Greece", or "immortality"). Cf. the list of keywords that have been used so far. Contributors are free to create new keywords.
Period: The period(s) to which the entry refers (e.g., "11th century AD", or "Neo-Assyrian Empire"). Cf. the list of periods that have been mentioned so far. Contributors are free to include periods that are not yet listed.
Channel: Means through which the information of the entry has reached modern times (e.g., "Old Testament", or "Indian culture"). Cf. the list of channels that have been mentioned so far. Contributors are free to include channels that are not yet listed.
Heading: The title of the entry. Each heading is numbered, so the same heading can be used more than once without creating reference problems (see also 'Referring to entries').
Summary: A summary of the contents of the text-field.
Text: The actual text of the entry.
Links: Reference(s) to supporting or additional information for the entry elsewhere on the internet.
Source: Reference(s) to primary literature that are quoted or referred to in the entry. Please note that these are usually added by the database editor and do not necessarily refer to scholarly editions (since there are not so many of those available on the web). They are only there to make a quick glance at the relevant sources possible.
Bibliography: Reference(s) to secondary literature related to the entry.
Images: Pictures (photos, drawings, etc.) that are in any way relevant to the entry.
Contributor: The name of the author of the entry.

Types of entries

There are two principal types of entries in the database. The first consists of citations from ancient texts. These entries are primary sources and consist of the ancient author's comments. Such entries have a "source" line which points to the ancient text and the Text-field contains a translation of the ancient source. There may be bibliographical citations as well if the passage has been discussed or commented on by other scholars. Wherever possible, there will be a hypertext link to the actual text of the ancient source.

The second type of entry consists of modern comparisons between features or phenomena in the ancient world that may show the effects of cultural contact or cultural diffusion. Entries of this type generally have a "bibliography" line that points to the scholarly assessment of this connection rather than a "source" line. However, if ancient sources are important for this connection, there may be a "source" line as well. The Text-field will contain an outline of the argument connecting the features or phenomena.

Both types of entries may have additional hypertext links that provide background information on ancient authors, sites, languages, or documents. Each entry may contain illustrations, either as part of the entry itself or as links to outside sources.

All links to outside sources will open in a new browser window.

Referring to entries

Database entries should be regarded as regular encyclopediac articles and can also be mentioned on a resume. For referring to a specific entry, both its heading and the URL can be used. The numbers at the end of each heading guarantee that they are all unique and can therefore be used as a reference, while the database has been programmed thus, that the URL's are stable and will always refer to the same entry.


In the entries of the Melammu Database, the following policy is used for the transcription of names:

- because of the extent to which they have become an integral part of modern culture, Greek and Roman names are written according to the modern English spelling if available; otherwise the Latin spelling is used;
- with all other names, it has been tried to stay as close to the original spelling as possible.

Some examples: "Homer", "Aeschylus", "Ovid, "Ištar", "Enūma Eliš", "Gargasamhitā", "Thaˁlabi".

An obvious disadvantage of this policy is that some of the characters cannot easily be typed into the textfield of the search engine. However, this problem can be solved in three ways: by selecting special characters from the virtual keyboard (see the link below the search boxes), by using wildcards (".", e.g. "Gilgame.", " Eli.") or by selecting the search strings from one of the lists. Also taking into consideration that entering 'complex' characters may very well become easier in the future due to developments of for example the Unicode standard, priority has been given to the look of the entries.

Unfortunately, it seems impossible to adopt a policy for the transcription of names that is thoroughly consistent and pleases everybody, but suggestions concerning this subject will always be considered. Also, if your browser has trouble displaying special characters, please consult our

Database administrator

The Database Administrator manages the database. Submissions of entries and e-mails regarding the database will all be forwarded to the administrator. For remarks, suggestions and questions about the database and its contents, please use the feedback form.

The director of the Melammu Database Project:

May 1999 - current:   Simo Parpola

The administrators of the Melammu Database:

Jan. 2006 - current:   Erik van Dongen
Jan. 2008 - Dec. 2008   Christina Tsouparopoulou
Jan. 2003 - Dec. 2005:   Amar Annus
May 1999 - Dec. 2002:   Pirjo Lapinkivi
May 1999 - Aug. 1999:   Sanna Aro-Valjus

The Melammu Project