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Nineb Lamassu


Before coming to Cambridge, I studied for a BA in Ancient and Near Eastern Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London, with a focus on Akkadian language and literature. For my BA dissertation I used the Neo-Assyrian royal annals to write a literary study of Sennacherib's battle of Halule. I came to Cambridge for a research MPhil under the supervision of Prof. Geoffrey Khan. For my MPhil dissertation, I wrote a linguistic analysis of the literary national epic of Modern Assyrians, Qatine the Great, which was set down in a written form by the Assyrian poet laureate, Rabi William Daniel. The tile of my MPhil dissertation was, 'Rabi William Daniel's Qatine Trilogy: A Linguistic Analysis'. 

Subject groups/Research projects

Hebrew & Semitic Studies:

Research Interests

Modern Assyrian (North Eastern Neo-Aramaic, NENA), Semitic Languages, Language Contact, Historical Linguistics, Modern Assyrian Studies, Akkadian and Aramaic. 

The focus of my PhD project is the oral traditions of the Modern Assyrian national Epic of Qatine, in contrast to my MPhil dissertation, which focused on the literary version of the epic. The oral tradition of the epic is slowly becoming extinct as the bards, who maintained this tradition through the ages, are dying out without the ability of passing the tradition to the new generation. For the last few years I have travelled to Iraq, Syria, Turkey, the Caucasus (Georgia and Armenia), North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand to record the Qatine traditions among the few surviving bards. I intent to collate all these recordings and create, for the first time, a transcribed and translated corpus of all the variants of this oral tradition. The corpus will be subjected to a detailed linguistic and literary analysis, modern folkloristic studies and comparative literature studies. 


Key Publications

Lamassu, Nineb (2007), 'Lešānāʾ ʾĀṯūrāyāʾ: ʿŪṯrāʾ Tarīxāyāʾ ʾu-ʿūrqālēʾ d-Qāʾǝm ʾu-Gūʿlānēʾ Makīxēʾ', Journal of Assyrian Academic Society, Vol. XXI, Issue I pp. 26-50.

Lamassu, Nineb (2009), 'The Female Voice in Rāwe: The Strive for Gender Equality', Journal of Assyrian Academic Society, XXIII, 2 pp. 38-50.

Lamassu, Nineb (2013), 'Süryani Kadim'in Etnik Kimliği ve Milli Rönesansı', in Ayvas, Emre and Altuğ Yılmaz (eds.), Mardin Tebligleri: Mardin ve Çevresi Toplumsal ve Ekonomik Tarihi Konferansı (Istanbul: Hrant Dink Vakfı Yayınları), pp. 172-182.

Lamassu, Nineb (2014), 'Gilgamesh's Plant of Rejuvenation and Qāṭīne's Sīsīsāmbur', in Geller, Mark J. (ed.), Proceedings 7 Melammu: The Ancient World in an Age of Globalization (Berlin: Edition Open Access: Max Planck Research Library for the History and Development of Knowledge), 

Lamassu, Nineb (2015), 'Songs of the Assyrian Mountaineers', in Khan, Geoffrey and Lidia Napiorkowska (ed.), Neo-Aramaic and its Linguistic Context (Piscataway: Gorgias Press). Gorgias Neo-Aramaic Studies 14, pp. 345-366

Lamassu, Nineb (in publication), 'Assyrians between Nation and Confession', in Franz Mali & Hans Ulrich Steymans (ed.), Christianity in Mesopotamia and Iraq / Christianisme en Mésopotamie et l'Irak Acts of an International Symposium, Fribourg, May 13-14, 2011. ORIENTALIA LOVANIENSIA ANALECTA


Other Publications

Research Assistant to Prof. Geoffrey Khan: working on the documentation of the various Neo-Aramaic dialects at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Contributing researcher to the North Eastern Neo-Aramaic Database Project at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (

Collaborator to the Modern Assyrian Language Documentation Project at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (

Co-founder and Advisory Board member of Modern Assyrian Research Archive (