Wolfram von Soden


Wolfram von Soden

Wolfram Freiherr von Soden (1908-1996) was a German assyriologist. He was a professor first at Göttingen University, and later for many years at Münster University. His works include "Grundriss der akkadischen Grammatik" and "Akkadisches Handwörterbuch".

Von Soden studied under Benno Landsberger and received a doctorate in 1932 with his thesis "Der hymnisch-epische Dialekt des Akkadischen" (The Hymnal-Epic Dialect of Akkadian). In 1936, he was appointed - just 28 years old - a professor at the University of Göttingen. While his old teacher Landsberger left Germany due to National-Socialist racial policy, von Soden joined the Sturmabteilung (the SA, the so-called brownshirts) in 1934, and finally joined the Nazi party in 1937. He supported Nazi academic policy with works like "Der Aufstieg des Assyrerreichs als geschichtliches Problem" (1937, The Ascent of the Assyrian Empire as a Historical Problem) and "Arabische wehrsprachliche Ausdrücke" (1942, Arabic Military-Linguistic Expressions). Ideologically-colored attacks on his mentor also began to develop at this time. He was able to escape conscription in the armed forces in 1940 by a shift to the chair of the University of Berlin.

After the end of the Second World War, von Soden was barred from teaching. Due to his extraordinary abilities and because his former teacher, Landsberger, lobbied for him from the US, von Soden was appointed to a position in Vienna in 1955. Later he went to Münster, where he taught up to his retirement. He left his academic technical library in 1996 to the "Institut für Altorientalistik" at the University of Leipzig, the place where his teacher Landsberger had worked so long.

Despite his Nazi sympathies and activities, the quality of von Soden's academic work is undisputed. Works such as the "Grundriss der akkadischen Grammatik" (A Sketch of Akkadian Grammar) and the "Akkadisches Handwörterbuch" (Akkadian Dictionary) have not even today been replaced in the field and display von Soden's valuable scholarship. Besides Friedrich Delitzsch, Adam Falkenstein, Benno Landsberger and Dietz Otto Edzard, he is named as one of the most influential personalities who shaped the study of the Ancient Near East in the German-speaking world.

Works

*"Das akkadische Syllabar" (1948, ISBN 88-7653-257-9)
*"Grundriss der akkadischen Grammatik" (1952, ISBN 88-7653-258-7)
*"Das Gilgamesch-Epos" (1958, with Albert Schott; ISBN 3-15-007235-2)
*"Akkadisches Handwörterbuch" (1965-1981, 3 vols; ISBN 3-447-01471-7)
*"Das akkadisch-hethitische Vokabular KBo I 44+KBo XIII 1" (1968, with Heinrich Otten) *"Einführung in die Altorientalistik" (1985; ISBN 0-8028-0142-0)


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