Frances Reynolds


Shillito Fellow and Associate Professor of Assyriology (part time); Senior Research Fellow of The Queen's College

Faculty / College Address:

Asian and Middle Eastern Studies The Queen's College


Research Interests:

My broad research area is Babylonian and Assyrian intellectual history, literature and religion, with an emphasis on the late second and first millennia BC. I specialize in the evolution of cuneiform scholarship, particularly in response to cultural and political change in Babylonia. My interests also extend into the wider ancient Middle East.

My most recent monograph (published by OUP) presents a critical edition and contextual study of an Akkadian calendar treatise composed in Babylon, probably in the Hellenistic period. My book explores the use and adaptation of traditional material relating to political history, mythology, astrology, ritual and hermeneutics, and situates this in the context of late cuneiform scholarship under imperial rule.

In addition to my ongoing work on Late Babylonian scholarship, my current research explores the longer-term deployment and reception of Akkadian literature. 

Current Projects:

  • Religion, literature, and scholarship in the Late Babylonian period: exegetic traditions
  • Cuneiform reception of Enūma eliš, the Babylonian 'Epic of Creation'
  • Babylonian and Assyrian astral mythology

Courses Taught:

  • Elementary Akkadian: language and texts
  • Advanced Akkadian: language and texts
  • Mesopotamian cultural and historical topics
  • Religions and Mythologies of the Ancient Middle East

Selected Publications:

  • 2010a. ‘A Divine Body: New Joins in the Sippar Collection’ in Baker, H. D., Robson, E., and G. Zólyomi (eds), Your Praise is Sweet: A Memorial Volume for Jeremy Black from Students, Colleagues and Friends, 291–302. London: British Institute for the Study of Iraq.
  • 2010b. ‘Food and drink in Babylonia’. In Leick, G. (ed.), The Babylonian World. Kindle Edition. London: T & F Books UK.
  • 2011. Thirty-two name entries. In Baker, H. D. (ed.),The Prosopography of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, Vol. 3/II: Š–Z, 1295, 1388–90, 1415–17, 1425. Helsinki: The Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project.
  • 2012. The Babylonian Correspondence of Esarhaddon and Letters to Assurbanipal and Sin-šarru-iškun from Northern and Central Babylonia. Revised Online Edition. State Archives of Assyria Online (SAAo), Vol. 18. [State Archives of Assyria, Vol. 18. Helsinki: Helsinki University Press, 2003].
  • Submitted. Text editions of STT 1, 3 (Enūma Eliš 4) and SpTU 3, 59 (Gilgāmeš 5). In Robson, E. (ed.), Scholarly Writings from Assyria and Babylonia [working title]. Writings from the Ancient World. Atlanta, Georgia: Society of Biblical Literature [Selected contributions from ‘The Geography of Knowledge in Assyria and Babylonia: A Diachronic Analysis of Four Scholarly Libraries (GKAB)’ in ‘The Corpus of Ancient Mesopotamian Scholarship (CAMS)’. Directors: E. Robson, University of Cambridge, and S. Tinney, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology].
  • 2016. Review article: Geller, M. J., Melothesia in Babylonia: Medicine, Magic, and Astrology in the Ancient Near East  (Boston - Berlin - Munich: De Gruyter, 2014) in: Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 79, 153-55.
  • 2017. ‘Prayer and Praise in the City of Assur’. In Heffron, Y., Stone, A. B., and M. J. Worthington (eds),  At the Dawn of History: Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Honour of J. N. Postgate, 797-811. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns.
  • 2018. Contributor, 'Epic of Gilgamesh' in Bragg, M., and S. Tillotson, In Our Time: Celebrating Twenty Years of Essential Conversation, 270-78. London: Simon & Schuster UK.
  • 2019. A Babylon Calendar Treatise: Scholars and Invaders in the Late First Millennium BC: Edited with Introduction, Commentary, and Cuneiform TextsOxford: Oxford University Press: ISBN: 9780199539949 (2019 UK; 2020 USA).
  • 2021. 'Politics, cult, and scholarship: Aspects of the transmission history of Marduk and Ti'amat's battle', in Kelly, A., and C. Metcalf (eds), Gods and Mortals in Early Greek and Near Eastern Mythology, 58-79. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: ISBN: 9781108480246.
  • 2022. ‘Cuneiform myths and epics in the Ancient Near East’, in Dell, K. J. (ed.), The Biblical World, 255-78. 2nd revised ed. London and New York: Routledge: ISBN: 9781138932920.
  • 2023. Πολιτική, λατρεία και λόγια παραγωγή: Πτυχές της ιστορίας της παράδοσης της μάχης του Μαρδούκ και της Τιαμάτ, in A. Kelly and C. Metcalf (eds), Θεοί και Θνητοί στη Μυθολογία της Πρώιμης Ελλάδας και της Εγγύς Ανατολής [Gods and Mortals in Early Greek and Near Eastern Mythology, trans. K. Dimopoulou]. Athens: Kardamitsa: ISBN: 9789603545606.
  • 2024. 'The Cuneiform Reception of Enuma Elish', in Haubold, J., Helle, S., Jiménez, E., and S. Wisnom (eds), Library of Babylonian Literature 1. London: Bloomsbury (forthcoming).

Selected Media and Performance:

  • 2012. BBC2 series ‘Divine Women’; BBC series ‘History of the World’: Consultant.
  • 2013. The National Theatre of Akkad. Ashurbanipal: The Last Great King of Assyria, by Selena Wisnom. Post-show speaker.
  • 2016. BBC Radio 4 ‘In Our Time: The Epic of Gilgamesh’ with Melvin Bragg: Guest speaker with Andrew George and Martin Worthington. Episode voted into Listeners’ Top 10 to mark 750th edition. Live broadcast and podcast:
  • 2018. Canadian Broadcasting Corportion: Interview on Gilgamesh.
  • 2019. ‘Cuneiform Discoveries from Ancient Babylon’, The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH), University of Oxford: Humanities Light Night - Oxford Research Unwrapped! Talk and podcast:
  • 2020. BBC World Service 'The Forum: Babylon, City of Wonders' with Bridget Kendall: Guest speaker with Grant Frame and Daniel Schwemer. Broadcast and podcast:
  • 2023. All-Night Epic: Gilgamesh II, directed by Tim Supple and overseen by Alice Oswald: Performer.

Further Info:

Doctoral Students

  • Gustavo Fernandes Pedroso, Divine Wrath, Abandonment, and Reconciliation in Mesopotamian Prayers and Righteous Sufferer Poetry [working title]. Principal Supervisor with Dr L. Quick. In progress, University of Oxford 2022– .
  • Adam Howe, The Experience and Removal of Impurity in Ancient Mesopotamia. Supervisor. Awarded, University of Oxford 2021.
  • Bernardo Ballesteros Petrella, Divine Assemblies in Ancient Near Eastern and Early Greek Narrative Poetry. Co-supervisor with Dr Adrian Kelly. Awarded, University of Oxford 2017.
  • L. Selena Wisnom, Intertextuality in Babylonian Narrative Poetry: AnzûEnūma Elish, and Erra and Ishum. Supervisor. Awarded, University of Oxford 2015.
  • Peerapat Ouysook, Make Babylon Great Again: an exploration of Nebuchadnezzar II's political ideology as seen through the composition of his inscriptions. Examiner with Professor Michael Jursa, Wien. Awarded, University of Cambridge 2021.
  • Nadia Ait Said-Ghanem, Sentence Types and Word-Order Patterns in Old Babylonian Omen Texts: An Investigation of Akkadian using Arabic Grammatical Theory. Examiner with Professor Philip Jaggar, SOAS. Awarded, SOAS 2019.
  • Eva Miller, Enemy Punishment and the Creation of the Assyrian World: Ashurbanipal's Teumman-Dunanu Narratives in Reliefs, Epigraphs, and Prisms. Examiner with Professor Marian Feldman, Johns Hopkins. Awarded, University of Oxford 2018.
  • Moudhy Al-Rashid, Mental Symptoms in the Akkadian Diagnostic Handbook: A study of patterns in the description of depression, anxiety, and madness. Examiner with Dr Mark Weeden, SOAS. Awarded, University of Oxford 2015.
  • J. Nicholas Reid, Slavery in Early Mesopotamia from Late Uruk until the Fall of Babylon in the Longue Durée. Examiner with Dr Bertrand Lafont, CNRS, Paris. Awarded, University of Oxford 2014.
  • Silvie Zamazalová, Claiming the World: Geographical Conceptions and Royal Ideology in the Neo-Assyrian Empire, with Focus on the Reign of Sargon II (721-705 B.C.).  Examiner with Dr Mark Weeden, SOAS. Awarded, UCL 2013.
  • Johanna Tudeau, Assyrian Building Customs and Ideologies according to the Assyrian Royal Inscriptions and State Archives. Examiner with Dr Harriet Crawford, University of Cambridge. Awarded, University of Cambridge 2013.
Fran Reynolds