Saggs, Henry W.F. 1920–2005

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Saggs, Henry W.F. 1920–2005

(Henry William Frederick Saggs)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born December 2, 1920, in Weeley, Essex, England; died August 31, 2005. Linguist, educator, and author. Saggs was an authority on the ancient Assyrian and Babylonian civilizations and their Akkadian language. After graduating from King's College London with a theology degree in 1942, he joined the Royal Navy and served as an airplane navigator. After recovering from a broken back received in a plane crash, he was assigned to ground duty in Palestine because of his knowledge of Hebrew. It was here that he became interested in Middle Eastern cultures. Returning home after the war, Saggs taught math for a while before finishing a master's degree at King's College. During this time, he learned Akkadian, and this led to his being hired as a lecturer in Assyriology at the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies. He earned his Ph.D. there in 1954, and continued to teach at the University of London until 1966, except for a year spent as a visiting professor at Baghdad University. While still a doctoral student, Saggs gained attention for his work deciphering the inscriptions at the Assyrian capital of Nimrud. He would return to Nimrud several times during the 1950s, and in 1965 he traveled to Iraq to work with David Oates on the Tell al-Rimah excavation. In 1966 Saggs left London to teach at the University of Wales from 1966 until his 1983 retirement. He returned to Iraq as a visiting professor at Mosul University. His last trip to Iraq occurred in 1979; he traveled there to study cuneiform texts. Highly respected for his scholarly work, Saggs was also a prolific author of books for general readers. Among his works are The Greatness That Was Babylon: A Survey of the Ancient Civilization of the Tigris-Euphrates Valley (1962; revised edition, 1988), The Might That Was Assyria (1984), and Babylonians (1995).



Guardian (London, England), October 6, 2005, p. 33.

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Saggs, Henry W.F. 1920–2005

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