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Gelb, Ignace Jay


GELB, IGNACE JAY (1907–1985), U.S. Assyriologist. Born in Tarnow, Poland, Gelb studied in Rome with the Sumerologist, Anton Deimel. In 1929 he went to the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, with which he remained associated. After serving in the armed forces in World War ii, he returned to the Institute as professor of Assyriology in 1947 and began the reorganization and replanning of the monumental multi-volume dictionary of the Akkadian language entitled Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (= cad, 1956ff.; almost complete by 2005) a project which had been begun in 1921. He served as editor of the dictionary from 1947 to 1955. He was also the editor and chief contributor of the auxiliary project, Materials for the Assyrian Dictionary (from 1951). His contributions to the field of Assyriology are centered on the ethno-linguistic foundations of the Ancient Near East. Among his works on this subject are Hurrians and Subarians (1944); Nuzi Personal Names (with M. Puryes and A.A. MacRae, 1943); La lingua degli Amoriti (1958); "The Early History of the West Semitic Peoples" (in: Journal of Cuneiform Studies, 15 (1961), 27ff.). Of fundamental importance are his penetrating studies of the Old Akkadian dialect: Sargonic Texts from the Diyala Region (1952), Old Akkadian Writing and Grammar (1952, 19612), Glossary of Old Akkadian (1957), and A Sequential Reconstruction of the Proto-Akkadian (1969). He published a popular scientific work, A Study of Writing (1952, 19652). After Gelb's death his personal library and his papers and unfinished manuscripts became the basis of the Gelb Memorial Library of the University of California.


Chicago University, Oriental Institute, Assyrian Dictionary, 1 (1956), introd. add. bibliography: J. Hayes, in: Orientalia, 42 (1973), 1–8 (bibliography of Gelb's publications).

[Evasio de Marcellis and

Pinhas Artzi]

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