Frequently asked questions

How do I get into Assyriology/Egyptology/Archaeology?


First, know that getting a graduate degree in any of these fields does NOT guarantee you a job in academia. The job market has been bad, and is getting worse - many people with Ph.D.s bounce between short-term contracts, having to move themselves (and their families) every year or two. Finding a full-time, long-term position is incredibly difficult, and to pretend otherwise would be deeply irresponsible of us. It's also worth saying that this is a big financial committment on your part. Aside from the cost of getting a B.A. degree in the U.S.A., no Ph.D. programs that we're aware of provide full funding to their Ph.D. students for the entirety of their doctoral program. Getting a Ph.D. often relies on the student working a second job, applying for large numbers of grants, taking out loans, or relying on savings. Even applying to a Ph.D. program will cost you around $100 per application.
Having said that, if you're passionate about the ancient world and are determined to go ahead regardless, then there are some general tips we can give you!

The traditional path is to start with a B.A. degree. Try and major in the field you want to persue - if this isn't possible, then opt for whatever ancient history classes your institution offers. If possible, start learning French and German as early as you can! These languages are a requirement for most Ph.D. programs, and getting started now will help you a lot. If you can, try and gain archaeological experience (less crucial for Assyriology, but still helpful). Following the B.A., you can either apply directly to a Ph.D. program, or first complete an M.A. degree - some Ph.D.s require an M.A. first, but many don't. Contact your preferred university to see what their policy is. This also varies country-to-country! Many universities in the U.S.A. will also require you to sit a standardized test called the G.R.E., which you'll need to complete before you apply. When it's time to apply to Ph.D. programs, choose carefully. Try and make sure that the universities you're applying to have professors whose research interests match your own. Don't be afraid to email faculty directly to express your interest, and to ask if they think your research would be a good match. EMAIL CURRENT STUDENTS. This can't be emphasized enough - these are the people who truly know what a university department is like, and their knowledge is invaluable. Ask about their experiences, whether they'd recommend the department, what the professors are like, if their funding is enough to cover the cost of living, what teaching they're required to do...whatever you're not comfortable asking the professors. Ask especially about career development opportunities - are students allowed or encouraged to publish, or present research at conferences? Do professors let students act as (paid) research assistants? What teaching experience or training are students given? If all goes well, and you're accepted, then congratulations! You're on your way :) Unfortunately, we can't offer much advice beyond this. Neither of us took a traditional academic career path, so we can't speak to the post-Ph.D. experience. There are plenty who can, though, and organizations like the ASOR Early Career Researcher group can help point you in the right direction.




Did Sitchin know Sumerian, or was he lying?


Eh. This is a little tricky. We can't really say whether he was purposefully lying or not, but the translations found in his books are definitely incorrect, and the theories he presents are based entirely in fiction. Whether he was deliberately deceitful, or simply thought he understood Sumerian more completely than he actually did is difficult to say.

If you're looking for more accurate translations of the texts he mentions in his books, then this is a great place to start:
https://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/edition2/etcslbycat.php




Did [insert Biblical event] really happen? Was [insert Biblical figure] a real person?


Some of them, but rarely as described. A good resource for this is William Dever's "Has Archaeology Buried the Bible". If you're looking for information about a specific person or event then you can email us your question, and we'll do our best to answer it on our next YouTube AMA session!




When's Dr. Josh's next book coming out?


When it's ready ;) Seriously, though, this one is dependant on a variety of factors. We're aiming to have "The Atheist Handbook to the Old Testament" out before summer 2021, and the second Sumerian Grammar available before the end of this calendar year. Keep an eye on Twitter and YouTube, we'll be announcing publication dates as soon as they're finalized!




Can you review [insert YouTube video]?


No, probably not. Sorry, but reviewing videos takes a long time, and there are many other people who do this kind of review work. You're most welcome to ask, but we'll probably redirect you to an existing review that we trust.





This website and all affiliated social media accounts are unrelated to a project of the same name, based at the Johns Hopkins University during the early 2000s. The latter project is no longer active.

© 2020 by Digital Hammurabi

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