Latest News

NELC Undergraduates Receive Cotsen Research Fellowships to Excavate at Jaffa

Four NELC undergraduate majors or minors received research fellowships to work at the NELC excavation project at Jaffa this summer directed by Professor Aaron Burke. The students will be exploring the ancient port area of the fortress of Jaffa. The primary area of excavation will include the New Kingdom fortress built by the Egyptians in the late second millennium BCE. A new area of excavation will explore the Iron Age and the Bronze Age port associated with King Solomon and Pharaoh Rameses the Great.


Recent News

ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowship Winner

Dr. Elaine Sullivan, Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, was awarded an ACLS "Digital Innovation" Fellowship for her project "3D Saqqara: Reconstructing Landscape and Meaning at an Ancient Egyptian Site."

Dr. Sullivan will spend the 2012-2013 academic year at UCLA as a Visiting Professor, creating a 3D visualization of the ancient Egyptian necropolis of Saqqara using GIS and 3D modeling platforms.

Congratulations to Dr. Sullivan!

Jaffa Excavations

Enrollment is now open for the archaeology field school in Jaffa, Israel taking place once again this summer. Excavate in Israel with Prof. Aaron Burke, NELC faculty member and co-director of the Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project. Enrolled students receive 8 hours of credit. To view program details,click here.

Project "Creating a Sustainable Cuneiform Digital Library (CSCDL)" phase two funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

 The principals of a broad collaboration of Assyriologists, cultural heritage officials and information technology experts are pleased to announce their successful proposal to  the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (<>) for funding of the second phase of a project dedicated to the digital capture, persistent archiving and web dissemination of major cuneiform collections in the US, Europe and the Middle East. Work on this initiative began in April of 2009 and will continue under the current grant through June of 2013. The British Museum, the Ashmolean Museum and the Penn Museum will constitute the major centers of digital capture in phase two of CSCDL; in addition, the project foresees the initiation or continuation of scanning efforts at a number of substantial as well as more modest collections, and we welcome communications from collections officials or other interested colleagues concerning the use of our scanning teams to capture texts in Europe and North America.

 Paraphrasing from the project executive summary:

In this phase of the initiative, efforts will move beyond the development of standardized methods in the electronic capture and permanent data archiving of cuneiform collections across a broad array of public institutions to include innovative imaging strategies as well as a new focus on text annotation. We will build on an international network of cuneiform researchers and curators to digitize and archive new cuneiform data content.

 Major cuneiform collections will be digitally captured as a result of CSCDL. First, an electronic representation of the intellectual and political output of the Assyrian Empire will be achieved by completing the capture, supervised by Jon Taylor, of the Library of Ashurbanipal housed in the British Museum. Digitization of the full set of 31,500 Nineveh texts will be completed, followed up in the second year of phase two with the capture of 5,000 high-impact BM texts primarily from the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC. The Nippur collection of the University of Pennsylvania will be completed and complemented with the capture of all remaining text artifacts in the Penn Museum, including a broad array of 3rd and 2nd millennium texts from Babylonia and ancient Iran. We expect to complete in this second phase the capture of the Semitic Museum at Harvard, to continue scanning the tablets in the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, and will work closely with David I. Owen at Cornell to assist in imaging the recent acquisition there of the Rosen collection. Bertrand Lafont, CNRS-Paris, will continue to coordinate the capture of continental European collections, starting with those of Turin and Montserrat. Additional collections targeted for capture will include, among others, the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, the Syracuse University Library (by UCLA staff), the University of Jena (Hilprecht collection) and the Musées d’art et d’histoire, Geneva (by Berlin staff).

 The project will include a center of capture and research led by Jacob L. Dahl of Oxford University, who, beyond directing the digitization of the full Ashmolean and other UK collections outside of London, will supervise the implementation of advanced Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) with Ashmolean and BM artifacts. The project's RTI dome and high-resolution digital camera will, further, be used to image subtle seal impressions on administrative documents, and high-impact literary and lexical texts in the Penn Museum collection. The processing, archiving and web posting of these collections, together with a substantive cross-section of further American and European collections, will be managed by a team of researchers at UCLA.

 Principal Investigators and postdoctoral-level associates:

At the University of California, Los Angeles:

Robert K. Englund, Professor of Assyriology; Director, Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative

Lance Allred, Postdoctoral Researcher

At the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia:

Stephen J. Tinney, Clark Research Associate Professor in Assyriology; Associate Curator,

Babylonian Section, Penn Museum; Director, Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary

Ilona Zsolnay, Postdoctoral Researcher and Project Manager

At the British Museum, London:

Jon Taylor, Curator of Cuneiform Collections at the Department of the Middle East

Sarah Logan, Assistant Curator

At Oxford University:

Jacob L. Dahl, University Lecturer in Assyriology

Klaus Wagensonner, Research Associate

At the Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Paris:

Bertrand Lafont, Chercheur au CNRS

At the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin:

Jürgen Renn, Director, MPIWG; Professor, Humboldt University, Berlin

Ludek Vacin, Postdoctoral Researcher 

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We regret to inform the friends, family, students and colleagues of Dr. Hossein Ziai of his passing on August 24, 2011.

Dr. Ziai was professor of Islamic and Iranian Studies, Inaugural holder of the Jahangir and Eleanor Amuzegar Chair in Iranian Studies and the director of Iranian Studies at UCLA, where he had taught since 1988. He received his Ph.D. in Islamic Philosophy from Harvard University in 1976. Prior to his position at UCLA, Dr. Ziai taught at Tehran University, Sharif University, Harvard University, Brown University, and Oberlin College.

Dr. Ziai’s numerous publications cover Islamic philosophy, the Iranian Illuminationist School of philosophy and “Persian Poetic Wisdom” defined in relation to the epistemology of knowledge by presence.

Dr. Ziai is survived by his wife Mahasti, his son Dadali, his daughter-in-law Stephanie and his grand-daughters Malia and Acacia.

Bill Schniedewind

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Watch Audio Recording of Professor Ziai Funeral Service

To honor Professor Hossein Ziai’s memory, his family, friends and colleagues established the Hossein Ziai Memorial Fund and Scholarship to help support the education of future students of Iranian Studies.

        Donations to the fund can be sent to:

        UCLA Near Eastern Languages and Cultures

        361 Humanities Building

        Los Angeles, CA  90095

        Make checks payable to:  “UCLA Foundation”*

        *On Check Memo Line Write:  Hossein Ziai Fund

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Archaeological Institute of America Names Best Practices in Site Preservation Award Winner: Dr. Giorgio Buccellati

For the Full Article, please click on this link

NELC Graduate Student Receives ARCE Best Student Paper Award

Emily Cole, graduate student in our Egyptology program, received the Best Student Paper Award at the 62nd American Egyptology Conference (ARCE) on April 1-3, 2011 in Chicago. In her paper “The Narmouthis Ostraca: Bilingual Texts from the Fayum,” she explores how Egyptian scribes experimented with the traditional Egyptian writing systems in their effort to adapt to the multilingual environment of Roman-period Egypt. She skillfully demonstrates how Demotic Egyptian and Greek interact linguistically and orthographically in the texts on these ostraca. This corpus of almost 1,500 ostraca represents the ‘missing link’ between Demotic and Coptic Egyptian.

This is the second year in a row that a UCLA Egyptology student is awarded the coveted prize. Last year the award was given to Eric Wells for his study of the private votive stelae from Asyut in Middle Egypt.

 Congratulations Emily!


New Publication by the Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project


Peilstöcker, Martin, and Aaron Alexander Burke (editors). 2011    The History and Archaeology of Jaffa 1. The Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project 1. Monumenta Archaeologica 26. Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, Los Angeles.

In 2007 the Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project (JCHP) was established as a joint research endeavor of the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Among the project’s diverse aims is the publication of numerous excavations conducted in Jaffa since 1948 under the auspices of various governmental and research institutions such as the Israel Department of Antiquities and Museums and its successor the Israel Antiquities Authority, as well as the Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project. This, the first volume in the Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project series, lays the groundwork for this initiative. Part I provides the historical, economic, and legal context for the JCHP’s development, while outlining its objectives and the unique opportunities that Jaffa offers researchers. The history of Jaffa and its region, and the major episodes of cultural change that affected the site and region are explored through a series of articles in Part II, including an illustrated discussion of historical maps of Jaffa from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Recent archaeological discoveries from Jaffa are included in Part III, while Part IV provides a first glimpse of the JCHP’s efforts to publish the Jacob Kaplan and Haya Ritter-Kaplan legacy from Jaffa. Together the twenty-five contributions to this work constitute the first major book-length publication to address the archaeology of Jaffa in more than sixty years since excavations were initiated at the site.

Dr. Jeremy Smoak selected for the Aviram Dorot Foundation Prize by ASOR

Dr. Smoak, a lecturer for NELC, has been selected for his paper titled: "May Yahweh Bless You and Guard You from Evil:  The Structure and Content of Ketef Hinnom Amulet I and the Background of the Prayers for Deliverance in the Psalms."  

This exceptional paper won the 2011 inaugural Joseph Aviram Prize, which is sponsored by the Dorot Foundation and administered by the American Schools of Oriental Research.  The prize honors the memory of Joseph Aviram, who was the director of the Israel Exploration Society in Jerusalem. 

In addition to being awarded a monetary prize, the paper will be presented at the annual meetings of the American Schools of Oriental Research in San Francisco, November 17-19, 2011.

NELC is incredibly proud to have Dr. Jeremy Smoak as one of our esteemed Lecturers who has capture the hearts and attention of our undergraduate and graduate student body. 

Congratulations Dr. Smoak!

Dr. Latife Hagigi: Recipient of the 2011 UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award

 This award is only awarded to a select few exceptional faculty members on campus.  After a competetive review, Dr. Hagigi's teaching excellence has been recognized.  The department is honored to have such an extraordinary member in their department and cannot congratulate her enough.

Dr. Latifeh Hagigi is currently a Lecturer in the Iranian department and teaches several of the languages courses.  Quarter after quarter, her students have given her rave reviews and high marks on her evaluations for her dedication, commitment, and her genuine concern for the students. 

Taslimi Foundation donates to UCLA’s Iranian Studies Program

January 2011

The UCLA Iranian Studies Program, housed in the department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, is pleased to announce the Taslimi Lectureship on the Baha’i Faith in Iran endowment.  This generous gift will significantly broaden and enhance the scope of Iranian studies at UCLA.  It will enable the Iranian Studies Program to hire a distinguished lecturer with expertise on the Baha’i faith in Iran. Additionally, The Taslimi Lectureship will facilitate development of new curriculum and open those courses to a broader audience, including Study of Religion majors.

The Taslimi Foundation was founded in 1996 by UCLA alumni, Shidan Taslimi (‘76 ‘78 Engineering), Mehran Taslimi (‘81 Engineering), Susanne Taslimi (‘74 Psychology) and Laila Taslimi (‘82 Theatre, ’98 Education).

The Taslimi Lectureship will commence in fall 2011 with special lectures and courses featuring prominent scholars in the Baha’i Faith.

UCLA and the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures are deeply grateful to the Taslimi family and the Taslimi Foundation for their visionary gift and for partnering with the university to achieve excellence.



Language Placement Exam Schedule


Through out the academic year, NELC department offers proficiency exams for Arabic, Armenian (Western and Eastern), Hebrew and Persian. Generally, people use the exam to document proficiency with a foreign language for university or program requirement.  Please check with your institution to make sure our departmental exam is accepted.

 *If you are a UCLA student, no registration or payment is necessary.

*If you are not a registered UCLA student, the exam costs $50. Payment MUST BE MADE prior to taking the exam.  Students who bring cash or check to the examination will be turned away.  Cash will never be accepted via mail or in person.  Please make checks out to "UC Regents" and mail them to:

NELC Proficiency Exam
361 Humanities Building
LA, CA 90095

For general questions about exams, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . See below for more information about exam dates.




Typically, exams are offered the first Saturday of every quarter at 1PM in Humanities Building Room 365.

Please register at

***Non-UCLA students must create a UCLA logon to register. Please see instructions at

Both Eastern and Western Armenian exams available.

For more information contact Dr. Peter Cowe at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Fall 2014: Saturday, December 6, 2014, 1:00P-3:00P in 365 Humanities

Winter 2015: Saturday, January 10, 2015, 1:00P-3:00P in 365 Humanities

Spring 2015: Saturday, April 4, 2015, 1:00P-3:00P in 365 Humanities


The Arabic placement exam is based on the book “Al-kitaab Fii Taa’llum Alarabiyya”. It includes listening, vocabulary, grammar, reading comprehension, and composition. It is an online exam, however, it takes place on campus. UCLA students can take the exam without registration. Bring a photo ID to the exam.

If you need to place out of the language requirement, contact Dr. Abeer Mohamed-Hamza at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The exam is offered in the beginning of the fall, winter, and spring quarters. If you fail to take the exam on the scheduled time, you will need to wait until the next time it's offered.

Fall 2014: Wednesday, October 1, 2014, 1:00P-3:00P at the CDH lab located in 2118 Rolfe Hall.

Winter 2015: Monday, January 5, 2015, 11:00A-1:00P at the CDH lab located in 2118 Rolfe Hall.

Spring 2015: Friday, April 3, 2015, 1:00P-3:00P at the CDH lab located in PUB AFF 1041.


Next Hebrew placement exams are given on first Wednesday of each quarter at 11:00 (exam length 1 hour), at 376C Humanities Bldg. Exams are moved if they fall on a Jewish Holiday. The exam is based on the book Ha-Yesod (found usually at UCLA Bookstore, textbook for Hebrew 1), and it includes understanding written text, answering written questions (in Hebrew), translating into English, multiple-choice questions on grammar, and a short composition. The entire exam is written only.

You need to register. Bring a photo ID to the exam.

Contact Dr. Nancy Ezer (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) if you need further clarification.

Fall 2014: Tuesday, October 7, 2014, 12:00P-1:00P in 365 Humanities

Winter 2015: Wednesday, January 7, 2015 1:30P-2:30P in 365 Humanities

Spring 2015: Wednesday, April 1, 2015 1:30P-2:30P in 365 Humanities


Exam tests for exemption from beginning level Persian.

If you are interested in taking an exam to determine which level of Persian language courses to take, please contact Dr. Hagigi.

For more information contact Dr. Latifeh Hagigi at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Fall 2014: Monday, September 29, 2014, 1:00P-3:00P in 365 Humanities

Winter 2015: Not Offered

Spring 2015: Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 1:00P-3:00P in 365 Humanities