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Saggs, Henry W.F.

'Henry William Frederick Saggs' (December 2, 1920 - August 31, 2005) was a noted Assyrioligist, extremely sought-after epigraphist, and 17 year lecturer at the University of Cardiff for Semitic languages. Born in Essex, he was accepted to King's College, London to read theology in 1939 and later evacuated to Bristol, graduating in 1942, but in the wake of World War II, was drawn into military service in the Fleet Air Arm. After his military tenure, which was mostly relegated to ground duties after a tragic training accident left him with a broken back, he was assigned to the British Mandate Palestine because of his knowledge of Hebrew. Here he became acquainted with the Near East, a passion which continued when he returned to Britain for his master's studies, learning Akkadian under the tutelage of Sydney Smith.

As the epigraphist on an excavation of the Assyrian capital Nimrud, Saggs made a name for himself by discovering, translating, and interpreting the letters of correspondence between the Assyrian rulers Tiglath-pileser, Shalmaneser V and Sargon II. These "Nimrud Letters" became a source of fascination and intrigue for Assyrianologists for many decades, finally being completely consolidated in The Nimrud Letters 1954, a volume containing 240 texts.

Saggs' fusion of knowledge between Old Testament and Assyrian studies combined with his writing style geared towards readers of all educational backgrounds has made him an asset to his field. Among his greatest syntheses of the two fields are his published inaugural lecture, Assyriology and the Study of the Old Testament, with his studies of the Old Testament rearing its head as references and evidence in many of his articles, like [ The Story of Nebuchandezzar]. In addition, his later works on the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires were more geared towards the general public, with his book Babylonians appearing on a suggested reading list for young adults.

He married his wife, Joan, in 1946 and had four children.

Major works

*The Nimrud Letters 1952, 2001 *The Greatness that was Babylon, 1962 and 1988 *Everyday Life in Babylonia and Assyria, 1965 *Assyriology and the Study of the Old Testament, lecture 1968 *The encounter with the divine in Mesopotamia and Israel, lecture series 1976 *The Might that was Assyria, 1984 *Civilization before Greece and Rome, 1989 *Ancient Near Eastern Religions, 1993 *Babylonians, 1995


Professor at Baghdad University (1956 - 1957) Lecturer at University of Cardiff (1966 - 1983) Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries; Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society; Regular member of the governing council of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq.

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