Jacob Lauinger, a 2007 PhD graduate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, was honored by becoming the first Donnelley Research Fellow. The three-year post-doctoral fellowship alternates between Cambridge University and the University of Chicago. It was established with a $4 million grant from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation.
Lauinger is using the fellowship to complete both a research project and a book. The book looks at the emergence and disappearance of a little-known empire that flourished about 1800-1600 B.C. in an area that makes up the northern part of what is now Syria. Developed from his dissertation, the book is entitled Inside the Empire of Yamhad: A History of Alalakh in the Old Babylonian Period and is scheduled for publication in 2011.
His research project is an examination of 126 tablets that document a community that immediately preceded the reign of Hammurabi, author of the famous legal code in Babylonia.The tablets are part of the Oriental Instutite‘s collection, and they have not previously been studied. “The really exciting thing about doing work on Near Eastern texts is that you get a chance to read something that no modern person has read before. It’s not like that in Latin and Greek,” Lauinger said.
The fellowship will provide an important opportunity for young scholars at Chicago and Cambridge and will enhance the interaction between researchers at both universities, said Cathy Cohen, Deputy Provost for Graduate Education and the David and Mary Wilson Green Professor in Political Science and the College at the University of Chicago. “We are very grateful to the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation for this wonderful support,” she said. “This fellowship will recognize early-career scholars of exceptional promise and provide them the time and resources they need for their research efforts, as they turn their dissertation into a book or develop their next research project.”