Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Studies
Director of Graduate Studies 2013-14
Beate Pongratz-Leisten was trained as a translator and interpreter of French and Spanish at the École Supérieure d'Interprètes et de Traducteurs, Paris, and the University of Mainz. In 1983 she embarked on a second career in ancient Near Eastern Studies, Egyptology, and Religious Studies at Tübingen University and Harvard University. She received her doctorate and habilitation from Tübingen University. Before joining the faculty of ISAW she taught at Tübingen University and Freiburg University in Germany, as well as at Princeton, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton Theological Seminary.
Interests: political, intellectual and religious history of the ancient Near East, materialities of culture, literature, formation of textual communities, transmission of cultural memory, ritual performance and ritual texts.
Her publications include several books on the cultural and religious history of ancient Mesopotamia. She currently works on a book Cosmology and Kingship in Assyria which investigates the origins of Assyrian royal discourse and the cooperation between the elites and the king in shaping the ideal image of the king.
Together with colleagues from Classics, art history, cognitive sciences and linguistics she has founded the research group Ancient Cultures and Cognitive Sciences (ACCS) to investigate aspects of ancient cultures including the shaping of belief and social bonding with the divine, divine agency, construction of demonology and the formation and textualization of knowledge.
In April 2011 she organized a workshop on Materiality of Divine Agency in Cross-Cultural Perspective.
She is a member of the American Oriental Society, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft, Berlin and was awarded several fellowships including fellowships of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft in 2000 and of the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard University in 2003/04. In 2007/08 she was awarded a NEH grant at the Institute for Advanced Study.