(Photo courtesy of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary)

Card catalog

A 90-year project illuminates an ancient culture.

Volumes of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary projected by Oriental Institute founding director James Henry Breasted in 1933: 6 Volumes actually needed to complete the dictionary: 21 Number of editors in charge since the first volume was published in 1956: 3 (A. Leo Oppenheim; Erica Reiner, PhD’52; Martha T. Roth) Years that Akkadian was the predominant language in ancient Mesopotamia: Approximately 2,500 Years that Ignace Jay Gelb, then editor in charge, predicted in 1947 would be required to complete the dictionary: 10 Years it took from that point: 64 Total years needed to complete the project: 90 Approximate number of words cataloged in the dictionary: 28,000 Pages taken up by a single word, “umu,” meaning “day,” in the final volume, a fairly typical entry: 17