The Samuel Noah Kramer Institute of Assyriology was established at Bar-Ilan University in 1980. The founding members were: Pinhas Artzi (first Director), Jacob Klein, Aaron Skaist and Amnon Altman. The Institute is affiliated with the Bar-Ilan University, Faculty of Jewish Studies, and connected with the Department of Hebrew and Semitic Languages and the Department of Bible. The late Professor Samuel Noah Kramer bequeathed his research library to the Institute.
The primary aim of the Institute is to promote research activity in the area of Assyriology, Sumerology and related fields. Special emphasis is laid upon the following areas: Mesopotamian Literature; Mesopotamian Law and its influence on neighboring peoples; Ancient Near Eastern History; El-Amarna Studies; and interrelationships between Assyriology and the Bible.
Further aims of the Institute are: to encourage the academic training and research activities of graduate students in Assyriology and Sumerology; to foster scholarly cooperation between colleagues in Israel and abroad in the areas of Assyriology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies; and to increase interest in the study of Assyriology and the cultural heritage of Ancient Mesopotamia, among wider intellectual circles in Israel.
The Institute hosts the secreteriate of the Israel Society for Assyriology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies from the time of its establishment (1997).
The Institute's staff consists of senior Bar-Ilan faculty members who specialize in Assyriology and Ancient Semitic Languages, from among whom the directorial committee is selected. In addition, a group of graduate students are pursuing their research work toward M.A. and PhD degrees, under the supervision of the members of the Institute.
The Institute also sponsors a series of scholarly publications, called "Publications of the Bar-Ilan University Institute of Assyriology," which are part of the series "Bar-Ilan Studies in Near Eastern Languages and Culture". Within the framework of these serties four books have already appeared, and another book is presently in press.