The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC) engages in the interdisciplinary humanistic study and teaching of the cultures of the Near East (often called the Middle East) as they express themselves in languages, texts, and literatures, including written and oral sources, as well as art, architecture, archaeology and material culture. These cultures encompass the geographic region that stretches from North Africa through the eastern Mediterranean to Arabia and Iran.

NELC’s programs focus on study of the peoples, cultures, and civilizations of Mesopotamia/Iraq, Egypt, Israel/Palestine, greater Syria, Arabia, Anatolia/Turkey and Persia/Iran. We teach ancient and modern languages including Sumerian, Akkadian, Egyptian, Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Kurdish.  We endeavor in teaching and research to explore past and present social and cultural connections across communities.

We in NELC maintain and promote a conscious commitment to scholarship within the University of Pennsylvania and the world. Our department sustains a community that is international and diverse, and whose members push all boundaries and frontiers. The intellectual life of the department is collaborative and flourishes from its culture of inclusion, which aspires to make everyone feel welcome and connected to scholarly exchange and the dissemination of knowledge. 

Members of our department affirm that diversity generates strength. We are committed to including all voices, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, socio-economic status, religion, sexual orientation, and rank, while respecting each other’s individual beliefs.