Matthew Rutz works in the field of Assyriology, the interdisciplinary study of texts written in the cuneiform ("wedge-shaped") writing system from ancient Mesopotamia, traditionally the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers (present-day Iraq, Syria, and Turkey). He specializes in the languages and cultures of this region with an emphasis on Akkadian (Babylonian/Assyrian) and Sumerian documents from the latter half of the second millennium BCE, the social and political history of Late Bronze Age Syria, Babylonian literary and scholastic texts from the site of Nippur (Iraq), ancient Mesopotamian intellectual and religious history, and the study of ancient texts as archaeological objects.
Professor Rutz is the author of Bodies of Knowledge in Ancient Mesopotamia: The Diviners of Late Bronze Age Emar and Their Tablet Collection (2013) and co-editor (with Morag M. Kersel) of Archaeologies of Text: Archaeology, Technology, and Ethics (2014).
He received his PhD in Cuneiform Studies (Assyriology) from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008. Before coming to Brown in 2009, he was a postdoctoral researcher with the Royal Inscriptions of the Neo-Assyrian Period Project, a multi-year research program at the University of Pennsylvania funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has worked extensively with the cuneiform tablet collection in the Babylonian Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology as well as in the British Museum.