Kramer, Samuel Noah

Kramer, Samuel Noah

(1897–1990) Sumerologist, author, museum curator; born near Kiev, Russia. He came to the United States with his family in 1919 and was educated at Temple University (B.A. 1921) and the University of Pennsylvania (Ph.D. 1929). His career as a leading authority on Sumerian language and literature began with a major expedition to Iraq in 1930–31, during which he excavated and translated Sumerian tablets. He became curator of the tablet collections at Pennsylvania's University Museum in 1950 as well as Clark research professor in Assyriology there (1950–68). His many publications include History Begins at Sumer (1959) and The Cradle of Civilization (1967).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kramer, Samuel Noah


Born Sept. 28, 1897, in the city of Zhashkov. American Orientalist and Sumerologist.

Born in Russia, Kramer and his family moved to the USA in 1906. In the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s he participated in archaeological excavations in Iraq and conducted epigraphic research in the museums of Baghdad, Istanbul, and elsewhere. He was the first to investigate and translate the most important Sumerian myths, epics, and other literary texts, as well as law codes of Ur-Nammu and Lipit-Ishtar and tablets with cuneiform minuscule symbols. In 1957 and 1960 he visited the USSR and published a Sumerian cuneiform tablet with a literary text from the collection of the A. S. Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts (Two Elegies on a Tablet From the A. S. Pushkin Museum: A New Sumerian Literary Genre, 1960).


The Sumerian Mythology. New York, 1961.
Mythologies of the Ancient World. New York, 1961.
The Sunerians: Their History, Culture, and Character. Chicago-London, 1967.
The Sacred Marriage Rite. London, 1969.
In Russian translation:
Istoriia nachinaetsia v Shumere. Moscow, 1965.


D’iakonov, I. M. “Novye dannye o shumerskoi kul’ture.” In Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1947, no. 2.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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