February 1, 2019
Miguel Civil, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, passed away on January 13, 2019. He was widely considered the world's leading expert in the Sumerian language. Director of the Oriental Institute, Professor Chris Woods, noted that Professor Civil's "academic contributions are simply monumental — more than any other scholar he shaped the modern, post World War II, study of Sumerology. Our understanding of Sumerian writing, grammar, lexicography, literature, agriculture, and socio-economic institutions all bear his deep imprint. Born outside of Barcelona in 1926 and trained in Paris, Miguel came to the US in 1958 to take the position of Associate Researcher under Samuel Noah Kramer at the University of Pennsylvania. He joined the faculty of the University of Chicago in 1964. After retiring in 2001, Miguel remained the field’s leading light, publishing two books, The Early Dynastic Practical Vocabulary A (Archaic HAR-ra A) (Rome, 2008) and The Lexical texts in the Schøyen Collection (Bethesda, Md., 2010), and numerous seminal articles during this time. His 2013 article, "Remarks on AD-GI4 (A.K.A. 'Archaic Word List C' or 'Tribute')," published in the Journal of Cuneiform Studies, is a work of stunning insight and erudition that at once exemplified his brilliance and showed Miguel to still be at the pinnacle of his intellectual powers as he approached ninety. He was a mentor, teacher, and friend to two generations of Sumerologists and Assyriologists. And those who knew Miguel will also remember his kindness and generosity, his great stories and searing wit which took on a special nuance in his distinctive gravel voice. We are not likely to see his kind again. He will be sorely missed."
The official University obituary for Professor Miguel Civil was published by UChicago News. Obituaries have also appeared in the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune.
A memorial service will take place on Monday, March 18th, 2019, at 4:00 PM, in Professor Civil's honor at Bond Memorial Chapel on the campus of the University of Chicago. The service will coincide with the conclusion of the annual meeting of the American Oriental Society.