About the PSD


The PSD was begun in 1974 by Åke Sjöberg and Erle Leichty, receiving its first NEH funding in 1976. Initially conceived of as an encyclopedic dictionary in the mold of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, the project has restructured itself over the last few years to be primarily an online endeavor. The current director is Steve Tinney.


The PSD is designed as a corpus-based dictionary implemented exclusively with open-source software implementing XML-related standards. Our goal is that the final product should function equally well on the World Wide Web and on non-networked machines (as a turnkey system installed from CD).

For those interested in a more detailed exposition of the design principles and prospects this paper gives a reasonable account of the current implementation plans. A prior work, found here, may also be of interest, even if it is now slightly dated. In particular, we are presently evaluating eXist as a means of implementing the kind of persistent DOM envisioned in the paper.


We are presently preparing the first full electronic release of the dictionary, including its dependent datasets, for 2006. We are working with the following approximate timeline:

May 2004
Web-release of first beta of ePSD
May 2005
Web-release of second beta of ePSD
May 2006
Web, CD and print-release of first full version of Sumerian Dictionary

Subsequent research carried out by the Sumerian Dictionary project will involve refining and enhancing our understanding of the language by ongoing semantic investigation, as well as by keeping abreast of new texts and new developments in the field of Sumerology. We anticipate releasing a revised version of the Sumerian Dictionary every three to five years.


We work with several other projects in the development of tools and corpora. Three of these have useful websites: The Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (CDLI), The Digital Corpus of Cuneiform Lexical Texts and the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature (ETCSL). We are in the course of developing projects on the liturgical and incantation corpora.