Francesca Rochberg

Job title: 
Professor Emerita of Assyriology, Catherine and William L. Magistretti Distinguished Professor Emerita of Near Eastern Studies

Francesca Rochberg is Catherine and William L. Magistretti Distinguished Professor of Near Eastern Studies Emerita. From 1982–1987 she held the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship and was awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 1993. In 2008 she was elected to the American Philosophical Society.

Rochberg was a member of the Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures (formerly Near Eastern Studies) Department and a member of the Graduate Group in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology from 2007–2022, and served as Chair of MELC from 2018–2021. Other appointments include Membership at the Institute for Advanced Study, School of Historical Studies, Princeton (2007); Senior Fellow at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, NYU (2010); Senior Fellow in the Topoi Excellence Research Group Space of Nature, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (2017). She has held visiting professorships at the Institut für Assyriologie und Hethitologie, Ludwig- Maximilian Universität, München (2010), at the Freie Universität Berlin (2016) and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin (MPIWG) (2018) and at the Universita di Torino (2022). She was the Francis Bacon Professor in the History and Philosophy of Science at Caltech (2023), where she received the Francis Bacon Award in the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology. She gave the 2023 Martin Myerson Faculty Research Lecture, University of California, Berkeley.

Rochberg is the author of many articles and the following monographs: Aspects of Babylonian Celestial Divination: The Lunar Eclipse Tablets of Enūma Anu Enlil, Archiv für Orientforschung Beiheft 22 (Horn: Ferdinand Berger und Söhne, 1988); Babylonian Horoscopes, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society Vol.88, Pt.1 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1998), which won the John Frederick Lewis Award from the American Philosophical Society in 1998; The Heavenly Writing: Divination, Horoscopy and Astronomy in Mesopotamian Culture (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004, paperback edition, 2007); In the Path of the Moon: Babylonian Celestial Divination and Its Legacy, Studies in Ancient Magic and Divination, (Leiden and Boston: E.J. Brill, 2010); Before Nature: Cuneiform Knowledge and the History of Science (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2016, paperback edition 2020); She co-edited with Alan C. Bowen, Hellenistic Astronomy: The Science in Its Contexts (Brill, 2020), which won the Choice Award as Outstanding Academic Title in 2020. Her most recent monograph is Reflections on Worldmaking: Historiography and Anthropology of Cuneiform Sciences (forthcoming Cambridge University Press).

She was the recipient of a Festschrift in 2018: The Scaffolding of our Thoughts: Essays on Assyriology and the History of Science in honor of Francesca Rochberg, eds., C. Jay Crisostomo, Eduardo A. Escobar, Terri Tanaka, and Niek Veldhuis, Ancient Magic and Divination 13 (Brill).

Research interests: 

Assyriology, with a focus on Akkadian scholastic texts of the second and first millennia B.C.E.
History of science, with a focus on Babylonian astronomy and astrology.
Philology, cultural history, and the impact of the philosophy of science on the historiography of ancient science, with a focus on the reception of Babylonian astronomy and astrology into the wider field of history of science.