I just learned that Dr. Leon de Meyer, the doyen of Assyriology in Belgium, passed away about two weeks ago. His family gave him a quiet burial and only made it public now. He was rector or president of the Rijksuniversiteit Gent as it was still called in 1985-1993 (now Universiteit Gent).He led the Belgian excavations at Tell el-Der (ancient Sippar) in Iraq which among other things found the Archive of Ur-Utu a.k.a. the Sippar Library. This collection of cuneiform tablets was found still on its shelves, a unique find (see for instance my note on a lecture on an aspect of this archive at the 2005 Rencontre). He also was the driving force behind the Assyriological Center (formerly Foundation) Georges Dossin and its journal Akkadica. He was was given the title of baron in 1992.
He was an outspoken advocate of the archaeological heritage of Iraq and was active from the beginning in international efforts to mitigate the destructive impact of the Iraq War. He last joined the September 23 appeal by prominent archaeologists to the Iraqi authorities (see my November 1 post We, the undersigned, ...). The Universiteit Gent will hold a special academic session in his honor on November 20 (for details, unfortunately only in Dutch, see Universiteit Gent).
• F. Verhoest, "Rector Leon De Meyer maakte Gentse universiteit weer trots. Postuum," in De Standaard (Belgium), November 15, 2006
• "Herdenkingszitting ererector Leon De Meyer (14-11-2006)," in Universiteit Gent (Belgium), online, November 14, 2006
November 15, 2006
Dr. Leon De Meyer (1928-2006)