On July 1, 2024, the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC) became the Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures (MELC).  While our name has changed, our mission is the same.  We engage in the interdisciplinary study and teaching of the cultures and peoples of the the Middle East as they have expressed themselves in languages, texts and literatures, including written and oral sources, as well as art, architecture, archaeology, and material objects. Our studies encompass the geographic region that stretches from North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula through the eastern Mediterranean to Arabia and Iran. 

The areas we study primarily include Egypt, Mesopotamia, Israel/Palestine, greater Syria, Arabia, Iran and the Persianate world, and Anatolia and Turkey. We teach ancient and modern languages including Sumerian, Akkadian, Egyptian, Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Kurdish. We endeavor in teaching and research to explore past and present social contacts across communities and places. In this way, we push boundaries and frontiers within and beyond the Middle East.

Our department upholds a conscious commitment to scholarship within the University of Pennsylvania and the world. We seek to sustain a community that is diverse in terms of gender, national origin, ethnicity and race, religion, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, and more. The intellectual life of the Department is collaborative and flourishes from its culture of inclusion, which aspires to make everyone feel welcome. We aim to build connections to scholars across the University of Pennsylvania campus and elsewhere at local, national, and international levels as we exchange ideas and spread knowledge. This commitment to collegiality, inquiry, and exploration makes our department a vibrant center for the humanistic study of the Middle East from ancient times to the present.