Piotr Michalowski, Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, retired from active faculty status on May 31, 2016.
Piotr Michalowski attended the University of Warsaw where he earned Masters of Arts degrees in the Department of Mediterranean Archaeology and the Department of Near Eastern Philology in 1968. He then attended Yale University where he earned a Master of Philosophy in 1972 and his Doctorate in 1976. Professor Michalowski joined the faculty at the University of Michigan as associate professor in 1981 with the title of George G. Cameron Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.
He was promoted to professor in 1987, and served as Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Studies 1987-93, and again as Acting Chair in 1995-96. At Michigan, he also held the Helmut F. Stern Professorship at the Humanities Institute (2002-03), and served as Senior Member of the Society of Fellows (1998-2002).
In four monographs, five edited volumes, and more than one hundred articles, Piotr Michalowski addressed almost anything in ancient Mesopotamian history, from political history and religion to language and literature, pursued with philological meticulousness and deeply emphatic engagement with the textual legacy of Sumer and Akkad. His most sustained interest was, and continues to be, devoted to the origins of writing as a technological and cognitive innovation, and to the evolution (or revolution) leading from informational notation to narrative, and to literature. His insights build on multiple disciplines and comparative approaches far beyond his field, and have made him one of the most innovative and influential scholars in his field, recognized in prestigious grants and awards, including Guggenheim and NEH.
His service to the profession was commensurate to this influence. Professor Michalowski was President of the International Association for Assyriology (2009-14), and President of the American Oriental Society (2013-14). Since 1991, he is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Cuneiform Studies, and remains active on numerous editorial and advisory boards nationally and internationally.
Piotr Michalowski is also an important member of the cultural scene of Ann Arbor as a jazz musician and ardent promoter of jazz in all its facets. He is a member of the Copernicus Steering Committee, where he gives generously of his knowledge and time, most recently teaching a course on Polish jazz and conducting an interview with jazz great Tomasz Stańko in 2015.
The Regents of the University of Michigan have saluted this distinguished scholar by naming Piotr Michalowski George G. Cameron professor emeritus of Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.