Thorkild Jacobsen received his master's degree from the University of Copenhagen and then came to the USA to study at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, where he received his PhD. He became a field Assyriologist for the Institute's Iraq Expedition, which lasted from 1929 to 1937. He managed the excavation of the 2,600-year-old Sennacherib aqueduct at Jerwan, which at that time was the world's oldest-known aqueduct. He was considered an expert translator of cuneiform compositions and a brilliant interpreter of Sumerian and Akkadian cultures. In 1946, he was named director of the Institute. He also served as dean of the Humanities Division (1948-1951), as an editor of the Assyrian Dictionary (1955-1959), and as professor of Social Institutions (1946-1962). In 1962, Prof. Jacobsen took up an appointment as professor of Assyriology at Harvard University, where he remained until his retirement in 1974. He then served as a visiting professor at UCLA, where he helped develop a strong Assyriology program. He served as president of the American Oriental Society.