Samuel Noah Kramer, 93, a scholar whose greatest passion was poring over 4,000-year-old clay tablets that contained the world's first known written language, the ancient cuneiform script of the Sumerians, died Monday in Philadelphia. He had throat cancer. Mr. Kramer, a professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, translated myths, prayers and proverbs that predate the Bible. He also was credited with discovering the world's oldest matrimonial vows, the first juvenile delinquent and the oldest known record of a murder trial -- the 3,800-year-old case of three men who were sentenced to death for the murder of a temple official in Sumer, which is now southern Iraq.
Nguyen Van Tam, 97, prime minister to former Vietnamese Emperor Bao Dai, died Friday in Paris, his family said Monday. No cause of death was given for Mr. Nguyen, who had lived in exile in Paris the past 35 years. He was president of the Vietnamese Council from 1952 to 1953 after holding several ministerial posts, beginning in 1946. He was nicknamed the Tiger of Cai Lay for eliminating Communist Vietnamese resistance groups in the Cai Lay region of the Mekong Delta.
Bulent Arel, 71, a composer and teacher best known for his electronic music, died on Saturday at University Hospital in Stony Brook, N.Y., of multiple myeloma. Mr. Arel, who was born in Istanbul, studied composition at the Ankara Conservatory and sound engineering in Paris. In Ankara, he taught at the conservatory, established the Helikon Society of Contemporary Arts and was the first music director of Radio Ankara from 1951 to 1959. He was also a painter and sculptor, and several of his works are in the permanent collection of the Turkish National Gallery. In 1959, he accepted an invitation from the Rockefeller Foundation to join the staff of a project the foundation was financing, the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center in New York City, one of the world's first sophisticated electronic music laboratories. Mr. Arel designed and installed the electronic music laboratory at Yale University, where he taught from 1961 to 1970, and he established the electronic music program at the State University at Stony Brook, where he taught from 1971 until he retired in 1989.