ARCH1600 Fall17 S01 Archaeologies of the Near East

ARCH1600 Fall17 S01 Archaeologies of the Near East


Scehdule: Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:00-2:20

With: Carl Walsh, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Archaeology, Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World

Carl’s Office Hours: Mondays 2-4 and Fridays 2-4
Office: Room 207, Rhode Island Hall


Course Description and Learning Outcomes

The Near East is an exotic and mysterious concept evoking ideas and images of ancient monuments and forgotten societies, as explored for example in Agatha Christie’s famous Murder in Mesopotamia. While this concept is largely the result of western orientalism, it cannot be denied that this region, incorporating Mesopotamia, Syria, Anatolia, the Levant, and Iran, is steeped in fabled history and a wondrously rich material, artistic, and textual record. This rich archaeological record has illustrated that the Near East was a nexus of the earliest development of human societies, writing, art, urbanism, agriculture, and imperialism, with cultural and material influences that continue even today. In the recent decades, the Middle East, another concept in itself, has become a place of political instability and unrest, with archaeological field research being overwhelmingly impacted. As such, it has become even more important that we continue to research and protect the cultural heritage of the region, in order to understand how the Near East continues to impact the modern world.


In this course we will explore the archaeological history and current archaeological practice in this region, examining the social and cultural history of the Near East from prehistory to the end of the Iron Age (300 BC). An emphasis is placed on a holistic approach using material, artistic, and textual sources in which to explore themes and theories, giving students the skills to use all of these sources critically in research. To underscore this holistic approach, certain classes will also provide students with the opportunity and training to handle and examine objects and texts from the region. The concept of ‘archaeologies’ is also explored throughout the semester, where we will investigate some of interpretive approaches and theoretical frameworks used within Near Eastern archaeology. This plurality of interpretive approaches will provide students with a background in some of the ways archaeologists interpret the archaeological record and how they contribute to the study of humanity in the wider social sciences and humanities. In addition, archaeology in the Middle East is frequently a politicized field, and the contemporary political circumstances have a massive impact on how the ancient past is documented, studied and represented. Using several archaeological case studies in the ancient Middle East, the course intends to unpack the modern scholarly and public context of archaeological discourses. The main goal of the course is to develop a critical understanding of ancient societies and their material culture from an interdisciplinary perspective, in which students learn how they can actively contribute to modern scholarship.

Syllabus: ARCH1600 Syllabus.pdf

Course Summary:

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