AR2P25-Ancient Civilisations of the Middle East

Module Provider: Archaeology
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Prof Roger Matthews


Summary module description:
This module provides the student with an introductory knowledge of the main archaeological issues in the Near East from the Neolithic to the Achaemenid period, i.e. 10,000 – 330 BC. Major episodes such as the beginning of farming, urbanism, and the development of empires will be covered.

- To provide an introduction to the archaeology and early history of the Near East, with emphasis on the civilizations of Mesopotamia, the Levant, Anatolia, and Iran.
- To consider the nature and interpretation of archaeological and textual sources in approaching the past of the Near East.
- To consider major issues in the development of human society in the Near East, including the origins and evolution of sedentism, agriculture, complex societies, urbanism, literacy, and empires.
- To introduce students to a sample of exciting current field projects in the archaeology of the Near East.

Assessable learning outcomes:
On successful completion of this module a student should:
• Have a broad overview of the archaeology and early history of the Near East.
• Appreciate the significance of the archaeology of the Near East within the context of the development of human society.
• Appreciate the importance of critical approaches to archaeological and textual sources within the context of the Near East.

Additional outcomes:
By the end of the module students should be able to demonstrate:

• Understanding and critical awareness of a range of primary and secondary sources.
• Written skills in analysis and presentation.
• Appreciation of, and ability to apply, methods and theories of archaeological and historical analysis.
• Appreciation of artefacts and museum displays as elements of past societies of the Near East.

Outline content:
The module will provide a period-by-period consideration of the major peoples and societies of the ancient Near East, focusing on developments in Mesopotamia (Iraq), Iran, Anatolia (Turkey) and the Levant. Building on a basic understanding of the chronological framework, the module will include detailed review of specific issues, including: the Neolithic transformation; early metallurgy and craft specialisation; urbanisation and the origins of bureaucracy in writing and sealing practices; death, burial and cult; trade and economic interaction; empires and imperial collapse.

Students will gain an intellectual appreciation of important past cultures as well as an understanding of how contemporary archaeology in the Near East is situated within complex social and political settings.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Teaching will be through well-illustrated lectures plus seminars with student participation.

This is a 20 credit module, which means that it is intended to occupy you for 200 hours of work: seminar preparation, background reading, essay reading and writing. With that in mind the kind of workload you should expect might be as follows:

20 hours: Contact hours in formal teaching sessions
45 hours: Engaged in reading and note taking from ‘key texts’ for each week
45 hours: Engaged in reading, preparation and writing your essay
90 hours: Background reading for lectures (e.g. 9 hours per topic)

Preparatory Reading:

Roaf, M. (1990) Cultural Atlas of Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East. Oxford: FoF.

Van De Mieroop, M. (2007) A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000-323 BC, Second edition. Oxford: Blackwell.

Liverani, M. (2014) The Ancient Near East. History, Society and Economy. Abingdon: Routledge.

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Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 16
Tutorials 4
Guided independent study 180
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 60
Report 40

Other information on summative assessment:
Students will write one essay of 3000 words. The mark for this essay will count towards assessment (60% of the overall module mark). The essay will be submitted in the second half of the Term, on dates set by the Department.

Students will also produce an ‘artefact/site report’ of 1500 words based on relevant archaeological objects and sites studied during the module. Detailed advice will be given on how to produce the artefact/site report. The report will count for 40% of the overall mark.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Last updated: 6 April 2016

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