AR3P13-Emergence of Civilisation in Mesopotamia

Module Provider: Archaeology
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Pre-requisites: AR1TS3 Practising Archaeology: methods and approaches
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Prof Roger Matthews


Summary module description:
This module provides a thematic introduction to key developments in Mesopotamia from the late 4th to the early 2nd millennium BC. The issues examined include: origins of writing; socio-politics and the nature of power, city-states and empire; ritual, death, burial and gender; and human-environment inter-relationships, resources, trade and exchange.

This module aims to provide students with an in-depth knowledge of Mesopotamia during this period, and a critical understanding of theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of early urban settlement and society in this region and in archaeology more widely.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able: *to identify, date, describe and analyse the key changes in early urban settlement and society in Mesopotamia from c. 3200-1750 BC *to appraise critically the competing methodological and theoretical approaches to archaeological and textual data on key issues relating to Mesopotamian settlement and society *to locate, extract, and assemble data and information from varied sources, with minimal guidance *to examine and evaluate key issues and to develop independent interpretations of material through self-directed research *to organise wide-ranging material and to articulate arguments effectively in writing an assessed essay, critical review, and orally in seminar discussions and presentations

Additional outcomes:
This module promotes the development of problem-solving skills in dealing with diverse bodies of complex and incomplete archaeological, textual and scientific data. Seminar presentations, critical reviews and essay topics encourage independent learning, as well as communication skills, personal responsibility, and teamwork in discussion groups.

Outline content:
This module begins with an introduction to socio-cultural developments in Mesopotamia from the late 4th to the early 2nd millennium BC, and a history of archaeological research in the region. The module will then focus thematically on critical examination of key issues and case-studies in the study of early urban settlement and society, highlighting competing approaches, theories and interpretations, and relating them to current debates in archaeology more widely. The issues examined include: human-environment inter-relationships and agricultural intensification; resources, trade and exchange; origins of writing; socio-politics and the nature of power, city-states and empire; ritual; death and burial, and gender. The module will close with one session evaluating current interdisciplinary research projects.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Illustrated lectures, seminars and structured group discussion requiring preparatory reading. Students will write one assessed essay and a critical review, which will be returned in individual tutorials, and present seminar papers and critical reviews.

Introductory Reading
Matthews, R. 2003. The Archaeology of Mesopotamia: Theories and Approaches. London: Routledge (913.35-MAT).

Pollock, S. 1999. Ancient Mesopotamia. New York: Cambridge University Press. (913.395-POL).

Postgate, J. N. 1992. Early Mesopotamia: Society and Economy at the Dawn of History. London: Routledge. (935-POS).

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 16
Seminars 8
External visits 6
Guided independent study 170
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 60
Report 30
Oral assessment and presentation 10

Other information on summative assessment:
One essay of 3,000 words (60%), one article critique of 2,000 words (30%), oral presentation and seminar performance (10%)

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:

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 21 December 2016

    Things to do now