ARMT02-Themes and Approaches in the Study of Mesopotamia

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: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Prof Roger Matthews


Summary module description:
In this module we examine themes, issues and approaches in the archaeology of Iraq (Mesopotamia), with focus on the early urban societies of the region, ca. 4000-1500 BC.

This module aims to provide students with a systematic understanding and critical awareness of current knowledge and issues in studies of changes in Mesopotamian during this period. It also aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the theoretical and methodological approaches to study of early urban settlement and society in this region.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able:
•to provide a critical assessment of the main characteristics of, and changes in, early urban settlement and society in Mesopotamia from c. 3200-1750 BC
•to evaluate critically the nature and quality of archaeological data and the competing methodological and theoretical approaches to key complex issues associated with Mesopotamian settlement and society and to develop critiques of them
•to locate, extract, and assemble data and information from varied sources, with initiative and minimal guidance
•to take a creative approach to key issues and to develop independent interpretations of material through self-directed research
•to synthesise wide-ranging material and to articulate arguments effectively and clearly in writing an assessed essay and orally in seminar debates and presentations.

Additional outcomes:
This module also aims to develop independent problem-solving skills in dealing with complex and incomplete interdisciplinary archaeological, textual and scientific data. Seminar presentations, critical reviews and the development of an individual essay topic encourage independent learning, as well as communication skills, personal responsibility, and teamwork in discussion groups.

Outline content:
This module begins with a critical review of socio-cultural developments in Mesopotamia from the late 4th to the early 2nd millennium BC, and the history of archaeological research in the region. The module will then focus thematically on critical evaluation of key issues and case-studies in the study of early urban settlement and society. It will appraise competing approaches, theories and interpretations, and relate 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 and identity. The module will close with a session on the legacy of Mesopotamia and the heritage of Iraq.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Illustrated lectures, seminars and structured group discussion requiring intensive preparatory reading. Students will write one assessed essay, which will be returned in individual tutorials, give an oral presentation and contribute to seminars and critical reviews.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 20
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 100

Other information on summative assessment:
One essay of 5,000 words (100%)

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

Length of examination:

Requirements for a pass:

Reassessment arrangements:
Resubmission of coursework by 1st September, but it cannot carry forward more than a pass mark.

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: 31 March 2017

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