- Some of the pdf files of the weekly readings are stored in a closed forum. Please visit that page to download them. You will need your course wiki password to access this page. Readings.
Week 1: January 23-25.Introduction.
Wednesday ~ Introduction: Where is Babylon? (scope of the course, methods, overview)..
Friday ~ Where is Mesopotamia, Near East, Middle East? Imperialism and the politics of defining a region. (Discussion)
Week 2. Jan. 28-Feb 1. Archaeology, politics and the “presence of the past” in the Middle East.
Monday ~ Modernity: Speaking of the (ancient) past in the (modern) present
- Schnapp, Alain; 1997. “Archaeology and the presence of the past,” in The discovery of the past. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 11-37.
Wednesday ~ Heritage of the Middle East: who owns the past? Ideologies of the present.
- (Assignment 1 due: Curious maps of the Middle East)
- Bahrani, Zainab; 1998. “Conjuring Mesopotamia: imaginative geography and a world past,” in Archaeology under fire: Nationalism, politics and heritage in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. L. Meskell (ed.), Routledge: London and New York, 159-174.
Friday ~ Sites of violence: archaeological site and museum as places of conflict. (Discussion) Looting of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad and archaeological sites in the Middle East. (Discussion)
- Meskell, Lynn; 2005. “Sites of violence: terrorism, tourism and heritage in the archaeological present,” in Embedding ethics. Lynn Meskell and Peter Pels (eds.). Oxford: Berg, 123-146.
- Pollock, Susan; 2005. “Archaeology goes to war at the newsstand,” in Archaeologies of the Middle East: critical perspectives. S Pollock and R Bernbeck (eds.). Malden MA: Blackwell, 78-96. (E-book)
Week 3: Feb. 4-8. Landscapes of the Near East
Monday ~ Landscapes of the Ancient Near East: understanding a cultural geography.
- Postgate 1992: “Mesopotamia: the land and the life,” 3-21.
- Roaf, Michael; 1996. Cultural atlas of Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East. New York; Facts on File, 18-27.
Wednesday ~ Noah’s Flood? From the air to the pollens on lake-bottoms: climate, environment and long-term history
- Ryan, William B. F. and Walter Pitman; 2000. Noah's Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries About The Event That Changed History. Simon and Schuster, pages 229-237.
- Kouchoukos, Nicholas; 2001. "Satellite Images and Near Eastern Landscapes," Near Eastern Archaeology 64/1-2: 80-91.
Friday ~ In the marshes of Iraq: Landscapes of imagination and experience. (Discussion)
- Bender, Barbara; 2006. “Place and Landscape” in Handbook of material culture. C. Y. Tilley (ed.). Sage 303-314.
- Black, Jeremy; “Sumerians in their landscape,” in Riches hidden in secret places. T. Abusch (ed.). Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 41-61.
Week 4: Feb 11-15. Prehistory: the Neolithic in the Near East
Monday ~ From hunter-gatherers to agriculturalists: early settled communities- Göbekli Tepe, Nevali Cori, Ain Ghazal. Agricultural revolution.
Wednesday ~ Ömür out of town. You will be watching a documentary.
- The architecture of mud. Anonymous Productions presents a project by Caterina Borelli and Pamela Jerome ; written, produced and directed by Caterina Borelli. Watertown, MA: Documentary Educational Resources, 2004.
Friday ~ Shamanism, architecture and wall painting at Çatalhöyük.
Week 5. Feb. 18-22. Towards urbanization and social complexity: Uruk Period in Southern Mesopotamia
Monday ~ Long weekend. No class.
Wednesday ~ Emerging social complexities in Mesopotamia: the Chalcolithic in the Near East.
(Assignment 2: Cultural Biography of Objects paper due)
- Wengrow, David; 1998. “The changing face of clay: continuity and change in the transition from village to urban life in the Near East,” Antiquity 72: 783-795.
- Matthews 2003: “States of mind: approaches to complexity,” 93-126.
Friday ~ Ritual at Uruk, the city: Inanna and the temple household.
- Van de Mieroop 2004: “Origins: The Uruk phenomenon,” 17-38.
- Bahrani, Z.; 2002. “Performativity and the image: narrative, representation and the Uruk vase,” in Leaving no stones unturned: essays on the Ancient Near East and Egypt in honor of Donald P. Hansen. E. Ehrenberg (ed.). Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 2002: pages 15-22.
Week 6. Feb. 25-29. From memory to history: the urban, literate cultures of southern Iraq
Monday ~ The first written word: The invention of cuneiform writing. Economy, state bureaucracy, poetry.
- Postgate 1992: “The written record,” 51-70.
- Cooper, Jerrold S.; 2004. “Babylonian beginnings: the origin of the cuneiform writing system in comparative perspective,” in The first writing: script invention as history and process. S.D. Houston (ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 71-99.
Wednesday ~ Cattlepen and the Sheepfold: The Early Mesopotamian city and holy Nippur.
Ancient Text: Nippur Lament
- Van de Mieroop, M.; 1997. “The origins and the character of the Mesopotamian city,” The ancient Mesopotamian city. Oxford University Press: Oxford, 23-41.
Friday ~ Burying the dead: Royal Tombs of Ur (discussion).
- Pollock, S.; 2007. “The Royal Cemetery of Ur: Ritual, tradition and the creation of subjects,” in Representations of political power: case histories from times of change and dissolving order in the Ancient Near East. M. Heinz and M. H. Feldman (eds.). Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 89-110.
- Zettler, R. L. and L. Horne(eds.); 1998. Treasures from the royal tombs of Ur. Philadelphia: University of Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Skim through the catalogue.
Week 7. March 3-7. Vision, visuality and the cult image: Mesopotamia in the Early Bronze Age
Monday ~Early Dynastic period (Early Bronze Age) in the Diyala River Basin. The sites of Khafajah and Tell Asmar: temples and urban neighborhoods.
- Van de Mieroop 2004: “Competing city-states: the Early Dynastic period,” 39-58.
- Postgate 1992: “Cities and dynasties,” 22-50.
Wednesday ~ Priests, temples and cult practice: an introduction to Mesopotamian religion.
- Bottero, J; 1992. “The religious system” in Mesopotamia. Z. Bahrani and M. Vand de Mieroop (trans.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 201-231.
Friday ~ Powerful visions: Ritual objects and cultures of seeing in Early Mesopotamia (the uncanny statues of the Abu temple at Tell Asmar).
- Morgan, David; 2005. “Introduction,” in Sacred gaze: religious visual culture in theory and practice. University of California Press, 1-21.
- Winter, Irene J.; 2000. “The eyes have it: votive statuary, Gilgamesh’s axe, and cathected viewing in the Ancient Near East” Visuality before and beyond the Renaissance. R.S. Nelson (ed.). Cambridge, 22-44.
Week 8. March 10-14. Akkad and Sumer: narratives of royal ideology.
Monday ~ The Akkadian kingdom: Sargon, Naram-Sin and the mythical kingship.
- Van de Mieroop 2004: “Political centralization in the late Third Millennium,” 59-79.
Wednesday ~ The invention of the ziggurat: The Third Dynasty of Ur and the Moon God Nanna.
Friday ~ Powerful objects: Technology, agency and new perspectives on material culture. Discussion. (Midterm essay questions distributed)
- Gell, Alfred; 1992. “The technology of enchantment and the enchantment of technology,” in Anthropology, art and aesthetics. Jeremy Coote and Anthony Shelton (eds.). Oxford: Clarendon Press, 40-63.
- Winter, Irene J.; 2007. “Agency marked, agency ascribed: the effective object in ancient Mesopotamia” in Art’s agency and art history. R Osborne and J Tanner (eds.) Malden MA: Blackwell, 42-69.
Week 9. March 17-21. Cities and nomads along the Euphrates: Syria in the Middle Bronze Age.
Monday ~ House of the Storm God: new cities, new temples in Syria (Ebla and Aleppo). Kings of Ashur and Mari: nomads and the city.
- Akkermans and Schwartz 2003, “Regeneration of complex societies”, pages 288-326.
(Midterm essays due)
Wednesday ~ Documentary: Grass: A Nation’s Battle for Life.
(directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack) A 1925 documentary that follows the journey of the Bakhtiari, a nomadic tribe in Iran, as they herd their livestock up snow-covered mountain passes to get to the grazing lands on the other side of the mountains.
Friday ~ Nomadism in the Ancient Near East: long-term perspectives
March 22-30 Spring break
Week 10. March 31- April 4. Greetings to my brother! Great kings, the Late Bronze age in the Levant and the Hittite Empire
Monday ~Geography of Anatolia and the wandering kings of the Hittite empire
- Gorny, Ronald L.; 1989. “Environment, archaeology and history in Hittite Anatolia,” Biblical Archaeologist 52: 78-96.
Wednesday ~ Hattusha: the city of one thousand gods
- Hawkins, J.D.; 1998. “Hattusa: home to the thousand gods of Hatti,” in Capital cities: urban planning and spiritual dimensions. J. G. Westenholz (ed.), Bible Lands Museum: Jerusalem, 65-81.
Friday ~ Eastern Mediterranean, cross-cultural exchange and cultural hybridity.
- Feldman, M. H.; 2002. “Luxurious forms: refining a Mediterranean ‘international style,’ 1400-1200 BCE,” Art Bulletin 84: 6-29.
Week 11. April 7-11. The new countryside: Early Iron Age and the Assyrian Empire
Monday ~ Returning to the village after collapse: Early Iron age in Northern Mesopotamia
(Final paper proposals due)
- Akkermans, and Schwartz; 2003. “Iron Age Syria” in The archaeology of Syria, 360-397.
- Hawkins, John David; 1995a. “Karkamish and Karatepe: Neo-Hittite City-States in North Syria” in Civilizations of the Ancient Near East. J.M. Sasson (ed.); New York, vol. II, pp. 1295-1307.
Wednesday ~ The cities of the Assyrian Empire: Kalhu and Nineveh
- Postgate, J N; 1992. “The Land of Assur and the Yoke of Assur,” World Archaeology 23: 247-263.
- Barbanes, E; 2003. “Planning an empire: city and settlement in the Neo-Assyrian period,” Bulletin of the Canadian Society for Mesopotamian Studies 38: 15-22.
Friday ~ The writing on the wall: Orthostat reliefs, bronze bands and scary beasts of Assyrian palaces
- Pittman, Holly; 1996. “The White Obelisk and the problem of historical narrative in the art of Assyria,” Art Bulletin 78: 334-355.
- Marcus, Michelle I.; 1995. “Geography as visual ideology: landscape, knowledge, and power in Neo-Assyrian art,” in Neo-Assyrian geography, Mario Liverani (ed.); Università di Roma “La Sapienza,” Roma: Sargon srl, 193-202.
Week 12. April 14-18. To the edges of the world: Neo-Babylonian and Persian worlds
Monday ~ A city of imagination and learning: Babylon.
- George, Andrew R.; 1993. “Babylon revisited: archaeology and philology in harness,” Antiquity 67: 734-46.
Wednesday ~ The hanging gardens of Babylon? Paradise in Babylonia and Persia
- Novák, M.; 2002. “The artificial paradise: programme and ideology of royal gardens,” in Sex and gender in the ancient Near East. S. Parpola and R.M. Whiting (eds.); Helsinki: The Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, Part II, 443-460.
- Dalley, S.; 1994. “Nineveh, Babylon and the hanging gardens: cuneiform and classical sources reconciled,” Iraq 56: 45-58.
Friday ~ Pasargadae to Persepolis: the Persian conquest of the world
- Van de Mieroop 2004; “The Persian Empire” 267-280.
- Stronach, D; 1997. “Anshan and Parsa: Early Achaemenid history, art and architecture on the Iranian plateau,” in Mesopotamia and Iran in the Persian period: Conquest and imperialism 539-331 B.C. J. Curtis (ed.), British Museum Press: London; 35-53.
- Talk tonight (highly recommended):. Timothy Ingold, "BRINGING THINGS BACK TO LIFE: CREATIVE ENTANGLEMENTS IN A WORLD OF MATERIALS". Keynote address for Material Worlds symposium. 5:30 pm, at Smith Buonano 106.
Week 13. April 21-25. Politics of cultural heritage in the Middle East
Monday ~ Were Hittites Turks? Modernity, nationalism and the use and abuse of archaeological pasts: the case of Turkey.
- Shaw, Wendy M. K.; 2006. “Whose Hittites, and Why? Language, Archaeology and the Quest for the Original Turks” in Archaelogy Under Dictatorship. Michael L. Galaty and Charles Watkinson (eds.). Springer, 131-153.
Wednesday ~ Politics of the Past: The case of contemporary Israel
- Abu El-Haj, Nadia; 1998. "Translating truths: nationalism, the practice of archaeology, and the remaking of past and present in contemporary Jerusalem" American Ethnologist 25(2): 166-188.
Friday ~ Wrap up discussion and course evaluations. (Final paper drafts due)
April 25-May 6. Reading period
May 12 Final papers due.