Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World ~ Brown University
Meets Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:30-3:50 pm. at Rhode Island Hall 008 (Seminar Room in the Basement)
Instructor: Ömür Harmanşah
Assistant Professor of Archaeology and Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies
Ömür's Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 4-5 pm (Rhode Island Hall 102)
Writing, urbanism, agriculture, imperialism: the ancient Near East is known as the place where earliest agriculture flourished, cities were developed and writing was invented. In the recent decades, the Middle East has largely been a place of political instability and unrest, while the archaeological field research in the region has been overwhelmingly impacted by the current socio-political climate. In this course we will explore the archaeological history and current archaeological practice in the Middle East, in connection with Western colonialism, the formation of nation states and ongoing military conflicts. The social and cultural history of the Near East from prehistory to the end of Iron age (300 BC) will be covered. Throughout the semester, we will also investigate some of interpretive approaches and theoretical frameworks used within Near Eastern archaeology. The main goal of the course is to develop a critical understanding of ancient societies and their material culture from an interdisciplinary, and explicitly post-colonial perspective.
The primary objective of this course is to introduce students critical reading and writing skills and analytical thinking through intensive reading and writing exercises. We will study the art, literary, visual and material cultures of various Middle Eastern societies of Mesopotamia, Syria, Anatolian peninsula and the Caucasus, Levant, and Iran. We will explore their major cities like Ur, Nineveh, Babylon and Persepolis as well as their countryside, their festivals and rituals, their kings, priests, craftsmen as well as their peasants, their monuments as well as modest mudbrick houses; their mythologies, poems, royal inscriptions as well as mundane letters. We will explore how the textual sources and archaeological evidence can be put together to arrive at novel interpretations of the past. In the Middle East, archaeology 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. It will not only provide a broad empirical basis for the region’s social and cultural history but also will allow students to see how particular ways of writing history is embedded in contemporary socio-political climate. The class will be a mixture of lectures and seminar discussions.