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Cult Practices and Architectural Production in the Ancient Near East
"Each city receives its form from the desert it opposes."
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (1974: 18).
"The possibility of recognizing cities as spatial formations gives us a legitimate object of analysis. But how should we read them to make sense of their extraordinary variety and complexity? Cities are places of work, consumption, circulation, play, creativity, excitement, boredom. They gather, mix, separate, conceal, display. They support unimaginably diverse social practices. They juxtapose nature, people, things, and the built environment in any number of ways."
Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift, Cities: reimagining the urban (2002: pp. 2-3).
A course with
Assistant Professor of Archaeology and Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies
Joukowsky Institute of Archaeology and the Ancient World
Meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:30-11:50 am at Rhode Island Hall 108
Ömür's Office: Joukowsky Instutute (Rhode Island Hall - 60 George St.) Room 102
E-mail :Omur_Harmansah@brown.edu Office tel: 3-6411
Office Hours: Wednesday 10-12 am. and Thursday 3-5 pm (By appointment)
Cities are layered topographies of cultural histories, enchanted places of our social lives, messy landscapes of our everyday performances. Ancient cities were no less complex spaces in their liveliness. What did ancient cities look like and how were they shaped, in architectural form and in the imagination of its citizens? How do social events, festivals, cult practices, public spectacles shape the layout of a city? In the light of contemporary theories of urban space drawn from geography, architecture, cultural studies and anthropology, we will explore what makes a city a city in the first place, and attempt to make sense of the patchy and fragmentary archaeological evidence from the ancient Near East in understanding, reconstructing cities.
The course will pay particular attention to issues of social dramas, spectacles and performances in the urban sphere, of urbanization, formation of urban space, and architectural projects in relation to cult practices and commemorative ceremonies in the Ancient Near East. Investigating ten cities as case studies from early cities of fourth millenium BC Mesopotamia to the medieval Syro-Palestine, we will study the processes of the making of urban and extra-urban landscapes in the socio-religious context of cult festivals, state spectacles, everyday performances. We will therefore discuss the making of cities, negotiated between the representations of urban ideals, politics of space, monumental construction, and the material practices of the society, and explore aspects of the recent scholarly opinion that societies established their relationship with history through their construction and manipulation of architectural spaces.
Books ordered at Brown Bookstore:
I'd go get these:
Really cool books if you are into it: