History 311

HIST 311
Ancient Near East

Catalog Entry

HIST 311
Ancient Near East
Three hours lecture: (3)

Prerequisite: Three hours of History at the 100 level.

A study of the political, socio-economic, and cultural development of ancient civilizations stretching from Egypt to Persia with an emphasis on the development of enduring religious, cultural, and political traditions.  

Detailed Description of Content of Course

I.  Introduction: Significance of the Ancient Near East

II. Prehistory of the Near East: Early Cultures of Southwest Asia

III. Early Mesopotamian Civilization    
    A. Sumerian Society and Culture     
    B. Akkadian Empire
    C. Third Ur
    D. Neighboring Civilizations: From the Persian Gulf to the Indus

IV. Expansion of Near Eastern Civilization    
    A. Old Babylonia
    B. Old Assyria
    C. Indo-European Speakers: The Hittites
    D. Mitanni and Kassite Babylonia

V. Egypt
    A. Early Cultures of Egypt
    B. Old Kingdom
    C. First Intermediate Period and the Middle Kingdom
    D. Second Intermediate Period

VI. Age of Empires
    A. New Kingdom Egypt
            1. Architects of Empire
            2. Amarna Period
            3. Late Eighteenth Dynasty
    B. Hittite Empire
    C. Egypt’s Nineteenth Dynasty

VII. Crisis and Transformation
    A. Sea Peoples, Aramaeans, and the End of the Bronze Age
    B. New Peoples and States
        1. Hebrews and Israelites
        2. Levantine States
    C. Assyrian Empire
    D. Neo-Babylonian Empire
    E. Israelites and Judaeans

VIII. Persia
    A. Iran and Iranians
    B. Achaemenid Empire
    C. Persian Society and Culture
    D. Zoroastrianism and Royal Ideology
    E. Jews and Judaism
    F. Persian Decline and the Hellenistic Kingdoms

Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The class meets three hours per week.  The course is taught primarily using a lecture format and includes time dedicated to the discussion of sources and concepts from lectures and readings.  Students are required to read extensively from textbooks and material distributed in class. Class discussion of assigned material is an important element of the course.

Goals and Objectives of the Course

a. Students will practice thinking critically and analytically about historical issues, acquire a broader knowledge and deeper understanding of pertinent historical events and processes, and cultivate a familiarity with the concepts of historical argument and interpretation.

b. Students will develop disciplinary research skills by designing strategies to locate and analyze primary and secondary source evidence, processing and organizing the resultant data, and composing proper citation and bibliographical entries.

c. Students will apply their critical thinking, research, and compositional skills to the creation and presentation of thesis driven essays that discuss, for example, historical social, economic, political, and/or cultural developments and that address issues such as the causes and consequences of historical change and continuity.

d. Students will describe the physical and cultural geography of the ancient Near East.
Students will study the cultures of the ancient Near East and develop an awareness of the complexity of cultural interaction and change over historical time.  In particular, students will also demonstrate an awareness of the multicultural and synthetic nature of ancient Near Eastern civilization as it developed over several millennia.  In this context, students will demonstrate an understanding of the foundational role played by the peoples of the area now defined as the Middle East in the development of “western” (or Islamo-Christian) civilization prior to the advent of the Greco-Roman world.  

Assessment Measures

Knowledge and understanding of the material covered in this course will be measured using an array of assessment tools that may include, among other things, class attendance and participation, written examinations, formal writing assignments of various types, and informal writing assignments. All exercises are designed to expand the student's ability to evaluate historical events and to develop his or her ability to compose persuasive arguments.

Other Course Information


Review and Approval
Date Action Reviewed by
October 2010 Reviewed and Approved by Sharon Roger Hepburn