NEST: Near Eastern Studies

Winter 2017

NEST101 Introduction to Near Eastern and Egyptian Archaeology Sections

An overview of the past two centuries of archaeological investigations of the civilizations of the ancient Near East and Egypt.

Most of us know about the ancient tombs, temples and pyramids of Egypt, and have heard about the great cities of Babylon, Ur and Nineveh in Mesopotamia. But how did recent archaeologists go about re-discovering these amazing cities and monuments? This course provides an overview of some of the most spectacular archaeological finds of the past two centuries in Egypt and the Near East, and the adventurers, explorers, and archaeologists who uncovered them. In the process, students will also learn about the types of archaeological techniques and tools which are used to unlock the secrets of the ancient past, and what archaeological evidence can tell us about the social, political, economic and religious aspects of life in Egypt and Mesopotamia, the ‘cradles of civilization’. There will be an opportunity for students to handle and study real archaeological artifacts from the Near East in the laboratories of the Museum of Anthropology. Prerequisites: None.
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NEST301 Early Empires of the Ancient Middle East Sections

A history from 3100-333 BC with emphasis on Mesopotamia.

This course provides a general introduction to the political history, culture and religion of the ancient Near East, with particular emphasis on the high civilizations of Mesopotamia (Sumer, Babylonia andAssyria). Lectures will cover major developments, from the appearance of the earliest cities in the Tigris-Euphrates flood plain up to the time of the defeat of the Persian forces by Alexander the Great. A variety of topics will be examined in order to introduce to the student the incredible richness of culture and diversity of this important part of the world. Topics include the development of the cuneiform writing system and its decipherment, Mesopotamian political ideologies, the role of royal propaganda, warfare, trade, art and architecture. The course will also discuss Sumerian and Babylonian religion and mythology, and their role in Mesopotamian society. Text: Van de Mieroop, Marc. A History of the Ancient Near East, ca. 3000
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NEST303 History of Ancient Egypt Sections

History and culture of Ancient Egyptian civilization from political, intellectual, social and environmental perspectives

This course is designed to provide a general introduction to the history of Ancient Egypt. After presenting and discussing the topographical and chronological setting of Ancient Egypt, the course will discuss modern approaches to reconstructing and understanding Egyptian history (the problem of sources, how to evaluate written and material evidence, different possible histories of Egypt, the role of the historian). The course will then present a comprehensive overview of Egyptian political, religious and cultural history from prehistory (4th millennium BCE) to the early Ptolemaic Period (200 BCE). Prerequisites: None
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NEST304 Ancient Egypt: The Archaeology of the Land of the Pharoahs Sections

The material remains of the ancient Egyptians from monumental tombs and temples to the artifacts of daily life; the development of Egyptian civilization from the rise of the first rulers to its incorporation into the Roman Empire.

Egypt has fascinated both scholars and the general public since ancient times, and not without good reason.  We will, of course, discuss mummies, pyramids, and famous pharaohs from Hatshepsut, the female king, to Akhenaten, the so-called heretic king and first monotheist, and Tutankhamen the "boy king" whose intact tomb was found by Howard Carter in 1922--but they tell only part of the story. Egypt is one of the earliest civilizations and, despite its eventual conquest by a succession of imperial powers, it retained many aspects of its distinctive culture over a period of millennia, influencing the art, architecture, and culture of neighbours and conquerors alike. In this course we’ll trace the rise, development, and occasional collapse, of Egyptian society from its origins in the Neolithic period through to its incorporation into the Roman Empire.  In exploring ancient Egypt, we’ll look at the incredible finds recovered by archaeologists (and others) and...
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NEST312 Religion in Ancient Egypt Sections

A survey of the religious beliefs, cults, and religious institutions in Pharaonic Egypt.

This survey course is designed to provide a general introduction to the religion of Ancient Egypt. We will discuss a wide field of topics such as concepts of cosmogony, cosmology, the pantheon of Ancient Egypt, temples and tombs, divine kingship, and the role of the priesthood. Throughout the course written sources will be complemented by archaeological evidence and thus will give the students a first insight into the wealth of material culture from Ancient Egypt. Prerequisites: None
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NEST313 Introduction to Middle Egyptian Sections

Language of Ancient Egypt and the main literary texts composed during the Middle Kingdom.