CLST403D

The Archaeology of the Neo-Assyrian Empire (c. 900-612 BCE). The class focuses on the archaeology of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, which flourished in northern Mesopotamia between 900-612 BCE and which at its apogee dominated the Near East from Iran to Egypt. The class will address a variety of archaeological topics in order to understand the dynamic ways in which the Assyrians used their material culture to underscore and reflect their powerful ideology of empire, kingship and military ascendancy. Topics include studies of Assyrian palatial architecture and sculpture; transformations of the imperial landscape through large-scale hydraulic technologies and agricultural intensification; the material manifestations of war and violence; and the symbolic marking of imperial territory through stelae and rock reliefs. My own recent research interests will also be brought increasingly to bear on this subject, namely varied local responses (e.g. cooperation, resistance) to Assyrian imperial presence in other parts of the Near East, especially in its eastern provinces (Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran) and subject kingdoms of the west (western Syria and Palestine). The study of the reception of ancient Assyria over the past 200 years, with the varying ideological agendas, will also be covered, from 19th century perspectives that regarded Assyria as the epitome of Oriental despotism; to early 20th century racial perspectives of Assyrians as incapable of innovation and creativity; to the more globalist perspectives of the later 20th century. Finally we will explore the persistent colonial attitude towards Iraq’s cultural heritage, of which the material culture of Assyria is an essential aspect, and how this has played out in the international theatre of war and terrorism in the Middle East in the 21st century.