NEST: Near Eastern Studies

Winter 2020

NEST303 History of Ancient Egypt Sections

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

This class provides a general introduction to the political and cultural history of ancient Egypt. After presenting modern approaches to understanding Egyptian history (the problem of sources, how to evaluate written and material evidence, different possible histories of Egypt, the role of the historian) and the topographical and chronological setting of Ancient Egypt, the course will give you an overview of the major historical developments and phenomena of Ancient Egypt, from the prehistoric beginnings of the Egyptian state to the 1st millennium BCE (3200-300 BCE). We will also look at the impact of new archaeological discoveries and different interpretive approaches on our view of the social and economic history of Egypt. Prerequisites: None

NEST312 Religion in Ancient Egypt Sections

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

This class will provide a general overview of the religion of ancient Egypt – the nature and appearance of Egyptian gods and goddesses, religious beliefs, cults and rituals, myths and religious concepts, the afterlife, the divinity of the Egyptian king, magic and piety, and the symbolism of religious architecture, with a particular focus on the religion of the New Kingdom (1550-1070 BCE). We will also look at the legacy of Egyptian religion from Classical antiquity to modern times. Prerequisites: None

NEST315 Introduction to Akkadian Sections

The basic grammar and introduction to the cuneiform writing system of the Akkadian language of the Ancient Near East.

Akkadian is the ancient language of Mesopotamia within the Semitic language family. First finding prominence under Sargon of Akkad (late 3rd millennium BCE), Akkadian became dominant in Mesopotamia in the 2nd and early 1st millennia BCE, for much of which it was also the diplomatic language of the whole Ancient Near East. Written with an intricate system of cuneiform (wedge shapes in clay), we find myths of Marduk, Ishtar and the Babylonian pantheon, epics of Gilgamesh and Atrahasis and the ancient Flood, the so-called “laws” of Hammurabi, the military campaign records and propaganda of Assyrian kings, business accounts recording the sale of slaves, the adoption of children, and much more. This course will explore the basics of the language – grammar, vocabulary, syntax and a small amount of work in the cuneiform writing system. Previous work in a Semitic language (Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic, etc.) is an asset, but not required.

NEST319 The Archaeology of Ancient Iraq and Syria: Babylon and Beyond Sections

An overview of the archaeology of the ancient Near East, with special emphasis on the civilizations of Mesopotamia, from the appearance of the first cities (c. 3400 BCE) to the end of the Persian period (c. 330 BCE).

This course provides an overview of the archaeology of the ancient Near East, with special emphasis on the ancient civilizations that developed in Syria and Iraq, notably Sumer, Babylonia and Assyria (3100—330 B.C.). The course also includes some Prehistory (beginning with the Neolithic Era), and the world’s first farming communities. Major technological, artistic and architectural achievements of ancient Near East are emphasized, as well as the impact of religion, the emergence of the world’s first writing systems and cities, and the rise of empires. While discussing these themes, the history of archaeological research in the Near East will be surveyed, from the earliest discoveries of 19th century adventurers to the scientific approaches to archaeological recovery and interpretation that are utilized by researchers of today.

NEST400A Materials and Technologies of the Ancient Near East and Egypt - MTRLS & TECHNOLG Sections

The natural resources and production technologies of the ancient Near East and Egypt.

Interconnections in the Late Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean. From the “Great Powers Club” to the famous Uluburun shipwreck, this course examines the sociopolitical, economic and ideological interactions that connected the various polities and cultures of the Late Bronze Eastern Mediterranean world from Greece to Babylonia, c. 1700–1100 BCE. Through material evidence from cities and shipwrecks, and textual sources including diplomatic letters and treaties, we’ll look at political relations and military conflicts among the great powers of the period and how the Egyptians, Hittites and other states forged and maintained some of the earliest empires, and the effects of these interactions on both conqueror and conquered. We’ll also investigate the nature of palatial economies and the implications of royal and commercial international exchanges by looking at the production, trade, and consumption of various commodities. From metals and ceramics to organic goods such as scented oils and luxury foods, we’ll discuss methods...

NEST401 Literature of Ancient Egypt or the Ancient Near East Sections

The main genres and texts of Egyptian and Ancient Near Eastern Literature and their modern Interpretation. Credit will be granted for only one of NEST 401 or 505.

Humour in the Bible and the Ancient Near East. Although we might not think of biblical and Mesopotamian writers as humorous, there are some indications that certain texts were intentionally funny. What role did humour play in Near Eastern literature and cultures? What was the relationship between humour and politics, identity formation, and/or self-deprecation? Given that humour is culturally and temporally bound, how can we identify glimpses of it when we are so far removed from the ancients? In addition to using methodologies familiar to the field, this course will also investigate biblical and Near Eastern texts through the lens of humour theory and comedy theory.