This course introduces students to the major world religions. The focus will be on the origins and representative texts along with some historical development and current experience of each religion. Included will be introductory lectures on the nature and definition of religion with a sampling of some theories regarding the origins of religion. Guest lecturers will be involved from time to time. There will also be a number of films.
Note: Students should register in the lecture and in one discussion group.
1.Norton, Anderson, Lohr, Making Sense in Religious Studies
2.Oxtoby and Hussein, World Religions
Prerequisites: None


Political and Economic Interactions in the Late Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean:This course will provide a detailed look at archaeological and textual evidence for interactions among the various polities and cultures of the Late Bronze Eastern Mediterranean world, c. 1700-1100 BCE.Through diplomatic letters, treaties, and material evidence for warfare and imperial control, we”ll examine political relations and military conflicts among the great powers of the period (Egypt, the Hittites, Assyria, Mitanni, and Babylonia), how the Egyptians and others forged and maintained their empires, and the effects of these interactions on both conqueror and conquered.We”ll also investigate the nature and implications of “international” economic exchanges by looking at the production, trade, and consumption of various goods, including methods for determining their provenience, the technological aspects of transportation, and the social life of foreign goods.
Course material is presented through illustrated lectures by the instructor, class discussions of various assigned readings, and student presentations based on their research projects.The course is open to any graduate students from CNERS, Anthropology, and Art History.
Prerequisites: None


The Archaeology of Assyria: The class focuses on the archaeology of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, which flourished in Northern Mesopotamia between 900-612 BCE and which at the height of its power dominated the Near East from Iran to Egypt.A rich array of Assyrian material culture will be discussed 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 a survey of the Assyrian cities of Nimrud, Khorsabad and Nineveh, and a critique of the methods employed over the past 150 years to recover information from these impressive sites. The class will also discuss the art and significance of the sculptured wall reliefs that adorned Assyrian palaces, the role and status of worked ivory, Assyrian hydraulic engineering, the propagandistic character of stone obelisks, rock reliefs and stelae, Assyrian warfare, and the Assyrian imperial presence in other parts of the Near East (Iran, Syria, Anatolia and Palestine).
The material will be covered in the form of illustrated lectures delivered by the instructor, as well as presentations by the students. Students will be expected to do relevant readings every week, and to discuss and critique these works. All graduate students of CNERS are invited to take this course, as well as students of Art History or Anthropology. Students who wish to focus on topics such as Assyrian religion, theoretical and cross-cultural perspectives pertaining to ancient empires, and/or Assyria”s relationship to the Classical/Mediterranean world, may do so and are encouraged to discuss such topics with the intructor at the earliest opportunity.
Prerequisites: None


An Introduction to Coptic, the language of Christian Egypt
Egypt played a pivotal role in the history of early Christianity and monasticism, and other religious beliefs of Late Antiquity (such as Gnosticism, Manichaeism). Coptic – the language of Christian Egypt – is one of the most important Near Eastern languages into which the Bible was translated, the spoken and written language of Egypt from Antiquity to the Middle Age, and the liturgical language of the Coptic Church in Egypt and Ethiopia. There is also a significant Coptic community in the Greater Vancouver area.
Although CNERS has had a significant focus on early Christianity and the Near East, Coptic will be the first language of the Christian Near East taught within our department, an attractive option for students of Religious Studies and early Christianity, but equally students with a focus on the ancient Near East (Coptic is the latest stage of ancient Egyptian) and students of Greek (Coptic uses the Greek alphabet and has up to 25% Greek vocabulary).
The course aims to provide the students with the basic elements of Coptic grammar (orthography, phonology, morphology and syntax), using one of the existing learners’ textbooks for the first literary dialect of Coptic, Sahidic, and time permitting, to continue with reading a selection of easy Sahidic texts.
Bentley Layton, Coptic in 20 Lessons. Introduction to Sahidic Coptic with Exercises and Vocabularies, Leuven-Paris-Dudley, Ma.: Peeters, 2007.
Prerequisites: None


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


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 how they changed through time–from the monumental tombs, temples and statues erected by powerful pharaohs, to the pottery and tools used in the daily lives of average Egyptians.  We’ll investigate Egyptian ideology including religion and myth, mortuary practices, and beliefs about life and death, and the traces these left in the archaeological record.  We’ll also consider the theories of “pyramidiots”, pseudoarchaeologists, and so-called “alternative historians” and how they stack up against the archaeological evidence.

Prerequisites: None


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


This course is designed to provide a general introduction to the archaeology of the ancient Near East, including Prehistory, Syria-Palestine (Lebanon, Syria, Israel and Jordan), Anatolia and the civilizations of Mesopotamia. The course will emphasize the major technological, artistic and architectural achievements of each of these areas as well as focus on the material manifestations of religion, the origins of agriculture, the emergence of the world”s cities, and the rise of empires.The course will also focus on the tools and techniques of archaeological recovery that are employed in the Near East, and how these have developed over the past two centuries.
Note: Equivalent to Art History 327
Prerequisites: None


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


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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