Universiteit Leiden

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Archaeology (MA/MSc)

Archaeology of the Near East

In the master’s programme in Archaeology, you can follow courses on the archaeology of the Near East, deepening your understanding of this region’s fascinating past.

Studying the archaeology of the Near East

From the origins of agriculture to the Neolithic revolution and the rise of regional centres. From the Assyrian expansion to the arrival of European Crusaders. The archaeology of the Near East spans a wide array of themes and eras, taught by our world-renowned experts.

Our master's courses on the Archaeology of the Near East

This course provides an introduction to the way humans in the past exploited their environment. This includes both the factors that are determined by the environment and factors that are associated with economy and health in particular.

Basic concepts that are discussed include: origin and development of agriculture, domestication, climate and soil (related to irrigation and manuring), food and fuel, yield, storage and transport, and labour in relation to agricultural practices and food preparation. Special attention will be paid to crop and food processing, including food preservation and the interaction between crop selection and technology.

The Neolithic (ca. 10,000-5,300 BC) is one of the most crucial periods in the history of the Near East, associated with major social, economic and material innovations and important changes in the archaeological record. It is also a period that has emerged as a major research topic over the past two decades.

In this course you will study the current archaeological views on this period of early village formation.

In this course you will focus on the archaeology of the Assyrian Empire (ca. 1350 – 600 BCE). You will investigate how archaeology can inform us about ancient imperialism and how Assyria managed to become the predominant empire in the Ancient Near East.

Dr Bleda Düring

Lecturer: Dr Bleda Düring

'My research focuses on the emergence of social complexity in Western Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean from Neolithic up to the Iron Age. I am interested in how the first large communities were constituted, how societies without institutionalized social inequalities functioned, and how empires were created and reproduced trough the activities of commoners and elites. My research has thus ranged from Çatalhöyük to the Assyrian Empire, and is currently focused on the nature of prestige based societies in Cyprus and how they became part of long distance trade networks.

I aim to train students to investigate key topics in history through the investigation of the material remains of past activities. The power of archaeology is that through the systematic investigation of things such as pot sherds, chipped stone, or buildings, one can reach profound insights into how past societies were constituted. These material remains were a key element in the articulation of social aspirations and reproduction of the social order, and their study provides clues to the reconstruction of past societies – and help us to better understand societies of the present.

Thesis subjects I could supervise are for example:

  • Burials And Social Aspirations in the Cypriot Chalcolithic
  • Comparing Iron Age Columned Halls In Oman and Iran: Proto-Palaces or Communal Buildings'

This course will explore various aspects of the manifestation of the Crusades in the Mediterranean and in the Near East: ranging from the conquest of Sicily and southern Italy by the Normans (1000-1130 C.E.) to the fall of Akko in the Holy Land (1291 C.E.).

The aim is to address how we can study the Crusades from an archaeological perspective, and what the archaeological data can tell us about the nature of these events.

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