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World Archaeology I: The Late Prehistory of Egypt & the Fertile Crescent - ARC00060I

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  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. James Taylor
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21
    • See module specification for other years: 2019-20

Module summary

This module aims to give students an advanced understanding of patterns and processes in the late prehistoric archaeology of North Africa and the Ancient Near East. Spanning the later Neolithic and Early Bronze Age (c.9500-2000 BC), the course will offer regional comparison and consider the cross cultural connectivity in the prehistoric world, as Bronze Age societies begin to emerge from the Neolithic of the region.

Students have enjoyed getting to grips with the archaeology of a hugely important geographic region, which is not touched upon in depth in other parts of our Undergraduate programs. 

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21

Module aims

The World Archaeology I Modules seek to expose the students to the diversity of World Archaeology through an in depth review of a range of topics. Students will choose to study topics that interest them.

The specific aims of this option are:

  • an advanced understanding of patterns and processes in the late prehistoric archaeology of North Africa and the Ancient Near East. Spanning the later Neolithic and Early Bronze Age (c.9500-2000 BC),

  • an understanding of types of primary data (archaeological reports, assemblages and datasets) and current scientific method to consider the big themes relating to the period and the ways they have been interpreted.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module the students will be able to:

 

  • To situate late prehistoric archaeology of North Africa and the Near East within a broader comparative understanding of World Archaeology.

  • Discuss and explain current scholarship and the underlying interdisciplinary scientific methods deployed in the reconstruction of processes of environmental, societal, economic and technological change in these regions throughout this period.

  • Demonstrate an understanding these processes as they manifest in key areas (such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, Anatolia and the Levant) and an awareness of regional interconnectivity, mobility and cultural exchange.

  • Understand, critically appraise and evaluate archaeological evidence with a view to debating alternative interpretations and developing new research questions relating to the Neolithic and Bronze Age.

Module content

This module will survey the development of the Neolithic and Bronze Age societies across a wide geographic region spanning North Africa and the Near East. A zone that provides the backdrop for the rise of a number of major late prehistoric ‘civilisations’ including those of Egypt and Mesopotamia. The course will offer regional comparison and consider the cross cultural connectivity in the prehistoric world, as Bronze Age societies begin to emerge from the Neolithic. We will look at key sites across the region from Çatalhöyük, to Jericho, to Ur, and study the formation of the ancient ‘civilisations’ of the Nile Valley in Egypt and Mesopotamia, considering how this area earned its place as a ‘cradle of civilization’.

Within this context it is possible to explore many of the current evidence and debates concerning the processes of change in complex societies including: social organisation and religion, the environment, the emergence of agrarian economies and villages, technological advancement, literacy and increasing urbanisation, culminating in the emergence of cities, of the state and of class societies. Recently the way in which we understand these processes has begun to change in the light of new archaeological evidence and applied scientific methods. We will explore the history of archaeology in the region and critical perspectives of current syntheses of prehistoric societies based upon comparative analysis of a variety of case studies and evidence, both within this geographic arena, and across a wider global context. Each lecture of this module will introduce key case studies to explore the various themes and issues related to understanding the subtle complexities and processes of change in these Late Prehistoric societies. This will form the basis for thinking about new directions and research questions.

Content warning: some lectures for this module contain images of human skeletal material and discussion of funerary treatments for the dead.

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Essay 2000 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules

None

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Essay 2000 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Formative: The marker will share written feedback with you in a timetabled one-to-one meeting and you will have the opportunity to ask further questions about how to improve your work before your summative assessment. If you are unable to attend the feedback session, your tutor will share the formative feedback with you digitally.

Summative: Written feedback sheets will be uploaded to your e:vision account (your personal University of York online services account) within 20 working days of the submission deadline, along with your overall mark for the module. If you have any questions about your mark and/or your written feedback, you will be able to sign up for office hours with the marker.

 

 

Indicative reading

Van De Mieroop, M. (2015) A History of the Ancient Near East, ca. 3000-323 BC. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Wengrow, D. (2006) The Archaeology of Early Egypt: Social Transformations in North-East Africa, C.10,000 to 2,650 BC. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wengrow, D. (2010) What Makes Civilization? The Ancient Near East and the Future of the West. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Detailed reading for the module will be available via YorkShare (the University's virtual learning environment). When you have enrolled on a module, you will be able to access the full reading list.



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students