- Department: Archaeology
- Module co-ordinator: Dr. James Taylor
- Credit value: 10 credits
- Credit level: H
- Academic year of delivery: 2020-21
- See module specification for other years: 2019-20
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 out of the Neolithic.
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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 out of 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’.
The course will focus upon understanding and interpreting primary data (archaeological reports, assemblages and datasets) and current scientific method to consider the big themes relating to the period, such as: the emergence of sedentary villages and agrarian economies, craft specialisation and trade, the increase in urbanisation, development of cosmologies, religion, and the the apparatus of state culminating in the rise of state societies.
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.
Demonstrate broad and comparative knowledge of their chosen research topic appropriate to the module theme
Reflect on skills and experience gained over their degree for the purposes of writing an effective CV
Communicate a research idea for a funding application succinctly in a 5-10 minute pitch presentation with a rationale and a clear methodology
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. 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
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Timing of written and verbal feedback is published on our deadlines pages:
Reading is accessible via the module web pages and VLE.
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.