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Durham University

Postgraduate Modules 2019/2020

Module Description

Please ensure you check the module availability box for each module outline, as not all modules will run in each academic year. Each module description relates to the year indicated in the module availability box. Please be aware that modules may change from year to year, and may be amended to take account of, for example: changing staff expertise, disciplinary developments, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback.

Department: Archaeology

ARCH51960: Research Topics in the Archaeology of Egypt, the Near East and Asia (ENEA) (Double)

Type Open Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2019/20

Prerequisites

  • None

Corequisites

  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.

Aims

  • To develop an in-depth knowledge and understanding of a specialised aspect of the archaeology of Egypt, the Near East and/or Asia chosen from a list of topics representing the main areas of research in the Department and the Strands within the MA in Archaeology.

Content

  • Two of the following topics as available:
  • Ancient Near East: later prehistory to early urban societies: The framework of current research on the development of complex societies in the region; The nature of late prehistoric communities in the near east; Regional sequences in north and south Mesopotamia, and the Levant; Evidence for, and significance of, long-distance interactions; The archaeology of complex organizations; Approaches to the analysis of archaeological evidence.
  • Ancient Near East: Middle and later Bronze Ages: The origins and influence of the key 20th century research frameworks; The nature of societies in the East Mediterranean world during the Middle and Late Bronze Ages; Regionalism and diversity during the 2nd millennium BC; The relationship between archaeology and documentary sources; Language, 'ethnic' groups and archaeology; Archaeology and present-day politics in the Middle East; Evidence for, and significance of, long-distance interactions; The archaeology of complex organizations; approaches to the analysis of archaeological evidence.
  • Burial Archaeology in the Ancient Near East 4500-1200BC: Archaeological and documentary evidence concerning the afterlife and treatment of the dead; current theories concerning mortuary archaeology; the scale. the social, economic and political structures of societies to which the mortuary remains relate, the relationship between the living population and the dead. Analysis is mainly focussed upon Syria-Palestine, although other regions of the Middle East will be considered where appropriate.
  • Cultural Landscapes of Eurasia: Provides students with an in depth understanding of archaeological landscapes, focusing on the development of complex societies and territorial empires. We discuss advances in the tools available for understanding landscapes, including remote sensing and satellite imagery, GIS and drone technologies, as well as covering key research areas such as urbanism, water systems and human-environment interactions. Case studies are drawn from a wide area, including the UK, Middle East, Mediterranean, Central Asia and the Caucasus.
  • Archaeology of the Ancient Egyptian State: the Egyptian Afterlife: Research tools and research orientation in Egyptology; Mechanisms of control: ideology, writing and status; Geographical and Environmental pressures; Administrative organisation; The practice of economic systems; Expressions of religious beliefs; The Priesthood; The role of the King; Monumental architecture; Military Power; Imperial Dynamics; Settlement organisation.
  • Archaeology of the Ancient Egyptian State: Religious Life: This research topic will examine the way in which religious life (that is things conencted with beliefs in the gods) had an impact on all lives in Egypt. It will focus upon the 'high' religion of the temples and the way in which it could be manipulated for political purposes as well as the reality of spiritual life for non-elite Egyptians, including the practice of magic and the issue of 'personal peity'. Finally, the topic will consider the subtle changes visible to Egyptian religion particularly in the New Kingdom and the possibility of greater upheavals in the system as demonstrated by 'herectic' Akhenaten. The course will use archaeological case studies of sties such as Luxor and Karnak temples, introduce the reading of texts and religious literature and study specific material evidence of non-elite belief, primarily from the workmens village of Deir el Medina and Kahun.
  • Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam in South Asia: Theory of comparative religion and the archaeology of religion; "Spiritual" India and the earliest religions from Mehrgarh to Harappa; Vedic culture and ritual and the Upanishads; The politics of religion and the politics of the past in South Asia; Buddhism, economy and society in Early Historic South Asia; Buddhist art and architecture; The development and roots of Hinduism; Urban decay and the formation of early medieval kingdoms; The development of the Hindu temple; Hindu art and inconography; The origins and development of Islam; Islam in South Asia; Case studies: e.g. Kalibangan, Sanchi, Aihole, Kajuraho, Gangaikondacholapuram, Agra, Delhi.
  • Topics in South Asian Archaeology: The emergence of South Asia’s two urbanisations, the Indus and the Early Historic. Exploration of specific issues concerning the degree of continuity and change within the region’s developmental sequence. Evidence for the diffusion of ideas and materials from West, Central and Southeast Asia; the limitations imposed by current South Asian archaeological methodologies and techniques; the impact of colonialism and nationalism on the theoretical frameworks of South Asia’s archaeologists. Geopolitical context; Colonial archaeologies and archaeologists; Nationalist archaeologies and archaeologists; Neolithic revolutions; Normative states; Aryans and imperialism; The Asokan ideal.
  • The Gulf and Eastern Arabia: This will be an overview of the development of Eastern Arabia from the Ubaid period until the Islamic period. It will examine the longue duree social and economic development of the region and explore how that development has been shaped by proximity to Mesopotamia, Iran and South Asia in different ways at different times. As we now have a very good archaeological data set for Eastern Arabia it provides an excellent opportunity to look in detail at such questions and to link theoretical ideas with a specific data set in a well-defined regional context with its own particular environmental circumstances.
  • The Archaeology of Indian Ocean Commerce in the Islamic Period: Examines the archaeology of the Indian Ocean trade from the Late Antique to the 17th century, focussing on the Western Indian Ocean. Lectures set out the borad scheme of trade and economic development and merchant activity through this long period and then focus on a number of specific case studies such as sites, regions, shipwrecks, commodities and academic debates. By the end of the course students will have a good knowledge of the issues related to the Indian Ocean trade and the earliest development of a truly global economy.
  • The Sahara in the Ancient Medieval Worlds: This will be an overview of trans-Saharan connections, from the ealiest drying of the Sahara to the height of the Islamic era gold trade. It will examine Saharan polities such as the Garamantes and the role of the Roman, North African and West African states on the fringes. Trade will be a topic particularly explored espeically the long-distance movement of goods such as gold, slaves and salt from sub-Saharan Africa. Other forms of connection include religion (particularly the spread of Islam to West Africa), language and burial practices Prominent case studies from Libya, Morocco and Mali, all the subject of recent archaeological research will provide the basis from which to explore aspects of climate change, hyper-arid landscapes and technological change.
  • Townscapes in North Africa and the Near East: Urban form and its transformation from Late Antiquity to the early Arab period. The major focus will be on the Mediterranean provinces, especially North Africa and the Near East from the Roman Imperial period to the 8th / 9th centuries AD. Comparison between eastern and western Mediterranean. Transformation of cities through major historical events; the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, the Vandal occupation of North Africa, the Byzantine Empire and the arrival of the Arabs. Overview of the classical city and the range of public and private buildings and their development over time. The transformation of space from Late Antiquity, both the urban layout of towns and the reuse of individual buildings. The changing nature of society during a period of great historical upheaval. Christianization - the changes to urban topography brought about by the foundation of churches and the rise of the power of the clergy.
  • Aspects of Art and Archaeology in Ancient Greece and Beyond (700-300BC): this topic explores the emergence of art in the Greek speaking world and its complex relationships, overlaps and difference from the visual cultures associated with other groups in the Mediterranean and Near East, as well as variability within the Greek speaking world. Topics include the 'birth' of 'Greek' art; regionalism in archaic Crete and Etruria; temples, architectural orders, their meanings and regionalism; the art and architecture of the Achaemenid Persians and their allies; the emergence of the Classical style in Greek Art and its meaning; the depiction of other races and ethnicities by Persians, Greeks and the others; the uses of architectural sculpture by poleis and non-Greek royals..

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Using one of the following topics as available, students will normally have:
  • Ancient Near East: later prehistory to early urban societies: developed a critical knowledge of the key classes of evidence pertaining to the development of complex societies in the Near East; developed an appreciation of the diversity of regional sequences; acquired a sophisticated understanding of key theoretical concepts; evaluated competing theoretical interpretations of this material; demonstrate an understanding of the way in which particular scholarly perspectives have influenced the nature of archaeological explanation.
  • Ancient Near East: Middle and Later Bronze Ages: developed a critical knowledge of the key classes of evidence pertaining to the archaeology of the second millennium BC in the near east; developed a sound understanding of the relationships between various aspects of ancient complex societies, and the ways in which these can be investigated through material evidence; developed an appreciation of the diversity of regional sequences; acquired a sophisticated understanding of key theoretical concepts and the datasets to which these can be most readily applied; evaluated competing theoretical interpretations of this material; evaluated the relationship between the analysis and interpretation of material and documentary evidence; demonstrated an understanding of the way in which particular scholarly perspectives have influenced the nature of archaeological explanation.
  • Burial Archaeology in the Ancient Near East 4500-1200BC: demonstrated advanced levels of current knowledge and intensive understanding of the relationship between material evidence and theory; deployed analytical skills that allow the effective evaluation of the relationship between the analysis and the interpretation of material and documentary evidence; demonstated competence in accessing and assimilating specialised research literature of an advanced nature including theoretical concepts and a sound knowledge of the relevant archaeological datasets.
  • Cultural Landscapes of Eurasia: Developed a critical understanding of the history of landscape archaeology and the range of approaches available. Understood the key theoretical and methodological concepts involved in the study of the landscape. Developed the capacity to analyse and interpret map data, aerial photographs and satellite imagery to make informed interpretations. Understood the broad nature of landscape change in at least one major study region (UK, Mediterranean, Middle East, Central Asia).
  • Archaeology of the Ancient Egyptian State: Developed a critical knowledge of the types of archaeological objects, and sites, geographical and environmental data and documentary evidence available from Ancient Egypt; Analysed specific data-sets relating to each of the main institutions of the Egyptian State; Appreciated the nature and biases inherent in the evidence; Evaluated methodological and theoretical approaches to the Egyptian material; Developed their independent research and learning skills.
  • Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam in South Asia: developed the ability to demonstrate an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the subject matter (specifically the origins, development, and practice of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam); show a detailed and advanced critical understanding of the ways in which archeological monuments can be used to illustrate and investigate religious practice and history; show a detailed knowledge of a range of key religious monuments in South Asia; critically assess current issues and interpretations, and the evidence and theoretical and political positions which underpin them; show a detailed understanding of the link between social and economic change, and the development of the three religions under consideration; demonstrate a sophisticated and critical understanding of the political positions which underlie current interpretations of the religious past in South Asia.
  • Topics in South Asian Archaeology: developed the ability to demonstrate a detailed knowledge and understanding of the subject matter; critically assess current issues and interpretations, and the evidence which underpins them; appreciate the impact of colonialism and nationalism on interpretations of South Asia’s cultural sequence; apply their analytical and evaluative skills to specific case studies; consider in depth the role of concepts of ‘material culture’ in the south Asia.
  • The Gulf and Eastern Arabia: Established a knowledge of the main archaeological evidence pertaining to the development of human society in Eastern Arabia from the first arrival of humans to the advent of the 20th century oil economy. Established a critical understanding of the main academic debates related the interpretation of this evidence and evaluated competing theoretical interpretations in relation to it. Gained a clearer understanding of the cultural and economic relationships between different regions around the Western Indian Ocean littoral and their development through time. Gained a basic understanding of local climatic factors and their potential affect on the development of human societies in a hyper-arid region.
  • The Archaeology of Indian Ocean Commerce in the Islamic Period: established a knowledge of the principal archaeological evidence pertaining to the development of trade and commerce int he Western Indian Ocean from the Late Antique period until the 17th century; established a critical understanding of the main academic themes and debates related to the interpretation of this evidence and evaluate competing theoretical interpretations in relation to it; gained a clearer understanding of the significance of the Indian Ocean economy and to the cultural and economic relationships between different regions around the Western Indian Ocean littoral and their development through time; gained a basic understanding of trade and commerce and its potential effects on the development of human societies.
  • The Sahara in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds: established a knowledge of the main archaeological evidence for human habitation of the Sahara fromt he Holocene Wet Phase to the Early Modern period. Established a critical understanding of the main academic debates related to the interpretation of evidence and evaluated competing theoretical interpretations in relation to it. Gained a clear understanding of the extent and nature of Saharan networks and their economic and cultural implications for states in North and West Africa. Gained a basic understanding of hyper-arid landscapes, settlement and irrigation and the causes for establishing and abandoning these oases.
  • Townscapes in North Africa and the Near East: Developed an ability to demonstrate advanced levels of current knowledge and intensive understanding of: Roman and Late Antique urbanism (particularly in the North Africa – Tunisia, Libya, Algeria - and in the Near East), the diffusion of Christianity and the progressive Christianization of urban areas, the major debates on the fate of classical Roman towns after the fall of the Roman Empire, Roman, Vandal, Byzantine urbanism, early Arab occupation of classical Roman towns (did urban areas [in the civic sense] survive?); evaluated the available sources of evidence and current issues and interpretations; investigated and analysed specific case-studies for each period; considered in detail the re-use of former public buildings and the social, political and economic contexts in which these transformations occurred.
  • Aspects of Art and Archaeology in Ancient Greece and Beyond (700-300 BC): Developed familiarity with a range of case study regions, sites and monuments in the period and area concerned, including sculpture, painting and architecture in the Greek world and neighbouring zones; queried the mechanisms that led to the formation of particular monument types and trajectories of visual cultures in particular contexts; investigated the formation and expression of identities of the ‘self’ and ‘others’ in historical context; considered how patterns of visual culture, identities and language usage relates to the use of ethnic taxonomies in historical and archaeological literature, both ancient and modern.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will have acquired an appreciation of the complexity and diversity data available on different temporal/spatial scales, have gathered relevant data and evaluated competing interpretations of available materials and data.
Key Skills:
  • Students will have developed independent research and learning skills.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Core content is delivered through instructor-led lectures also attended by Level 3 undergraduates, and a mixture of instructor-led and student-led tutorials/seminar classes dedicated to Level 4 (MA) students.
  • Instructor-led tutorials/seminar classes are small group learning environments which are interactive. They can: go over material from lectures; explain and discuss complex interpretations, theories and ideas; share opinions on set readings; or discuss a case study in depth.
  • Student-led tutorials/seminars can: require students to present to the group on essay topics, readings or case studies.
  • Lectures, instructor-led seminars and reading lists initiate students into various topics and provide guidance for them on readings, including archaeological reports, synthetic and theoretical literature.
  • There is an emphasis on developing critical reading through seminar discussion, but also on independent exploration and reading, aimed at building the critical appraisal and independent research skills in the intended learning outcomes.
  • Summative essays assess the grasp of material and ideas covered in the courses, ability to describe material, formulate problems and explain issues clearly in writing, evidence of critical and inquisitive thinking, and development of independent research and reading.

Teaching Methods and Contact Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 18 weekly 1 hour 18
Tutorials 20 weekly 1 hour 20

Summative Assessment

Component: Essays 1 Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 2,000 words 50% Yes
Essay 2 2,000 words 50% Yes
Component: Essays 2 Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3 3,000 words 50% Yes
Essay 4 3,000 words 50% Yes

Formative Assessment:

The preparation achieved in the module RSS that precedes this module is considered to be sufficient formative preparation for the summative assignments in this module.The preparation achieved in the module RSS that precedes this module is considered to be sufficient formative preparation for the summative assignments in this module.


Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University


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