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Archaeology of Southwest Asia (Online) (10 credit points)

Course Times & Enrolment

(Code AC108-103) • (0 classes) Course location to be confirmed •
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Course Summary

This course examines archaeological developments in the early and later prehistory of southwest Asia. We explore the archaeology of modern Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, Iran and southeast Turkey to gain insight into the culture, politics, trade and economy of the people who lived in those lands thousands of years ago.


Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

Students will need to be able to confidently use videoconferencing software and be comfortable with using websites.

Special Information

In order to participate in this course, you will need access to a computer with a speaker and an internet connection.

Content of Course

  • Introduction and summary: 10,000 years of archaeology in SW Asia. Settling hunter- gatherers (ca. 10,000 BC).
  • The first farmers; emergence of communities (ca. 9800-8200 BC).
  • The Neolithic revolution and the mega-sites in southwest Asia (ca. 8500-7200 BC).
  • Population disperse (ca. 7200-6500BC) and emergence of cultures (ca. 6000-5000 BC).
  • The Mesopotamian Chalcholithic (ca. 6000-4000 BC).
  • The dawn of history: the first urban revolution and the emergence of states (ca. 4000-3000 BC).
  • Temples, palaces, script, slavery and war: the second urban revolution and the emergence of empires (ca. 3000-2000 BC).
  • Collapse and re-urbanization: the Assyrians and the Babylonians (ca. 2000-1600 BC).
  • International diplomacy and trade in southwest Asia and the Mediterranean. Internal social upheaval, domino economic collapse or the Sea People? (ca. 1600-1200 BC).
  • Recapitulation. World heritage and the role of archaeology.

Teaching method(s)

This course will be delivered via available online materials and live online sessions. Presentations followed by critical discussions of the issues raised in the lecture and current heritage issues.

This course comprises of 2 hrs teaching per week: a 1hr recorded lecture to be viewed before the 1hr live seminar.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Recognise major sites and archaeological material from southwest Asia.
  2. Understand socio-cultural shifts in their wider political context.
  3. Demonstrate relevant knowledge of archaeological theories, methods and techniques past and present.
  4. Synthesise and compare evidence from major archaeological sites in southwest Asia.


Core Readings


  • Cauvin J., 2000. The Birth of Gods and the Origins of Agriculture. Translated by Trevor Watkins. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Hallo, W.W. 1971. The ancient Near East: a history. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (chapters 1-4).
  • Knapp, A.B. 1988. The History and Culture of Ancient Western Asia and Egypt. Wadsworth: California (chapters 1-4)
  • Roaf, M. 1990. Cultural atlas of Mesopotamia and the ancient Near East. New York; Oxford: Facts on File.


  • Frankfort, H. 1970. Art and architecture of the ancient Orient. New Haven, Conn; London: Yale University Press.
  • Mieroop, M. van de 2004. A History of the Ancient Near East ca 3000-323 BC. Blackwell. Oxford (chapters 1-7 only)
  • Simmons, A.H. 2011. The Neolithic Revolution in the Near East. Transforming the Human Landscape. Arizona: University of Arizona Press


  • Meyers, E.M. 1997. The Oxford encyclopedia of archaeology in the Near East prepared under the auspices of the American Schools of Oriental Research. New York; Oxford: OUP.
  • Sasson J.M. 1995. Civilizations of the ancient Near East. New York: C. Scribner's Sons.

Web Sources


10 credit courses have one assessment. Normally, the assessment is a 2000 word essay, worth 100% of the total mark, submitted by week 12. To pass, students must achieve a minimum of 40%. There are a small number of exceptions to this model which are identified in the Studying for Credit Guide.

Studying for Credit

If you choose to study for credit you will need to allocate significant time outwith classes for coursework and assessment preparation. Credit points gained from this course can count towards the Certificate of Higher Education.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.