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Advanced Archaeology of the Assyrian Empire


Admission requirements

Admission to the Research Master Archaeology programme.


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

Assyria has been investigated mainly on the basis of its textual sources and art rather than sherds, buildings, and graves. In this course we will therefore foreground material culture and landscape data on Assyria.
In particular we will discuss:

  • The archaeology of Assur before the empire;

  • How the Assyrian Empire was modelled;

  • The Middle Assyrian expansion;

  • Practices of social engineering in the Assyrian Empire;

  • The economy of the Assyrian Empire;

  • Ethnicity in the Assyrian Empire;

  • Capital creation in the Assyrian Empire.

Course set-up

There are 7 meetings. You will be asked to read one or two relevant articles prior to each meeting. In the first half of the meeting the lecturer will present further background to the theme of the meeting. Subsequently, two or three students will present a short in promptu discussion of the article they had to read for the meeting and embed this in the broader frame sketched by the lecturer. This is then followed by a group discussion.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of the main theories on empires and imperialism in the Bronze Age and Iron Age Near East;

  • Ability to critically compare weaknesses and strengths of such theories;

  • In-depth overview of the archaeology and history of the Assyrian empire;

  • Ability to link archaeological studies of the Assyrian Empire to studies of imperialism in other disciplines;

  • Draw convincing parallels between imperialism in the ancient and modern world;

  • Suggest future avenues of investigation.


Course schedule details can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button.

Mode of instruction

  • Preparatory reading / writing of critical summaries prior to class;

  • Lectures;

  • Student presentations;

  • Class discussion.

Course load

  • 7 x 3 hours of lectures (1,5 ec);

  • Essay of 2,500 words (1,5 ec);

  • 280 pages of literature and critical summary (to prepare discussion) (2 ec).

Assessment method

  • Active participation in the course and discussions (10%);

  • Quality of the discussion presented (20%);

  • Essay (70 %).

RMA-students will be required to add a multidisciplinary section on the methodological and conceptual tool sets with which archaeologists can study empires and imperialism.
A retake is only possible for the essay, and only if all other requirements, including attendance, have been met.

Assesment deadlines

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button. To view the assessment deadline(s), make sure to select the course with a code ending in T and/or R.

Reading list

The reading list will be given to the participating students 2 weeks prior to the beginning of the course.


Registration in uSis is mandatory. You can register for this course until 5 days before the first class.

Registration in uSis automatically leads to enrollment in the corresponding Brightspace module. Therefore you do not need to enroll in Brightspace, but make sure to register for this course in uSis.

You are required to register for all lectures and tutorials well in time. The Administration Office registers all students for their exams, you are not required to do this in uSis.


For more information about this course, please contact dr. B.S. (Bleda) Düring.


Compulsory attendance.