nl en

The Archaeology of the Assyrian Empire


Admission requirements

Admission to the Master Archaeology programme, or equivalent.


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 empire and how the Assyrian Empire has been modelled

  • The archaeology of Assur before the empire

  • Practices of social engineering in the Assyrian Empire

  • Practices of landscape engineering in the Assyrian Empire

  • Capital creation in the Assyrian Empire

  • Kingship and ideology

  • Borderlands in the Assyrian Empire

Course set-up

There are six or seven 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, we will discuss these readings in small groups and one student of each group 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 class 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;

  • Knowledge of the archaeology and history of the Assyrian empire.


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.

Assessment method

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

  • Quality of the discussion presented (20 %);

  • Essay (70 %).

A retake is only possible for the essay, and only if all other requirements, including attendance, have been met.

Assessment 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.


For lectures, tutorials, and exams, enrolment through MyStudymap is mandatory.
You are also required to confirm your exam in MyStudymap. No confirmation = no participation!

General information about registration can be found on the Course and Exam Enrolment page.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study Abroad/Exchange website for information on how to apply.


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


Compulsory attendance.