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Urbanisation and state formation in the Ancient Near East


Compulsory attendance

Prerequisites and restrictions

Bachelor’s degree in Archaeology.
SAP and exchange students: admission after approval by the Graduate School.
Basic knowledge of western Asiatic archaeology.


It is in the Ancient Near East that complex society first rears its head. Its development begins in prehistory, and archaeology is the only discipline to help us plot it. Until the advent of written sources (ca. 3,400 BC) when we know that society was segmented both vertically and horizontally, the development from roving bands through hamlets and villages to towns and major cities to city-states and nation states was not linear. Various pertinent theories will be treated during the course, and many examples of the various stages will eventually enable the students to form (and write down!) their own opinions concerning this fascinating subject.

Learning outcomes

  • Detailed knowledge of the various theories concerning early complex society, based on close affinity with the pertinent archaeological material;

  • Being well-versed in the current theoretical and practical literature on the subject;

  • Ability to critically judge this literature;

  • Ability to set out independent lines of research for further work in this subject;

  • Ability to demonstrate these acquired skills by writing an essay on the subject.

Mode of delivery

After introductory lectures, individual tasks will be assigned involving reading and at least one class-presentation with discussion, followed by handing in the resulting sizeable written version of that presentation.


  • Participation in class;

  • Presentation;

  • Discussion of assigned literature;

  • Essay

Reading list

To be announced.

Time schedule

Course schedule details can be found in the MA time schedule.