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Prospectus

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The economy of food in the ancient Near East

Course
2013-2014

Compulsory attendance

Yes

Admission requirements

Propedeuse (first year) Archaeology obtained.

Description

Although perhaps the biggest cliché in recorded human history, the proverb ‘you are what you eat’ has spawned a wealth of archaeological research. From hunter-gatherer societies to empires, food is crucial to the organization of our economies. In order to survive, people need daily rations of calories and nutrients. What people gathered or grew, and how they processed this in order to feed themselves has therefore always been a cornerstone in archaeological interpretations of past societies.

The archaeology of food has currently moved beyond considerations of efficiency and adaptation to embrace insights from anthropology showing that food styles are deeply culturally embedded. What people ate and drank and the manner in which they served food and drinks has always played a major role in ideologies, cosmologies and social identities. In this course we review some of the theoretical schools with regard to the relationships humans have with their food. We discuss a range of famous archaeological case studies from the Near East and Egypt.

Course objectives

  • Students become acquainted with current interpretative debates concerning the roles of food in the economies, the socio-political structures and the ideologies of societies in the ancient Near East and Egypt;

  • Students gain detailed knowledge on selected key case studies and the archaeological debates in the literature associated with these topics;

  • Students practice their ability to critically assess current research and literature, and to formulate a well-argued opinion in discussions;

  • Students practice their skills in summarizing the current status of a specific topic and present this in a presentation (Powerpoint);

  • Students practice writing a balanced essay, expressing a critical assessment of relevant literature and one’s own well-argued opinion, making use of feedback from group discussions and from their presentations.

Ects distribution

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • Lectures (1 ects);

  • 280 pages of literature (2 ects);

  • Presentation and final essay (2 ects).

Timetable

Course schedule details can be found in the bachelor 3 time schedule.

Mode of instruction

Lectures by teachers, presentations by students, discussion.

Assessment method

  • Active participation in class discussions (20%);

  • Quality of the student class presentation (40%);

  • Quality of the final essay (40%), between 3,000-4,000 words.

Assesment deadline

All essays should be submitted through SafeAssign; the final essay should also be submitted in print.

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the examination schedule.

Reading list

A general, theorethical-archaeological reading list will be provided to participants prior to the first meeting. Teachers will provide key literature relevant to specific case studies prior to each assignment for presentation. Students will assemble additional reading for case studies as part of their presentation.

Registration

Register for this course via uSis.
Instructions for registration can be found in the uSis manual.

Exchange and Study Abroad students: please see the Prospective Students website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

For more information about this course, please contact dr. O.P. Nieuwenhuyse.