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Ritual and religion


Admission requirements

Propedeuse (first year) Archaeology obtained.


The archaeology of the Near East is extraordinarily rich in often dramatic, sometimes bizarre expressions of ritual and religion. But what is ritual? How do archaeologists identify places of worship? What criteria do they use here and is there a standard method? Which different research methods, sources and conceptual frameworks are used by Near Eastern archaeologists? What are the differences between ritual, cult, and religion?

In this course we will discuss conceptual frameworks, and theories and present a number of important examples of ritual expression through a series of case studies. The time frame of the course extends from the Neolithic in the Near East until the Medieval period.

Course objectives

  • Gain insight into models and theories applied by archaeologists when investigating ritual and religion;

  • Gain insight into the long-term developments in ritual and religious practices in the ancient Near East;

  • Ability to critically evaluate these ritual and religious practices in relation to interpretative frameworks and the data upon which they are based.


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

Mode of instruction


Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 14 hours of seminar (1 ects);

  • 300 pages of literature (2 ects);

  • Final essay of 3,000-4,000 words (2 ects).

Assessment method

  • Weekly essay discussing the reading assignment of that week (30%);

  • Final essay of 3,000-4,000 words dealing with one of the case studies discussed in class (70%).

The weekly essays are submitted prior to each class via BlackBoard. The final essay has to be submitted 2 weeks after the end of the seminar.

All exam dates (exams, re-sits, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the examination schedule.

Reading list

Per meeting there will be 1 or 2 papers to read. The reading list will be distributed 2 weeks prior to the start of the class. Make sure you are registered for this BlackBoard module in time.


Registration for the course is not necessary, registration for the exam is mandatory. For instructions, see the Registration in uSis page.


For more information about his course, please contact A. Politopoulos.


Compulsory attendance.