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Ritual and Religion in the Ancient Near East (BA2)



Bachelor year 2.

Admission requirements

Bachelor Archaeology first year 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? Which 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.

Set-up of the course:
The course consists of two-hour classes taught by various staff members, with preparation in the form of reading materials and small assignments.

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 BA2 time schedule.

Mode of instruction


Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 14 hours of seminar (1 ec);

  • 300 pages of literature (2 ec);

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

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 assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the BA2 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 via uSis is mandatory.

  • The Administration Office will register all BA1 students for their tutorials (not lectures; register via uSis!).

  • BA2, BA3, MA/MSc and RMA/RMSc students are required to register for all lectures and tutorials well in time.

  • Start registration for the BA2 seminars:
    Series 1: 10 September 2018, 07:00 hrs
    Series 2: 7 January 2018, 07:00 hrs
    Series 3: 11 March 2018, 07:00 hrs

  • The Administration Office registers all students for their exams, students are not required to do this in uSis.


For more information about his course, please contact dr. A. (Aris) Politopoulos.


Compulsory attendance.