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Archaeology: Archaeology of the Near East

This is a specialisation of the master’s programme of Archaeology.

The Near East (modern Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Turkey) is a region of enormous culture-historical significance, and is a cradle of civilisation from Prehistory up to the Early Medieval period. Various key developments, such as the origins of farming and sedentary life, and the emergence of complex urbanised societies and writing, occurred first in this region and spread subsequently. In the Master in Near Eastern archaeology the student will be taught how to investigate such key developments using primary archaeological data.

Understanding how data are obtained, being able to contextualise these in specific local culture-historical contexts, and translating the data to observations relevant for the study of processes such as neolithisation and urbanisation is key to the MA-programme in Leiden. Therefore, in the MA-programme we explicitly link our research with the teaching curriculum. The Near Eastern section has considerable expertise on Neolithic Syria and Anatolia, reconstructing ecological and agricultural practices, architectural analysis and the study of society, survey methodologies, and the investigation of complex societies of the Bronze Age and Iron Age Near East.

Leiden University provides rich resources for students of the Ancient Near East. Amongst these are the Netherlands Institute for the Near East, hosting one of the best libraries in the world for this field of expertise, as well as renowned Egyptology and Assyriology sections. The National Museum of Antiquities is important both for its Near Eastern collections and its research in the region. Near Eastern archaeology therefore is embedded in a strong research environment.

Staff: prof.dr. Peter Akkermans, dr. Bleda Düring, prof.dr. René Cappers.