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Course Credit by Examination
HIST 3290—Ancient Near East: Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Levant

Three Semester Hours

DCR 8/14


University Requisite: Sophomore, Junior, or Senior. A previous course in history is recommended.

Course Description

Begins with the Neolithic Revolution and the origins of civilization in the Ancient Near East and Egypt, including the Sumerians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Hebrews, and Persians. Assignments and lectures are based on both archaeological and literary sources. 

Textbook and Supplies

  • Van De Mieroop, Marc. A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000-323 B.C. 2nd ed. Blackwell Publishing, 2007. [ISBN: 9781405149112]
  • Van De Mieroop, Marc. A History of Ancient Egypt. Blackwell Publishing, 2011. [ISBN: 9781405160711]
  • *The Bible (see below)
  • Starr, Chester G. “1–7.” In A History of the Ancient World. Oxford University Press, 1991. [ISBN: 9780195066296]

Since this course involves no classroom lectures and no individual faculty contact, the student assumes full responsibility of adequate individual study to ensure familiarity with all the ins and outs of the history of this period in all its facets and aspects. With this in mind, the instructor recommends, in addition, the following:

  • Nagle, D. Brendan. The Ancient World. 7th ed. Prentice Hall, 2010. 1–66.
  • Hallo, William. The Ancient Near East: A History. Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1971.
  • Levack, Brian, Edward Muir, and Meredith Veldman. The West: Encounters and Transformations. Prentice Hall, 2011. 1–75.
  • Moscati, Sabatino. The Face of the Ancient Near East. Quadrangle, 1963.
  • Saggs, H.W.F. The Greatness That Was Babylon. Mentor, 1962.
  • Jones, Tom. Paths to the Ancient Past. Free Press, 1967.
  • Johnson, Paul. History of the Jews. Harper Rowe, 1967.
  • Cohn-Haft, Louis. Source Readings in Ancient History: Volume I: The Ancient Near East and Greece. Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1965 (parts 1-35).

Your instructor suggests you begin your study with the pertinent parts of the Roebuck and Starr texts, as these provide a better introduction to the subject. The Mieroop texts are more detailed and challenging. The student who is already quite knowledgeable in the field may find the Roebuck and Starr texts to be sufficient by themselves.

*You should be familiar with the Bible, its organization, origins, and content. It is most important for the student to realize that here we are concerned not with any personal religious reading, and not as a source of faith, but as an objective source for ancient history. For this purpose, we will treat it in the same manner as, for example, the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Mesopotamian clay tablets, and other ancient literary source materials. Our only interest in it in this study is academic and scholarly, not as a “holy” book, and thus its information should be divorced from faith and studied in a completely non-religious and objective manner. If you do not have access to a Bible, please make note on your registration form.

Reading Assignments

The following list provides some more specific examples of the types of items you should know about: Nefertiti, Uruk, Amarna Archives, Sargon of Akkad, ostraka, anthropomorphism, obelisk, Naram-Sin, the Behiston Monument, Flinders Petrie, the cult of Osiris, pyramid of Khufu, etc. Note that this short list is intended merely to be illustrative, to give you some indication of the degree of detail encompassed in this examination. 

Chronology is one of the basic components of the historical discipline, and thus it is suggested that you prepare by outlining the important events for each people in correct chronological sequence and then integrating each of these “timelines” together so that the whole sequence of ancient events in this time period is clear. Some students have done this in chart form on rolled shelf paper. You should be able to sequence (place in correct chronological order) given items from different periods of antiquity. You should be aware of scholarly conventional chronological usage of such terms as Bronze Age, B.C.E., designation of centuries (the tenth century is the 900s), Eighteenth Dynasty, period of the Second Temple, Third Dynasty of Ur, New Kingdom (Egypt), etc.

Nature of the Examination

There will be one supervised examination lasting three hours. The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice, short-answer, or fill-in-the-blank questions in part I, and part II is an essay. You will not be allowed to use any books or supplemental materials when taking the exam. Please bring a couple of good pens with you to the exam; all other necessary materials will be provided to you when you take the exams. The examination will be in two parts and may be described as demanding and challenging. A shallow or cursory perusal of text material will in all likelihood not be adequate. Correct spelling throughout is expected.

Grading Criteria

Grading will be strict, similar to the written portion of a driving test, where one point below a failing score is a failing grade. Thus, a score of 64% on the objective part will constitute a failing grade. The examination is designed so that a student adequately prepared will very easily score well above 75%–85%.