REL 228: History and Culture of the Ancient Near East, Spring 2006.    SYLLABUS      RJDKnauth
Class MWF 12:45-1:50 in B307. Office hours MW 2:00-4:00 pm, T/Th 3:00-3:40 in D-320.
Tel: 321-4298(gayt), home: 326-3822; email:, web


           The primary purpose of this course is to explore the history and culture of the ancient Near East, focusing on Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Syria-Palestine (the “fertile crescent”), with emphasis on its cultural legacy - both as the cultural context for the birth of the Judeo-Christian religious tradition and as highly influential to modern society more generally.  Considerable attention will be given to primary sources (Kramer, Arnold and others) and archaeological contributions (with slide illustrations).  Most weeks will include short student presentations and discussion.  Weekly quizzes and assignments will provide extra incentive to do the reading, so as to be prepared to participate actively in the discussion sessions.


Texts:             The Ancient Near East, Amelie Kuhrt (in 2 volumes)
            Readings from the Ancient Near East, ed. Arnold & Beyer
            History Begins at Sumer: Thirty-nine Firsts in Recorded History, Samuel Kramer


Course Requirements: 

1)      Attendance and informed participation (readings having been completed) at all class sessions will be expected (worth 10% of the final grade).  The attendance policy for this course is that there are no excused absences without a written note from a doctor or parent/guardian regarding a serious family or medical emergency (e.g. requiring hospitalization). Each set of 3 absences lowers your grade by 1%.


2)     Quizzes on assigned readings (15 quizzes, worth 15% of the final grade) will take place at the beginning of class as listed in this syllabus, covering assigned readings for that week.


3)      Period Outline Summaries from the assigned chapters of Kuhrt (1-2 pages typed*) will be collected on the following periods (13 total, worth 15% of the final grade [#6 and #12 are worth double points]):
Mesopotamia: 1 Sumerian Early Dynastic (Kuhrt ch. 1a-b)
                         2 Akkadian <+Gutean>    (Kuhrt ch. 1c)
                         3 Ur III Neo-Sumerian     (Kuhrt ch. 1d) 
                         4 MB Worksheet: Isin/Larsa, Old Assyrian, Mari, Old Babylonian (Kuhrt ch. 2)
                         5 Hittite  (Kuhrt ch. 5, 8c) <+Hurrian, Kassite (Kuhrt ch. 6a, 7a, 7d)>    
                         6 Neo-Assyrian (Kuhrt ch. 9) <+Middle Assyrian (Kuhrt ch. 7b)>
                         7 Neo-Babylonian     (Kuhrt ch. 11)
                         8 Persian/Achaemenid  (Kuhrt ch. 13)
      Egypt:       9 Early Dynastic                 (Kuhrt ch. 3a)
                       10 Old Kingdom <+1st Int>     (Kuhrt ch. 3a-b)
                       11 Middle Kingdom <+2nd Int>  (Kuhrt ch. 3d-e)
                       12 New Kingdom:
foundation, Amarna, Rameside (Kuhrt ch. 4, 6d)
                       13 Third Intermediate, Saite                       (Kuhrt ch. 12)
For each of these, include the following:
A.  Specify Period/Culture/Nation with date range and geographical designation.
B.  Outline its history with major historical events, noting capital cities and giving brief biographical descriptions for the main rulers/characters that stand out, and noting the dynamics of the rise and fall of the culture. 
C.  Briefly describe major primary sources - their nature, significance, difficulties of interpretation.
D.  Briefly characterize the period culture, note major innovations, and comment on any important/interesting issues. 
<+For additional bracketed cultures do not do a separate outline but give a brief characterization with separate date range and geographical designation along with anything else that seems important, as a brief addendum to the primary outline.> 


4)     Written Assignments (10 total, 1-2 pages typed;* worth 10% of final grade) on primary texts and major issues will be collected in class, and will be the basis for class discussion.  Students may expect to be called upon at random.  For Kramer readings and other primary texts, note genre of literature, historical context, historical significance, biblical or modern parallels, cultural heritage, and issues of bias/reliability.

5)     Re-enacting Project - Research and Oral Presentation (10-minute presentation, 4-page write-up, typed;* worth 20% of final grade).  Each student will choose a different important historical or mythological figure to present to the class.  Sign-up on door of D-320, 1st-come/1st-served.  A minimum of 6 separate bibliographical sources, properly cited, is required.  Include relevant primary texts, historical background information, and other secondary scholarly work regarding the figure.  The chosen character must be presented during the relevant week of course.  Creativity is encouraged for 1st-person historical/biographical narrative, including appropriate costumes/props (look at contemporary statues/art for appropriate attire) to make the character memorable, and/or use pictures/slides when available.


6)      There will be a Midterm (Fri-2/24, worth 10% of the grade) and Final (2 hours, 20% of grade). Review sheets will be handed out in advance.


*For written work, please type using 12-pt Times New Roman font with 1-inch margins all around.



Schedule of Readings and Assignments:


Week 1:  Introductions and Mesopotamian Pre-Dynastic Period; Development of  Writing & Cities
Read Kuhrt Introduction and ch. 1a (i.e. up to p. 27) for Wed; read Kramer Intro, Appendix B, ch. 1-3 for Fri.
M (Jan. 9): Intro. Overview of History, Politics & Ecology of “the fertile crescent,” influence on Religion.
W (Jan. 11): Major methodological issues, Mesopotamian Pre-Dynastic Period (Kuhrt).
 F (Jan. 13):  Discuss the invention of writing, schools, and juvenile delinquency (Kramer).
       *Sign up for “Re-enacting” Presentations!


Mesopotamian Early Bronze Age (3000 - 2000 BCE):      Sumer, Akkad, Gut, Ur III;      <-- Notes


Week 2:  Sumerian Early Dynastic, Sargon's Akkadian Empire, and the fall of Agade to the Gutians
Read Kuhrt 1b, 1c; Arnold #12; Kramer 4-7, 22, 24, Appendix A.
M (Jan. 16): Sumerian Early Dynastic (3000-2300). *Quiz 1 (Kuhrt).
W (Jan. 18): Discuss Gilgamesh and Sumerian politics and legends. *Quiz 2 (Arnold and Kramer).
 F (Jan. 20):  Lugalzagesi (set-up); Sargon’s Akkadian Empire (2340/2300-2200/2150). Sargon/Moses birth. 
Discuss Naram-Sin and the fall of Agade to the Gutians (2200-2100). Gudea the Architect.
Asst. 1 (due Fri): Discuss the legend of the fall of Agade in relation to actual history (see Kramer Appendix A).


Week 3:  Ur III Dynasty - the Neo-Sumerian Renaissance (2100-2000)         
Read Kuhrt 1d; Arnold #27, 90; plus noted Kramer selections for Wed & Fri.
M (Jan. 23): Utu-Hegal (propaganda, set-up for Ur III), Ur-Nammu & Shulgi.  *Quiz 3 (Kuhrt, Arnold).
For Wed: Read Kramer 8, 25, 30, 31, 33, 35, 36.
W (Jan. 25): Discuss Kramer.  Abraham and the Ur III Dynasty (Ziggurat - cf Gen. 11). Slides.
W (Jan. 25) 7:00 Clarke Chapel, Symposium (EC opp).   For Fri: Read Kramer 28-29, 34, 37, 39. 
F (Jan. 27): Ibbi-Sin and Ishbi-Erra - the politics of the fall of Ur III. *Quiz 4 (Kramer).
Asst. 2
(due Fri): Reflect on the politics of the fall of the Ur III dynasty.


Week 4:  Mesopotamian Middle Bronze Age (2000–1600):  Kuhrt ch. 2.  Isin/Larsa, O.Ass/O.B.
 Read Kuhrt ch. 2, plus Pritchard 260-262 (Mari).  Do MB Worksheet (hand-out).
M (Jan. 30): The Isin/Larsa period; Shamshi-Adad; the Old Assyrian Trading Network. *Quiz 5 (Kuhrt).
W (Feb. 1): Mari and the Old Babylonian Period.  Slides.  Hurrians and Kassites. 
Asst. 3 (due Wed): Reflect on Hammurabi's rise to power.
For Fri:  Read Arnold #1-6, 28-30, 35, 45;
Kramer 9, 13, 19-20, 23, 27; Genesis 1-12, Exod 20-23.
F (Feb. 3): Discuss Old Babylonian Law and Justice, and the ANE legal tradition (Hammurabi, Bible);
Discuss biblical origins and patriarchs (creation stories compared). *Quiz 6 (Arnold, Kramer and Bible).


Egyptian Early and Middle Bronze Ages (3000-1550 BCE):  Kuhrt ch. 3  


Week 5:  Egyptian Early Bronze: Early Dynastic, Old Kingdom, 1st Intermediate (3100–2000).            
Read Kuhrt 3intro, 3a, 3b, 3c; Arnold #9
(Memphite Theology), #66 (Instructions); Pritchard pp. 3-5 (Deliverance).
M (Feb. 6)- Egyptian Early Dynastic Period. Sources for early Egyptian History, difficulties of interpretation.

W (Feb. 8)- Egyptian Old Kingdom - the Pyramid Age.  *Quiz 7.
 F (Feb. 10)- Egyptian 1st Intermediate Period (2180-2040). Egyptian religion. 
Asst. 4 (for Fri): Discuss some aspect of Egyptian religion as reflected in our readings.


Week 6Egyptian Middle Bronze: Middle Kingdom and 2nd Intermediate Period (2000–1550).          
Read Kuhrt 3d, 3e; Arnold #18 (Sinuhe), #82 (Neferti/Nefer-Rohu).
M (Feb. 13)- Egyptian Middle Kingdom [esp. Dyn. 12] (2040-1720)
.  Mentuhotep, Amunemhet.
Asst. 5
(for Mon): Comment on the Prophecy of Nefer-Rohu/Neferti.
W (Feb. 15)- Egyptian 2nd Intermediate Period, Hyksos (1720-1550). *Quiz 8.

For Fri:  Read Genesis 37, 39-50; Pritchard pp. 12-16 (brothers), 24-27 (7 lean years), 173-175 (expulsion of Hyksos).
F (Feb. 17)- Israel in Egypt: Joseph & Hyksos. 


Week 7:  More Kramer, Review and Test        Sumer, Akkad, Gut, Ur III; Isin/Larsa, O.Ass/O.B.!
For Mon: Read Kramer 10-12, 15-18, 26, 32, 38.  For Wed:  Review Kuhrt ch. 1-3 and notes.
M (Feb. 20)- Discuss Mesopotamian science, literature, and cultural influence. 
*Quiz 9 (Kramer).
W (Feb. 22)- Review for Midterm on Kuhrt Intro + ch. 1-3, Kramer, Arnold selections. Worksheet.
F (Feb. 24)-  Midterm Exam (worth 10% of final grade).


Spring Break!!!  Feb. 25 – March 5. Enjoy your week!                         



Late Bronze Age (1600-1200), Iron Age (1200-539) and Persian Period (539-332)


Great Powers of the Late Bronze Age (1600-1200, extend to 1050): Kuhrt ch. 4 - 7


Week 8Egyptian New Kingdom (1550-1069):  Kuhrt ch. 4 + 6d   
Read Kuhrt ch. 4 + 6d (incl. in period outline), Arnold #55, 73; Psalm 104;
For Friday: Read Exodus 1-15; Arnold #23, 24, 50, 78 [= Pritchard 231, 258-9?].
M (Mar. 6)- 18th Dynasty - Amose, Hatshepsut, Tutmosis III. Egypt in Canaan.  Slides.
W (Mar. 8)- Amarna Period - discuss Akhenaten's heresy, and erasure from history. King Tut. Slides. *Quiz 10.
Asst. 6 (due Wed): Reflect on Akhenaten's innovations & aftermath.
 F (Mar. 10)- 19th-20th Dynasties. Rameses II and the Israelite Exodus in a New Kingdom context. 


Week 9The Hittites in Anatolia (1800-1200): Kuhrt ch. 5
For Mon: Read Kuhrt ch. 5; skim 6a, 6b, 7a, 7d.         
M (Mar. 13): Hittite Old Kingdom - Hattusili, Mursili, Telepinu.  Hurrians in Mitanni.  Ugarit. 
W (Mar. 15): Hittite Empire - Suppiluliuma, Mursili II, Muwatalli, Hattusili III. Kassite Babylon. *Quiz 11.
F (Mar. 17): End of LB Civilization (Hittite-Egyptian burnout; Sea Peoples & Israelites).
Asst. 7 (for Fri.): Comment on the causes of the collapse of Late Bronze civilization. 



Iron Age and Persian Empire (1200 - 333 BCE): Kuhrt ch. 9 - 13


Week 10:  Post-Empire Egypt - 3rd Intermediate and Saite Periods (1000-525): Kuhrt ch. 12
Read Kuhrt 12a, 12b. Rec: Arnold #7, 19, 20, 51, 54, 59, 83;
Judges, 2Samuel 5; skim 1Kings 1 – 2Kings 14.
M (Mar. 20): 3rd Intermediate (1000-664): Libyan ("Tirhaqa") & Nubian/Napatan (Piye); Sudanese Pyramids.
W (Mar 22): Saite Dyn 26 (664-525): Psammetichus, Necho, Apries/Amasis struggle (power politics/strategies/alliances) *Quiz 12.
Asst. 8 (Wed): Discuss the power politics/strategies/alliances of the Apries/Amasis struggle
*or* comment on the journey of Wen-Amon, how it reflects politics in post-empire Egypt.
F (Mar. 24):  A bit of biblical history: exodus, conquest, tribal league, Philistines, early monarchy.


Week 11:  The Neo-Assyrian Empire (934-610): Kuhrt ch. 9 (+7b for background)            
Read Kuhrt 7b and ch. 9. Arnold #39-43, 47-49, 56, 60; 2Kings 15-21, 5.
M (Mar. 27): Neo-Assyrian Empire (small groups):
 Shalmaneser, Tiglath-Pileser, Sargon, Sennacherib, Ashurbanipal.
W (Mar. 29): Syrian and Anatolian Kingdoms; Neo-Hittites, Aramaeans and Phoenicians. *Quiz 13.
W (Mar. 29): 7:30 pm Heim G-11 Ewing Lecture: John Contreni on the Crusades (EC opp).
F (Mar. 31): Israel in the Assyrian Crisis, Sennacherib's invasion. Slides.


Week 12:  Babylonia and the Neo-Babylonia Empire (900–539): Kuhrt ch. 11
For Mon: Read Kuhrt ch. 11; 2Kings 22-25, Daniel 1-6; Pritchard pp. 188-203.
M (Apr. 3):  Babylon in the Assyrian period. Small groups, work through chapter. *Quiz 14.
W (Apr. 5): Discuss the fall of the Assyrian Empire and the character of Nebuchadnezar (11d).  
 F (Apr. 7): Judah’s fall and exile. Slides.


Week 13Persian / Achaemenid Period (539-330): Kuhrt ch. 13.   
For Mon: Read Kuhrt ch.13a-e; Ezra 1-7, Esther; Pritchard pp. 203-208.
M (Apr. 10): Cyrus and the Persian Empire.  *Review sheets.
Asst. 9 (for Mon):
Discuss the nature of Cyrus' takeover of Babylon from Nabonidus & sources.
W (Apr. 12): Darius and Achaemenid Persia.  Behistun.  Israel in the Persian Period. Slides. *Quiz 15.  
Asst. 10 (for Wed): Comment on the significance of the Behistun relief. 
 F (Apr. 14): Good Friday - No Class.   


Week 14:  Cultural Legacy and Review
Review Kuhrt ch. 4-7, 9, 11-13 and notes. Hittite, Kassite, N.Ass, N.B.; Persian, Alex in 333!
M (Apr. 17): Historical Review. Discuss Cultural Legacy (review Kramer). *Review sheet for final.
W (Apr. 19): Review for first portion of final exam on 2nd half of course: ANE Jeopardy II.
 F (Apr. 21): Review for cumulative final exam (essay format) on major themes of course. Worksheet.

A two-hour Final Exam, covering the entire course, will follow during Exam Period (20% of final grade).
The first half of the exam will be in midterm style, on the second half of the course.
The second half of the exam will be essay format, on major themes from the entire course.




Date  Period                 Egypt                           Mesopotamia (song)
         Early Bronze        Old Kingdom               Sumer, Akkad, Gut, Ur III
                             >1st Intermediate
         Middle Bronze     Middle Kingdom          Isin/Larsa, O.Ass./O.B.            (=O
                             >2nd Intermediate.                                                                                                    <1st Midterm
          Late Bronze        New Kingdom              Hittite, Kassite,
          Iron Age      >3rd Int./Post-Empire                             N.Ass., N.B.           (=NeoAssyrian,NeoBabylonian)
          Persian               Persian                         Persian, Alex in 333!
          Hellenistic/Greek                                                                                                                        <2nd Midterm



Instructions for Electronic Reserves: Supplemental course readings have been placed on electronic reserve through WebCT at
Your username is your Novell login. The password is initially set to the last six digits of your Social Security number. 
Contact Martha Ashenfelder (x4150) or Diana Cleveland (x4160) in ITS about forgotten passwords. 
Full instructions are available on the library Web site at
For other problems or questions, contact Gail Spencer (x4053) in the library or use the help form at


Disability Accommodation: If you have a specific disability and wish to request academic accommodations to meet your needs, please consult with Mr. Dan Hartsock, Coordinator of Services for Students with Disabilities.  You may reach him by telephone at 321-4294, or stop by his office on the third floor of Snowden Library in the Academic Resource Center.


A Note on Workload:  College courses require preparation – on average 2-3 hours of preparation for every hour in class. So plan on 8-9 hours of preparation time per week per course, not including class time.  This is more than a full-time job!  However, given the high amount you pay for your education, you will not get out of it what you deserve unless you put in the time and do the preparation.


A Note on Academic Dishonesty:  Academic Dishonesty is a serious offense at Lycoming College and in this class.  Academic Dishonesty includes failing to give credit to sources used (otherwise known as Plagiarism).  This would include copying material from books, articles, web sites or another student’s work without citing your source, whether on a formal paper or a short assignment.  You are allowed to discuss assignments together, but when it comes to writing out your answers, you must do your own work and use your own words.  If you do not clearly understand what this means or what plagiarism is, please come and talk to me about it and I will be glad to explain.