Early Bronze Age

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EAR801 Early Bronze Age

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The course examines the Archeology of the prehistoric societies in the Near East from the transition to the Neolithic way of life until the emergence of the first city-states and the subsequent Late Bronze Age empires. A historical overview of archaeological research over the last two centuries is followed by the presentation of the geographical and environmental settings of the region.

The material culture of the first Neolithic societies is examined and linked with important positions in the regions of Anatolia, Syro-Palestine and Mesopotamia. The increasing social complexity of the Early Bronze Age is being studied in the context of the emergence of metallurgy, early urbanization, monumental architecture, and writing. The formation of the first states is investigated with a focus to evidence of social stratification, centralized bureaucracy and the development of a priestly class. Commercial networks, international relations and cultural exchanges are related both to the archaeological evidence of the period and to the written sources.

Finally, the upheavals that led to the collapse of empires of the Near East are related to the corresponding developments marking the end of the palatial societies in the Aegean.

The structure of the course comprises of:

  • The Archaeology of the Near East: Historical review of the research
  • The ‘fertile crescent’ and the transition to farming
  • Neolithic culture, ideology and exchange networks
  • From Neolithic settlements to early urbanization
  • Archaeology of the first states in the Mesopotamia and Egypt
  • The formation of the first empires
  • Writing, administration, science, arts and crafts in the Near East
  • Material culture and artistic creation
  • Aegean and Near East: a direct relationship
  • “Sea People” and turmoil in the Eastern Mediterranean
  • Global system collapse at the end of the 2nd millennium BC
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