What happened in the past, and if and how we should remember it, is hotly contested. Even though today we take great pains to document every major event that occurs, more than 99% of human history is not written down. How then can we determine with any certainty what people did, let alone thought about, hundreds, thousands, and even millions of years ago? This course addresses these and other fundamental questions: Can we ever really know what happened in the past? If the past is “dead and gone,” how do we know what we think we know about it? And what is our degree of...
This seminar delves into the world’s earliest cities: their origins, their operations, and their collapses. It considers how we define this term, and why every settlement doesn’t grow into a city. The course will investigate the earliest experiments with settlement nucleation globally, and then reviews scholarship on urban centers in North and South America, the Middle East, China, Africa, and the Mediterranean. Topics will include urban structure, feeding of city populations, urban institutions, planning and self-organization, and cosmology.
Archaeology has focused traditionally on excavations of settlement sites. However, no settlement existed as an island; ancient peoples moved within a larger environment which constrained their actions while it was simultaneously transformed by them. This course investigates the relationship between ancient societies and their landscapes. We review the ways in which ancient "off-site" activities are preserved in the landscape and how archaeologists identify and document them. We discuss the exploitation of the landscape for agriculture, pastoralism, and industry (... Read more about Anthropology 1150: Ancient Landscapes
A survey of current issues in the archaeology and history of ancient Mesopotamia (today within the states of Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran). The course focus will be on urban origins, the nature of urban societies in the Bronze Age, and the expansion and impact of empires in the Iron Age. Issues will include kinship and “the State,” the economic infrastructure of cities, the nature of political control, and the different theoretical approaches that archaeologists and historians have used to investigate them.Intended for graduate students in archaeology, NELC, and history, or... Read more about Anthro 2064: Archaeology of Mesopotamia
This course provides a basic understanding of how remote sensing data (satellite imagery and aerial photographs), excavation data (photos, plans and measurements) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can be used to visualize and analyze archaeological data. Students will learn basic techniques for acquiring, manipulating and creating geospatial data in several forms, from pixel-based satellite imagery and digital terrain models to point, line and polygon representation of archaeological data. Each week, these techniques will be applied to sample archaeological data,...Read more about Anthropology 2020: GIS and Spatial Analysis in Archaeology
This seminar reviews complex societies in northern Mesopotamia (northern Iraq, northeastern Syria, and southeastern Turkey) from the Late Chalcolithic to the Iron Age (ca. 4200-600 BC). The focus will be on recent archaeological research on issues of broad interest to anthropological archaeology.
Ancient Mesopotamia was the world’s first literate urban civilization. This class will examine the origins and evolution of cities, temples, and government from two complimentary perspectives: the archaeological record and cuneiform inscriptions in translation. Activities will include visits to museum collections (Peabody, Semitic Museum, Boston MFA), hands-on experience with creating cuneiform tablets, and virtual tours of southern Iraq using satellite imagery.
A comprehensive introduction to the practice of archaeology and major themes from our human past: How do archaeologists know where to dig? How do we analyze and understand what we find? What do we know about the origins of the human species, agriculture, cities, and civilization? The course integrates methods and theory, and utilizes Peabody Museum collections, to show how we reconstruct ancient diet, trade, and political systems. We also explore the role of archaeology in colonialism, modern politics, and film. Instructors Jason Ur and Matthew Liebmann
The world’s first cities emerged in Mesopotamia and were the defining characteristic of ancient civilizations in what is today Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. They were inhabited by large populations, powerful kings, and the gods themselves. The course will consider the origins, ecology, spatial arrangement, socioeconomic organization, religious institutions, and collapse of cities from Gilgamesh to Saddam. Through archaeology and ancient texts, students will become familiar with cities such as Uruk, Babylon, Nineveh, and Baghdad.
Basic archaeological research increasingly includes approaches to spatial patterning in human societies, including the structure of settlements, the regional distribution of populations, and their relationships to their landscapes. This seminar will consider how variation in settlement and settlement systems can be related to factors such as environment, economy, and social and political organization. Case studies will be drawn from a range of New and Old World societies of varying scales of sociopolitical complexity.