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Past Seminars

Fall 2017: Seminar on the Interconnected Ancient World: Themes

Beyond Content: Materiality, Spaciality, Visuality, and Iconicity of Text and Image in Antiquity
Beate Pongratz-Leisten and Roderick Campbell
bpl2@nyu.edu; rbc2@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3030-001
Tuesdays, 2:00pm-5:00pm

Generally, image and language, discourse and icon are considered disjunctive symbolic systems. These distinctions even resulted in scholarly discourses that were classified as the “linguistic turn” and the “iconic turn.” In this approach, writing is considered phonographic only, rendering the spoken word. Writing in its materiality, however, operates on various levels, the structural one, i.e. as medium in space. Here notational iconicity operating with spaces, indentations, paragraphs, etc. comes to the fore; the semiotic one, i.e. as referencing hidden or invisible cognitive contents; and the performative one, which emphasizes the operative function of reading and writing as cultural technique.

Recently in scholarship the notion of notation has been investigated in the broader scope of all kinds notational systems including mathematics, choreography, musical scores and more (Schriftbildlichkeit). In our seminar, beyond writing, we will look at ancient maps and the representation of time as notational systems.

Moreover, many monuments and artifacts in antiquity combine text and image. The goal of the seminar will be to investigate their relations from a variety of perspectives to explore how multimodality, multimediality, the shape of the carrier of writing intensified or hid the intended message and promoted inferential and interpretative processes.

Permission of the instructor is required.

Fall 2017: Seminars

Introduction to Ancient Astronomical Traditions
Alexander Jones
alexander.jones@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3002-001
Mondays, 9:00am-12:00pm

Four Old World traditions of astronomy are well attested through textual sources and, to a lesser extent, material culture. Those of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece became interconnected at various periods through transmissions and adaptations, whereas Chinese astronomy appears to have developed with little or no contact with the traditions of the Near East and Mediterranean until the mid first millennium CE, offering interesting possibilities for comparative study. In this course, the focus will be on the character of the surviving evidence, and on the methods and applications of ancient astronomies. Knowledge of one or more of the relevant ancient languages is a desideratum.

Permission of the instructor is required.

The Transmission of Ancient Science into Arabic
Robert Hoyland
rgh2@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3007-001
Tuesdays, 9:00am-12:00pm

This course will explore the different paths along which knowledge of Antiquity passed into Muslim intellectual culture and how it was received and interpreted.  The focus will not just be on the so-called ‘translation movement’, but also the broader question of how pre-Islamic histories and cultures fared in the Middle East after the Arab conquests.  There was plausibly a considerable amount of translation from Middle Persian and Sanskrit and maybe even from Central Asian/Buddhist texts, but too little work has been done on this to be sure.  Greek texts translated into Arabic receive vastly more attention, because they are regarded as crucial to understanding how classical learning was conveyed to Europe and because classicists are always hoping to find lost Greek works preserved in Arabic.  There has also been an interest in understanding how the Islamic world dealt with the classical legacy (reception history).

 Permission of the instructor and knowledge of Arabic and Greek are required.

Archaeology of Anatolia from the Neolithic to the Hellenistic Period
Lorenzo d’Alfonso
lda5@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3012-001
Fridays, 2:00-5:00pm

Within Ancient Western Asia the archaeology of Anatolia has a specific position. Separated from Mesopotamia and the Levant by the imposing Tauros Mountains, Anatolia maintained communication, kept up with the developments taking place in the Fertile Crescent, and developed its own peculiar organization of complex group societies. Starting with the Neolithic, the course will explore the archaeological data reflecting the first evidence of social hierarchies and regional power, the development of metallurgy in the EBA, the creation of an empire in the mountains with a territorial organization, and the many and diverse developments and ultimate fall of this empire. We will then go on to look at the remains of then-new kingdoms of Urartu, Phrygia and Lydia, already in direct contact with archaic Greece, as well as the impact of the Achaemenid conquest, up to the Hellenistic period. The course will offer an overview of the most important historical and archaeological themes connected with the ancient history of Anatolia; for each period, one key Anatolian site will be presented with the scope to make students familiar with the relation between theory, historical reconstruction, and the rough archaeological data on which they are based. Presentation, final test / paper.

Permission of the instructor is required.

Art, Archaeology, & Museology
Lillian Tseng and Jennifer Chi
lillian.tseng@nyu.edu; jyc4@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3012-002
Wednesdays, 2:00pm-5:00pm

This seminar explores how museology facilitates the study of art and archaeology in the ancient world. We will learn how museums function as cultural institutions through curatorial efforts in acquisitions, exhibitions, conservation and publications. Special attention will be paid to the importance of considering how decisions made around the way in which we install ancient material can significantly affect a viewer’s interpretation and perception of a given artifact or groups of artifacts. Issues for discussion include the history and development of museums from Antiquity to present, narrative methodologies that are currently employed with ancient art exhibitions, the role that cultural property plays in the selection of objects for exhibitions, acquisition and permanent installations, and how digital assets are now changing the way we display art.

Prof. Lillian Tseng and Dr. Jennifer Chi will lead the seminar together. Guest speakers will be invited to address different topics. The class will take place not only in the seminar room and the exhibition hall at ISAW but also in various museums and galleries in New York City. Through the guidance of Dr. Chi, students will participate in the installation of the upcoming exhibition, “Restoring the Minoans: Sir Arthur Evans and Elizabeth Price,” at ISAW in the fall of 2017 as well as the planning of the spring of 2018 exhibition.

 Permission of the instructors is required.

Shang Visual Culture: Beyond Decoration vs. Representation
Roderick Campbell
rbc2@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3013-001
Fridays, 9:00am-12:00pm

Shang visual culture, especially that seen on Shang bronzes, has been the contested ground for some of the greatest scholarly battles in the study of Early China. What do the mesmerizing patterns mean? Are they shamanistic masks, references to myth, depictions of spirits, or merely the fanciful elaboration of decorative patterns? Or is the study of Shang visual culture an inherently doomed enterprise – permitting only narrow formalist study at best; anachronistic, subjective or arbitrary speculation at worst?

This seminar will not only explore the history of the debates about the meaning and content of Shang visual culture, but also, drawing on the anthropology of art, look into the wider problem of studying the visual cultures of non-Western traditions. In addition to engaging broadly with contemporary theory, we will also review what is known about the social, political and religious context of Shang visual culture – combing relevant materials from the oracle-bones, Shang archaeology and later texts with a close and systematic analysis of the visual cultural materials themselves. Finally, the seminar will end with an attempt to historicize Shang visual culture within the long traditions of Chinese art.

Prerequisites: work ethic and an inquisitive mind. Permission of the instructor is required.

Assyrians, Urartians, Manneans, Medes, and Others
Daniel Potts
daniel.potts@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3018-001
Wednesdays, 9:00am-12:00pm

This seminar will examine the archaeological and historical evidence available on the indigenous Iron Age populations of western Iran (mod. Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Luristan). It will also investigate the archaeological and historical evidence of the Assyrian and Urartian presence in these regions. No prerequisites but ability to read French and German will be a great advantage.

Permission of the instructor is required.

The History of Assyria in Ancient and Modern Historiography
Beate Pongratz-Leisten and Martin Worthington
bpl2@nyu.edu; mw179@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3018-002
Thursdays, 11:00am-1:00pm
6th Floor, Large Conference Room

This seminar is not geared towards an event-oriented history of Assyria. It is also not concerned with the social science oriented history including quantitative sociological and economic history modeled after the natural sciences and its claim for objective truth. Rather than a history from below, the emphasis is on the study of the textual production as it related to or occurred at the Assyrian courts throughout their history and on how ancient historiography proceeded from facts or empirical events to create a coherent story about the deeds of the king that met the expectations linked with the office of rulership, which were informed by a longstanding tradition and the world view of the time. We will educate ourselves as to how to interpret the various text genres that Assyriologists have classified as chronicles and annals by critically re-evaluating our modern taxonomy applied to the ancient texts and explore how these ‘genres’ interface with what we tend to subsume under fiction and literature. In addition to such critical attitude toward the text, informed by postmodern literary theory and linguistics, linguistic features of the ancient texts and the shape of the tablet as well as the context of the text will illuminate our interpretation of the ancients’ intentionality. We will explore to what degree the writings were indeed concerned with the past, what the inserting of ‘historical factual data’ was aiming at and further critically evaluate the assumption that history needs always to be written in a narrative.

The goal of the seminar is threefold: 1) to familiarize ourselves with the various text categories, 2) to acquire knowledge in the various dialects of the Assyrian language as well as in the ‘hymnic epical dialect’ by reading primary sources related to the general discussion and 3) to acquire an insight into the cultural and intellectual setting in which historiography was written by the ancient scholars for the political elites.

Permission of the instructor and knowledge of Akkadian are required.

Historiographies of Ancient Egypt
Emily Cole
ec124@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3020-001
Thursdays, 2:00pm-5:00pm 

The political history of Ancient Egypt has been constructed and viewed largely through the eyes of Manetho, a native Egyptian writing during the Hellenistic period in the Third Century BCE. Modern scholars continue to use his periodization of Egyptian history into dynasties in order to construct Egypt’s historical narrative. However, it is important to ask how this structure affects our understanding of the Egyptian past. What is the nature of Egyptian historiography, both as it was understood by the Egyptians and then later interpreted by foreign authors and modern scholars?

This seminar will take as a starting point an examination of Manetho’s work and its role in creating the divisions of Egyptian history used by scholars to this day. For the first part of the course, we will then move backward in time in an attempt to understand pharaonic Egyptian concepts of history, time, and antiquity. In the second part of the course, we will look at the ways in which Greek and Roman historical writing was applied to Egyptian history before looking at the place of those Classical traditions in the formation of Egyptology as a modern discipline.

Permission of the instructor is required.

Introduction to Digital Humanities for the Ancient World
Sebastian Heath, Tom Elliott, David Ratzan, and Patrick J. Burns
sebastian.heath@nyu.edu; tom.elliott@nyu.edu; david.ratzan@nyu.edu; pjb311@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3024-001
Mondays, 2:00pm-5:00pm

This course will introduce students to the use of digital tools and computational methods in the study of the Ancient World. There are no technical prerequisites and the course will be of particular interest to early stage graduate students who want a broad introduction that involves hands-on work. The course will progress through areas such as applying structure to text via XML-based markup languages, introduction to the programmatic manipulation of textual data, and how scholarly resources are shared on the public internet and edited in collaborative environments, including GitHub. There will also be a focus on structured datasets stored in relational databases. Students will gain practical experience in acquiring, creating, querying, and displaying spatial data. Visual approaches such as 3d modeling will also be explored. There will be frequent introductions to existing work in disciplines that are part of the study of the ancient world, including papyrology, numismatics, textual studies, history, and archaeology. Readings will introduce students to current trends in Digital Humanities and will encourage discussion of the impact digital methods and open-licensed content are having on research, teaching, and public engagement with scholarly practice. Over the course of the semester students will design and then implement a final project that can overlap with existing research interests. Students are required to bring their own notebook computers to class.

Permission of the instructors is required.

Spring 2017 Seminars

Art and Archaeology of the Iranian Plateau and Western Central Asia during the Early Islamic Periods (7th-12th Centuries CE)
Sören Stark and Martina Rugiadi
soeren.stark@nyu.edu; martinarugiadi@gmail.com
ISAW-GA 3009-001
Thursdays, 9:00am-12:00pm

The conquest of the Iranian Plateau and the oases of Western Central Asia by Muslim armies since 636 and the subsequent inclusion of these areas into the Caliphate marked the beginning of a profound cultural transformation in these territories. However, this was a gradual and multifaceted process, that was different in the various regions of Iran, in the Indo-Iranian borderlands, and in the territories beyond the Amu-Darya (Mā warāʾ al-nahr). In this course we will follow up these changes, leading to the formation of the classical Islamic culture of the Turko-Persian world, down to the Mongol conquest. Taking the perspective of archaeology and art history, we will specifically look at aspects such as the transformation of old and the appearance of new elites, new economic trends, new forms of urbanism, innovations in architecture and visual arts, as well as in ceramic production. For this purpose we will comprehensively discuss selected important urban centers, such as Nishapur, Merv, Samarkand, Ghazni, and others. Classes will be held both at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World and in the collections of Metropolitan Museum of Art. Assessment will be by means of a final paper.

Oral Presentations, 25% of the grade;
 Contributions to class discussion, 25% of the grade;
 Research Paper, 50%.

Permission of the instructors is required.

Click here for a PDF of the course syllabus.

Sogdiana: History, Archaeology, and Identity
Fiona Kidd
fjk3@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3009-002
Fridays, 9:00am-12:00pm

As “the most important traders on the Silk Roads,” the Sogdians have traditionally offered an important point of entry for understanding early medieval cosmopolitanism in Central Asia. Yet, despite its pivotal location, the history of Sogdiana prior to this period remains little known because of the scant available sources. This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to the Sogdians from their first appearance in the Achaemenid records, to the early medieval period. We ask critical questions to challenge stereotyped views of the region: who were the Sogdians? How has their history traditionally been approached? What does the material culture of Sogdiana tell us about the region? What other approaches can we take to better understand the Sogdians? We will explore the dynamic region of Sogdiana in depth, but our conversations will always be framed by key issues in the historiography and archaeology of Central Asia, including agro-pastoralism, urbanism, exchange, and globalism.

Permission of the instructor is required.

Art and Archaeology of the Qin and Han Empires
Lillian Tseng
lillian.tseng@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3010-001
Wednesdays, 2:00-5:00pm 

This seminar surveys visual and material cultures from the 3rd century BCE to the 3rd century CE in China, a historical period distinguished by the rise and fall of the Qin and Han Empires. It is in conjunction with the special exhibition "The Age of Empires: Chinese Art from the Qin and Han Dynasties" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the spring of 2017.

This course is intended to provide intensive analyses of primary sources and related scholarship for graduate students who have sufficient knowledge of the field.

Ability to read Classical Chinese and permission of the instructor required.

Sciences and Intellectual Life in the Second Century Roman Empire
Alexander Jones and Claire Bubb
alexander.jones@nyu.edu; cc148@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3012-001
Mondays, 9:00am-12:00pm

This seminar will cover the wide range of intellectual activity in the Roman Empire in the second century AD. Though its literature has at times been dismissed as second-rate or derivative, the second century was home to some of the most prolific and influential writers in their fields in antiquity, especially in the sciences, making it a fertile period for the study of interdisciplinary cross-pollination. The social history of the period is also of rich interest, especially that around the Second Sophistic, a rhetorical movement that offers insights into the role of Greeks and Greekness in the Roman world, as well as the social and intellectual mores of the time. We will cover a variety of topics, including, potentially, philosophy, medicine, astronomy, miscellany, rhetoric and showmanship, and autobiography.

Knowledge of Ancient Greek and Latin and permission of the instructors are required.

The Rise of Islam in the World of Late Antiquity
Robert Hoyland
rgh2@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3012-002
Mondays, 2:00-5:00pm 

The rise of Islam in the seventh century and the conquest of the Middle East by Arab Muslim armies led to far-reaching changes across Eurasia that have great consequences for our modern world. Islam's genesis was for long a minor topic of study, but of late, prompted by the greater prominence of Islam in contemporary politics, it has become the subject of intense and sometimes acrimonious debate. This course will explore various aspects of this phenomenon, in particular: the Arabian context, the late antique setting, the emergence of the Arabic language, the background to the Qur'an, Muhammad's audience and inspiration, the impetus for the Arab Muslim conquests and the evolution of Islamic civilization. We will also pay some attention to the influence that present-day events in the Middle East and their presentation in the media have exerted upon scholarly and non-scholarly investigation of Islam's beginnings.

Permission of the instructor is required.

History and the Eastern Eurasian Paleo-environment
Roderick Campbell
rbc2@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3013-001
Thursdays, 10:00am-12:00pm
Small Conference Room, Sixth Floor

This seminar will tackle the recent flood of paleo-environmental work on Eastern Eurasia and the attempts to link reconstructed environmental phenomenon to human history. The readings will largely be from the environmental science literature and an advanced understanding of historiography will be assumed. The goal of the seminar will be to produce a paper on the uses and abuses of paleoenvironmental reconstruction for history and, at the same time, the state of the field in Eastern Eurasian paleoevironmental reconstruction.

Pre-requisites: advanced knowledge of one or more paleoenvironmental technique, advanced understanding of historiography and the application of multi-scalar approaches. Reading knowledge of Chinese and or Russian would also be useful.

Permission of the instructor is required.

Current Debates in Classical Art History and Archaeology
Hallie Franks
hmf2@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3013-002
Tuesdays, 9:00am-12:00pm 

Rather than working around a theme or set of sources, this course aims to delineate some of the major current debates around and approaches to Greek and Roman art. What kinds of questions are presently being asked of visual sources, both those recently discovered and long known? What theoretical approaches are being newly brought to bear on this material, and to what ends? What, in other words, are the kinds of issues that concern ancient art historians and archaeologists today, and how are they moving the study of ancient art forward? In looking to these questions, we will situate recent studies in relationship to the scholarly history on which they depend, trying to anticipate where the field is going next.

Discussion topics may involve the application of sociological theories to ancient space, the construction of ancient “social imaginaries,” recognizing visual jokes and puns, the legacies of connoisseurship, the reception of Classical art, and the use of new technologies. That said, topics for many of our discussions will be determined by the class, based on the students’ interests and on research exercises. In addition to exposing students to a variety of approaches to visual sources, the hope is that this class will help them to form a picture of the field as a whole and to position themselves and their research—present or future—in relationship to contemporary scholarship.

Permission of the instructor is required.

Dilmun, Magan and Meluhha
Daniel Potts
daniel.potts@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3018-001
Wednesdays, 9:00am-12:00pm
Large Conference Room, Sixth Floor 

This seminar examines key problems in the archaeology and early history of the Persian Gulf and adjacent regions. The chronological scope is from the Neolithic through late Antiquity. Evidence will be drawn from Kuwait, eastern Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman. Related areas, including Mesopotamia, Iran and Baluchistan, will be considered in relation to developments in the Persian Gulf region.

Permission of the instructor is required.

The Late Bronze Age in Northern Mesopotamia: Mittanni, Assyria and the Syrian Local Kingdoms
Beate Pongratz-Leisten and Lorenzo d’Alfonso
bpl2@nyu.edu; lda5@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3018-002
Tuesdays, 2:00-5:00pm

During the Late Bronze Age northern Mesopotamia consists of two major regions that highly differ in their political trajectories. East of the Euphrates, two major powers grew prominent, one after the other, and became major players in what is known as the age of diplomacy: one is the kingdom of Mittanni, the other is Assyria. West of the Euphrates, instead, we see a fragmented political landscape with local kingdoms wavering between the major powers. The two regions, however, strongly interacted from very early times in history; with the Late Bronze Age, the expansion of the kingdom of Mittanni and Assyria toward the west promoted and intensified the interaction between local interests and external hegemonic pursuits in the administrative, political, cultural and economic spheres.

In the seminar we will explore the evolution of the settlement patterns of northern Mesopotamia from the Middle Bronze Age to the Late Bronze Age; the change of the agrarian landscape from the Old Assyrian to the Middle Assyrian period, and the process of centralization; the development of provincial systems and related administrative structures; the fortification systems; the transmission of knowledge from southern and central Mesopotamia into northern Mesopotamia and Syria; the conceptualization of kingship as reflected in major literary works (Epic of Tukulti-Ninurta, Idrimi, Ba’l cycle); the historical and methodological problem of how to interpret the rise of the kingdom of Mittanni; the new phase of balance and conflict between Assyria, Hanigalbat, and Hatti.

Permission of the instructors is required.

Advanced Data Structures and Querying for the Ancient World
Sebastian Heath
sebastian.heath@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3023-001
Thursdays, 2:00-5:00pm

This course will survey advanced approaches to structuring and querying Ancient World datasets. The semester will begin with relational models that rely on columns and rows queried with SQL. That work will show the rigid structure of such databases to be an uncomfortable fit for much humanities data. We will next look at graph databases that define relationships between entities. Our particular focus will be RDF-based triplestores that are accessed with the SPARQL query language. With these fundamental approaches in hand, students will work on such topics as spatial querying, data visualization, and incorporating structured data into text-based resources. Practical work will include acquiring, manipulating, and querying existing datasets found on the public internet. We will explore the set of best practices known variously as “Linked Open Data” and the “Semantic Web.” Efficient representation and querying of hierarchical typologies will also be a focus. Students will have ample time to develop their own digital resources as a final project, and this course is likely to be useful to students who have defined a research topic that they are pursuing. There are no prerequisites, but also no “holding back” in the expectation that students work to become confident users of the digital tools we explore. It is a requirement that students bring their own notebook computers to class. 

Permission of the instructor is required.

Spring 2017 Other Courses

Introduction to Ancient Egyptian II
Ogden Goelet
ogden.goelet@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 1001-001
Wednesdays, 4:00-6:00pm
Small Conference Room, Sixth Floor 

This course is a continuation of the first semester. The course will proceed at the rate of a chapter per week through J.P. Allen, Middle Egyptian. An Introduction to the Language and Culture of the Hieroglyphs. From time to time, passages from actual Egyptian texts will supplement the examples in Allen’s grammar. Depending on the progress of the class, the last weeks of the course will cover the hieroglyphic transcription of The Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor, an actual Egyptian literary tale.

Permission of the instructor is required.

Advanced Ancient Egyptian II
Ogden Goelet
ogden.goelet@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 1003-001
Wednesdays, 10:00am-12:00pm
Small Conference Room, Sixth Floor 

This is a continuation of the fall semester course, using additional sources of increasing difficulty. Depending on the progress of the class, there will be occasional readings from hieratic primarily based on sources that the students have already read in hieroglyphic transcription during this course and the previous semester.

Permission of the instructor is required.

Advanced Reading of Akkadian: Old Assyrian and Middle Assyrian Texts
Beate Pongratz-Leisten
bpl2@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3014-001
Thursdays, 11:00am-1:00pm
Large Conference Room, Sixth Floor

In addition to consolidating the knowledge of Akkadian grammar the Advanced Reading of Akkadian Class is designed to introduce into various dialects of Akkadian from a diversity of regions and periods and to familiarize the student with a diversity of paleographies as well as text categories. In particular cases it will include the reading from photos of the originals to provide practice for reading originals of tablet collections in museums.

The course will extend the students’ ability of reading cuneiform writing and consolidate the knowledge of syntax and morphology of Akkadian. It is intended to provide an insight into the dialects of Old Assyrian and Middle Assyrian including their particularities in paleography and grammar. The cuneiform readings include a mix of epistolary literature, royal inscriptions, and literary texts including Old Assyrian Sargon Legend, the poem of The Hunter, excerpts from the Tukulti-Ninurta Epic. Ina addition, letters from Tell Sheikh Hamad will provide some insight into the Assyrian conquest of and administration in the West (Habur area).

Grading: Reading of the texts (50%); Mid Term (25%); Final (25%)

Permission of the instructor and at least one semester of Akkadian are required.

Sumerian II
Gina Konstantopoulos
gina.konstantopoulos@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3018-003
Mondays, 2:00-4:45pm
King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, Basement

This course follows the introduction to the language completed in Sumerian I. This term, we will progress to reading texts from a variety of genres and periods, including sections of the Cylinders of Gudea. By working through these texts, students will gain increasing familiarity with cuneiform and cover more advanced points of Sumerian grammar and translation.

Sumerian I or equivalent and permission of the instructor are required.

Fall 2016 Seminars

Greco-Roman Scientific Texts
Alexander Jones
alexander.jones@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3002-001
Mondays, 2:00-5:00pm

Study of a selection of Greco-Roman texts in the mathematical and physical sciences with particular focus on their presentation in manuscripts, both ancient and medieval, and their manuscript traditions. Prerequisite: knowledge of ancient Greek and/or of a language or languages in which scientific works in the Greek tradition are transmitted.

Permission of the instructor is required.

Art and Archaeology of Early Medieval China
Lillian Tseng
lillian.tseng@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3010-001
Wednesdays, 2:00-5:00pm

This seminar surveys diverse visual and material cultures from the 3rd to the 6th centuries in China, a historical period marked by political division and ethnic integration. We will examine both transmitted and excavated objects, with special attention to their historical and archaeological contexts. Issues to discuss include ideology, religion, identity, patronage, and cultural interaction. Mediums to explore range from architecture, sculpture, calligraphy, painting to decorative arts.

This course is intended to provide intensive analyses of primary sources and related scholarship for graduate students who have sufficient knowledge of the field. 

Ability to read Classical Chinese and permission of the instructor are required.

Reception Studies and the History of Scholarship
Frederic Clark
fnc1@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3012-001
Fridays, 2:00-5:00pm

This seminar will explore two enterprises that have played important roles in shaping our approaches to, and definitions of, the ancient world—namely, reception studies and the history of scholarship. We will examine both perceptions of the ancient past and the techniques used to study it from approximately 1400 to 1800—i.e. from the emergence of Renaissance humanism to the rise of modern professionalized disciplines in the nineteenth century. In doing so, we will investigate how early modern scholars came to define certain segments of the past as “ancient,” and query the cultural values they attached to the distant past and its reconstruction. By tracing the prehistory of such fields as philology, archaeology, epigraphy, numismatics, lexicography and the like, we will interrogate the disciplinary, temporal, and cultural assumptions that went on to shape the study of the ancient world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—the legacies of which we still grapple with today. Specific topics to be considered include periodization, the history of “classicism” as concept, debates over authenticity and textual criticism, antiquarianism, the emergence of medieval scholarship, and the study of ancient pasts beyond the Greco-Roman world. We will conclude by considering the uses of reception as an interpretive tool for students of the ancient world.

Students will complete a research paper as part of the course.

Permission of the instructor is required.

Iranian Archaeology in the 21st Century
Daniel Potts
daniel.potts@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3018-001
Wednesdays, 9:00am-12:00pm

This seminar focuses on recent scholarship (since 2000) in Iranian archaeology and pre-Islamic history. Particular emphasis is placed on understanding how new discoveries have advanced our understanding of old problems, or introduced entirely new areas of research. Students will be expected to speak each week about a particular site/region/issue, with reference to recent scholarship and the earlier status quaestionis. Reading knowledge of French and German highly recommended.

Permission of the instructor is required.

Frontiers and Fictional Lands in the Ancient Near East
Gina Konstantopoulos
gina.konstantopoulos@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3018-002
Thursdays, 2:00-5:00pm

This course will explore how the ancient world described, constructed, and abstracted the concept of space and place, through the creation of an actual frontier, which could and did shift over time, the imagining of the lands and peoples that may lay beyond that same frontier, as well as the creation of lands which were entirely fictional. While we will focus on the creation and articulation of such spaces in Mesopotamia, we will also study comparative spaces in the broader ancient Near East and Mediterranean, as well as more distant geographic and chronological examples. Readings will involve ancient texts in translation as well as secondary source studies, and the reading load in this course is heavy. Methodologically, we will tie the creation of these ancient borders and imagined spaces into a wider framework concerning the creation of fictional lands throughout history and the general themes governing mental maps, invented cartography, and utopian studies, to examine points of connection between the ancient world and later examples. 

Students will complete a research paper and presentation as part of the course.

Permission of the instructor is required.

Introduction to Digital Humanities for the Ancient World
Sebastian Heath, Tom Elliott, and David Ratzan
sebastian.heath@nyu.edu; te20@nyu.edu; david.ratzan@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3024-001
Tuesdays, 2:00-5:00pm

This course will introduce students to the use of digital tools and computational methods in the study of the Ancient World. There are no technical prerequisites and the course will be of particular interest to early stage graduate students who want a broad introduction that involves hands-on work. The course will progress through areas such as applying structure to text via XML-based markup languages, introduction to the programmatic manipulation of textual data, and how scholarly resources are shared on the public internet and edited in collaborative environments, including GitHub. There will also be a focus on structured datasets stored in relational databases, though we will also explore alternative models such as graph databases and the JSON data format. Students will gain practical experience in acquiring, creating, querying, and displaying spatial data. Visual approaches such as 3d modeling will also be explored. There will be frequent introductions to existing work in disciplines that are part of the study of the ancient world, including papyrology, numismatics, textual studies, history, and archaeology. The role of libraries in information-rich scholarly environments will likewise be a regular theme. Readings will introduce students to current trends in Digital Humanities and will encourage discussion of the impact digital methods and open-licensed content are having on research, teaching, and public engagement with scholarly practice. Over the course of the semester students will design and then implement a final project that can overlap with existing research interests. Students are required to bring their own notebook computers to class.

Permission of the instructors is required.

The Ancient World at the End of the Bronze Age (c. 1250-1050 BCE)
Lorenzo d’Alfonso and Roderick Campbell
rbc2@nyu.edu; lda5@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3025-001
Mondays, 9am-12:00pm

The end of the Bronze age in the eastern Mediterranean is quintessential to the study of Antiquities since it provided, together with the biblical narrative, the main impulse to archaeology from the 19th century onward. Its most representative case, the Graeco-Roman epics of the war and fall of Troy, is considered today only one above a rich number of major Bronze age centers of the eastern Mediterranean experiencing a traumatic and short process of change from rich, interconnected palace-based political system controlled by a club of big powers, to novel forms of knowledge and aggregation. The latter have been labeled for a long time a Dark Age because of the scanty evidence informing us about them, but this situation has rapidly evolved in the last decade. Western Asia experienced between the late 13th and the 11th c. BCE two parallel historical developments. The fall of the Palace systems produced a phase of new local experimentations in Greece, Anatolia, Syria and the Levant. In Mesopotamia and Egypt, by converse, the kingdoms of Assyria, Babylonia and Egypt survived the political turmoil, even though the change of the times was perceived concretely by a significantly reduced territorial control and at the same time by the development of an even stronger sense of preserving and reaffirming themselves and their continuity with their past. At the opposite side of the continent, in East Asia, in the 13th century Anyang in the reign of Wu-ding became the biggest megacenter of Bronze Age China. This is clearly the culmination of a political organization per megacenters, typical of BA China, but at the same time the realization of the new Shang dynasty reached a dimension, and required a socio-political complexity and the development of social practices and technologies—not least writing, not experienced before. As in western Asia, the Shang polity collapses (in the 11th c.); the new west Zhou polity arising after it is presented in the traditional narrative as directly following the previous power, in a typically Chinese narrative of cyclical uninterrupted succession of powers that build up a long lived civilization.  In fact, archaeology and a revision of the sources suggest a strong hiatus and a drastic change in settlement pattern and economic system. For both areas movements of peoples have clearly played a crucial role, and in both cases the impact of populations moving from the steppes in Central Asia are relevant. Central Asia itself had at his time by its own extraordinary developments which we mainly connect with horse breading, chariot riding elites and their sedentary production sites changing into the advent a new phase characterized by the iron metallurgy, and horse-riding nomads. Global climate change occurred at the turn of the 13th century BCE, and the different historical outcomes are there to show how microclimatic features, as well as the social process of perception and response generate multiple, often opposing results both in adjoining regions and in far away regions. The course aims at introducing participants to the different realizations of the process we label “the end of the Bronze age,” along the Asiatic continent. Through the discussion of the main interpretative works, and the focus on paradigmatic and at the same time unique case studies, it will explore the different dynamics and the different questions asked by historians and archaeologists often directly linked with the set of primary sources typical of each area.

Permission of the instructors is required. 

Fall 2016 Other Courses

Introduction to Ancient Egyptian I
Ogden Goelet
ogden.goelet@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 1000-001
Meeting Time and Location, TBD

This course, in the first part of a full year course over two semesters, introduces students to the Middle Egyptian (Classical) dialect of the Ancient Egyptian language in its hieroglyphic form. The classes are structured primarily according to the lessons in J.P. Allen, Middle Egyptian. An Introduction to the Language and Culture of the Hieroglyphs. The course will usually proceed at the rate of one chapter per week, but occasionally a chapter may be skipped or two chapters will be combined. The goal of the first semester is to reach the treatment of the Egyptian verb and the infinitive in Allen’s 13th and 14th chapters. The lessons will be supplemented with readings from A.H. Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar, 3rd. edition, M. Collier and B. Manley, How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs, revised edition, and occasional excerpts from Egyptian funerary stelae.

Permission of the instructor is required.

Advanced Ancient Egyptian I
Ogden Goelet
ogden.goelet@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 1002-001
Meeting Time and Location, TBD 

This course is based on readings from actual Egyptian hieroglyphic texts in their original form. In the early stages of the course, the readings will be presented in both a “normalized” form with the individual sentences and clauses demarked as well as in the original, continuous text format. The readings will be drawn from a wide range of genres and will increase in difficulty as the course progresses. Where appropriate, photographs and line drawings will be used so that students will learn to handle hieroglyphic text as it actually appears on Egyptian objects. The readings are drawn from a text book in progress.

Permission of the instructor is required.

Anatolian Languages of the 2nd and 1st Millennium BCE: Hieroglyphic Luwian and Lycian
Lorenzo d’Alfonso
lda5@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3003-001
Mondays and Thursdays, 2:00-2:45pm
Small Conference Room, 6th Floor

With Hittite and Palaic, Luwian is the oldest Indo-European language, attested epigraphically from the early 2nd millennium BCE in Anatolia. While Hittite ended with the end of the Hittite empire, Luwian, also officially adopted within the empire as language for display inscriptions of the ruling elite, survived the end of the empire and is one of the main elements of transmission of the Hittite political and religious legacy to the regional kingdoms of first millennium Central and Western Anatolia.

Lycian is a daughter language of Luwian, attested epigraphically in homonymous Lycia, southwestern Anatolia. The corpus of the Lycian inscriptions is small in number, confined in geographic extension as well as chronological development (6th-4th cc. BCE). Nonetheless, it provides a unique case study of the interaction between inner Anatolian post-Hittite local development and the gradual but growing interaction with the Greek world.

The course is organized as a tutorial. Participants will meet twice a week for short meetings of 45 min., one devoted to the language, one to read and translate inscriptions. The first ten weeks will be devoted to Luwian, while the last four will focus on Lycian and its context.

Permission of the instructor is required.

Sumerian I
Gina Konstantopoulos
gina.konstantopoulos@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3018-003
Mondays, 2:00-4:45pm
King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, Basement 

The oldest written language in the world, Sumerian holds a central place in the history of Mesopotamia, or roughly modern-day Iraq. An enormous number of texts have survived to the modern day, providing us with examples of literary texts and epics, magical incantations and exorcisms, religious rituals, personal letters, royal documents, and economic documents – all of which provide a window into the cultures and lives of people from over four thousand years ago.

This course will cover the grammar of Sumerian and introduce vocabulary and cuneiform signs, allowing students to work through more basic Sumerian texts over the course of the term and provide students the tools for approaching more advanced texts.

Grading will include regular quizzes, a midterm, and a final.

While knowledge of other cuneiform languages will be helpful, it is not a prerequisite for this class.

Permission of the instructor is required.

Spring 2016 Seminars

ISAW-GA 3007-001
Roman Law and the Papyri
Roger Bagnall
roger.bagnall@nyu.edu
Thursdays, 9:00am-12:00pm

Ever since the first legal documents on papyrus dating to the Roman imperial period were published in the nineteenth century, it has been evident to jurists that the papyri offered a unique opportunity to look in depth at how the majestic and complex structure of Roman law that we know from the classical jurists (largely excerpted in Justinian’s Digest) worked on the ground in the provinces. A sizable literature on the subject developed in the early twentieth centuy and has continued to evolve. This seminar will take a series of key issues and institutions, including marriage, the legal status of women, slavery, testation, and major contract types. For each we will examine both selections from the jurists and some representative papyrus documents.

Please note that the first meeting of this seminar will be February 4, 2016.

Permission of the instructor is required.

ISAW-GA 3010-001
Shang Civilization: Text and Material Culture
Roderick Campbell
rbc2@nyu.edu
Fridays, 2:00-5:00pm

This seminar will focus on the Shang dynasty of ancient China from the perspective of archaeology, epigraphy and transmitted texts. The archaeology will cover north China in the 2nd millennium BCE, but focus on the site of Anyang where inscribed oracle-bones and bronzes, monumental tombs and palatial buildings were discovered in the early 20th century demonstrating the historicity of the Shang dynasty. The oracle-bones and bronze inscriptions of the Anyang period will present an opportunity to glimpse a partial image of Shang royal and high elite concerns, especially concerning ritual. A study of Shang history from the perspective of transmitted texts will give both an opportunity to understand the place of the Shang dynasty in later Chinese history as well as its formation as historical subject. This course will be taught at several levels and students of non-sinological background are welcome. While the ability to read classical and modern Chinese would be an asset, neither language is a requirement for this seminar.

Permission of the instructor is required.

ISAW-GA 3012-001
Between China and Byzantium
Robert Hoyland and Sören Stark
rgh2@nyu.edusoeren.stark@nyu.edu
Tuesdays, 9:00am-12:00pm

This course will look at the world that lies between the empires of Byzantium and China from the middle of the 6th to the middle of the 8th century. Most obviously this concerns the Sasanian Empire (224-651), the Tang Empire, and the Arab Empire (632-945), but it is our particular intention to look also at lesser-known polities, such as the substantial though ephemeral empire of the Türks, the oasis statelets in Sogdiana, and the polity of the Khazars north of the Caucasus and Tibet. Rather than tell their stories separately and in isolation, we will seek to emphasize the connections between these different powers in the arenas of trade, art, literature, and religion. To facilitate this we will take a twofold approach: In the first part of the course we will introduce the main actors and events, such as the emergence of Türk power in Central Eurasia, the Expansion of Tang Rule over East and Inner Asia, the Muslim Conquests, the rise of Tibet and Khazars. In the second part of the course we will look closer at particular phenomena and features that decisively shaped the politics, economics, material culture, and religion during the decades between ca. 550 and 750. Assessment will be by means of a final paper.

Permission of the instructors is required.

ISAW-GA 3014-001
The Formation of Cultural Memory: Ancient Mesopotamian Libraries, Archives, and Schools
Beate Pongratz-Leisten
bpl2@nyu.edu
Tuesdays, 2:00-5:00pm

Ancient disputation and dialogue literature as well as other texts reveal that there was a tradition of competition between ancient centers of learning in Mesopotamia. Knowledge of important Babylonian cultural centers can still be detected in the writings of Strabo. So far, scholarship has occupied itself primarily with publishing the contents of libraries, and often – due to the quantity of texts and particular research questions – such effort has focused on particular genres rather than on entire collections. Much effort has gone into the reconstruction of school curricula. Less attention has been paid to the actual owners of the libraries and their professions, what particular texts or genres were collected and for what potential purposes in one particular place. The workshop intends to approach Mesopotamian libraries holistically, by taking a closer look at their content, situating them in their sociopolitical context, and exploring who owned them. This approach will probe the possibility that Mesopotamian libraries can be defined as much as places for the acquisition and transmission of knowledge as for its construction and production. Further, the workshop will attempt to map a geography of knowledge and to test whether we can identify traditional centers of knowledge as well as staging posts in the flow of knowledge.

The seminar includes a workshop on April 8th. This year’s participants: Eva Cancik-Kirschbaum, Daniel Fleming, Mark Geller, Gonzalo Rubio, Walther Sallaberger

The seminar is open to all students, VRS and faculty.

Permission of the instructor is required. Akkadian is required for those who attend the reading sessions. Evaluation Criteria:  preparation for the reading sessions (35%); active participation in the discussion sessions on the basis of short written summary statements of the required readings (35%); final paper 30%. 

ISAW-GA 3018-001
Archaeology of the Ancient Near East: Material Culture and Research
Perspectives

Marta Luciani
Wednesdays, 9:00am-12:00pm

The countries of the Middle East have hosted and promoted very diverse archaeological investigations in the last 170 years, from museum-related to salvage archaeology and research-designed projects. The course will review the results of old and new research in order to outline material culture and processes specific to the ancient peoples and societies of the region: from the Neolithic and Urban revolutions to the development of complex administration, sealing practices and writing, from the production of pottery and later glass, to the metallurgy of copper alloys and iron smelting. We will introduce and explore official monuments, art and iconography as well as everyday artifacts, architecture and settlement patterns.

The goal of the course is to achieve a comprehensive knowledge of the main features and research perspectives of the archaeology of the Ancient Near East as attested in ancient Mesopotamia and the Levant throughout six millennia.

Permission of the instructor is required.

ISAW-GA 3023-001
Special Topics in Digital Humanities for the Ancient World: Computational Photography and 3D Modeling
Sebastian Heath
sh1933@nyu.edu
Wednesdays, 2:00-5:00pm

The premise of this course is that virtual representations of the ancient world will become increasingly important to both research and teaching as the ability to create, work with, and share such digital resources becomes less expensive and more widely available. Accordingly, the course will combine hands-on experience with creating and using virtual representations of ancient material culture, including objects and architectural spaces, with a review of current practices being employed by projects around the world. Students will use such tools as the open-source 3D-suite Blender, the game engine Unity, and applications for making models with smartphone cameras. We will explore techniques for making richly-textured 3D models of real objects as well as create immersive virtual environments. Readings will include reports of ongoing work as well as discussions of why 3D matters and how it is being used in the classroom. Guest speakers will provide a broad perspective on current trends. Students will use their own computers and should be willing to apply themselves energetically to learning the digital skills the class introduces.

Permission of the instructor is required.

Spring 2016 Tutorials

ISAW-GA 3014-002
Advanced Akkadian: Neo-Babylonian Historical Inscriptions
Beate Pongratz-Leisten
bpl2@nyu.edu
Thursdays, 11:00am-1:00pm
Small Conference Room, 6th Floor 

The Advanced Reading of Akkadian Class of Neo-Babylonian Inscriptions is designed to introduce into the Neo-Babylonian dialect and to familiarize the student with its particular paleography and grammar. Simultaneously, a diachronic choice of Neo-Babylonian inscriptions reaching from Nabupolassar, its founder, to Nabonidus will provide an insight into the history of the Neo-Babylonian empire.

Permission of the instructor and knowledge of Akkadian are required.

Spring 2016 Other Courses

ISAW-GA 1001-001
Introduction to Ancient Egyptian II
Ogden Goelet
ogden.goelet@nyu.edu
Wednesdays, 3:00-5:00pm
Large Conference Room, 6th Floor

This course is a continuation of the first semester. The course will proceed at the rate of a chapter per week through J.P. Allen, Middle Egyptian. An Introduction to the Language and Culture of the Hieroglyphs. From time to time, passages from actual Egyptian texts will supplement the examples in Allen’s grammar. Depending on the progress of the class, the last weeks of the course will cover the hieroglyphic transcription of The Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor, an actual Egyptian literary tale.

Permission of the instructor is required.

ISAW-GA 1003-001
Advanced Ancient Egyptian II
Ogden Goelet
ogden.goelet@nyu.edu
Tuesdays, 10:00am-12:00pm
Large Conference Room, 6th Floor 

This is a continuation of the fall semester course, using additional sources of increasing difficulty. Depending on the progress of the class, there will be occasional readings from hieratic primarily based on sources that the students have already read in hieroglyphic transcription during this course and the previous semester.

Permission of the instructor is required.

Fall 2015 Seminars

ISAW-GA 3002-001
Observation and Experiment in Ancient Physical Science
Alexander Jones
alexander.jones@nyu.edu
Wednesdays, 2:00-5:00pm

This seminar explores the empirical elements in ancient scientific traditions that aimed at systematic description, explanation, or prediction of physical phenomena. Scientific practices of the Ancient Near East and the Greco-Roman world will figure prominently, but those of other civilizations may be investigated according to the interests and competences of participants. The evidence is largely textual; knowledge of at least one ancient language in which relevant scientific texts exist is required. Participants will choose topics, select study materials, and guide discussion for at least one session.

An initial selection of topics will include the following: the rise of systematic observation of spontaneously occurring phenomena in the context of interpretation of the phenomena as ominous signs; practices of recording and transmitting observations of astral, meteorological, and mundane events; precision, accuracy, and instruments of measurement, especially in astronomical observation records; experiment and experimental apparatus in Greek harmonic theory; empirical claims within deductive scientific texts, e.g. in optics, mechanics, and astronomy; empirical argument in Ptolemy's Optics; adjustment and fabrication of reported observations and measurements.

Permission of the instructor is required.

ISAW-GA 3010-001
The Manuscripts of Early Chinese Natural Philosophy
Ethan Harkness
harkness@nyu.edu
Fridays, 2:00-5:00pm

This course will introduce students to a variety of recently excavated Chinese technical manuscripts dating from the late Warring States, Qin, and Western Han periods (4th – 1st centuries BCE).  We will pay particular attention to the various calendrically-based divination texts promulgated in the manuscripts known as rishu (“daybooks”), but the fields of astronomy, geography, medicine, and mathematics will all receive due consideration.  When appropriate, reference will be made to connections with transmitted texts and to the later repercussions of ideas developed and refined in the years immediately surrounding the formation of the Chinese empire.  Topics to consider will include the social function of the early technical texts; the nature of their transmission and evolution; regional idiosyncrasies; the interconnected roles of scribes and readers; and the possible function of both political ideology and private interests in shaping the texts.

Prerequisites are good reading knowledge of modern and classical Chinese and permission of the instructor.

ISAW-GA 3010-002
Advanced Study in Chinese Art & Archaeology
Lillian Tseng
lillian.tseng@nyu.edu
Tuesdays, 2:00-5:00pm

This course is intended to provide intensive analyses of primary sources and related scholarship in Chinese art & archaeology for graduate students who have sufficient knowledge of the field. Topics to study depend on the research need of the students.

Ability to read Classical Chinese and permission of the instructor are required.

ISAW-GA 3012-001
Archaeology and Historiography: Perspectives on Time, Space, Text and Material
Roderick Campbell
rbc2@nyu.edu
Thursdays, 2:00-5:00pm

Though treated as separate disciplines and usually housed in different departments, at the highest level history and archaeology share the common goal of understanding the human past. Nevertheless, in both theory and method, not only are archaeology and history internally diverse, but also frequently miles apart. This seminar will embark on an interdisciplinary exploration of the historical sciences: their histories, philosophies and methodologies. Special focus will be on theories of time (change, tradition, process, event, etc.), space (physical space, place, landscape, etc.), text (context, genre, discourse, memory, etc.) and material (material culture, materiality, things, actor-networks, etc.)

The reading load in this course will be heavy. Permission of the instructor is required.

ISAW-GA 3013-001
Production, Accumulation, Trade, and Value: Political Economy in the Ancient Mediterranean
Lorenzo d’Alfonso and Elizabeth Murphy
lda5@nyu.eduelizabeth.murphy@nyu.edu
Mondays, 2:00-5:00pm
Syllabus (PDF)

During the last decades, renewed attention has been devoted to the importance of market and private enterprise in the economies of the ancient Mediterranean, as exemplified by such works as A history of market performance: from ancient Babylonia to the modern world (van der Spek et al., eds., 2015), Commerce and colonization in the ancient Near East (Aubet, 2013), and The Roman market economy (Temin, 2013). On the one hand, interest in market and private enterprise enables us to traverse artificial distinctions between pre-classical and classical ancient Mediterranean civilizations and to pose cross-culturally comparative questions about ancient state economies. On the other hand, this new trend in some respects pays less attention to institutional and political impacts on ancient economies. This impact has perhaps received too much attention in the historiography of ancient western Asia, but the meaning of political intervention in the economic process acquires a different meaning when embedded in a context of private enterprises. For the Roman world, the interests of imperial institutions (e.g., military supply chains, annona redistributions, imperial monopolies) as influencing the scale and organization of economic activities has been long recognized, but recent approaches have turned to the more subtle and indirect ways that institutions affected regional economic development. In response to these academic trends, this course aims to examine the role of political economy in the ancient Mediterranean from multiple vantages.  The first classes will focus on recent theoretical works on political economy such as Piketty’s Capital, and North’s Institutions, Institutional Change, and Economic Performance, as well as some of the ‘classic’ works on ancient economies, such as those by Polanyi, Finley, and Rostovtzeff. In the following classes, ideas developed through the theory classes will then be confronted with specific case studies from the protohistory of ancient western Asia and the Greco-Roman world. These thematic classes will consider issues of primary production, storage and hoarding (accumulation of surpluses and wealth), trade, and the definition of value. 

Permission of the instructors is required.

Fall 2015 Tutorials

ISAW-GA 3014-001
Texts from the Libraries of the Kingdom of Eshnunna
Beate Pongratz-Leisten
bpl2@nyu.edu
Tuesdays, 2:00-5:00pm
Large Conference Room, 6th Floor 

Various cities of the kingdom of Eshnunna have yielded literary texts, among them the city of Eshnunna, which seems to have housed a center for scribal training already during the Old Akkadian period, where a forerunner to The Great Revolt Against Naram-Sin has come to light; the city of Tell Harmal, ancient Shaduppum, where the only copy of Sargon in Foreign Lands has been found; and the city of Tell Haddad, ancient Meturan, which yielded a remarkable collection of tablets from a private house owned by an exorcist. In addition to Akkadian archival texts found in separate rooms, there has come to light from two areas a library containing a fragment of the Laws of Eshnunna as well as numerous lexical, liturgical, literary and magic texts (incantations), two prayers to the sun god, and the earliest attested bilingual forerunner to the hemerological series Inbu bel arhi. Among the literary texts, perhaps the most unexpected discovery is a copy of the Sumerian version of the story of Adapa and two larger fragments of the Death of Gilgamesh. Other Gilgamesh stories represented at Meturan are Gilgamesh and the Bull of AnGilgamesh and Huwawa, and Gilgamesh, EnkIdu and the Netherworld.

The goal of this seminar is to examine Eshnunna’s role in the transmission of scholarly knowledge through an in-depth analysis of the written compositions extant from the major cities of the kingdom.

Permission of the instructor and knowledge of Akkadian and Sumerian are required.

ISAW-GA 3014-002
Advanced Akkadian: Old Babylonian Historical Texts
Beate Pongratz-Leisten
bpl2@nyu.edu
Thursdays, 11:00am-1:00pm
Small Conference Room, 6th Floor 

This advanced course in Akkadian will emphasize the reading of Old Babylonian texts from the sites of Mari and Eshnunna in order to investigate the rise to power and political relations of these two kingdoms during the Old Babylonian period. Primary texts read will include the treaty concluded between between Zimri-lim of Mari and Ibal-pi-el II of Eshnunna and a lengthy letter from Ibal-pi-el II to Zimri-lim offering a political alliance.  These two texts offer insight into the form and structure as well as the terminology of international treaties during the first half of the second millennium BCE. Additional readings will include not only other historical inscriptions of the kings of Mari and of Eshnunna but also, for the purposes of comparison and contrast, inscriptions of the kings of Larsa.

Students will acquire an in-depth understanding of the variety and scope of historical and particularly royal inscriptions in the time of the competing territorial states of the Old Babylonian period.

Permission of the instructor and Intermediate Akkadian are required.

Fall 2015 Other Courses

ISAW-GA 1000-001
Introduction to Ancient Egyptian I
Ogden Goelet
ogden.goelet@nyu.edu
Mondays, 6:30-8:30pm
Large Conference Room, 6th Floor 

This course, in the first part of a full year course over two semesters, introduces students to the Middle Egyptian (Classical) dialect of the Ancient Egyptian language in its hieroglyphic form. The classes are structured primarily according to the lessons in J.P. Allen, Middle Egyptian. An Introduction to the Language and Culture of the Hieroglyphs. The course will usually proceed at the rate of one chapter per week, but occasionally a chapter may be skipped or two chapters will be combined. The goal of the first semester is to reach the treatment of the Egyptian verb and the infinitive in Allen’s 13th and 14th chapters. The lessons will be supplemented with readings from A.H. Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar, 3rd. edition, M. Collier and B. Manley, How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs, revised edition, and occasional excerpts from Egyptian funerary stelae.

Permission of the instructor is required.

ISAW-GA 1002-001
Advanced Ancient Egyptian I
Ogden Goelet
ogden.goelet@nyu.edu
Wednesdays, 10:00am-12:00pm
Small Conference Room, 6th Floor 

This course is based on readings from actual Egyptian hieroglyphic texts in their original form. In the early stages of the course, the readings will be presented in both a “normalized” form with the individual sentences and clauses demarked as well as in the original, continuous text format. The readings will be drawn from a wide range of genres and will increase in difficulty as the course progresses. Where appropriate, photographs and line drawings will be used so that students will learn to handle hieroglyphic text as it actually appears on Egyptian objects. The readings are drawn from a text book in progress.

Permission of the instructor is required.

Spring Seminars 2015

ISAW-GA  3009
Mobile Pastoralists in Late Iron Age Central Eurasia (4th cent. BCE-4th cent. CE).
S
ören Stark
soeren.stark@nyu.edu

Thursdays, 10:00am – 1:00pm

The boom of Xiongnu archaeology in present-day Mongolia and Buriatia (Russia) during the past two decades has decisively shaped and improved our understanding of Late Iron age nomadic cultures in Eastern Central Asia. Ever since, new data (not least resulting from a more comprehensive application of scientific analyses) and new methodological approaches have considerably stimulated the discussion of aspects such as elite representation between Han China and the ‘Hellenistic west’, transfer of technologies (in and outside the steppes), or non-elite life-ways among pastoral societies in the area.

At the same time, however, we dispose of a considerable mass of older data on nomadic ‘cultures’ from the territories of the former Soviet-Union, contemporary with the Xiongnu in Mongolia and Buriatia: the so-called ‘Hunno-Sarmatian horizon’. In many ways, this older data now awaits reconsideration in light of the recent advances in Mongolia and Buriatia. In addition, we see the rapid accumulation of new data from present-day Xinjiang, Gansu and Inner Mongolia (China), pertaining to the same cultural horizon. 

The aim of our seminar is to re-evaluate older data and to integrate it together with new data into a systematic, regionally structured overview of Late Iron Age pastoral cultures from the trans-Caspian steppes to Inner Mongolia (China), and from Southern Siberia to present-day northern Afghanistan. This will allow us to better understand regional specifics and supra-regional dynamics within and beyond the nomadic world of the ‘Hunno-Sarmatian horizon’ in an integrated way. And, it is hoped, it will help us to line out potential avenues for future research on pastoral ‘cultures’ in Central Eurasia during antiquity.

Advanced reading knowledge of Russian or Chinese and permission of the instructor is required. 

ISAW-GA 3010
Art, Archaeology, and Museology
Lillian Tseng, Jason Sun
lillian.tseng@nyu.edu
Thursdays, 2:00-5:00 pm

This seminar explores how museology facilitates the study of art and archaeology through an upcoming special exhibition on the Qin and Han Empires (221 BCE- 220 CE) in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. We will study the objects to be displayed and investigate the characteristics of early imperial Chinese art and archaeology. We will also learn how a museum functions as a cultural institution through the curatorial efforts in acquisitions, exhibitions, and publications, especially how research and diplomacy play significant roles in developing international exhibitions.

Prof. Lillian Tseng at ISAW and Dr. Jason Sun at the Metropolitan Museum of Art will teach the seminar together. The class will take place not only in a seminar room at ISAW but also in the storage rooms of the Museum.

Permission of the instructors required.

ISAW-GA 3013
Astrological Texts in Papyri and Medieval Manuscripts
Alexander Jones
alexander.jones@nyu.edu
Wednesdays 2:00-5:00pm

This seminar will constitute an introduction to the fundamentals of Greco-Roman astrology and its transmission, through the study of selected texts and documents preserved in Greco-Egyptian papyri and medieval manuscripts.

Knowledge of ancient Greek and permission of the instructor is required.

ISAW-GA 3014
Ritual Text and Ritual Performance in the ANE
Beate Pongratz-Leisten
bpl2@nyu.edu
Tuesdays, 2:00-5:00pm

Among other media, culture is constituted and articulated also in cultural performances including ceremonies, festivals, theater, and games. Inspired by theater studies, in the eighties and nineties interdisciplinary research of ethnology, anthropology, religious studies, and historical studies concerned with cultural performance of any kind promoted the performative turn by emphasizing the body and bodily action over the thought and mind. This move towards action, i.e. the doing of things, entailed a move away from the text. More recently, anthropology and sociology sidestepped these mind/body, thought/action dichotomies by introducing the concept of social drama and emphasizing social interaction. Within the last decade ritual studies have turned towards a more precise definition of ritual versus theater and performance and have reintroduced the complex relationship between text and performance (see the research project Ritualdynamik: Soziokulturelle Prozesse in historischer und kulturvergleichender Perspektive at the University of Heidelberg). The seminar Ritual Text and Ritual Performance pursues a similar direction by exploring the various forms of ritual texts transmitted in ancient Near Eastern literature; the relationship between ritual text and ritual performance, i.e. of whether and how far we are allowed to consider cuneiform ritual texts as scripts for the execution of ritual action; the role of narrative for ritual performance; the combination of incantation, prayer, and action within the ritual complex; the memoria-aspect of ritual constituting identity, order, and continuity.

We will combine the reading of primary sources with the theoretical approaches.

Requirements: Knowledge of Akkadian and permission of the instructor required.

ISAW-GA 3018
Archaeology of Anatolia from the Neolithic to the Hellenistic Period
Lorenzo d’Alfonso
lda5@nyu.edu
Mondays, 2:00pm-5:00pm

Within Ancient Western Asia the archaeology of Anatolia has a specific position. Separated from Mesopotamia and the Levant by the imposing Tauros Mountains, Anatolia maintained communication, kept up with the developments taking place in the Fertile Crescent, and developed its own peculiar organization of complex group societies. Starting with the Neolithic, the course will explore the archaeological data reflecting the first evidence of social hierarchies and regional power, the development of metallurgy in the EBA, the creation of an empire in the mountains with a territorial organization, and the many and diverse developments and ultimate fall of this empire. We will then go on to look at the remains of then-new kingdoms of Phrygia and Lydia, already in direct contact with archaic Greece, as well as the impact of the Achaemenid conquest, up to the Hellenistic period. The course will offer an overview of the most important historical and archaeological themes connected with the ancient history of Anatolia; for each period, one key Anatolian site will presented with the scope to make students familiar with the relation between theory, historical reconstruction, and the rough archaeological data on which they are based.

Permission of the instructor required.

ISAW-GA 3020
The Discovery of Iranian Antiquity
Daniel T. Potts
daniel.potts@nyu.edu 
Tuesdays, 9am – 12:00pm

The invention of printing in the late 15th century, coupled with increased traffic between European capitals and the Safavid court in the 16th and 17th centuries, resulted in a growth of interest in Iran’s pre-Islamic past. Europeans visited major sites like Persepolis, Pasargadae and Naqsh-e Rustam; compared their situations with accounts in Classical sources; copied inscriptions; and brought portable antiquities back to their homelands. Enlightenment scholars (philologists, antiquarians, numismatists) of the 18th century worked assiduously on this material and established a substantial baseline of knowledge that served as a springboard for the better-known investigations, both archaeological and historical, of the 19th century. This course will look at what early modern Europeans contributed to the growth of Iranology.

Prerequisites: very good reading knowledge of French and German (ability to read Gothic script is an advantage). Permission of the instructor required.

ISAW-GA 3023
Mapping and Data Visualization for the Ancient World
Sebastian Heath

sh1933@nyu.edu

Wednesdays, 10:00am -1:00pm

This course considers tools and methods for the effective communication of scholarly research through data-driven maps and the visualization of small and large datasets. By frequent hands-on use and demonstration of their work, students will gain confidence in using web-based tools as well as software that runs directly on their own computers. A constant focus will be the ability of such tools and software to import and export data in standard formats and to enable sharing of the maps and visualizations that students create. Accordingly, students will gain expertise in data interchange formats such as the Javascript Object Notation (JSON). Topics stressed over the course of the term will include the temporal component of spatial data as well as connectivity within data sets. We will also survey current approaches to the application of digital methods to historical and archaeological research and teaching. A particular outcome for students will be the ability to assess the relevance of both current and future tools for their own work. The majority of our examples will come from the ancient world as ISAW defines it, though students with other interests can enroll. It is expected that students will bring their own computers to class. While there are no prerequisites, participants should be willing to commit considerable time to rapidly gaining the technical skills that will be presented in class.

Permission of instructor required.

ISAW-GA 3003-001
Directed Study: Hittite Texts
Lorenzo d’Alfonso

lda5@nyu.edu
Thursdays, 5:00-7:00pm (6th Floor Large Conference Room)

Hittite, the earliest Indo-European language, is attested on cuneiform tablets, and was created as a means of recording numerous and various types of information collected by the royal court of Hattusa, and by some other administrative centers on the periphery of the Great Kingdom of Hatti. In some cases different types of information were recorded in different textual genres, and because of cuneiform schooling it is not rare that different genres used a wider or more restricted number of cuneiform signs, values, as well as a different vocabulary, formulary or phrasary. The course aims at introducing the participants to the different types of texts written in Hittite. Each lesson will be devoted to transcription and translation of ca. 30 lines of one ‘genre’. Thus, a sample from the Hittite Laws, letters, treaties, edicts, annals, prayers, rituals, feasts, oracular inquiries, inventories, poems and mythic narratives will be transcribed and translated along the semester, and for each text genre a piece of secondary literature about form and/or content of the genre will be discussed by the class.

Prerequisites: an introductory course of Hittite Language (Hittite I) and permission of the instructor.

Fall Seminars 2014

The Exact Sciences in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages
Alexander Jones
Mondays, 2:00pm – 5:00pm
alexander.jones@nyu.edu

ISAW-GA 3002

In this seminar we will examine episodes in the circulation of scientific knowledge and practices in the Mediterranean world (broadly conceived) from the third century CE to the end of the first millennium. The approach will be primarily through study of original texts, some of which will be chosen according to the specific interests and expertise of participants.

Knowledge of one or more of the relevant ancient languages (Greek in particular, Latin, Arabic, ...) is required. Permission of the instructor required.

Late Antique Documents
Roger Bagnall
Mondays, 9:00am – 12:00pm
roger.bagnall@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3007

The seminar will examine a series of papyrus archives from late antique Egypt and Palestine, mostly in Greek but with some documents partly or entirely in Latin, Coptic, and Arabic. The archives will range from villages to cities, private to public, and secular to monastic. Readings will be mostly of primary documents but also some modern discussions of the archives. The central focuses will be on the formation of what we call archives, their potential for historical study, and their limitations.

A reading knowledge of Greek and either French or German is required. Permission of the instructor required.

Art, Archaeology and Material Culture
Lillian Tseng
Wednesdays, 2:00pm – 5:00pm
lillian.tseng@nyu.edu

ISAW-GA 3010

This seminar explores various approaches that help us understand and elaborate the unearthed objects of extraordinary craftsmanship, a large corpus of fascinating material that has not yet been fully studied by archaeologists or art historians. The seminar seeks to strike a balance between methodological reflections and case studies. Theories and examples to be investigated are not limited to any specific cultural area.

Permission of the instructor required.

Early Chinese Literary Manuscripts
Adam Schwartz
Fridays, 1:00 – 4:00pm
acs21@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3012

This text-reading course will introduce the major corpora of newly discovered Early Chinese literary manuscripts and the philological methods fundamental to work with them.  Readings will be from the Zhou through the Han, with focus on Warring States genre and popular readership, provincial scripts and stationery.

Permission of the instructor required.

Greek and Roman Portraiture
Hallie Franks
Mondays, 2:00pm – 5:00pm
hmf2@nyu.edu

ISAW-GA 3013

This course will engage with critical issues that surround the study of ancient portraiture traditions in the Greek and Roman worlds. Some of the questions we will address over the course of the semester include: How do modern assumptions about the function and genre of portraiture, and its relationship to the subject, impact approaches to ancient material? How do we develop a vocabulary for the different potential relationships between subject and visual product? How do we think about intent, and what kinds of material provide context for interpretation? How do portraits serve in public or private roles in different ways? How can we use traditions of portraiture to think about ancient concepts of and expressions of various identities? This course deals primarily with classical material, but it also involves critical engagement with and analysis of the visual and the processes of contextualization.

Permission of the instructor required.

Advanced Reading of Akkadian: The Political and Cultural Relations between Assur and Babylon
Beate Pongratz-Leisten
Tuesdays, 2:00pm – 5:00pm
bpl2@nyu.edu

ISAW-GA 3014-001

In addition to consolidating the knowledge of Akkadian grammar the Advanced Reading of Akkadian Class is designed to introduce into various dialects of Akkadian from a diversity of regions and periods and to familiarize the student with a diversity of paleographies as well as text categories. The text corpus to be studied will include royal inscriptions, letters, letters from gods to the king, and chronicles.

At least one year of Akkadian is required. Permission of the instructor required.

Advanced Reading of Akkadian: Incantations, Prayers, and Rituals
Beate Pongratz-Leisten
Thursdays 11:00am – 1:00pm
bpl2@nyu.edu

ISAW-GA 3014-002

In addition to consolidating the knowledge of Akkadian grammar the Advanced Reading of Akkadian Class is designed to introduce into various dialects of Akkadian from a diversity of regions and periods and to familiarize the student with a diversity of paleographies as well as text categories. The text corpus to be studied will include incantations, prayers, and rituals from Ebla, Kanesh, Emar in Northern Syria as well as Assyrian and Babylonian cities.

At least one year of Akkadian. Permission of the instructor required.

Peoples and Lands of the Zagros: From Gutium to Ellipi
Daniel T. Potts
Tuesdays, 9:00am – 12:00pm
dtp2@nyu.edu

ISAW-GA 3018

This seminar will examine the native peoples and regions of the Zagros mountain regions (Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Luristan) from their first appearance in cuneiform sources of the third millennium BC to the end of the Assyrian/Neo-Elamite period. Principle groups and regions that will be considered include Gutium, Simurrum, Lullubum, the Turukkaeans, Mannaea and Ellipi. The role of Ur III, Kassite, Assyrian and Urartian territorial ambitions in the region will be investigated as well as the nature of the landscape and the groups that inhabited it through time.

No formal requirements, but good reading knowledge of German and French would be helpful. Permission of the instructor required.

The Transition from Late Antiquity to Early Islam
Robert Hoyland
Tuesdays, 9:00am – 12:00pm
rgh2@nyu.edu

ISAW-GA 3020-001

This course focuses on the question of what changed and what did not change in Near Eastern society in the course of the fifth to ninth centuries AD.  Consideration will be given to both the micro level (individual objects, themes, groups etc) and the macro level (was Pirenne right about the disruptive nature of the Arab conquests, is Becker's characterization of Islam as the culmination of late antique culture apt, etc). and to literary and archaeological themes and sources.

Permission of the instructor required.

The Body in the Ancient World
Claire Bubb
Wednesdays, 9:00am – 12:00pm
claire.coiro@gmail.com

ISAW-GA 3020-002

This seminar will consider ancient understanding of and attitudes towards the human body. Our primary goal will be to trace the shifting conceptions of human physiology from Egyptian medical papyri to the Arabic tradition, with a heavy focus on the Greeks and Romans. How did cultures with strong taboos around the body form theories about the organs hidden within it? How did the ancients grapple with the brain, the nervous system, and the interrelationship of the soul and the body? How did the concept of the humors develop and what were the rival theories? How close did the Greeks come to understanding blood and the circulatory system and why did they miss its circular nature? Why did Galen’s physiology come to dominate Western thought for centuries after his death, and how did the Arabic authors responsible for much of its transmission receive and respond to his theories? In order to understand the cultural context behind the development and evolution of these theories, we will also briefly consider religious, literary, and artistic treatment of the body, including burial customs, the centrality of the body to early Christianity, and the fascination with the body revealed across literary genres, particularly rhetoric and the novels.

Permission of the instructor required.

Spring 2014 Seminars

Perspectives on the Ancient World in Medieval Islamic Histories
Robert Hoyland
Thursdays 9:00am – 12:00pm
rgh2@nyu.edu

ISAW-GA 3020

In this course we will read from the works of a number of Muslim historians in order to ascertain their attitude, and that of Islamic civilization at large, towards the ancient world.  The aim will be to explore how the Islamic world situated itself with respect to past civilizations, why it favoured some past peoples over others, and how the forces of Time, Fate and God's will played a part in the evanescence of the past.

Arabic and permission of the instructor required.

Wall Paintings in Central Asia
Sören Stark & Fiona Kidd
Mondays 5:00 – 8:00pm
soeren.stark@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3009

Wall paintings constitute, since the 1st millennium BCE, at least one of the major means employed to decorate architectural spaces of various sorts – religious (temples, monasteries), communal-palatial, private dwellings, tombs, etc. – throughout Central Asia. As such, murals constitute, in particular for the pre-Islamic period, one of the main categories of visual arts at our disposal. Yet wall paintings are not only significant for the study of art history in pre-Islamic Central Asia: in fact – and considering the near complete loss of other visual materials such as textile wall hangings and illuminated books, and the general scarcity of written sources – murals constitute a critical source for our understanding of the religious, social, economic and sometimes even political history of the area before the advent of Islam.

This class aims at a comprehensive overview of the most important sites and architectural ensembles with substantial wall painting remains in the area. Chronologically they range from the final centuries BCE to the 9th/10th century CE. Geographically we will focus on the regions of Choresmia, Sogdiana, Bactria-Tokhāristān and the Tarim basin. This will allow us to review difficult and still much-debated questions concerning the production of wall paintings in Central Asia. Those include questions regarding the significance of regional styles as evidence for regional schools and itinerant workshops, the social and economic background of artists and patrons, ways of transfer of artistic models, and regional variances regarding cultural preferences in elite representation.

Permission of the instructor required.

Literature and the Question of Genre in the Ancient Near East
Beate Pongratz-Leisten
Tuesdays 2:00pm – 5:00pm
bpl2@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3014

In the last decades the category of ‘literature’ in the Ancient Near East has come repeatedly under scrutiny. It included among other topics fierce discussions about how to define the literary corpus, orality and aurality, the notion of genre, the validity of historical references in literary works and the fluid boundaries between ‘literature’ and ‘historiography,’ where to locate literary production - school, temple, or palace, and how far the production process determined functional and pragmatic aspects of literary works.

To isolate literature from its historical context as l’art pour l’art aesthetics favoring formalistic features over pragmatic and historical concerns certainly does not do justice to ancient literary works. While formalistic features such as the use of literary dialects might operate as a way of categorization, recently, due to the nature of the texts, narratology as well as fictionality have been considered equally important. Literature rather should be defined as a particular medium alongside other media as part of the social and cultural discourse. Moreover, what makes an oeuvre historically significant, is not necessarily established by the qualities of the work or by the author but by its history of reception and its intertextuality and intermediality. The seminar investigates what constituted literary works, how literary works became part of the stream of tradition, were affected by and affected historical conditions, and entered intertextual and intermedial relations.

Knowledge of Akkadian and permission of the instructor required.

Dilmun, Magan, and Meluhha
Daniel T. Potts
**This is a condensed seminar. The class will meet twice a week from January 27 – March 18; Mondays 1-4pm and Tuesdays 9am-12pm**
dtp2@nyu.edu

ISAW-GA 3018

Third millennium cuneiform sources refer to three lands associated with the 'Lower Sea' (Persian Gulf): Dilmun, in the northern and central Gulf, centered on Bahrain, the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, and Failak (Kuwait); Magan, in the Oman peninsula; and Meluhha, conventionally identified with the Harappan civilization in the Indus Valley. In this seminar we will examine the archaeological and cuneiform sources from and about this region, paying particular attention to the period c. 6000 BC to the 1st century AD. The seminar will emphasize local developments in the region, including both funerary and settlement data, and evidence of inter-regional contact (ceramics, stone vessels, metals, semi-precious stones).

Permission of the instructor required.

Greco-Roman Astrology and Astronomy and the Antecedents
Alexander Jones
Mondays 2:00 – 5:00pm
alexander.jones@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3002

This seminar will be an introduction to the goals, methods, and practices of Greek mathematical astronomy during the period from the second century BCE through the second century CE (essentially from Hipparchus to Ptolemy) and to the Greco-Roman astrology that depended on this astronomy. Sources will include texts transmitted via medieval manuscripts (e.g. Ptolemy's works in Greek and Arabic), papyri, and presumed adaptations of Greek astronomy and astrology in other traditions such as those of India. Particular attention will be paid to the Greek reception and modification of elements of astronomy and astrology from Mesopotamia and Egypt.

Knowledge of Greek or other languages significant for these traditions and permission of the instructor required.

Landscapes and Territoriality in Western and Eastern Asia BCE
Lorenzo d’Alfonso and Roderick Campbell
Wednesdays 9:30am – 12:30pm
lda5@nyu.edu , rbc2@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3012

How is place and landscape conceived in times and places before nation states, maps and national borders? What, if any, notions of territoriality were in operation in ancient polities like the Shang kingdom at Anyang or the Neo-Hittite polities of Anatolia? How are they linked to such concepts as community, town/city, and land? And on the other hand, how do modern scholars reconstruct landscapes and territoriality of ancient polities?

The course will approach these and similar questions dividing between classes on theory where some basic methodological contributions are discussed, and classes devoted to case studies, where specific aspects are dealt with in well-defined historical context.

At lease one foreign language and permission of the instructor required. 

Early Chinese Epigraphy: Bones, Bronze, and Bamboo
Roderick Campbell and Adam Schwartz
Thursdays 2:00pm – 5:00pm
rbc2@nyu.edu, acs21@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3010

In this course students will acquire a foundation in epigraphic methodology and work through a selection of epigraphic texts from Shang through Warring States times. Fundamental epigraphic training will include an understanding of the basic principles of Chinese graph formation as well as the fundamentals of phonological, morphological and syntactic reconstruction. Consideration of writing media, context and register will also be addressed. Familiarity with corpus access (through compendium, on-line databases, etc.) and resources (dictionaries, concordances, etc.) will form part of the training on each corpus discussed. The main corpuses of excavated texts will be Shang oracle-bone inscriptions, Shang and Western Zhou bronze inscriptions, and Eastern Zhou bamboo slips. We will attempt to cover a wide range of genres with an eye to giving students as broad a paleographic base as possible.

Coursework will consist of weekly assignments – usually in the form of translations and preparation to read specific texts in common. The final course assignment will be the annotated translation of a text of reasonable size and complexity.

Ability to read classical Chinese and permission of instructors required. 

Maps, Models, and Databases: Digital Tools for the Ancient World
Sebastian Heath
Wednesdays 2:00pm – 5:00pm
sebastian.heath@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3013

Our goal in this course is to gain hands-on skills with the digital tools that are changing the nature of research and the publication of scholarship related to the Ancient World. The focus is material culture and throughout the term students will work with free tools that enable sharing of results. Students will not only learn how to make 3D models of objects in museum collections, but also how to choose open formats that let one publish those models on the Internet. Google Maps and Earth will play a prominent role, and students will also use the more capable web-based GIS CartoDB (http://cartodb.com). A goal will always be to explore how these tools can work together to make innovative presentations of scholarly research. Other topics include the role of open licenses in modern scholarship, database structures appropriate for capturing the heterogeneity of ancient material culture, network analysis, the geographic component of ancient primary sources, and the deployment of Linked Open Data. Throughout the term students will evaluate both cloud-based tools and downloadable software, while also reviewing websites and digital publications that provide access to important resources. Students will gain an ability to use current tools as well as the confidence to assess new tools as they become available in the future. This course will be of particular interest to students needing to incorporate digital manifestations of material culture into their dissertations or other scholarly work. 

Fall 2013 Seminars

Public Health in the Ancient World
Roger Bagnall and Roderick Campbell
Mondays 2:00-5:00 p.m.
roger.bagnall@nyu.edu; rbc2@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3022

Revolutionary developments in the biological sciences, accompanied as well by discoveries in the physical sciences, have opened up possibilities for study of the human past unimaginable a generation ago. To long-established methods dependent on description and quantification have been added technologies that allow us to find out, for example, whether people buried at Rome were also born and raised there, or what kind of carbohydrates dwellers of an Egyptian oasis were eating. The routes of transmission of plant species can be seen as never before; modern demographic techniques like model life tables have given new life to ancient demography, once a laughingstock; scientific excavation of arid sites coupled with new technologies has produced information on morbidity and mortality unobtainable until now. We have now the opportunity to begin to put together a comprehensive sense of the factors of health over the vast span of human history we call antiquity, while at the same time study changing, collective human responses to disease, nutrition, risk and ultimately, mortality.

This course will have a symposium format with different specialists each week presenting on a range of topics from paleopathology to ancient demography. In addition to weekly response papers students will write a final paper relating one or more of the symposium’s topics to the overarching theme of public health in the ancient world.

Permission of the instructor required.

Iranian Archaeology in the 21st Century
Daniel T. Potts
Tuesdays 9:00am – 12:00pm
daniel.potts@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3018

The publication of recent excavations (post-2000) in journals like Iran, Iranica Antiqua and Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan, as well as in monographs and conference volumes (published inside and outside of Iran) has resulted in a significant addition to our knowledge of Iranian archaeology in all periods of the pre-Islamic past. Accessing that new data and integrating it with what was already known is not always easy, however. This seminar will involve close reading of the past 13 years of scholarship in Iranian archaeology with an emphasis on primary publications of excavations and museum collections (rather than secondary literature). The aim will be to evaluate this new material and assess how it fits in with what was already known about the relevant site, region and/or period; consider where it challenges previous beliefs; and discuss what new questions it raises.

Permission of the instructor required.

Hittite History, Language & Archaeology
Lorenzo d’Alfonso
Mondays, 9:00am – 12:00pm
lda5@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3013

The Hittite empire had a profound impact on the history of Pre-classical Western Asia. After a period defined by the presence of local principalities, and a formative phase in the 17th century, a complex political machine developed in Central Anatolia. The creation of a system of large structures for containment of water and seeds allowed local societies to overcome for the first time the regional challenges resulting from the weather and landscape. These important structures are part of a comprehensive approach to complex social life, whose effects became concretely observable in the so-called Early Empire. In this period, for example, normative texts were produced, some defining the administrative function of the capital and peripheral districts, some –what we call rituals and feasts-, defining the cultic activity between the core to the periphery, and the syncretic pantheon. The tension between the “possible empire” emerging from these texts and the local developments produced by various actors can be understood through the lens of the historical context in which the empire operated for almost 500 years. The course aims at providing participants with basic information and updated research on the Hittites. Each class will be divided into two parts: one touching different themes of the history and archaeology of the Hittites; the other providing an introduction into the Hittite language and script.

Participation 30%; one presentation during course 40%; final written exam 30% (no final paper)

Requirements: one foreign language: either French, Italian or German

Permission of the instructor required.

Introduction to GIS & Spatial Analysis in Anthropology & Archaeology
Emily Hammer
Wednesdays 9:30am – 12:30pm
ehammer@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3012 – Class takes place at 24 Waverly Place, Rm. 668

This course aims to provide a basic understanding of how remote sensing data (satellite imagery and aerial photographs) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can be used to visualize, analyze, and integrate archaeological, anthropological, historical, environmental, and hydrological data.  It also aims to introduce students to the process of designing and carrying out a spatial research project.  Students will learn basic techniques for acquiring, manipulating, and creating geospatial data in several forms, including pixel-based satellite imagery and digital terrain models as well as point, line, and polygon representations of data.  Each week, these techniques will be applied to sample archaeological data and also to data from a region/topic chosen by the student.  In addition to lab-based work, students will learn basic field techniques of field survey, including how to navigate and record using a Global Positioning System (GPS) handheld receiver, how to integrate GPS data into a GIS database, and how to produce maps for fieldwork and publication.  The course will use ESRI's ArcGIS software.

Permission of the instructor required.

Time in Greco-Roman Antiquity: Texts and Material Culture
Alexander Jones
Thursdays 2:00 – 5:00pm
alexander.jones@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3002

In the ancient Greek and Roman world time was initially flexible, inexact, and tied to the natural environment. The risings and settings of the Sun, the phases of the Moon, and the cycle of the seasons supplied the basic framework of days, months, and years by which people organized daily life, commerce, religion, and government. However, astronomers, mathematicians, mechanicians, and scholars developed increasingly precise ways of measuring, organizing, and keeping track of time. This seminar will investigate the varied technologies and practices of time management known from textual sources and artifacts, and the interaction between the development of these technologies and practices and the awareness and representation of measured time in Greco-Roman society.

Permission of the instructor required.

Advanced Reading of Akkadian - Literary Texts in Ancient Mesopotamia
Beate Pongratz-Leisten
Tuesdays 2:00 – 5:00pm
bpl2@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3014

This course is intended to provide an insight into the corpus of literary texts of Mesopotamia. It includes a mix of poems, epics, and myths, the Agushaya Hymn, Tukulti-Ninurta Epic, the Erra Epic, Anzu Myth and Etana Myth, just to name a few. Most of these texts come in various versions from different periods thus allowing for investigating their transmission through time. They are written in the Hymnic-Epical Dialect or the Standard Babylonian dialect. Consequently, beyond acquiring knowledge of great Mesopotamian literary works, the students will train in reading these literary dialects. At least one year of Akkadian is required.

Permission of the instructor required.

Spring 2013 Seminars

Transmission of Ancient Science into Arabic
Robert Hoyland
Thursdays 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
ISAW-GA 3002
rgh2@nyu.edu

The aim of this course is to explore the different paths along which knowledge of Antiquity passed into Muslim intellectual culture and how it was received and interpreted.  The focus will not just be on the so-called translation movement, but also the broader question of how pre-Islamic histories and cultures fared in the Middle East after the Arab conquests.  A core part of the course will be reading original Arabic texts and assessment will be via a final paper that must involve study of extracts from Arabic texts.

Permission of the instructor required.

Greek Texts on Mechanics
Alexander Jones
Mondays 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
ISAW-GA 3007
alexander.jones@nyu.edu

A selection of Greek mechanical texts, including Pappus of Alexandria's "Introduction to Mechanics" (Book 8 of his Synagoge) and Heronian works from the "Mynas Codex" (Par. suppl. gr. 607) will be studied on the basis of medieval manuscripts, with particular attention to the manuscript diagrams.

Knowledge of ancient Greek is required. Permission of the instructor required.

“Soghdians in their Homeland” – the Archaeology of Soghdia from ca. 600 BCE to ca. 750 CE
Sören Stark
Tuesdays & Thursdays 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m; March 26 – May 9
ISAW-GA 3009
soeren.stark@nyu.edu

Spectacular finds and a general interest in Old World connectivity has in recent years sparkled much interest in Soghdians abroad, in particular in their colonies along the so-called Silk Roads and in the Chinese plains. Much less attention has been paid, outside a small scholarly circle, to their homeland at the banks of the rivers Zerafshan and Kashka-Darya (in present-day Uzbekistan and Tajikistan) – with the result that the discussion of “Soghdians along the Silk Roads and in China” is often based on too imprecise (sometimes even wrong) assumptions about their ‘original’ cultural traditions.

Particularly regrettable is a certain tendency to use the term “Soghdian” almost in a generic way, subsuming everything “Iranian” east of the Iranian plateau under one fashionable label.

This seminar aims for some clarification on this issue by systematically and comprehensively assessing our current knowledge on the archaeology of Soghdia, from the dawn of constitutive cultural features in the region during the pre-Achaemenid Iron Age to the incorporation of Soghdia into the Dar al-Islam in the course of the 8th century. The approach will be micro-regional, that is we will follow the main trends of development regarding settlement patterns, site typology, architecture, ceramic, metal and textile production, as well as burial costumes and visual arts for each micro-region separately – as far as possible. This is an ambitious aim that has not been undertaken in a systematic way. As a result, it is hoped, we will be able to not only distinguish more precisely “Soghdian” cultural features from those associated with Khorezmia, Ferghana, Bactria or Sasanian Iran, but also to perceive intra-regional variations and trends.

This seminar is held intensively from March 26th – May 9th. Russian and permission of the instructor is required.

The Art of Antiquity in the Metropolitan Museum: A Global Perspective
Lillian Tseng/Paul Zanker
Tuesdays & Thursdays 3:00pm-6:00pm January 29 - March 14
ISAW-GA 3012
lillian.tseng@nyu.edu

This seminar explores the collections of Ancient art in the Metropolitan Museum with a global perspective. It seeks to clarify the distinct features of art objects produced in the Greco-Roman World and in Early China through contrast and comparison. Mediums to be studied range from sculpture, pictorial arts to decorative arts. Topics to be discussed include heroes, deities, mythology, auspiciousness, monumentality, and femininity.

The seminar encourages students to establish direct connections with objects. All classes meet in the galleries or storerooms of the Museum. The seminar is led by Lillian Tseng and Paul Zanker. Dr. Zanker is the author of Roman Art (J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010) and Pompeii: Public and Private Life (Harvard University Press, 1998).

This seminar is held intensively from January 29th to March 14th. The first class meets in the lecture hall of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. No languages are required.

Permission of the instructor is required.

Beyond Apogee and Collapse: Empires and other Polities in the Ancient World (BCE)
Roderick Campbell/Lorenzo d’Alfonso
Fridays 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
ISAW-GA 3013
rbc2@nyu.edu
, lda5@nyu.edu

“The fall of the Assyrian empire”; “the collapse of the Mayan civilization” – the idea of collapse fascinates the contemporary imagination, conjuring images of melancholy ruins and vanished civilizations. The apogee of empires is what is generally contrasted with the post-collapse situation, but what of everything in between? When researchers detach their gaze from successful military deeds, or abrupt changes in the archaeological record, a sort of skepticism on the consistence and the sense of ancient polities occurs, and lower scale social organization –urban, kin, or primary production based, appears as the main ‘real’ elements defining the scenario.

The course will discuss how empires and other polities of the ancient world (4th to 1st millennium BCE) operate over the long-term.  On the basis of more recent studies, it will reconsider the concepts of “apogee” and “collapse” as embedded in a more dynamic understanding of historical processes. These and similar questions about the nature and functioning of ancient political forms over time will be the focus of the seminar, divided in a group of classes on theoretic approaches, followed by a series of case studies.

SYLLABUS

Permission of the instructor is required.

Arabia in Antiquity c. 3500 BCE – 750 CE
George Hatke
Tuesdays 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
ISAW-GA 3018
geh2@nyu.edu

While ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Syria-Palestine have been the subject of scholarly investigation for the better part of two centuries, the Arabian Peninsula remains an understudied region by historians and archaeologists alike. This results not only from the difficulties of traveling to, and conducting research in, Arabia, but also from a long-standing view that ancient Arabia was little more than a peripheral region of the Near East whose nomadic tribes periodically migrated into more northerly regions but which had little history of its own.

This seminar seeks to demonstrate that, far from being peripheral to the ancient Near East, the Arabian Peninsula was in fact an axis of the Near Eastern, Mediterranean, and Indian Ocean worlds and must therefore be considered an integral part of antiquity. From this broader perspective, such developments in ancient Arabian history as the diffusion of Semitic languages, the rise of state societies, the growth of long-distance trade, and ultimately the spread of monotheistic tradition(s) will be studied against the backdrop of the political, social, economic, and cultural history of the ancient world at large. In this way students of antiquity will learn how to interpret and evaluate evidence for contact between cultures, using the Arabian Peninsula as a case study. Particular emphasis will be placed on three key regions of Arabia: 1) South Arabia and the Red Sea, 2) East Arabia and the Persian/Arabian Gulf, and 3) the desert frontier of the Fertile Crescent that constitutes North Arabia. The timeframe of the seminar extends from the Early Bronze Age (beginning in the mid-fourth millennium BCE) to the Umayyad Caliphate (661-750 CE).

Among the questions that will be dealt with in this seminar are: 1) What role did agriculture and trade play in ancient Arabian society, and what evidence survives of these two facets of the Arabian economy? 2) To what extent were ancient Arabian politics shaped by external political and economic factors? How and why did some foreign polities (e.g. the Ethiopian kingdom of Aksum and the Sāsānid Empire of Iran) establish spheres of influence while no Arabian polity expanded beyond the Arabian Peninsula until the seventh century CE? 3) Who were the Arabs and what made them different from other Arabian peoples? Is it possible to speak of the Arabs as a single, coherent group in pre-Islamic times? 4) How did monotheistic traditions reshape Arabian society during Late Antiquity (c. 200-700 CE)? Why did Islam emerge when it did, and why in Arabia, as opposed to another desert region like the Sahara?

Permission of the instructor required.

Relations between Mesopotamia & Iran
Daniel T. Potts
Wednesdays 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
ISAW-GA 3019
kel306@nyu.edu

This seminar will consider a variety of issues in the archaeology of Mesopotamia and Iran from late prehistory through the end of the Bronze Age. Some of those issues will be examined in a synchronic fashion while others will be investigated diachronically. Accounting for changes in material culture and cultural practices, as well as continuities, is a constant theme in much archaeological research, sometimes centering around specific domains of material culture or cultural activity, sometimes taking a more global approach. This year’s seminar will examine a range of different issues diachronically. The intention is to initiate a discussion around the role of technology and demography as variables which impact upon the continuities and changes that are attested in a number of different domains.

This course poses a series of key questions of a series of cultural domains and practices attested in Mesopotamia and Iran (6th-2rd millennia BC), with a view to charting structural continuities and discontinuities through time. The appropriateness of technological and social explanations of these phenomena will be discussed and evaluated.

Knowledge of French and/or German required. Permission of the instructor required.

The History of Assyria in Ancient and Modern Historiography
Beate Pongratz-Leisten
Tuesdays 2:00p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
ISAW-GA 3020
bpl2@nyu.edu

This seminar is not geared towards an event-oriented history of Assyria. Its also not concerned with the social science oriented history including quantitative sociological and economic history modeled after the natural sciences and its claim for objective truth. Rather than a history from below, the emphasis is on the study of the textual production as it related to or occurred at the Assyrian courts throughout their history and on how ancient historiography proceeded from facts or empirical events to create a coherent story about the deeds of the king that met the expectations linked with the office of rulership, which were informed by a longstanding tradition and the world view of the time. We will educate ourselves as to how to interpret the various text genres that Assyriologists have classified as chronicles and annals by critically re-evaluating our modern taxonomy applied to the ancient texts and explore how these ‘genres’ interface with what we tend to subsume under fiction and literature. In addition to such critical attitude toward the text, informed by postmodern literary theory and linguistics, linguistic features of the ancient texts and the shape of the tablet as well as the context of the text will illuminate our interpretation of the ancients’ intentionality. We will explore to what degree the writings were indeed concerned with the past, what the inserting of ‘historical factual data’ was aiming at and further critically evaluate the assumption that history needs always to be written in a narrative.

The goal of the seminar is threefold: 1) to familiarize ourselves with the various text categories, 2) to acquire knowledge in the various dialects of the Assyrian language as well as in the ‘hymnic epical dialect’ by reading primary sources related to the general discussion and 3) to acquire an insight into the cultural and intellectual setting in which historiography was written by the ancient scholars for the political elites.

The reading of Akkadian texts related to the seminar will be complemented by a further tutorial on Thursday 11AM - 1PM.

As in former years the seminar will be concluded with a workshop. This year’s participants:  Jean-Jacques Glassner; Peter Machinist; Piotr Michalowski, and Nele Ziegler. Akkadian is required for those who attend the reading sessions.

Permission of the instructor required.

Pottery and Empire in the Roman Mediterranean
Sebastian Heath
Wednesdays 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
ISAW-GA 3021
sebastian.heath@nyu.edu

This course surveys the types of pottery available in the Roman-period Mediterranean and encourages students to consider how that material contributes to the study of large-scale economic and political history, as well as its contribution to focused questions of individual consumer experience and the interpretation of specific archaeological contexts. Students will gain familiarity with the basic vocabulary and techniques of ceramic study while always asking why this material is important to understanding the Roman Empire. The majority of the readings concern the Eastern Mediterranean, but we will consider the Mediterranean as a unit.  Some titles in the required readings are drawn from fields entirely outside the ancient Mediterranean. Students will be able to explore specific regions or issues within the study of Roman pottery in their research paper.

Permission of the instructor required.

Fall 2012 Seminars

Introduction to Papyrology
Roger Bagnall
Tuesdays 2:00-5:00 p.m.
roger.bagnall@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3007

This seminar will introduce students to both technical and substantive sides of papyrology. It will read a representative selection of published papyri from the Hellenistic, Roman, and Late Antique periods, with an emphasis on the interpretive challenges posed by documentary evidence; and students will learn to decipher Greek handwritings and prepare a critical edition of a papyrus.

A knowledge of Greek is required; Latin and Coptic would be useful, and there will be readings in French and German. Permission of the professor is required.

Conceptions of Ethnicity in the Ancient World
Lorenzo d’Alfonso and Soeren Stark
Wednesdays 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
lda5@nyu.edu
, soeren.stark@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3009

The problem of ethnicity is a recurring and widely discussed topic in studies related to a wide range of pre-modern societies and cultures. Historical conceptions, rooted in national movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have taken for granted that terms like “people”, “tribe”, etc. refer to racially and culturally homogeneous groups, sharing a common descendance and destiny, speaking the same language and living within one state. In this way, “peoples” (and not individuals or social groups) were seen as something immutable, almost as a natural rather than a historical phenomenon.

Although the ideological origins of these conceptions are now common knowledge, “ethnicity” in pre-modern societies remains a much-debated issue. One of the most pertinent questions is whether an “ethnic” identity existed and, if so, how it differs from other group identities. Other core questions to be discussed in the seminar are “ethnic identity” and the concept of “cultural memory”, “ethnic identity and the archaeological record”, “ethnicity and name-giving” and “ethnicity and migrations”. The seminar approaches these problems from a cross-cultural perspective, drawing on cases from the Ancient Near East to the Early Medieval Steppes in Inner Eurasia.

Reading will be in English and German. Permission of the professor is required.

Redrawing the Map: Art & Archaeology of Northeast Asia in the First Millennium CE
Sarah Laursen
Thursdays 2:00-5:00 p.m.
sarah.laursen@nyu.edu

ISAW-GA 3010

This seminar will investigate the interrelationships between the arts of China, Korea, and Japan in the first millennium CE. We will first identify the historical political borders between these regions, and then compare them to the evidence provided by the material record. Key themes of ethnicity, religious affiliation, and the transfer of technology will be explored through case studies, such as the wall paintings in China’s Han dynasty tombs, the shimmering gold jewelry of Korea’s Three Kingdoms period, and the surviving traditional architecture of Japan’s Asuka and Nara periods.

Chinese, Korean, or Japanese reading knowledge preferred. Permission of the professor is required.

Genealogies of the State: Polities in the Ancient World
Roderick Campbell
Wednesdays 2:00-5:00 p.m.
ISAW-GA 3012
rbc2@nyu.edu

What is an "ancient state"? What assumptions about history are packed into the often heard but seldom explained phrase, "state level society"? In the first half this course we will explore the intellectual history of "the state" from early modern to 21st century theorists and the rise of the concept of "the ancient state" in 20th century archaeology. Armed with a genealogy of the state concept we will then turn to case studies of ancient polities and empires from antiquity. The case studies will be presented by a series of leading experts brought in as guest speakers.

This course will be reading intensive and interdisciplinary. There will likely be a contingent of faculty and post-docs as well as graduate students. Graduate students of disparate disciplines with an interest in deep-time political development are welcome. Prerequisites are interest, industry and imagination.

Permission of the professor is required.

Art & Archaeology of Early Medieval China
Lillian Tseng
Mondays 2:00–5:00 p.m.
ISAW-GA 3013
lillian.tseng@nyu.edu

This seminar surveys diverse visual and material cultures from the 3rd to the 6th centuries in China, a historical period marked by political division and ethnic integration. We will examine both transmitted and excavated objects, with special attention to their historical and archaeological contexts. Issues to discuss include ideology, identity, gender, and cultural interaction. Mediums to explore range from calligraphy, painting, architecture, sculpture, to ceramics, silverware, and glassware.

Reading knowledge of modern Chinese is required. Permission of the professor is required.

The Arab Conquests and the Worlds of Late Antiquity: Arabization, Arabicization, and Islamization
Robert Hoyland
Thursdays 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
ISAW-GA 3014
kel306@nyu.edu

This course will examine the interaction between the Arab conquerors and the late antique worlds that they encountered.  It will do so principally through the lens of contemporaries and near contemporaries rather than through that of ninth- and tenth-century Muslims, as is the usual practice.  This is crucial for gaining a better understanding of the Middle East as it was when the Arabs first arrived in it as conquerors instead of as it came to be after a couple of centuries of their rule.  A considerable amount of attention will be paid to the various polities that existed shortly prior to the conquests - the kingdoms of the Romanised Berbers, Nubians, Caucasian Albanians, Soghdians, Gurjarans etc - and the different ways in which they dealt with the invaders.

Spring 2012 Seminars

Archaeologies of Production / Traditions of Making: Ancient China and Beyond
Roderick Campbell
Fridays 2:00 - 5:00 p.m.
rbc2@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3010.001

This seminar will focus on an interdisciplinary study of production and the making of things in Early China using case studies from China as well as other parts of the world for comparison. The aim is to not only understand the history of Chinese production but also work toward a better understanding of making, innovation, creation and provisioning in human history.

Permission of the professor is required. Chinese language reading required unless instructor’s permission is obtained first.

Dark Ages in the Eastern Mediterranean: The Aegean, Anatolia and the Levant 1200-800 BCE
Lorenzo d'Alfonso
Thursdays 9:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m.
lda5@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3013.001

The turn of the second Millennium BCE caused a dramatic caesura in the History of the Eastern Mediterranean. Before that passage Western Asia was divided into large territorial states characterized by the so called “palatial economy”. After that passage, we face a great variety of new political entities in the Levant, which current research is bringing more and more to light. In the East the regional powers of Assyria and Babylon evolve into Empires. Although these are embedded in a much older tradition of representation of kingship and state organisation, the dimensions of their territories and of the military and administrative apparatus and propaganda also identify a clear distance from the previous era.

The course will reconsider the different hypotheses about the short process of profound change which took place at the end of the 13th century and during the first half of the 12th century BCE, and the following evolution until the end of the Dark Ages. The focus will be set on specific case studies in the Aegean, Anatolia and the Levant during that time, with a critical approach to the way these processes have been reconstructed.

Permission of the professor is required.

Writing, Law, Divination and Religion in the Ancient Near East
Beate Pongratz-Leisten
Tuesdays 2:00 - 5:00 p.m.
bpl2@nyu.edu

ISAW-GA 3014.001

Generally scholarship puts the cult of the gods at the center stage of religious systems in antiquity. This seminar takes a different approach investigating the origins of writing, law, and divination, to demonstrate their intricate relationship with each other, and only then with cultic practice as well as the theological meta-structures of religion.

We will explore the early clay tokens and their potential relationship with early signs written on the first archaic tablets, as well as their combination with counting systems in order to understand the emergence of writing. Such inventions are linked with the more general and universal cognitive capacities for object recognition, naming, and categorizing. Consequently, a further aspect of research will be concerned with the archaic and Early Dynastic lists and their organization.

In Mesopotamia, the earliest samples of writing (ca. 3100 BCE) represent contracts reflecting oral transactions, which evince the existence of a legal system regulating social and economic interaction. The conceptualization of legal norms, however, is attested only in the early royal edicts (ca. 2600 BCE) evincing the royal appropriation of the legal system into their ideological self-representation which again was framed by the larger religious system.  By that time the three main areas of constitutional law, administrative law, and economic activities were covered by the royal decrees using an elaborate legal terminology, which is then appropriated by the specialists for divination. A major aspect of our inquiry will be investigating the notion of kittu, which is generally translated as ‘truth,’ and ‘dīnu ‘case, trial’ and how they link law to divination and beyond, to the larger world view.

The compelling feature about Mesopotamian divination is not only its direct link with legislation as expressed in the use of judicial language but also with the cuneiform writing system. The cognitive process of transforming pathological forms observed on the liver into signs with cultural meaning which then are interpreted within a complex semiotic system show a similar cognitive process as the creation of writing. Both cultural systems, writing and divination, are dominated by the impact of the notion of drawing and writing to outline recognizable patterns, which can be traced back to representational prototypes. The question of representational prototypes then will lead us to understand cultural key metaphors of Mesopotamian religion.

Specialists for early writing (Gonzalo Rubio), law (Norman Yoffee), and cognitive sciences (Rita Watson) will lead some of the sessions and provide their expertise and insight to these questions.

Requirements: The research seminar is open to graduate students, visiting scholars, and faculty. Permission of the professor is required. Any primary sources will be provided with translations. Students are required to do short response papers to the readings and a presentation in combination with a written final paper. 

Cultural Interactions in Eurasian Art & Archaeology
Soeren Stark/Lillian Tseng
Wednesdays 3:00 - 6:00 p.m.
lillian.tseng@nyu.edu
, soeren.stark@nyu.edu
ISAW-GA 3015.001

Cross-cultural inquiries over the Eurasian continent are still, to a considerable degree, hampered both by the fragmenting character of traditional academic divisions (such as Near Eastern, Central Asian, East Asian, South Asian studies) and considerable language barriers. Whereas the current academic divisions encourage the in-depth investigation of issues derived from the ‘core areas’, it does not facilitate the cross-border inquiry that addresses the interconnectedness between assumed ‘core areas’.

This seminar is intended to bridge academic gaps by exploring a wealth of cultural interactions between Central Asia and East Asia through a series of representative cases dated from the fifth century BCE to the ninth century CE. In the class we will revisit the so-called “Scythian animal style” that embodied the art of the steppe stretching from Ukraine to Northern China. We will compare how the Han Chinese perceived the Northern ‘barbarians’ and how the Xiongnu elites expressed their cultural identity themselves by commissioning and consuming prestigious art objects. We will have a closer look at how Soghdian funerary practices and the related visual arts persisted or were subsequently altered in their trading colonies in Northern China. The class will tackle material culture of Tang China, its shaping and its impact on the Türk Qaghanats in the northwest and on Japan in the east. Finally, we will also consider the religious factor in cultural interaction by examining Buddhist grottos in Bāmiyān and Dunhuang.

Permission of the professor is required. Reading knowledge of German or French is recommended, but alternate English readings are available if necessary. 

Fall 2011 Seminars

Archaeology and Historiography: Perspectives on Time, Space, Text and Material
Roderick B. Campbell
Mondays: 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
roderickbcampbell@gmail.com

Though treated as separate disciplines and usually housed in different departments, at the highest level history and archaeology share the common goal of understanding the human past. Nevertheless, in both theory and method, not only are archaeology and history internally diverse, but also frequently miles apart.

This seminar will embark on an interdisciplinary exploration of the historical sciences: their histories, philosophies and methodologies. Special focus will be on theories of time (change, tradition, process, event, etc.), space (physical space, place, landscape, etc.), text (context, genre, discourse, memory, etc.) and material (material culture, materiality, things, actor-networks, etc.)

The reading load in this course will be heavy. Permission of the instructor is required.

Scientific practices and practitioners in Greco-Roman society
Alexander Jones
Wednesdays: 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
alexander.jones@nyu.edu

This seminar will explore the contexts and conditions in which scientific research, practice, writing, and teaching were conducted in the Greco-Roman world from c. 500 BCE to c. 600 CE. While a broad and comprehensive conception of science cannot be applied to Classical antiquity, intellectual traditions involving a systematic approach to the description, explanation, and prediction of phenomena and the prescription of actions were interrelated in various ways, for example by sharing methods and theoretical frameworks, by having some of the same people as practitioners, or by serving analogous social functions. The principal focuses of the seminar will be the richly documented conditions of activity of physicians and medical theorists from the Hippocratic to the Imperial periods, and the more fragmentary and challenging evidence pertaining to mathematicians, astronomers, and astrologers.

Students must have proficiency in ancient Greek, and reading knowledge of at least one of French, German, and Latin. Permission of the instructor required.

The Archaeology of the Egyptian Oases
Roger Bagnall
Thursdays: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
roger.bagnall@nyu.edu

This seminar will center on the ISAW-sponsored excavations in the Dakhla Oasis in the western desert of Upper Egypt, including the ongoing excavations of Amheida and the excavations carried out in 2006-2008 at the smaller site of Ain el-Gedida. Most of the material excavated at these sites to date has belonged to the third and fourth centuries CE, but at Amheida occupation goes back to the Old Kingdom or earlier, and there are substantial remains of the pharaonic periods of the first millennium BCE. There will be a specific focus on the relationship of archaeological contexts and the objects found in them, particularly but not only objects bearing writing. Special attention will be paid to the problems of insecure contexts and the interpretation of finds coming from such contexts.

There will be reading in French, German, and Italian. Students must have proficiency in at least one language, preferably two. Permission of the instructor required.

Divinatory Texts in Ancient Mesopotamia
Beate Pongratz-Leisten
Tuesdays: 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
bpl2@nyu.edu

This course is intended to provide an insight into omen literature of Mesopotamia. It includes a mix of scientific and literary texts that in their formal structure derive from omen literature. We will read through an array of primary sources including Old Babylonian liver models, Old Babylonian extispicy omina and Neo-Assyrian omina containing historical allusionas, a Neo-Assyrian tamītu-text as well as excerpts from the celestial omen series Enuma Anu Enlil. The reading of literary predictive texts from the Neo-Assyrian and Hellenistic periods - Prophecy A and the Uruk Prophecy - will illuminate the dependency of historiographic prophecies on astrological omina.

Students must have had at least one year of Akkadian. Permission of the instructor required.

Spring 2011 Seminars

Chronology, Calendars, and Astronomy
Alexander Jones
Fridays: 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
alexander.jones@nyu.edu

A selection of recent and current research on astronomy and practices of short-term and long-term time reckoning in ancient Old World civilizations, with particular focus on ancient Near Eastern, Greco-Roman, and related traditions.

Permission of the professor is required.

Shaping the Divine in the Ancient Near East
Beate Pongratz-Leisten
Tuesdays 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

In this seminar we will explore the nature of the divine in the ancient Near East. Concepts of the divine are based on the concept of the person, which, in Antiquity, differs from the modern notion of individual personhood. The individual was conceived as embedded in the community of the family and the tribe or city at large. Rather than as an individual, the person was seen as a type assuming a variety of roles and functions. Ancient notions of the body and the person play very much into the conceptualization of the divine. What is more, ancient Near Eastern religions conceive of the divine as a relative category, which beyond anthropomorphic deities can be extended to living rulers, dead rulers, ancestors, demons, cultic objects, statutes, and celestial bodies. This fluid notion of the divine allows for a continuous re-conceptualization and reconfiguration of the polytheistic systems and monotheism. What is more it provides an insight into the various ways of social bonding of human kind with the divine. Methodological approaches to ethology, anthropology and cognitive sciences will help us to understand the ancient notion of divinity.

Permission of the professor is required.

Archaeology of Consumption in the Ancient Near East
Caroline Sauvage
Wednesdays 10:00 a.m - 1:00 p.m

Belongings define our world, and somehow define the individuals possessing them. From the early Neolithic to the modern day, humans have produced objects. Production first sustained basic needs but then also catered to aesthetics by creating pleasing objects such as jewelry or wall paintings. Consumer goods were charged with cultural meaning: they contributed to individual self-definition and collective identity. They were used to express gender, project cultural ideals, respond to social changes, and express status and rank in local and international environments. Therefore, symbol and intrinsic value of goods, ideas and images shaped consumption: for instance, the notion of prestige was closely associated to rare, restricted or exotic goods. Desire for foreign material increased exchange of raw materials and finished products. Imitations of exotic objects contributed to a wider diffusion and trickle-down of restricted products. Different societies did not interpret objects and images the same way: sometimes imported products were used “incorrectly”, their materiality being more important than their effective function. This reveals an intricate interaction between product and audience.

This course will explore the relationships between cultures, identities and consumption of goods, ideas and images in Ancient Near Eastern contexts. Class discussions will build upon (1) theoretical readings, and (2) student presentations concerning specific examples of consumption in the Ancient Near East. In-class discussions will evaluate the relevance of theories as compared to actual data, the reasons for their discrepancies or accordance.

Permission of the professor is required.

Territorial Fortifications in the Old World
Soeren Stark
Thursdays 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

The seminar aims at a broad cross-cultural survey of the phenomenon of territorial fortifications in the Old world from Britain up to Northern China, from the late 3rd Millennium BC up to the pre-Mongol Middle Ages in the beginning of the 13th century AD. However, the focus will be laid on the various territorial fortifications in Eastern Iran and Western Central Asia and on questions regarding possible functions of these fortifications. In particular, the course will deal with the concept of pre-modern "frontiers" and its various social, economic and political aspects.

Course assignments are a presentation of one specific topic (30%) together with a research paper of 20-25 pages (50%) and participation in discussions (20%). A reading knowledge of English is required. The session in week 5 will also deal substantially with literature in German, the session in week 9 and 10 with literature in Russian.

Permission of the professor is required.

Fall 2010 Seminars

Ancient Texts and Documents: Editing a didactic manuscript from Roman Egypt
Roger Bagnall and Alexander Jones
Tuesdays 2:00-5:00pm

The focus of this seminar will be an unpublished Greek papyrus codex (comprising 13 leaves) from the fourth century of our era containing geometrical and arithmetical problems and model contracts. The manuscript will be studied through high resolution digital images. Our principal object, occupying part of each seminar meeting, will be to constitute a critical text and commentary; thus participants will have in depth exposure to important aspects of paleography, papyrology, codicology, and current research in pedagogy, science, and adminstration in late antiquity. The study of the codex as artifact and text will also serve as a foundation for research presentations that may extend into a broader social and intellectual context.

The editorial portion of each seminar meeting will take up one leaf of the codex, following their presumed order, with time reserved for revising the preceding session's work. Each editorial session will include establishment of the text, translation, and construction of a provisional commentary. Assignment of research presentations and papers will be settled at the beginning of the course according to the interests and competences of the individual participants. Presenters will provide readings and specialized bibliography in advance of their sessions.

Knowledge of ancient Greek is required for this seminar. Permission of the professor(s) required.

Central Asia and the Mediterranean from the 6th c.BC to the 8th c. AD
Soeren Stark
Thursdays 2:00-5:00pm

The course will inquire into the relations between the Mediterranean and the various steppe and oasis cultures in Central Asia from the Achaemenid period up to the early Middle Ages. These relations are characterized by a broad spectrum of different forms of contact and exchange. Direct contacts were established, for example, by military campaigns, diplomatic exchanges, migrations or colonization. Less direct ways of cultureal intermediation resulted from complex transcontinental trade flows. The course will focus on the consquencess which different forms of communication with the Mediterranean had on Central Asian art and material culture. In doing so topics like urbanism, sacral architecture and religious iconographies, but also aspects of material culture (ceramics, arms, costume) will have to be discussed.

A reading knowledge of two of the languages (French, German, Russian) is required. Permission of the professor is required.

History, Memory, and Media in China
Lillian Tseng
Wednesdays 3:00-6:00 pm

The seminar explores how art objects shape memory and intervene in history in China. It first focuses on bronze vessels and stone steles, investigating how media, intention, and reception influence the operation of commemorative art. It then tackles calligraphy and painting, discussing how the fusion of personal memory and collective memory transforms the tangle of the past and the present.

Prominent cases to be studied include the Simuwu bronze vessel cast in the Shang (c. 1600–c.1050 BCE), the bronze basin inscribed by Qiang in the Western Zhou (c. 1050–771 BCE), the stone steles erected by the First Emperor of the Qin (r. 221–210 BCE), and the Preface to Collected Poems from the Orchid Pavilion written by Wang Xizhi (303–361 CE). Discussions extend to the reception of antiquity in the Song (960–1279) and the Qing (1644–1911) periods. Comparable western theories and examples will also be examined.

Knowledge of Chinese is not required. Permission of the professor is required.

Spring 2010 Seminars

Archaeology and Texts: Complementary, Redundant, and Contradictory
Roger Bagnall and Holly Pittman
Thursdays 10:00am-12:00pm

This seminar will address the issues involved in using multiple kinds of evidence for the investigation of problems in the study of the ancient world. It is organized around case studies that each participant will contribute to the discussion. The first half of the seminar will discuss such topics as the value of myth in third millennium Mesopotamia in interpreting the contemporary archaeological record and the reconstruction of imperial structure through the analysis of textual and visual lists. Participants will be expected to present topics of problems of archaeology and text within their own fields of interest.

The Exact Sciences in Antiquity
Alexander Jones
Wednesdays, 2:00-4:00pm

Topic: Mathematics and Astronomy in Mesopotamia
We will examine the reading, interpretation, and contextualization of mathematical cuneiform texts, especially of the Late Babylonian and Seleucid periods, and astronomical texts of the first millennium B.C., with particular emphasis on recently published texts and research.

Globalization of Knowledge in the Multilingual and Multi-ethnic Milieu of the Ancient Near East II
Beate Pongratz-Leisten
Tuesdays, 2:00-4:00pm

See description for first half of course, above.

Fall 2009 Seminars

Globalization of Knowledge in the Multilingual and Multi-ethnic Milieu of the Ancient Near East
Beate Pongratz-Leisten
Tuesdays, 2:00-4:00pm

Cuneiform culture, originally invented in Sumer, dominated the entire region of the ancient Near East despite local, political, and cultural differences and despite the fact that in many cultures Sumerian or Akkadian did not represent the spoken language. Throughout three thousand years of history, the body of educational and scholarly texts remained more or less uniform. The professionalism reflected in the textual corpora speaks in favor of a virtual community of intellectuals. Scribes and scholars viewed themselves as an established community of users of a shared traditional knowledge which was acquired by means of a common curriculum. Owing to their control of information and knowledge these scholars played an essential role among the elites of society. The same is true for craftsmen who, in antiquity, showed great mobility, and who, because of their skills, were among the first to be deported during times of war. 

The seminar will explore the nature of knowledge as transmitted in the cuneiform tradition, the relationship between science and religion, the carriers of knowledge, i.e. the communities of scholars and scribes; libraries and the findspots of the scholarly material and what these tell us about scribal practices, training, and competences in regions that were distant from Mesopotamia. These investigations will serve to detect the human agency behind the texts and material culture and the relationship between texts, objects and persons. The goal is to obtain a better grasp of the cultural mechanisms and strategies of the spread of knowledge in antiquity.

The Exact Sciences in Antiquity
Alexander Jones
Wednesdays, 2:00-4:00pm

Topic: Greco-Roman astrology
The seminar will be devoted to several aspects of the history of Greco-Roman astrology, including: (1) the evidence for its date and place of origin, (2) the practice of astrology from the Hellenistic period to late antiquity as reflected in papyri, artifacts, and medievally transmitted texts, and (3) Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos (or Apotelesmatika) and the ancient tradition of commentaries on that work.

Society, Economy, and Culture in Late Antiquity
Roger Bagnall
Thursdays, 10:00am-12:00pm

Presentation of current research in the society, economy, and culture of the Late Antique world, including the entire Roman world and the Near and Middle East.