This unit offers an advanced study of cultural dialogues between ancient civilizations by examining the material and literary records of the ancient Near East and neighboring regions, including Egypt. Western cultural stereotypes and prejudices are investigated, as well as notions of cultural identity, ethnicity, assimilation, rejection, and superiority. Amongst the themes to be addressed are: cultural borrowings, gender, funerary traditions, gift-giving, tribute, plundering, arts, trade, and dress
1. To understand through practical examples notions of cultural identity, acculturation, assimilation, rejection, and superiority amongst peoples and cultures of the ancient Near East and Egypt.
2. To understand and critically evaluate methodological approaches to the study of cultural dialogue in antiquity.
3. To acquire skills necessary for the analysis and interpretation of social and political identity in the ancient world.
4. To develop the skills to conduct independent research, synthesize acquired knowledge, and effectively plan, organize and prioritize work.
5. To communicate effectively with teaching staff and peers.
Theoretical Backgrounds to be Examined in this Unit
§ Black and White: Dialogue of Civilizations or Clash of Civilizations (Whose Civilization?)
§ Us and Them: What is Cultural Identity?
§ To Be or Not to Be, the mechanics of Culture: Assimilation, Rejection and Superiority
§ The Lure of Luxury and Comfort: Cultural Borrowings and Identity
§ Similarity and Difference: Ethnicity in Antiquity
§ Not for Everyone: To Be of not to Be Divine
§ Neither One nor the Other: Gender in Antiquity
§ Grain or Sheep: Pastoralists and Farmers
§ Single Constant: Migrations, Marriages and Multiculturalism
§ Material Wealth and Consumption: Birth of Capitalism?
§ "Ethnogenesis" and Acculturation
§ Selective Memories: Manufacturing Identities
§ Yin and Yang: Dialogue rather than Clash?
§ Observing from the Moon: Big History and the End of Differences?
2 hours of lectures per week
1 hour tutorial per week