Ancient Near Eastern Studies

The secondary field pathway in Ancient Near Eastern Studies focuses attention on the rich and diverse history of the civilizations of the Ancient Near East, which witnessed the first complex societies and the first major developments in social and political organization, literacy, technology, religious institutions, and many other arenas, whose consequences remain a critical force in subsequent Middle Eastern, and world, history. The goal of this pathway is to give students an articulate acquaintance with the history and culture of the principal civilizations of the Ancient Near East, and to provide instruction in how such history and culture can be reconstructed through the critical analysis and synthesis of linguistic, textual, artistic, and archaeological evidence.

Harvard is an ideal place to pursue this field given the richness of its resources in libraries (Widener, History of Art, Tozzer, Law, Andover-Harvard), museums (Semitic, Peabody, and Sackler), and faculty (Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations [NELC], but also Anthropology, History of Art and Architecture, Linguistics, and the Divinity School).

Requirements: 5 half-courses

  1. Two half-courses serve as required “gateways” into this broad arena:

    1. ANE 90: History, Kingship and the Gods

    2. Religion 28: The Hebrew Bible and Its Worlds

  2. Three electives from a list of relevant offerings at Harvard with the approval of the director of undergraduate studies of NELC or his/her designee; at least two of these courses must be at the 100-level or above.

  3. The electives allow the students to pursue study of one or several of the civilizations and arenas that are introduced in the two gateway courses. Qualified students are encouraged to consider taking their elective courses in languages important to the study of the ancient Near East (e.g., Classical Hebrew, Aramaic, Akkadian, either as language or as literature courses). However, no more than two of these courses may be courses whose primary focus is language instruction.