The concentration in Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies offers students a choice of two tracks: Ancient Western Asian Studies or Egyptology. The department promotes collaborations with other academic units at Brown devoted to the study of antiquity including Archaeology, Classics, Judaic Studies, and Religious Studies. Egyptology and Ancient Western Ancient Studies also collaborates with Brown's Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World.
Ancient Western Asian Studies Track
Also known as the Near East or Middle East, Western Asia includes present-day Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and other neighboring states, a broad geographic area that was connected in antiquity with the wider world—the Mediterranean, North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Central Asia, and the Asian subcontinent. Students will be exposed to the critical study of the ancient cultures of this region (ca. 3400 B.C.E.–100 C.E.) using the tools of archaeology, epigraphy, and historical inquiry. A variety of interdisciplinary, comparative, and theoretical approaches will be introduced to give students the tools and methods to explore this region’s ancient languages and literatures, political and socio-economic modes of organization, art and architecture, religious traditions and other systems of knowledge, such as early science.
The Ancient Western Asian Studies (AWAS) track requires a total of at least ten (10) courses that are determined in the following way:
|Introduction to the Ancient Near East|
or ARCH 0370
|Archaeology of Mesopotamia|
or ARCH 1600
|Archaeologies of the Near East|
|Introduction to Akkadian|
|Foundational Courses (at least one course from each of the following three areas):|
|History and Culture of Ancient Western Asia: 1||1|
|Imagining the Gods: Myths and Myth-making in Ancient Mesopotamia ( WRIT)|
|Assyriology I (WRIT)|
|Assyriology II (WRIT)|
|Ancient Babylonian Magic and Medicine|
|Topics in Cuneiform Studies|
|Ancient Scholarship in Western Asia: 1||1|
|Astronomy Before the Telescope|
|Time in the Ancient World (WRIT)|
|Astronomy, Divination and Politics in the Ancient World (WRIT)|
|Divination in Ancient Mesopotamia (WRIT)|
|Ancient Scientific Texts: Akkadian|
|Archaeology of Ancient Western Asia: 1||1|
|City and the Festival: Cult Practices and Architectural Production in the Ancient Near East (WRIT)|
|Material Worlds: Art and Agency in the Near East and Africa|
|Under the Tower of Babel: Archaeology, Politics, and Identity in the Modern Middle East (WRIT)|
|Architecture, Body and Performance in the Ancient Near Eastern World (WRIT)|
|The Rise of the State in the Near East|
|Depth Requirement: At least two additional courses offered in AWAS or ARCH dealing with ancient Western Asia. These courses must be approved by the undergraduate concentration advisor.||2|
|Breadth Requirement: At least one course offered in EGYT or ARCH on the archaeology, art, history, culture, or language of ancient Egypt.||1|
|Elective: At least one elective course on the ancient world broadly defined. Usually this course will be offered in Ancient Western Asian Studies, Anthropology, Archaeology, Classics, Comparative Literature, East Asian Studies, Egyptology, History, History of Art and Architecture, Judaic Studies, Philosophy, or Religious Studies. The elective course must be approved by the undergraduate concentration advisor.||1|
This list contains possible offerings but should not be considered exhaustive.
The Egyptology track requires a total of at least ten courses. Six of these must be taken by all concentrators, but the remaining four can be chosen from a fairly broad range of courses, to suit individual interests.
|Introduction to Classical Hieroglyphic Egyptian Writing and Language (Middle Egyptian I)|
and Introduction to Classical Hieroglyphic Egyptian Writing and Language (Middle Egyptian II) 1
|History of Egypt I|
and History of Egypt II 1
|Introduction to Egyptian Archaeology and Art 1|
|Ancient Egyptian Religion and Magic|
or ARCH 1625
|Temples and Tombs: Egyptian Religion and Culture|
|Selections from Middle Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts 1|
|Ancient Egyptian Literature 2|
|Breadth Course - Any course covering the ancient Near East or Mediterranean world outside Egypt, such as:||1|
|Introduction to the Ancient Near East|
or ARCH 1600
|Archaeologies of the Near East|
|Elective Course: Any course germane to ancient Egypt or the ancient Near East or Mediterranean world. Alternative and elective courses must be approved by the undergraduate concentration advisor. Such courses will normally be offered by Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies, the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, Religious Studies, Classics, Judaic Studies, Anthropology, History of Art and Architecture, History, or Philosophy. Concentrators are welcome to take most courses offered by Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies (EGYT and AWAS), Archaeology (ARCH), or related departments, though some may require the instructor’s approval. Concentrators should consult with the concentration advisor to discuss the courses most suitable to their interests.||1|
Required for all students pursuing the Egyptology track.
Or an EGYT or ARCH course in material culture.
All students pursuing either the Ancient Western Asian Studies or Egyptology tracks are required to complete a capstone project. The project can take many forms, but the common feature shared among all possible projects will be a public presentation. Typically in the final semester before graduating, the concentrator will give this capstone presentation before faculty, fellow students, and other interested audiences. If the concentrator is writing an undergraduate honors thesis, the procedure for which is detailed below, this work should provide the content for the capstone presentation. Students not writing an honors thesis will base their presentation on a research project more in depth than a class project, though the topic may stem from a course project or paper. The format of the presentation may vary; suggestions range from an illustrated lecture to a video or an installation presented with discussion. Both the content and the format of the capstone project should be discussed with and agreed upon by the concentration advisor no later than the end of the first semester of the senior year.
It is possible for students to receive the A.B. in Ancient Western Asian Studies or Egyptology with departmental honors. To do so students will need to write a senior honors thesis according to the criteria and procedure outlined below.
Eligibility and Approval
At the beginning of the second semester of the junior year, the student should begin thinking about potential topics and consult with the department’s concentration advisor. Students seeking to graduate with honors will have received strong grades in concentration courses. In practice this means a preponderance of grades of ‘A’ in concentration courses. Students who are considering graduating with honors are strongly encouraged to take concentration courses for a letter grade. If the concentration advisor agrees that a senior honors thesis may be undertaken, the student must obtain (1) the agreement of two faculty members (at least one from the department) to serve as readers as well as (2) the approval of the department chair. If all parties agree that an honors thesis may be undertaken, the student must submit a working bibliography to the potential readers by the end of the semester (due 5/15).
- In the first semester of the senior year, the student will register for Individual Study Project. Note that this course is in addition to the ten courses required for the concentration. The student will submit a working title and outline, as well as a one-page abstract of the intended project by the end of the first month of the semester (due 9/30). The student will then work with the readers to prepare a detailed outline of the thesis with accompanying bibliography. Both readers must approve the thesis plan, and the student must then submit a partial draft (at least one major section) before the end of the Fall semester (due 12/15).
- In the second semester of the senior year, the student will register for Individual Study Project. Note that this course is in addition to the ten courses required for the concentration. This stage will normally involve meetings with the first reader twice a month, and with the second reader monthly, to discuss the on-going research and writing of the thesis.
- A complete draft of the thesis must be submitted to the honors committee by 3/15. As a rule of thumb, the thesis should be not more than 100 pages in length, including bibliography.
- Three bound copies of the final version of the honors thesis must be deposited by 4/15.
- During a half-hour session during the final exam period, the student will give a capstone presentation defending the thesis in front of the thesis committee as well as any other faculty and students who wish to attend.