Art 416: Near Eastern Art

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Art 416: Near Eastern Art

Spring 2015 Time: T., 4:00-6:45 pm

Prof. Owen Doonan Place: SG 103

Office hrs.: T 2:00-4:00; Th 6-7 Office: SG 238

e-mail Tel. 677-6753
Class Syllabus

Catalog description:

Prerequisite: Upper division standing. Study of the architecture, sculpture, and related art forms of the ancient Near East, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, and Iran from prehistoric times to the beginning of the Sassanian Empire. In addition we will cover Islamic Art of the region from the 7th c. CE to the present.

Art Department SLOs addressed in Art 416:

1. Acquire a basic knowledge, theories, and concepts about art; communicate ideas and concepts through writing.

2. Broaden knowledge of ancient through contemporary art; develop an understanding of the theoretical, cultural, and historical contexts of art.

3. Apply processes of generating and solving problems in art; analyze, interpret and question traditional methodologies and preconceived notions of art and art making.

5. Develop an appreciation and tolerance of diverse perspectives dealing with art, culture, teaching and learning.

6. Become involved in both individual and collaborative art experiences with other students, faculty, and community.

Goals of the course
To introduce the student to the diverse artistic and historical heritage of the Near East and its impact on western culture over the past 10000 years. For thousands of years the great civilizations of the Near East have inspired western culture through direct cultural emulation and rivalry. This was the region where the first permanent settlements, first cities, first writing and first legal systems emerged. We will study the visual expressions that enabled the development of many of the cultural forms that became fundamental to the development of western culture-:law-based societies, imperial power, intensive and extensive cultural and economic exchange among many others.
To explore the potentials and challenges of modern cultural heritage management and archaeology. Modern archaeology tries to understand art and material culture in a comprehensive social and cultural context. We will try to understand the role art played in creating the social and cultural structures of this influential region from early prehistory through contemporary times.
To understand the how the images of the past affects life in the present in one of the most critical and dynamic regions of the world. The monuments we will look at have real significance to the people who are trying to create national cultural structures in the Near East. Pre-Islamic art has been a particularly valuable tool in creating secular regimes, while these same images have been suppressed and vandalized by recent fundamentalist responses to colonialism and globalization. The carting off of vast quantities of ancient art to western museums and collectors has been a powerful symbol of domination and repression in the region. We will try to understand the implications of cultural heritage in the real contemporary world of the Near East.
Art Department SLOs met by this course (see:

2) Art Knowledge
Broadening knowledge of ancient through contemporary art and to develop an understanding of art within theoretical, cultural, and historical contexts.

3) Critical Thinking
Analyzing, interpreting, and questioning traditional methodologies and pre-conceived notions of art and art making through the process of generating and solving problems.

4) Interdisciplinary Connections
Exploring and engaging in interdisciplinary forms of art making.

5) Global Perspectives
Promoting an appreciation and tolerance of diverse perspectives dealing with art, culture, teaching and learning.
How will these goals be achieved?

Readings, lectures and discussions: each week readings will be due from the primary texts (Liverani, Roaf, Brend) and supplementary texts available on MOODLE or on reserve at the library. Whenever appropriate we will be using information from the Internet in support of class activities, so all students should have access to a computer with Explorer/ Safari or a similar browser program. If you do not have a computer available at home the public computing sites in the library and in other locations around campus will be available. Discussions in class will be based on the readings due each week – participation will be noted.
How to study: Learning is a social process and we do it best when we work with other people. If possible I suggest that you meet regularly in small study groups (3-4 people) and go over the material covered in class. Make this fun yet serious – get together over coffee or pizza, in a relaxed but focused session. Come to class prepared and take notes; if you have time rewrite your notes after class or following your discussions with your study groups. Ask questions and participate in discussions- this helps keep you focused during the long evening sessions.
Behavior: Students are expected to behave courteously and pay attention in class. Students who engage in disruptive behavior such as talking, making noise or other actions that distract other students will be given a warning and if the behavior persists, the student will be asked to leave the class for the day. Class-related activities may not be made up if a student has been dismissed from class. Cheating will not be tolerated – use of unauthorized sources of information during an exam or class activity will result in a grade of 0 for the assignment with no make-up option. Plagiarism on a paper or project will be treated in a similar manner (see below). If you have any questions about whether you might be plagiarising, ASK ME FIRST.
How will student performance be evaluated?
Exams (two exams, 25% each): students will complete midterm and final exams as part of the fulfillment of class requirements. These exams cannot be made up except by pre-arrangement with the instructor or presentation of a doctor's note or similarly documented serious excuse. I see exams as an opportunity to pull together the information and ideas covered over several weeks. Each exam will consist of half identification questions (both image IDs and terms) and half essay. A list of the potential slide and term IDs will be provided two weeks before each exam, along with study tips for the exam.
Project/Paper (25%): Each student is required to complete a project, either a paper about 8 double spaced pages in length (plus 8+ item scholarly bibliography and relevant illustrations) or a creative project involving a similar amount of research, but presented in a different format. Topics will be chosen in consultation with the instructor. Projects need not take the form of written essays -- a student might wish to design a web page for an archaeological site, or research and compose an essay on antiquities stolen from their home country to be presented as a movie, etc... Each project must involve research by the student, careful documentation of the sources of information used and original thinking. An artists statement is required (three pages double-spaced plus bibliography) that details your research and creative process and specifically how your research has informed your creative process.
Class participation (maximum 25%: 10% attendance + 15% class-related activities) is an important component of this course. You are expected to attend class regularly and to contribute in an informed and productive manner to class discussions. Attendance will be taken at five class meetings (at the teacher's discretion) through the course of the term. Attendance at each of these classes is worth 2 points towards your attendance score of 10 points. Discussions, essays and in-class activities will make up the balance of the class participation grade. Although more than 15 points will be available based on the various class-related activities (group presentations, quizzes, discussions and so on), no more than 15 points will be applied to your grade (i.e. no "extra credit" for this part of the grade).
Weighting of class assignments will be as follows

Midterm Exam 25 %

Final Exam 25 %

Project (n.b. 5/25 points for 1st draft due 4/14) 25 %

Class Participation (10% attendance + 15% other) 25 %


Total 100%
Provisional schedule of readings and class topics
Week 1 (1/20): Introduction to the course; geographical and cultural overview

film: Legacy; Reading: Liverani 17-33;

Week 2 (1/27): From Village to Town: Before 3000 B.C.;

Readings: Roaf, 18-35; 38-39; 42-56 (MOODLE); Liverani 34-58; Dietrich 2012 (MOODLE)

Internet: Çatal Höyük web page (MOODLE)
Week 3 (2/3): Temple, Cemetery and Palace: The 3rd Millennium B.C. Geography Quiz.

Readings: Roaf, 58-91 (MOODLE); Liverani 61-80; 93-114.

Met Museum, Art of the First Cities:
Week 4 (2/10): The royal cemetery of Ur; Third Dynasty at Ur;

Readings: Liverani 133-70; University of Pennsylvania Museum (Royal Cemetery @ Ur):

Week 5 (2/17): The 2nd Millennium B.C.; Old Assyrian Empire; Old Babylonian Empire

Readings: Liverani 207-20; 240-67; Roaf, 96-157 (MOODLE)

Week 6 (2/24): The Hittite empire; Troy; Ulu Burun shipwreck; the great collapse of civilizations ca. 1200 BC

Readings: Liverani 271-89; 303-24; 281-89.

Week 7 (3/3): Phoenicians, Neo-Hittites

Readings: Liverani 420-33; 448-72.

Week 8 (3/10): Great Mesopotamian Empires, 1st Millennium B.C. (Neo-Assyrians; Babylon; Persia); Kingdoms and cultures in Anatolia; Readings: Roaf 158-223 (MOODLE); Liverani 475-502; 518-36; 549-53; 562-70.

Kerkenes excavations :

Week 9 (3/17): Parthians and Sassanians beyond the Euphrates: 238 B.C.-A.D. 651;

Readings: Collon, Ch. 5; Afghanistan 81-105 (Ai Khanum); 145-161 (Begram); 210-31 (Tilya tepe); (all MOODLE)

Week 10 (3/24): Midterm Exam
Week 11 (3/31): Cesar Chavez Day, no class.
Week 12: SPRING BREAK: 4/6 – 4/11
Week 13: (4/14): Early Islamic Art to the 12th c.; Umayyad Spain; FIRST DRAFT OF PAPER/ PROJECT DUE

Brend Ch. 1.

Week 14 (4/21): Fatimid Egypt; Seljuks in western Asia

Readings: Brend, Ch. 2, 3.

Week 15 (4/28): Ottoman Empire; Safavids

Readings: Brend, Ch. 6, 7

student group report on manuscript illumination
Week 16 (5/5): Student projects/ papers due; Colonial, Post-colonial and Contemporary art in the Near East; student group report on Contemporary Portraiture

Readings: O’Kane Ch. 6; Eigner 18-31 (both MOODLE)

Final exam May 12, 5:30-7:30 pm


Primary course texts
B. Brend, Islamic Art. Harvard University Press (1992) ISBN-10: 067446866X; ISBN-13: 978-0674468665

Eigner, S. 2010. Art of the Middle East: Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World and Iran. London, Merrell. ISBN 978-1-8589-4500-2

M. Liverani, The Ancient Near East: History, Society and Economy. Routledge; 2014. ISBN-10: 0415679060; ISBN-13: 978-0415679060

Roaf, M. The Cultural Atlas of Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East. Checkmark Books 1990. ISBN 0816022186

Additional bibliography (selections will be made available in the library or via the MOODLE site as links or .pdf files):

Akkermans, P. M. M. G., G. M. Schwartz. The Archaeology of Syria : From Complex Hunter-Gatherers to Early Urban Societies (c.16,000-300 BC). Cambridge University Press 2004. ISBN: 0521796660. DS94.5 .A45 2003    

Algaze, G. The Uruk World System (Chicago 1993).

Bohrer, F. N. Orientalism and Visual Culture: Imagining Mesopotamia in Nineteenth-Century Europe. Cambridge University Press 2003. ISBN: 0521806577. # NX650.E85 B64 2003

Dietrich, Oliver, Manfred Heun, Jens Notroff, Klaus Schmidt and Martin Zarnkow, 2012. “The role of cult and feasting in the emergence of Neolithic communities. New evidence from Gobekli Tepe, south-eastern Turkey ,”Antiquity. 86.333: 674-95.

Frankfort, H. The Art and Architecture of the Ancient Orient (Yale University Press Pelican History of Art, 5th ed. 1997. ISBN 0300064705. N5345/ .F7/ 1970

Joukowsky, M. Early Turkey: An Introduction to the Archaeology of Anatolia from Prehistory Through the Lydian Period. Kendall-Hunt Publishing 1996. ISBN 0787221414.

Mack, Rosamond E., Bazaar to piazza : Islamic trade and Italian art, 1300-1600. Berkeley: University of California Press, c2002. NK959 .M267 2002 

Matthews, R. The Archaeology of Mesopotamia (Routledge 2003). ISBN 0-415-25317-9

Meyers, Eric M. (ed.); 1997. The Oxford Encyclopedia of archaeology in the Near East, 5 volumes., Oxford University Press: New York DS56/ .O9/ 1997

Potts, D.T.; 1999. The archaeology of Elam: Formation and transformation of an Ancient Iranian state, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge and New York.

Sagona, A. and P. Zimansky, Ancient Turkey (Routledge 2009).

Shaw, Wendy M. K., Possessors and Possessed: Museums, Archaeology, and the Visualization of History in the Late Ottoman Empire. University of California Press 2003. AM79.T8 S53 2003    

Smith, A. The Political Landscape : Constellations of Authority in Early Complex Polities. University of California Press 2003. ISBN 0520237501

Van De Mieroop, M. History of the Ancient Near East: Ca. 3000-323 Bc (Blackwell History of the Ancient World, 1). Blackwell Publishers 2003. ISBN: 0631225528

Wilkinson, 2004. Archaeological Landscapes of the Near East. University of Arizona Press 2004. ISBN 0816521743

Web sites:
Francis Deblawe, Effects of 2003 War in Iraq on Archaeological Heritage
CANeW- Central Anatolian Neolithic e-Workshop
Mesopotamia in the Age of State Formation
TAY: Register of prehistoric sites in Turkey
MAGIS: GIS database of survey archaeology projects in the Mediterranean
University of Chicago, Oriental Institute

 Recommended readings


 ABZU: Internet resources for Near Eastern Archaeology


Archaeological Institute of America

New York Metropolitan Museum, Near Eastern Section
British Museum
University of Chicago, Oriental Institute Museum
University of Pennsylvania

UPenn Royal Tombs of Ur

Museum of Islamic Art, Doha
Anatolian Civilizations Museum, Ankara
Istanbul Modern Art Museum
Baghdad Museum

Hamoukar, evidence of the first warfare
Catal Hoyuk
Hasanlu excavations
Kerkenes Dagi excavations
Gordion excavations

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