Undergraduate

The Ancient Near East is where history begins. It is where the first crops were sown, the first towns built, and where writing was first invented. The origins of Western culture are to be found in its great civilizations, from the three great monotheistic religions—Christianity, Islam, and Judaism—to everyday aspects of our life that we take for granted, such as the alphabet and marking time by hours and minutes.

The Near Eastern studies major can be the focal point of a broad liberal arts education, as well as a basis for graduate study. As an undergraduate major, you can study the civilizations of the ancient Near East in general, or specialize in one of the four main areas: Northwest Semitic languages and literatures (including Biblical studies), Egyptology, Assyriology, and Near Eastern archaeology. Students can also major in ancient history, in conjunction with courses in other departments.

NES offers three tracks to the BA with emphases in language, material culture, or civilization:

  • Near Eastern Languages (Hebrew, Akkadian/Sumerian, Egyptian, Arabic)
  • Egyptian or Near Eastern Art and Archaeology*
  • Civilization of the Near East and/or Egypt

*Students double majoring in archaeology cannot choose the art and archaeology track.

Learning Goals for Near Eastern Studies Majors

Near Eastern Languages Track:
  • Read at least one of three ancient languages at an intermediate level of competence. Demonstrate ability to translate moderately difficult texts in relevant language(s).
  • Acquire basic knowledge of the history of more than one area of the ancient Near East.
  • Express analyses and interpretations of texts and cultural materials in precise, organized, and persuasive language, written and oral.
Egyptian or Near Eastern Art and Archaeology Track:
  • Demonstrate an ability to analyze archaeological sites through the reading and interpretation of site reports. Acquire a basic knowledge of archaeological methods and theories relating to the Near East and/or Egypt.
  • Acquire basic knowledge of the history of more than one area of the ancient Near East.
  • Express analyses and interpretations of texts and cultural materials in precise, organized, and persuasive language, written and oral.
Civilization of the Near East and/or Egypt Track:
  • Demonstrate an intermediate knowledge of the main historical and cultural periods, as well as the genres of literature (in translation) of at least one of the three main regions of the Near East (Mesopotamia, Syria-Palestine, Egypt).
  • Acquire basic knowledge of the history of more than one area of the ancient Near East.
  • Express analyses and interpretations of texts and cultural materials in precise, organized, and persuasive language, written and oral.