course descriptions by instructor

Zeray Alsmseged

Human Origins: Milestones in Human Evolution and the Fossil Record (ANTH 28110, BIOS 22265, ORGB 33265) 

This course aims at exploring the fundamentals of human origins by tracking the major events during the course of human evolution. Starting with a laboratory based general introduction to human osteology and muscle function, the latest on morphological and behavioral evidence for what makes Homo sapiens and their fossil ancestors unique among primates will be presented. Our knowledge of the last common ancestor will be explored using the late Miocene fossil record followed by a series of lectures on comparative and functional morphology, adaptation and biogeography of fossil human species. With focus on the human fossil record, the emergence of bipedalism, advent of stone tool use and making, abandonment of arboreality, advent of endurance walking and running, dawn of encephalization and associated novel life histories, language and symbolism will be explored. While taxonomic identities and phylogenetic relationships will be briefly presented, the focus will be on investigating major adaptive transitions and how that understanding helps us to unravel the ecological selective factors that ultimately led to the emergence of our species. The course will be supported by fresh data coming from active field research conducted by Prof. Alemseged and state of the art visualization methods that help explore internal structures. By tracing the path followed by our ancestors over time, this course is directly relevant to reconnoitering the human condition today and our place in nature.

Alain Bresson

Ancient Mediterranean World I (CLCV 20700)

This quarter surveys the social, economic, and political history of Greece from prehistory to the Hellenistic period. The main topics considered include the development of the institutions of the Greek city-state, the Persian Wars and the rivalry of Athens and Sparta, the social and economic consequences of the Peloponnesian War, and the eclipse and defeat of the city-states by the Macedonians. 

Ancient Mediterranean World II (CLCV 20800)

This quarter surveys the social, economic, and political history of Rome, from its prehistoric beginnings in the twelfth century BCE to the end of the Severan dynasty in 235 CE. Throughout, the focus is upon the dynamism and adaptability of Roman society, as it moved from a monarchy to a republic to an empire, and the implications of these political changes for structures of competition and cooperation within the community.

The First Great Transformation: The Economies of the Ancient World (CLCV 20517, SIGN 26015, HIST 20505) 

This class examines the determinants of economic growth in the ancient world. It covers various cultural areas (especially Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome and China) from ca. 3000 BCE to c. 500 CE. By contrast with the modern world, ancient cultures have long been supposed to be doomed to stagnation and routine. The goal of this class is to revisit the old paradigm with a fresh methodology, which combines a rigorous economic approach and a special attention to specific cultural achievements. We will assess the factors that indeed weighed against positive growth but we will also discover that, far from being immobile, the cultures of the ancient world constantly invented new forms of social and economic organization. This was indeed a world where periods of positive growth were followed by periods of brutal decline, but if envisaged on the longue durée, this was a period of decisive achievements, which provided the basis for the future accomplishments of the Early Modern and Modern world.

The Spartan Divergence (CLCV 24017, CLAS 34017, HIST 20307/30307)

Sparta was a Greek city, but of what type? The ancient tradition, or at least the larger part of it, paints the portrait of an ideal city-state. The city was supposed to be stable and moderately prosperous. Its citizens were allegedly models of virtue. For many centuries the city did not experience revolutions and its army was invincible on the battlefield. This success was attributed to its perfect institutions. Following the track opened by Ollier's Spartan Mirage, modern scholarship has scrupulously and successfully deconstructed this image of an ideal city. But what do we find if we go beyond the looking glass? Was Sparta really a city "like all the others?” This class will show that we must go deeper into our evidence in order to make sense of the extraordinary success followed by the brutal collapse of this very special city-state.

Claudia Brittenham

Art & Urbanism at Teotihuacan (Art History 2/35106)

This course will take stock of our understanding of Mesoamerica's first great city. How did Teotihuacan's unprecedented urban form, and the art created within it, structure a sense of collective identity for the city's multiethnic population? How did the city change over time, and how did it engage with its Mesoamerican neighbors? Recent discoveries from the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent and the Temple of the Sun will play an important role in our investigations. This course is part of the College Course Cluster, Urban Design.

Chichen Itza (ARTH 25105 / 35105, ARCH 25105, LACS 2/35105) 

This course investigates the visual culture of Chichen Itza, one of ancient Mesoamerica’s most cosmopolitan cities. Thriving in the centuries after the collapse of the lowland Maya kingdoms, the city of Chichen Itza articulated a new political and cosmological vision of authority, drawing on traditions from all over Mesoamerica, past and present, to create an innovative visual synthesis. This course will investigate Chichen Itza’s most famous architectural and sculptural monuments in the light of new epigraphic and chronological discoveries, paying close attention to questions of innovation, repetition, and serial production.

-Permission of instructor required for registration. This is a traveling seminar; we will go to Chichen Itza and related sites in Mexico between December 14-21, 2019. 

Image and Text in Mexican Codices (ARTH 20603 / 30603, LACS 2/30603, KNOW 2/37001)

In most Mesoamerican languages, a single word describes the activities that we would call “writing” and “painting.” This seminar will investigate the interrelationships between image and text in Central Mexico both before and immediately after the introduction of alphabetic writing in the 16th century. We will also review art historical and archaeological evidence for the social conditions of textual and artistic production in Mexico, and how these traditions were transformed under Spanish colonial rule. We will consider the materiality of text and image by working with facsimiles of Mesoamerican books in the Special Collections of the Regenstein Library. At the end of the course, students will have acquired a basic literacy in Aztec and Mixtec writing systems, and will have refined their ability to look productively and write elegantly about art.

Shannon Dawdy

Archaeological Experiments in Filmmaking (ANTH 36605) 

The focus of this course is: 'how can one make a film with an archaeological eye?' Thematics will cover temporality, materiality, and the body in film, and more generally the potential of collaborations that cross the line between art and science. Although there will be reading and film-viewing components of the syllabus, the major requirement will be the production of a collaborative, experimental short.

Archaeology of the Contemporary (ANTH 55972)

This reading seminar focuses on the emerging field of the archaeology of the contemporary, which uses archaeological methods to study the material traces left by human actions within living memory. The contemporary world is notable for the vast amount of detritus it has and continues to produce: garbage, abandoned buildings, chemical toxicity, etc. With research objects as diverse as homelessness, migration, industrial ruinscapes, modern warscapes, IKEA furniture, and contemporary death practices, the subfield is characterized by an interest in issues of mobility, abandonment, and destruction but also of entirely banal features of everyday life such as diaper consumption, automobile culture, and blue jeans.  This student-directed reading seminar is restricted to Anthropology doctoral students preparing exams, proposals, or MA theses with a related focus.  Students will be expected to design a portion of the syllabus and lead discussions.  The faculty member will act as facilitator.

Archaeology of Modernity (ANTH 46020)

This course covers the development, themes, practices, and problems of the archaeology of the modern era (post 1450 AD), or what in North America is better known as the subfield of "historical archaeology." Texts and discussions address topics such as the archaeology of colonialism, capitalism, industrialization, and mass consumption. Case studies from plantation archaeology, urban archaeology, and international contexts anchor the discussion, as does a consideration of interdisciplinary methods using texts, artifacts, and oral history. Our goal is to understand the historical trajectory of this peculiar archaeological practice, as well as its contemporary horizon. The overarching question framing the course is: what is modernity and what can archaeology contribute to our understanding of it? 

Archaeology of Race and Ethnicity (ANTH 36700) 

The correlation between ethnic groups and patterns in material culture lies at the heart of many archaeological problems. Over the last several years, a new emphasis on the social construction of racial and ethnic identities has invited a re-examination of the ways in which aspects of the material world (i.e., architecture, pottery, food, clothing) may participate actively in the dialectical process of creating or obscuring difference. This seminar surveys historical debates and engages with current theoretical discussions within archaeology concerning race and ethnicity in complex societies. 

Archaeology Lab Practicum (ANTH 29500/29500)

This hands-on lab practicum course exposes students to various stages of artifact processing on a collection from a recently excavated site (e.g., washing, sorting, flotation, identification, data entry, analysis, report preparation, curation). The primary requirement is that students commit to a minimum of nine hours of lab work per week, with tasks assigned according to immediate project needs.

Being and Death (ANTH 58715) 

This course is an intensive critical reading seminar on classic and recent works regarding the dead body and mortuary practices in contemporary societies. We will also review works in the anthropology of ontology in an effort to articulate connections between current theory and ethnography. Suited to graduate students with well-developed research interests in these areas.

Fieldwork in the Archives (ANTH 48400)

This is a methods seminar designed for both archaeology and sociocultural graduate students interested in, or already working with, archival materials and original texts. The goal of the course is to develop a tool-kit of epistemological questions and methodological approaches that can aid in understanding how archives are formed, the purposes they serve, their relation to the culture and topic under study, as well as how to search archives effectively and read documents critically. We will survey different types of documents and archives often encountered in fieldwork, and sample approaches taken by historians, anthropologists, and archaeologists from contexts as diverse as the ancient Near East to 1970's Cuba. This seminar will also be driven by the problems and examples that students bring to the discussion. A major outcome will be a research paper that uses original documents from the student's own fieldwork or from locally available archive sources identified during the course. 

Time and Temporality: The Future Edition (ANTH 56310)

How is time understood, experienced, and represented by different human societies? How do pastness, presentism, and imagined futures shape lived experience, political possibilities, and the framing of our research? The approach will be interdisciplinary, incorporating both classic (Zeno, Benjamin, Fabian, Munn, Thompson) and new works (Hartog, Virilio) in the study of time and temporality in anthropological and philosophical modes. This year's iteration of the course will focus especially on futures (speculative, apocalyptic, utopian). 

The Underworld: Archaeology of Crime and Informal Economies (ANTH 56515)

Archaeology often claims to substantiate undocumented histories. In such a view, almost any kind of archaeology performs a type of forensics of informal social and economic processes. We will take an epistemological look at the most literal examples – archaeological interpretations of criminal acts and informal and/or illegal economic practices. Readings will span from classic foundations of economic anthropology and economic archaeology to the artifactual evidence used to interpret felicide, smuggling, prostitution, and contemporary war crimes. The central questions around which this student-led seminar will focus are: what are the evidentiary logics of archaeology?; what is at stake in parsing social and economic practices into 'formal' and 'informal' domains?; and what are the challenges and potentials of doing an archaeology of practices intended to leave no trace? 

Michael Dietler

Ancient Celtic Societies (ANTH 26100)

This course explores the prehistoric societies of Iron Age "Celtic" Europe and their relationship to modern communities claim­ing Celtic ancestry.  The course aims to impart an understanding of:  1) the kinds of evidence available for investigating these ancient societies and how archae­ol­ogists interpret these data, 2) processes of change in culture and society during the Iron Age,  and 3)  how the legacy of Celtic societies has both persisted and been reinvented and ma­nipu­lated in the modern world.  Issues include: the relationship between language, material culture, and society; colonial interac­tion; urbanization; art and religion; gender roles; and cultural identity and the construction of tradition. 

Archaeology and the Politics of the Past (ANTH 46100)

This seminar explores the use of the ancient past as a symbolic resource by modern communities and the social situation and responsibilities of archaeologists in this process. Grounded theoretically in Science Studies and the history of anthropology, the seminar uses case studies from a variety of contexts to show how archaeology has been implicated in the politically charged construction of ethnic and regional identities and nationalist and colonialist mythologies in modern history. Discussions include current debates about the concept of “heritage,” the authority of competing interpretations of archaeological evidence, the right to control public representations of the past, the contested ownership of archaeological materials and sites, and archaeological practices, ethics, and epistemology.

The Archaeology of Colonialism (ANTH 56500)

This seminar is a comparative exploration of archaeological approaches to colonial encounters. It employs temporally and geographically diverse case studies from the archaeological and historical literature situated within a critical discussion of colonial and postcolonial theory. The course seeks to evaluate the potential contribution of archaeology both in providing a unique window of access to precapitalist forms of colonial interaction and imperial domination and in augmenting historical studies of the expansion of the European world-system. Methodological strategies, problems, and limitations are also explored.

Authenticity (ANTH 50615)

Authenticity is a concept that is invoked frequently in a variety of domains and often carries a heavy affective load. It plays an especially prominent role in discussions of heritage, identity, nationalism, tradition, music, art, food, architecture, tourism, and theme parks and historical reenactment; and it has been much debated by cultural theorists, anthropologists, art critics, and ordinary consumers. This seminar examines some of the major theoretical literature that notions of authenticity have generated and examines the use of authenticity in a variety of empirical domains in an effort to trace the historical origins of the concept, its multiple meanings in different contexts, the roles it has played in the creation of social boundaries, communities, and networks, and its relationship to the production of value in consumption and commodity marketing. Related phenomena such as forgeries and fakes (in archaeology, folklore, art, etc.) will also be treated.

Celts: Ancient, Modern, Postmodern (ANTH 21265)

Celts and things Celtic have occupied a prominent and protean place in the popular imagination since the Romantic movement of the 18th century, and Celticness (the property of being Celtic) has been an amazingly versatile concept in the politics of identity and collective memory in recent history. This course is an anthropological exploration of this phenomenon that examines: (1) the use of the ancient past in the construction of modern nationalist state mythologies of Celtic identity (for example, in France and Ireland) and regional nationalist movements resisting broader nationalist and colonialist projects (for example, in Brittany, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Gallicia, Asturias); (2) the construction of transnational ethno-nostalgic forms of Celtic identity in modern diasporic communities (Irish, Scottish, etc.); and (3) various recent spiritualist visions of Celticity (for example, in the New Age and Neo-Pagan movements) that decouple the concept from ethnic understandings.

Ceramic Analysis (ANTH 36200)

This course introduces students to the theoretical foundations and analytical tech­niques that allow archaeologists to use ceramics to make inferences about ancient societies.  Ethnographic, experimental, and physical science approaches are explored to develop a realistic, integrated understanding the nature of ceramics as a form of material culture and to asses both the kinds of interpretations of ancient people that can plausibly be made on the basis of their pottery and which tech­niques and research strategies may best serve to obtain useful informa­tion.  Practical training in the use of the Ceramic Laboratories is included.

Colonial Landscapes (ANTH 46700)

This seminar explores the ways in which both conscious strategies and practices of colonial control and the unintended effects of colonial encounters have altered the built environment which structures lived experience of the colonial situation for both alien agents and indigenous peoples.  At the same time, it will seek to discern the ways in which the conjuncture of differing perceptions of  the landscape have affected the experience of colonial encounters and transformations of identity.  The seminar is especially concerned to explore possibilities for the archaeological investi­gation of ancient colonial landscapes; and the ancient Western Mediterranean will serve as a primary empirical focus against which general theoretical constructs and research strategies will be eval­uated.  Topics include the cultural economy of place and space; the built environment, habitus and social practice; monumentality, memory and ritual; networks of communication; cadasters and the agrarian landscape; and landscape and the inscription and contestation of colonial hegemony.

Economic Anthropology and Archaeology (ANTH 46600)

This course provides a critical examination of theoretical approaches to the anthropological analysis of economic action and systems, as well as a comparative perspective on the role of the economy in society and history. It also offers a grounding in the major methods and issues guiding archaeological research on ancient economies. The relationship of economic archaeology to the subfields of economic anthropology and economic history, its potential contribution to these fields, and its special methodological and theoretical problems are explored.

Ethnoarchaeology and Material Culture (ANTH 46800)

This seminar explores the theoretical contributions and research methods of the sub­field of anthro­pology that aids archaeological interpreta­tion by undertaking ethnographic research emphasizing the social understanding of material culture.  Case stud­ies and readings in material culture theory are critically examined with the goal of developing an ethnographically informed approach to the relationship between material and non-mate­rial dimensions of human life and the process of archaeological inference.  Techniques and strategies for ethnographic fieldwork are also explained and evaluated.

Heritage, Memory, and the Affective Turn: Performing and Comsuming the Past (ANTH 26825)

This course examines the increasingly popular trend toward privileging affective engagements with the past and challenges participants to think about whether, and why, somatic experience has come to be prized over knowledge as a form of understanding. It explores the relationship among heritage, history, and memory as entangled imaginaries of the past and their role in the construction of identity and community. Readings illuminate a variety of practices, spaces, and media through which the past is performed, consumed, and embodied, and a selection of contemporary cases of contested understandings of heritage serve to focus analysis. Themes include "living history" museums and historical reenactment, historical theme parks, heritage tourism, festivals, memory sites and objects, cinema and television roles in memory, and so forth.

Material Culture and Consumption: Embodied Material Culture -- Food, Drink, and Drugs in History (ANTH 58200)

The Material Culture and Consumption seminar is designed to explore a series of current major research frontiers in the understanding of material culture. This domain of inquiry constitutes an exciting new convergence of interests among the fields of archaeology, cultural anthropology, history, and sociology; hence, the seminar seeks to explore the intersection of novel theoretical developments and empirical research among all these fields. The theme for this year’s seminar is "Embodied Material Culture": that is, objects which are produced specifically for consumption by ingestion into the human body. Readings and discussion will center around works that grapple with the social and cultural understanding of food, alcohol, and drugs in ancient and modern contexts. Their close association with the body and the senses, as well as their nutritive and psychoactive properties, make these forms of material culture an especially salient, symbolically charged form of "social fact" and make the study of their consumption a particularly revealing key to social relations, cultural concepts, and articulations of the domestic and political economies. 

Somatic Material Culture (ANTH 52421)

This seminar explores forms of material culture that go into or onto the human body and practices that treat the body itself as material culture. In other words, it focuses on: (1) what I call "embodied material culture", meaning substances that are made to be ingested into the body (food, alcohol, and drugs) and become part of the person; (2) objects worn on the body (clothing, jewelry, armor, etc.) that constitute what Terry Turner called "the social skin"; and (3) forms of body modification through which people treat their physical being as a material object for creative expression or augmented utilitarian performance. The latter forms of modification would include such practices as tattooing, painting, piercing, scarification, plastic surgery, circumcision, gender reassignment surgery, skin bleaching, cranial shaping, foot binding, neck stretching, tooth shaping, body building, fasting, prosthetic enhancement, sports training, skill and body technique learning, and so forth. All of these forms of "somatic material culture" and their associated practices have a prominent role in the inculcation, expression, and performance of identity, although they operate in different ways. They also have a wide range of social and economic functions and consequences. The class examines the comparative history/prehistory and ethnography of these forms of somatic material culture, looking at them through the lens of semiotics, practice theory, phenomenology, consumption, and other approaches as a way of assessing their cultural, social, and economic significance. Readings include theoretical statements, comparative analyses, and detailed empirical studies of historical and contemporary cases. For reasons of time limitations, this class focuses exclusively on the living body. However, I would also include the numerous treatments of the post-mortem body practiced around the world (funerary corpse treatment, body-part decoration and display, etc.) as part of the theme of somatic material culture, and this area would be equally appropriate for research papers.

Theory and Method in Archaeology (ANTH 39000)

This is an intensive graduate seminar exploring the theoretical and methodological foundations of the field of archaeology. Students will critically examine foundational texts and major debates contextualized within a socio-historical approach to the development of the practice of archaeology situated within a complex international disciplinary landscape.

 

Co-taught with William Green:

Drinking Alcohol: Social Problem or Normal Cultural Practice? (ANTH 25310, BIOS 02280, BPRO 22800)

Alcohol is the most widely used psychoactive agent in the world and, as archaeologists have recently demonstrated, it has a very long history dating back at least 9,000 years. This course will explore the issue of alcohol and drinking from a trans-disciplinary perspective. It will be co-taught by an anthropologist/archaeologist with experience in alcohol research and a neurobiologist who has experience with addiction research. Students will be confronted with literature on alcohol research from anthropology, sociology, history, biology, medicine, psychology, and public health and asked to think through the conflicts and contradictions. Selected case studies will be used to focus the discussion of broader theoretical concepts and competing perspectives introduced in the first part of the course.

Jas' Elsner

Art and Religion from the Roman to the Christian Worlds (ARTH 28330/38330; RLVC 38330; CLAS 38322; CLCV 28322; RLST 28330)

This course will be an introduction to Roman and early Christian art from the early empire to late antiquity. It will explore the significance of the changes in visual production in relation to different attitudes to religion and society; its specific and conflictive historiography; the particular issues involved in the move to Christianity and a Christian visual culture. We shall veer between an empirical inductive approach, looking at lots of stuff and a more general account of theoretical overviews that have been offered for Roman and late art – overviews that have been influential in the broader historiography of art history as a discipline. Course Note: The course will be taught over 5 weeks in the Spring Quarter on an intensive schedule.

 

Pilgrimage in Antiquity and the Early Christendom (ARTH 25300/35300)

This course will present an interdisciplinary interrogation into the nature of pilgrimage in pre-Christian antiquity and the rise of Christian pilgrimage in the years after Constantine.  It will simultaneously be a reflection on the disciplinary problems of examining the phenomena of pilgrimage from various standpoints including art history, archaeology, anthropology, the history of religions, the literary study of travel writing, as well as on the difficulties of reading broad and general theories against the bitty minutiae of ancient evidence and source material.  The core material, beyond the theoretical overview, will be largely limited to antiquity and early Christianity; but if students wish to write their papers on areas beyond this relatively narrow remit (in other religions, in the middle ages, modern or early modern periods), this will be positively encouraged! The course will be taught in an intensive format over 5 weeks, plus some individual discussion sessions to set up term papers.

Theories of Art in the Twentieth Century: Historiography, Religion, and Crisis (ARTH 41305)

This course will serve as a historically situated, philosophically inflected, introduction to the methods developed in the twentieth century for the study of images.  It will address the discipline of Art History in Germany and Austria in the years up to 1933, the conflict of Protestant and Catholic models for the historiography of images before the first World War, the effects of the Nazi regime on the writing of the history of art, and the impact of the Second World War on scholarship in both Germany and among refugees, many of them Jews.  It is intended to serve both as an introduction to the critical historiography of art and to some of the prime methods developed in the last century for the study of images.

Seth Estrin

Ancient Stones in Modern Hands (ARTH 20304/30304)

Objects from classical antiquity that have survived into the modern era have enticed, inspired, and haunted those who encountered or possessed them. Collectors, in turn, have charged ancient objects with emotional, spiritual, and temporal power, enrolling them in all aspects of their lives, from questions of politics and religion to those of race and sexuality. This course explores intimate histories of private ownership of antiquities as they appear within literature, visual art, theater, aesthetics, and collecting practices. Focusing on the sensorial, material, and affective dimensions of collecting, we will survey histories of modern classicism that span from the eighteenth century to the present, from the Mediterranean to the Pacific. In addition to primary source materials readings will include scholarship from the fields of gender studies, art history, and the history of emotions.

Art and Archaeology of Death and Mourning in Ancient Greece (ARTH 17302 / CLCV 20017)

No aspect of human existence so preoccupied the ancient Greeks as the condition of mortality—the knowledge that, unlike their immortal gods, they would inevitably die. This course will explore the role that material culture played in helping individuals process the effects of death in a variety of times and places within ancient Greece. It will provide an overview of burial and commemoration practices, tomb offerings and funerary monuments, as well as artistic and literary representations of death, mourning, and the afterlife. Many of the readings will be primary texts in translation—epic poems and plays, myths and stories that offered the Greeks paradigms for their own experiences. Throughout, we will consider the role works of art play in helping individuals cope with as personal an issue as bereavement, and we will draw on parallels from contemporary culture to help frame the ancient material.

Embodiment in Ancient Greece (CLAS 32921; ARTH 20320/30320 CLCV 22921)

This course examines how the human body was represented and conceptualized in ancient Greek art and literature. Moving through three themed units ­– Objects and Bodies, Gender and Sexuality through the Senses, and Fragile Bodies – we will consider how concepts of embodiment were constructed and articulated in a range of social and spatial contexts, including sanctuaries, drinking parties, grave sites, and battlefields. A central goal of this course is to bring together two types of evidence – material objects and written sources – from classical antiquity that are traditionally studied apart. Through primary texts (in translation), discussions of objects, and museum visits, we will develop strategies for thinking across methodological divides and between word and image to arrive at a richer, more textured understanding of the body in ancient Greece. [Taught with Sarah Nooter]

Greek Art and Archaeology (ARTH 14107 / CLCV 21807)

This course provides an introduction to the art and archaeology of ancient Greece between ca. 1000 BCE and 200 BCE, from the early settlements of the Geometric period to the rise of the Hellenistic kingdoms. To modern eyes, Greek art can appear at once familiar and foreign, its imagery and artistic forms both instantly recognizable and difficult to parse. Over the course of the quarter, we will gain the cultural knowledge necessary to look at ancient artifacts and monuments as their original makers and viewers might have seen them. We will develop the art-historical skills necessary to investigate a range of materials and techniques, stories and myths, practices and ideologies, all of which informed the way Greek art was produced and experienced. Participants will learn how to describe Greek art in ways that are both sensitive to historical context and informed by the methodological practices that transform archaeological discoveries into history. 

Minoan Art, Modern Myths, and Problems of Prehistory (ARTH 20510/ARTH 30510/CLCV 21517/CLAS 3151)

This course offers an introduction to the art of the Bronze Age culture of Minoan Crete, with an emphasis on the Palatial Periods (ca. 1900-1450 BCE). We will cover both well-known works and recent archaeological finds, including those from outside of Crete that have altered our view of Minoan art in recent years. At the same time, we will investigate how our knowledge of this civilization and its art has been shaped by the mentalities of those who have excavated its remains and collected and displayed its art. We will look closely at archaeological reports, restorations, forgeries, and concepts of style and iconography to reveal how archaeological remains are transformed into historical narratives. While focused on the Minoans, the class is designed to build the analytical skills necessary for engaging with the art of prehistoric cultures and other ancient cultures heavily shaped by modern imaginaries. 

The Body and Embodiment in Ancient Greek Art (ARTH 24810 / 34810/CLCV 24818, CLAS 34818)

Whether naked or clothed, male or female, mortal or divine, the body takes pride of place in the visual worlds constructed by ancient Greek artists. Yet this emphasis on depicting the body begs the question: What is a body that exists as an image? What, in other words, is a body that is not embodied? This problem, articulated already in our ancient sources, serves as the starting point for this course’ investigation of the relationship between images of the body in Greek art and the experiences such images solicited from their viewers. It examines, on the one hand, how Greek art promoted the body as a social construct—through artistic practices that configured the body’s appearance, like distinctive techniques, styles, and iconography; through conceptual categories that ascribed identities, like gender, class, and race; and through contexts that integrated depictions of the body into lived experience, like sanctuaries, cemeteries, and domestic settings. But we will give equal attention to the viewer’s subjective experience of embodiment, including its sensorial and affective dimensions, and the ways in which that experience is negotiated and articulated as a function of works of art. Finally, we will turn to the legacy of the Greek body in more recent centuries and consider its enduring impact as a visual paradigm today.

 

Co-taught with A. Goff:

Ancient Stones in Modern Hands (ARTH 20304 / 30304, HIST 2/39422, CLCV 21019, CLAS 31019) 

Objects from Classical antiquity that have survived into the modern era have enticed, inspired, and haunted those who encountered or possessed them. Collectors, in turn, have charged ancient objects with emotional, spiritual, and temporal power, enrolling them in all aspects of their lives, from questions of politics and religion to those of race and sexuality. This course explores intimate histories of private ownership of antiquities as they appear within literature, visual art, theater, aesthetics, and collecting practices. Focusing on the sensorial, material and affective dimensions of collecting, we will survey histories of modern classicism that span from the 18th century to the present, from the Mediterranean to the Pacific. Historical sources will include the writings of Johann Gottfried Herder, Johann Joachim Winckelmann, Emma Hamilton, Vernon Lee, and Sigmund Freud, among others, while secondary source scholarship will draw from the fields of gender studies, history of race, history of art, and the history of emotions. We will supplement our readings with occasional museum visits and film screenings. This course is team taught as an interdisciplinary course, and we welcome students from all backgrounds, with no previous experience in ancient art or modern history required.

Special Prerequisite: instructor consent required. Email both instructors describing your interest in the course, how it fits into your broader studies, and any relevant background (sestrin@uchicago.edu and agoff@uchicago.edu). This is a traveling seminar that includes a 4-day trip to visit California museum collections. 

Morris Fred

Anthropology of Museums (ANTH 34501)

Using anthropological theories and methodology as a conceptual framework, this seminar will explore the organizational and ideological aspects of museum culture(s). The course includes visits to museums with guest museum professionals as guides into the culture of museums.

Jonathan Hall

The Ancient City: The Greek World

This annually offered course will focus on the development and transformation of cities in the ancient Mediterranean world. Among the issues to be discussed are how one defines a city and whether ancient cities satisfy those definitional criteria; what factors account for the emergence of cities; and what elements give rise to a particularly urban way of life. Theoretical reflections will be interspersed with specific case-studies. This year, the focus will be on the cities of the Greek world and will consider topics such as the relationship between the city and the polis and the degree to which Athens was a typical Greek city.

Ancient Mediterranean World 1: Greece (CLCV 20700)

This course surveys the social, economic, and political history of Greece from prehistory to the Hellenistic period. The main topics considered include the development of the institutions of the Greek city-state, the Persian Wars and the rivalry of Athens and Sparta, the social and economic consequences of the Peloponnesian War, and the eclipse and defeat of the city-states by the Macedonians.

Archaeology for Ancient Historians

This course is intended to act not as an introduction to Classical Archaeology but as a methods course illuminating the potential contribution of material cultural evidence to ancient historians while at the same time alerting them to the possible misapplications. Theoretical reflections on the relationship between history and archaeology will be interspersed with specific case-studies from the Graeco-Roman world.  

Archaic Greece

In order to understand the institutions, ideals and practices that characterized Greek city-states in the Classical period, it is necessary to look to their genesis and evolution during the preceding Archaic period (ca. 700-480 BC). This course will examine the emergence and early development of the Greek city-states through a consideration of ancient written sources, inscriptions, material artefacts and artistic representations as well as more recent secondary treatments of the period. General topics to be covered will include periodization, the rise of the polis, religion, warfare, the advent and uses of literacy, tyranny and the emergence of civic ideology.

Text & Material Culture in the Greek & Roman World 1 & 2 (ANCM 44818)

This two-quarter graduate seminar, which fulfills the seminar requirement for graduates in the Department of History History and the Department of Classics' Program in the Ancient Mediterranean World, will explore the theoretical, methodological, political, and ethical dimensions involved in juxtaposing textual documentation with archaeological evidence to reconstruct the past. Discussion of themes such as the economy, death, colonization, and memory will be interspersed with detailed case studies. The first quarter will be devoted to guided reading and discussion while the second quarter will be reserved for writing a major research paper. Students will also be permitted to enroll for just the first quarter by arrangement with the instructors.

This is Sparta (or is it?) (HIST 20302/30302; CLCV 20100; CLAS 30100)

From Herodotos to Hitler, ancient Sparta has continued to fascinate for its supposedly balanced constitution, its military superiority, its totalitarian ideology and its brutality. Yet the image we possess of the most important state of the Peloponnese is largely the projection of outside observers for whom the objectification of Sparta could serve either as a model for emulation or as a paradigm of "otherness." This course will examine the extant evidence for Sparta from its origins through to its repackaging in Roman times and beyond and will serve as a case-study in discussing the writing of history and in attempting to gauge the viability of a non-Athenocentric Greek history. Assignments: short papers.

Who Were the Greeks?

If the current resurgence of interest in ethnic studies is a direct reflection of a contemporary upsurge in ethnic conflict throughout the world, it remains the case that notions of peoplehood and belonging have been of periodic importance throughout history. This course will study the various expressions of Greek identity within shifting political, social and cultural contexts from prehistory to the present day, though with a strong emphasis on classical antiquity. Particular attention will be given to theoretical issues such as anthropological definitions of ethnicity, the difference between ethnic and cultural identities, methods for studying ethnicity in historical societies, and the intersection of ethnicity with politics.

Wu Hung

Image, Medium and Context of Chinese Pictorial Art (ARTH 34602)

In this course, pictorial representations are approached and interpreted, first and foremost, as concrete, image-bearing objects and architectural structures---as portable scrolls, screens, albums, and fans, as well as murals in Buddhist cave-temples and tombs, and relief carvings on offering shrines and sarcophagi. The lectures and discussion investigate the inherent features of these forms, as well as their histories, viewing conventions, audiences, ritual/social functions, and the roles these forms played in the construction and development of pictorial images.

Refashioning the Forbidden City: Emperor Qianlong and Qing Court Art and Interior Decoration (ARTH 34605)

During his long reign from 1735 to 1796, Qianlong made numerous innovations in Qing court art and interior decoration. This course investigates these innovations from two new perspectives. First, instead of studying them in the separated domains of architecture, object, and painting, it will explore the interconnections of these three visual forms within Qianlong’s specific art/architectural projects. Second, after identifying these projects, the course will use “space” as the central analytical concept to reconstruct their content and process, and to explore Qianlong’s intention, imagination, and experimentation.

Douglas Inglis

Ancient Empires III (NEHC 20013; CLCV 25900; HIST 15604)

For most of the duration of the New Kingdom (1550-1069 BC), the ancient Egyptians were able to establish a vast empire and becoming one of the key powers within the Near East. This course will investigate in detail the development of Egyptian foreign policies and military expansion which affected parts of the Near East and Nubia. We will examine and discuss topics such as ideology, imperial identity, political struggle and motivation for conquest and control of wider regions surrounding the Egyptian state as well as the relationship with other powers and their perspective on Egyptian rulers as for example described in the Amarna letters.

Digital Imaging and Modeling in Archaeology (NEAA 20352/30352; DIGS 20020/30020)

3D technology has transformed the way we interact with ancient artifacts and archaeological sites, from initial documentation to public outreach. This course will provide an overview of the various digital recording technologies available and will explore how they can be used for analysis, map making, creating virtual museums, and replicating ancient objects for public outreach and education. Participants will learn how to use photogrammetry to transform archaeological sites and artifacts into 3D models and 3D-printed objects. We will cover data collection using both cameras and drones, data processing, digital inking in Photoshop, 3D model export, online presentation, 3D printing and model painting. We will also consider the ways in which digital tools can be used to for public outreach, education, and to make archaeology more equitable and accessible. The course will provide valuable training to students interested in archaeology, artifact studies, conservation, museum collections, and digital humanities.

Maritime Archaeology and Shipwrecks (NEAA 20451/30451; CLAS 22422; CLCV 23422)

From complex trading networks that reached beyond India, to fierce naval battles that determined the fate of empires, seafaring played a pivotal role in shaping the Iron Age and Classical worlds. This course explores the impact of ships and seafaring on the ancient world beginning with the Phoenician expansion and the ships of Homer, and continues through the end of the Roman Period. While we will primarily focus on Aegean and Mediterranean societies, we will also voyage west to Spain and England, and as far east as India and Sri Lanka. This course will draw on diverse sources of evidence, including shipwrecks, archaeological remains, artifacts, art, and literature. Class themes include sailing and shipbuilding, trade and exploration, ports and harbors, naval tactics and warfare, pirates, navigation, religious practice, and the literature of the sea.

Catherine Kearns

Ancient Mediterranean World I: Greece (CLCV 20700; HIST 16700)

Part I surveys the social, economic, and political history of Greece from prehistory to the Hellenistic period. The main topics considered include the development of the institutions of the Greek city-state, the Persian Wars and the rivalry of Athens and Sparta, the social and economic consequences of the Peloponnesian War, and the eclipse and defeat of the city-states by the Macedonians.

Death and Burial (CLCV 24622; CLAS 34622)

We can learn a lot about ancient societies through careful study of how they treated their dead. From the carrion picking over human corpses in the opening lines of the Iliad to the vast subterranean catacombs of Rome, ancient Mediterranean peoples have left us fascinating testimonies about death in literature, documents, objects, materials, and built environments that yield powerful clues to shifting values about personhood, belief, ritual, and family connections. In this seminar, we survey a range of evidence to explore how scholars study the practices of death and burial that operated across the Mediterranean in antiquity, and their connections to ways of dying, mourning, and commemoration in the Mediterranean present. Discussions will consider how fragmentary evidence can speak to a number of critical social themes: ritual and ideas of the afterlife, social bounding and othering, gender and bodily identity, demography and disease, wealth and status, and the persistent ways that dead bodies, tombs, and mortuary monuments shape social lives across generations.

Haves and Have-Nots: Class, Status, and Wealth in the Ancient World (CLCV 23922; CLAS 33922)

What explains the diverse developments of social and economic inequality in the ancient world, and why are historians and archaeologists so interested in this question? In this seminar, we begin by thinking about key terms related to inequality – class, status, and wealth - and how scholars in ancient history and archaeology identify and distinguish evidence for these practices, analyze their data, and produce comparative analyses of past societies, using the Mediterranean as a case study. Readings will introduce important ideas from economic and sociological understandings of how value, and access to things of value and the means of making it, might have constructed and maintained forms of difference, power, and cultural capital. The course will explore evidence of inequality by sampling from a wide range of societies, from the Bronze Age to the Roman Empire, to assess how uneven practices of production, accumulation, and consumption shaped social lives.

Mediterranean Islands: Odd and Insular Histories (CLCV 23822; CLAS 33822)

Islands, and Mediterranean islands in particular, have long provoked curiosity and intrigue, and have persisted as places for thinking about utopia, incongruity, distinctiveness, or backwardness since antiquity. This seminar course interrogates the representations of islands in ancient thought as well as their own archaeological and historical records in order to trace their often elliptical categorization in modern scholarship. Are islands unique because they are isolated, or rather because they become crossroads of special interaction? From the mythical island of the Cyclopes, to the Aegean archipelagos, to the large masses like Sicily or Cyprus, discussions will explore approaches to insularity, isolation, connectivity, and identity using a wide range of textual and material evidence and theoretical insights from geography, anthropology, history, literature, and environmental science.

Mediterranean Societies Beyond the Polis I & II (CLAS 40921 & 40922)

This two-quarter seminar introduces students to key debates and challenges in the study of ancient Mediterranean societies outside or elliptical to the boundaries of the city-state. In the first half, readings and discussions will interrogate Greek and Roman concepts of territoriality and border-making, frontiers and hinterlands, and political community, as well as assess limitations in method and evidence for studying the material histories of nonurban social formations. The course takes a broad approach by exploring diverse regional and chronological case studies. In the second quarter, students will write a major research paper. Non-Classics students may enroll for just the first quarter by arrangement with the instructors. [Co-taught with Clifford Ando]

Peripheries of the Greek World (CLAS 35017)

What happens when we consider the cultures, histories, and politics of the ancient Greek world from outside its Aegean ecumene?  From Homeric ethnographies to Hellenistic expansion, the borders and peripheries of Greek life became rich spaces for both imagining and constructing Greek identity and civilization through interactions with myriad “others”: barbarians, allies, kings, and monsters. In recent decades, interdisciplinary research has examined what life was like on these peripheries, at the intersections of Greek colonization, trade, religion, and the state. In this course we will examine the concept of peripheries (and cores) and question the methodologies that historians and archaeologists use to consider the dynamic spaces around the edges of the Aegean Sea: colonial settlements, sites of pilgrimage, industrial districts, and exotic fringes, among others. Using textual and material evidence, and taking a broad approach by exploring case studies from Iberia to India, we consider the practices through which diverse peripheries became intertwined with Greek culture (or not). 

Strabo's World: Early Geographic Traditions (CLAS 35516/CLCV 25516)

This course traces the emergence of geographic thought in the Mediterranean world and the diachronic representations of space and place that became the foundations for the humanistic and social science of geography. Discussions will examine the practices that led to diverse modes and styles of spatial expression, travel and mapping, the tensions between the known world and the exotic imagined other, and the political, social, and cultural dimensions of geographic works and their historic contexts. Beyond our sustained focus on Strabo, writing under the Roman Empire, we will explore and interrogate both earlier and later traditions, from Hecataeus and Herodotus to Dionysius and Pausanias.

The Mediterranean in Antiquity: Imperial Connections (CLAS 41717, CDIN 41717, NEHC 40020, ANCM 41717)

The Mediterranean Sea has long inspired imaginings of lands and peoples connected by its waters. From the Romans’ Mare Nostrum, “our sea,” to today’s variants of “middle sea” – Greek Mesogeios, German Mittelmeer, and of course, Latin Mediterranean – imaginations of the sea have often celebrated its spatial and social cohesion. The Mediterranean continues to possess a middling geopolitical identity today, situated as it is between continental Europe, the Aegean, the Middle East, and North Africa. Yet, despite our diachronic investment in recognizing the Mediterranean’s grand narrative as a locus of cultural connectivity, its long-term histories of interregional dynamics remain difficult to approach holistically. This concern is especially salient when it comes to the study of ancient empires, those large expansionary polities whose social, political, and economic practices drew disparate groups together and at times forced them apart. This class has two closely related objectives. First, we tackle the most ambitious pieces of scholarship on Mediterranean history to evaluate how various disciplines have sought to analyze and to bound the sea as a cartographic whole. In the process, we gain an appreciation not only for the methodological and interpretive scales involved in such an undertaking, but for the various disciplinary strategies the Mediterranean’s diverse histories have inspired. Second, we interrogate one sociopolitical structure – the empire – and question how the Mediterranean encouraged and challenged imperialism as a recurring formation that worked to maintain sovereignty across broad geographical expanses. In doing so, we explore the variegated processes of cultural connectivity that have characterized the ancient Mediterranean from east to west. [Co-taught with James Osborne]

Alan Kolata

The City in History (ANTH 56010)

This seminar will be in intensive examination of the origins, structure and cultural experience of city life. Lectures, discussion and participant presentations will be framed around an examination of theories of urban genesis, function, and meaning with special reference to the economic, sociological and ideological bases of city development. The seminar is broadly comparative in perspective and will consider the nature of the city in a variety of regional and temporal contexts with an emphasis on social theories of the city that will take us into the spectrum of preindustrial/industrial/post-industrial cities. The seminar will consist of initial orienting lectures, discussion of selected texts concerned with social theories of the city, and presentation of research projects by class participants.

The Human Environment: Ecological Anthropologies and Anthropological Ecologies (ANTHRO 56200) 

This graduate seminar is framed around a critical intellectual history of Nature/Culture concepts from the Enlightenment to the present. We will explore multiple, contradictory strands of social thought regarding human/environment interactions, including the concepts of Descartes, Thoreau, Linneaeus, Darwin, and Spencer, as well as a broad range of contemporary analysts. In the course of exploring distinct theoretical and methodological stances to understanding human-environment relations, we will engage major contemporary issues of  global environmental change, questions of population and environment, common property resources, indigenous regimes of resource management and the power relations and politics affecting local and global human use of the environment. 

The Inka and Aztec States (ANTH 40100)

This course is an intensive examination of the origins, structure, and meaning of two native states of the ancient Americas: the Inka and the Aztec. Lectures are framed around an examination of theories of state genesis, function, and transformation, with special reference to the economic, institutional, and symbolic bases of indigenous state development. This course is broadly comparative in perspective and considers the structural significance of institutional features that are either common to or unique expressions of these two Native American states. 

The Preindustrial City (ANTH 56000)

This seminar will be an intensive examination of the origins and structure of the preindustrial city, with an emphasis on social theories of the city that will take us into the spectrum of preindustrial/industrial/post- industrial cities. Lectures, discussions and participant presentations will be framed around an examination
of theories of urban genesis, function, and meaning with speicl reference to the economic, sociological and ideological bases of city development. The seminar is broadly comparative in perspective and will consider the nature of the preindustrial city in a variety of regional and temporal contexts.. Although substantial emphasis will be placed on preindustrial urban formations and urban-rural relations, we will also touch upon issues relating to more recent historical and contemporary patterns of urbanism. 

Social Theory of the City (Anthropology 58600)

This graduate seminar explores various historical, sociological and anthropological theories of cities. The course analyzes major theoretical frameworks concerned with urban forms, institutions, economic structures and social experiences as well as particular instances of city development from pre-modern to contemporary periods. We conclude with a reflection on the “fate of cities.” The seminar will consist of initial orienting lectures, class discussion of selected texts concerned with social theories of the city and presentation of research projects by class participants.

Anthony Lauricella

Ancient Landscapes I & II (NEAA 20061; GEOG 25800/35800)

This is a two-course sequence that introduces students to theory and method in landscape studies and the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to analyze archaeological, anthropological, historical, and environmental data. Course one covers the theoretical and methodological background necessary to understand spatial approaches to landscape and the fundamentals of using ESRI's ArcGIS software, and further guides students in developing a research proposal. Course two covers more advanced GIS-based analysis (using vector, raster, and satellite remote sensing data) and guides students in carrying out their own spatial research project. In both courses, techniques are introduced through the discussion of case studies (focused on the archaeology of the Middle East) and through demonstration of software skills. During supervised laboratory times, the various techniques and analyses covered will be applied to sample archaeological data and also to data from a region/topic chosen by the student.

Yung-ti Li

Archaeology of Anyang: Bronzes, Inscriptions & World Heritage (EALC 28010/48010)

Anyang is one of the most important archaeological sites in China. The discoveries of inscribed oracle bones, the royal cemetery, clusters of palatial structures, and industrial-scale craft production precincts have all established that the site was indeed the last capital of the Shang dynasty recorded in traditional historiography. With almost continuous excavations since the late 1920s, work at Anyang has in many ways shaped and defined Chinese archaeology and the study of Early Bronze Age China. This course intends to examine the history of research, important archaeological finds, and the role of Anyang studies in the field of Chinese archaeology. While the emphasis is on archaeological finds and the related research, this course will also attempt to define Anyang in the modern social and cultural contexts in terms of world heritage, national and local identity, and the looting and illegal trade of antiquities.

Archaeology of Bronze Age China (EALC 28015/48015; ANTH 26760/46760)

“Bronze Age" in China conventionally refers to the time period from ca. 2000 BC to about 500 BC, during which bronze, an alloy of copper and other metals such as tin and lead, was the predominant medium used by the society, or to be more precise, the elite classes of the society. Bronze objects, in the forms of vessels, weapons, and musical instruments, were reserved for the upper ruling class of the society and were used mostly as paraphernalia during rituals and feasting. "Bronze Age" in China also indicates the emergence and eventual maturation of states with their bureaucratic systems, the presence of urban centers, a sophisticated writing system, and advanced craft producing industries, especially metal production. This course surveys the important archaeological finds of Bronze Age China and the theoretical issues such as state formation, craft production, writing, bureaucratic systems, urbanization, warfare, and inter-regional interaction, etc. It emphasizes a multi-disciplinary approach with readings and examples from anthropology, archaeology, art history, and epigraphy. This course will also visit the Smart Museum, the Field Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago to take advantage of the local collections of ancient Chinese arts and archaeology.

Archaeology of Craft Production: Theories and Case Studies (EALC 58011; ANTH 58011)

The course will review anthropological literature and case studies of craft production and craft specialization in ancient civilizations. It also takes a multi-disciplinary approach by adopting perspectives developed in history and art history. Topics discussed in the course include organization of production, craft production and the elite, chaîne opératoire, status and identity of artisans, and political economy and craft production. Students are expected to become familiar with prevalent theoretical discussions and are encouraged to apply, adopt, or revise them in order to analyze examples of craft production of their own choice.

Wei-Cheng Lin

Art of East: China (ARTH 16100, EALC 16100) 

This course is an introduction to the arts of China focusing on the bronze vessels of the Shang and Zhou dynasties, the Chinese appropriation of the Buddha image, and the evolution of landscape and figure painting traditions. This course considers objects in contexts (from the archaeological sites from which they were unearthed to the material culture that surrounded them) to reconstruct the functions and the meanings of objects, and to better understand Chinese culture through the objects it produced.

Materializing China's Cultural Ephemera (ARTH 45012) 

This seminar explores how a wide range of texts, paintings, and calligraphy originally meant to be ephemeral gain multilayered cultural values over time through materialization in different media. In particular, we will focus on Song and Ming-Qing periods (before modern era) when learned people avidly amassed, compiled, and published these cultural ephemera, an interest further stimulated by the proliferation of printing and a pronounced nostalgia and resulting antiquarianism. The focus of our inquiry will be on the ways in which materiality and media played a critical role in not only transmitting but also enriching and recreating, intentionally or not, their cultural significance, even though the ephemera often survived only in fragments.

Objects and Materials (ARTH 44002) 

Team-taught between Northwestern, the Art Institute of Chicago and University of Chicago, this course focuses on sustained, close engagement with art objects in the AIC collection and the methods and questions such inquiry raises. Students will be introduced to basic techniques of stylistic and scientific analysis as well as recent theoretical debates that resituate art history as a study of physical things as well as their disembodied images.

Marí­a Cecilia (Nene) Lozada

Bioarchaeology and the Human Skeleton (ANTH 28400/38800,BIOS 23247)

This course is designed to provide students in archaeology with a thorough understanding of bioarchaeological and osteological methods used in the interpretation of prehistoric societies.  The integration of archaeology and human biology has been an especially dynamic part of anthropological endeavors during the past few decades, giving archaeologists important data on the genetic identity, health, and diet of ancient societies.  When combined with contextual data on mortuary treatment and cemetery structure, bioarchaeology forms a critical part of the technical arsenal of modern archaeologists.  The goal of this course will be to introduce students to bioarchaeological methods and theory.  In particular, laboratory instruction will stress hands-on experience in analyzing the human skeleton.  Seminar classes will emphasize bioanthropological theory and its application to specific cases throughout the world. There will be one laboratory class and one seminar-format class per week.
-Note(s): This course qualifies as a Methodology selection for Anthropology majors.

Augusta McMahon

Ancient Empires VI: Assyrian Empire (NEHC 20016)

This course will examine the concept and definition of empire and the practices of imperial control through a case study of Mesopotamia’s best-known empire, the Neo-Assyrian (first half of the 1st millennium BCE). At its peak, the Assyrians ruled a vast area covering most of modern Iraq and Syria, plus parts of Iran, Turkey and the Levant, with aspirations to control Egypt. The gradual expansion of this empire from late 2nd millennium BCE beginnings and its extremely rapid collapse in ca. 612 BCE provide an excellent example of the tensions within trajectories of empire. The course themes include warfare and political strategies, identity and ethnicity, imperial bureaucracy, and the practical and ideological purposes of infrastructure building. Evidence examined will include texts (in translation) and the archaeological record at various scales, from settlements through artworks. We will also examine paradoxes, such as the contrast between textual claims of hegemony and limited archaeological evidence for this, and the power of visual propaganda versus its select audience.

Archeology of the Ancient Near East I: Mesopotamia (NEAA 20001/30001)

This course surveys Mesopotamian archaeology from late prehistory (7th millennium BCE) through the age of empires (mid-1st millennium BCE). Data will comprise landscapes, settlement patterns, sites and material culture; themes include the development of social complexity, innovations in technology and political economy, the impacts of climate change, and the interplay of textual and material evidence for inter-regional connections. The course is intended for both graduate and undergraduate students.

Mesopotamian Cities (NEAA 20036/30036)

Cities are extraordinarily successful forms of human settlement, currently home to over 6 billion people around the world. They offer employment opportunities, production efficiency, and expansive social networks. However, they also have negative impacts on social lives, health, resources, and the environment; they are deep wells of inequality, isolation, and disease. Were ancient cities similarly difficult? Through alternating lectures and seminars, this course examines ancient Mesopotamian cities from the perspective of city life and urban challenges, comprising the positive and negative aspects and possible compensatory factors to urban living in the past. We will examine cities from the world’s earliest, in the 4th millennium BCE, through mature cities of the 3rd and 2nd millennia BCE, to the artificial imperial cities of the 1st millennium BCE.

Hannah Moots

Archaeogenetics and the Human Past (NEAA 30524; KNOW 20005/30524)

The rapidly growing field of paleogenomics has brought together researchers from a wide variety of fields and perspectives in the social and natural sciences. This survey course is designed for students from all backgrounds interested in developing practical skills in ancient DNA methods, contextual research, analysis and interpretation. We will also focus on exploring and discussing ethics in the field and the implications of the growing interest of public audiences with ancient DNA. Throughout the course, we will also explore a variety of related topics by taking a deep dive into the archaeology context and analytical approaches of published case studies. Throughout the course, there will be a number of laboratory and computational activities to apply ancient DNA research methods. For a final project, you will explore a site, topic or study of your choosing with the tools learned in this course and evaluate the potential for ancient DNA to uncover new findings there.

 

Bioethics and Ancient DNA  (NEAA 20007/30007; KNOW 20007/30007)

The first ancient human genome was sequenced just over 10 years ago. From a single genome in 2010 to what has been hailed as a “scientific revolution” today, the field of archaeogenetics has expanded rapidly. In this course, we will explore how the field is grappling with emerging issues related to ethical and responsible research, including sampling practices, collaborative community partnerships, and accessibility of research findings to the broader public. How have researchers successfully leveraged multiple voices, perspectives, and priorities engaged with ancient DNA to explore the human past? What are the possibilities of engagement beyond the practical and project-based level? How do these new alliances formed around archaeogenetics inform the ethics of sampling, participation, and interpretation? In this course, we will thoughtfully and critically engage with aDNA research in the present to envision possible futures for the field.

Richard Neer

What Is Style (and why are they saying such terrible things about it)? (Art History)

Archaeologists and art historians characteristically rely upon "the evidence of the eye" or "perceptual proof" to identify their objects of research: they identify, attribute and date artifacts (from potsherds to paintings) just by looking at them. The operative concept is "style"; the generation and deployment of stylistic evidence is "connoisseurship." Both are widely disparaged, yet remain integral to the disciplines at every level. This seminar examines the theory and practice of attribution by style, from eighteenth century origins to present day debates about computer-aided stylometry. Each week will focus on a few key texts, juxtaposing philosophical theorizing and scholarly practice. We will look at the notions of "period" and "personal" style, at the methods by which different art historians have arrived at attributions, and at the ideas of community, personhood and embodiment that such methods express. Key points of reference will be Kant, Wittgenstein, Merleau-Ponty, Sibley, Wollheim, Goodman and Cavell. Key historiographic figures will be Richardson, Winckelmann, Morelli, Berenson, Pater, Beazley, Panofsky. Throughout, the focus will be on finding alternatives to the traditional conception of style as an immanent property of objects.

From Ground to Gallery: Visual Culture of the Ancient Near East (ARTH 2310/3310; HIST 25624/35624; NEAA 20610/30610)

What is the “ancient Near East”? What is its visual culture? This course explores the ancient art and architecture of the regions of Western Asia and North Africa, that is to say, of Mesopotamia, Syro-Anatolia, the Levant, Persia, and Egypt dating from the fourth through the first millennium BCE (3500 to 330 BCE). Such a corpus includes palaces, temples, and ziggurats, as well as carved reliefs, royal images, votive statues, cylinder seals, and cuneiform tablets crafted of clay, rock, semi-precious stones, metals, ivory, and pigments. In addition to their formal and stylistic qualities, we will consider the practices by which this corpus was made, the cultural value of the raw material, life histories and modes of circulation, interactive and experiential potential, significance within the larger social and political climate, and the reception and treatment of these works of art in a modern context, including the museum space. Class meetings—structured around thematic case studies of material groups generally presented in chronological sequence—address conceptual issues (agency, materiality, aesthetics, narrative, ideology, space, representation, style, sensory experience), theoretical and methodological considerations (archaeological, art historical, anthropological, philological, historical), and current topics and debates related to these fields of study and museum practice (colonialism, ownership, repatriation, stewardship). The course draws primarily on archaeological evidence and ancient textual sources and includes regular visits to the Oriental Institute Museum.

Sarah Newman

Animal Magnetism: Histories of Human-Animal Relationships. (ANTH 20014).  

Animals are all around us--in homes and laboratories, farms and forests, zoos and supermarkets. Yet the remarkable ways in which human and animal lives are intertwined often go unnoticed. What makes an animal a predator in one setting, prey in another? A companion to befriend or a trophy to fight over? In this course, we will examine the meanings that humans have ascribed to their nonhuman counterparts from a long-term perspective. Human-animal relationships inform much of what we consider to be society, including humans’ interactions with other humans. Those perceptions and practices vary widely across time and space, from shared experiences and mutual exchanges across species boundaries to processes of subordination and domestication that have reshaped human and animal bodies and behaviors to contemporary concerns over the nature of animal intelligence, emotions, and rights. Drawing on interdisciplinary readings in archaeology, anthropology, biology, history, psychology, and environmental studies, we will examine the changing ways that humans have conceptualized, commodified, and experienced our nonhuman counterparts from the past to the present.

Archaeological Writing. (ANTH 56950).  

This course is open to students currently working on writing a thesis, a dissertation or an article in archaeology. The course is organized around pre-circulation and presentation of a work in progress. Students will work collaboratively as a writing group and offer feedback during weekly meetings. Co-taught with Alice Yao.

Making the Maya World (ANTH 26330/36330 / LACS 36330/36330 ).  

What do we know about the ancient Maya? Pyramids, palaces, and temples are found from Mexico to Honduras, texts in hieroglyphic script record the histories of kings and queens who ruled those cities, and painted murals, carved stone stelae, and ceramic vessels provide a glimpse of complex geopolitical dynamics and social hierarchies. Decades of archaeological research have expanded that view beyond the rulers and elites to explore the daily lives of the Maya people, networks of trade and market exchange, and agricultural and ritual practices. Present-day Maya communities attest to the dynamism and vitality of languages and traditions, often entangled in the politics of archaeological heritage and tourism. This course is a wide-ranging exploration of ancient Maya civilization and of the various ways archaeologists, anthropologists, linguists, historians, and indigenous communities have examined and manipulated the Maya past. From tropes of long-hidden mysteries rescued from the jungle to New Age appropriations of pre-Columbian rituals, from the thrill of decipherment to painstaking and technical artifact studies, we will examine how models drawn from astrology, ethnography, classical archaeology and philology, political science, and popular culture have shaped current understandings of the ancient Maya world, and also how the Maya world has, at times, resisted easy appropriation and defied expectations.

 

Un-Natural Histories: Inventing Nature and Knowledge (ANTH 54812) 

This graduate seminar is a comparative exploration of natural histories— the observation, collection, classification, description, and explanation of what is commonly called “nature”. But what is “nature”, if not the result of that history-making? Drawing on diverse case studies, we will ask: how do humans make sense of the worlds around them? In particular, this course aims to examine and expand the seemingly self-evident corpus of natural histories (e.g., Aristotle, Pliny the Elder, Linnaeus, Cuvier, etc.) in light of non-Western and non-written ways in which direct observation, emic rationality, and prior knowledge have been employed to understand and manipulate natural phenomena. We will rethink the universality of supposedly fundamental conceptual categories: nature and culture; animal, vegetal, and mineral; matter and mind. Do humans always recognize insects, elephants, and fungi—not to mention humans—as independent taxa? Do outliers, dualizers, and monsters subvert or reinforce classification systems? Can one ever describe plants and animals without making use of analogies? How does studying animals from the inside (through vivisection and taxidermy) change what humans know about animals (or about humans)? If manioc is a pet, can it still be just a vegetable?

James Osborne

Ancient Empires !: The Hittite Empire (NEHC 20011)

This course introduces students to the Hittite Empire of ancient Anatolia. In existence from roughly 1650-1200 BCE, and spanning across modern Turkey and beyond, the Hittite Empire is one of the oldest and largest kingdoms of the ancient world. We will be examining their history and their political and cultural accomplishments through analysis of their written records – composed in Hittite, the world’s first recorded Indo-European language – and their archaeological remains. In the process, we will also be examining the concept of “empire” itself: What is an empire, and how do anthropologists, archaeologists, and historians study this unique kind of political formation? This course therefore has two goals. First, students should emerge with a broad familiarity of the historical trajectory of the Hittite Empire and its neighbors from the beginning of written records to the empire’s post-collapse cultural regeneration in the early first millennium BCE. Second, students should acquire a sense of imperialism as a general phenomenon for analysis. No prior knowledge of Anatolian or Near Eastern history is required.

Ancient Near Eastern History: Anatolia (NEHC 20002/30002)

This course introduces students to the history of ancient Anatolia and its neighbors from the first historical texts around 2000 BCE to the arrival of Alexander the Great. Some of the famous ancient Near Eastern civilizations that we encounter include the Assyrians, Hittites, Phrygians, Lydians, Persians, and Israelites. We will focus on the information provided by inscriptions - especially political and socioeconomic history - as well as the relevant archaeological and art historical records. No prior knowledge of Anatolian or Near Eastern history is required.

 

Archaeology of the Ancient Near East II: Anatolia (NEHC 20002/30002)

This course will survey the archaeological record of ancient Anatolia (modern Turkey) from the start of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period (ca. 9500 BCE) to the end of the Iron Age (ca. 550 BCE). The material will cover a selection of significant archaeological sites designed to illustrate the diversity of cultures in Anatolia and to demonstrate broader regional patterns and themes. The presentation of sites will be accompanied by readings and discussions on the interpretation of archaeological data.

BIG: Monumental Buildings and Sculptures in the Past & Present (NEHC 20085)

The building of sculpted monuments and monumental architecture seems to be a universal human trait in all parts of the world, from the pyramids of ancient Egypt to the inuksuit cairns of the artic Inuit. What explains our urge to create monumental things? Why are monuments built, and how do we experience them? This course explores various answers to these questions through the disciplines that most frequently address monuments: archaeology, architecture, and art history. In the process, we will encounter a number of the major trends that have characterized the humanities and social sciences in the past century. This course examines humankind’s monumental record through a series of famous case studies from around the world to investigate the social significance of monuments in their original ancient or modern contexts. We will also determine whether lessons learned from th¬e past can be applied to the study of monuments today, and whether studying modern monuments – including those from our immediate surroundings in Chicago – can help us understand those of the past.

Ceramic Analysis (ANTH 36200/NEAA 40020)

At archaeological sites following the invention of pottery roughly 10,000 BCE, ceramics are the single most frequent and ubiquitous class of artefact that archaeologists uncover. This class, which will be conducted in the Oriental Institute Museum as a combination of lectures, discussions, and hands-on interactions with ancient and modern ceramics, surveys the methods and interpretive techniques that archaeologists use when studying this important category of material culture. Specific topics include manufacturing techniques, craft specialization, typology and chronology, production and exchange, scientific analyses, stylistic and functional analysis, and socio-political organization.

Gordion and its Neighbors: Central Anatolia during the Iron Age (NEAA 20333/30333)

This class is an in-depth study of central Anatolia's most important archaeological site during the early first millennium BCE: Gordion, the capital city of the kingdom of Phrygia. In addition to learning the archaeology of this site in great detail, we will also use it as a foundation to explore neighboring excavations in the region, including the Iron Age levels of Hattusha, Kaman-Kalehöyük, Kınık Höyük, and others.

Pottery of Ancient Anatolia (NEAA 30015)

This course is an in-depth survey of the various ceramic traditions that have characterized Anatolia from the invention of pottery in the Neolithic period to the Islamic period (time permitting). We will use collections in the Oriental Institute Museum to gain hands-on familiarity with these corpora, although the ceramic repertoire of Anatolia is so vast and diverse that the class will also involve lectures and student presentations on ceramics only available in scholarly literature. This class is structured less as a teacher-directed instructional, and more as a collaborative project in which we become masters of the Anatolian ceramic repertoire together.

The Mediterranean Sea in Antiquity: Imperial Connections (NEHC 40020)

The Mediterranean Sea has long inspired imaginings of lands and peoples connected by its waters. From the Romans’ Mare Nostrum, “our sea,” to today’s variants of “middle sea” – Greek Mesogeios, German Mittelmeer, and of course, Latin Mediterranean – imaginations of the sea have often celebrated its spatial and social cohesion. The Mediterranean continues to possess a middling geopolitical identity today, situated as it is between continental Europe, the Aegean, the Middle East, and North Africa. And yet, despite our diachronic investment in recognizing the Mediterranean’s grand narrative as a locus of cultural connectivity, its long-term histories of interregional dynamics remain difficult to approach holistically. This concern is especially salient when it comes to the study of ancient empires, those large, expansionary polities whose social, political, and economic practices drew disparate groups together, and at times forced them apart. 

The Neo-Hittite and Aramaean City-States (NEAA 30330)

This seminar explores the city-state system that arose in the eastern Mediterranean at the beginning of the Iron Age, ca. 1200 B.C.E. Most commonly referred to as “Syro-Hittite,” these kingdoms thrived for roughly 500 years until their piecemeal destruction at the hands of the Assyrian Empire. We will examine models for how this city-state system arose following the collapse of the Late Bronze Age political economy, how statehood and social identity were enacted during the centuries of their greatest cultural expressions, and how and why their political structure and cultural patterns came to an end. Our sources will be contemporary inscriptions and the archaeological record of the region. Other topics will include religious practices, military history, and interregional connections with the Assyrian Empire, the Aegean, and Israel/Judah.

Cecilia Palombo

Ancient Empires V: The Umayyads (NEHC 20015)

The Umayyads ruled over the last “great empire” of late antiquity: the early Islamic empire, spanning from the Atlas to the Hindu Kush, from the Atlantic to the Amu Darya, and embracing regions with different cultural and political traditions. This course introduces to the history of the Umayyad caliphate, focusing on some of the visible legacies its inhabitants left behind: texts, objects, and monumental buildings that are still standing in cities of the Middle East and Europe. But we will also reflect upon less material legacies: for example, cities with a long-lasting urban culture, infrastructures for communicating across a vast empire, the consolidation of religious traditions, and exchanges and cohabitation of different religious groups.

Hervé Reculeau

Ancient Near Eastern History and Society 2: Mesopotamia (NEHC 20002/30002)

This course offers an overview of the history of Mesopotamia from its origins down to the Achaemenid and Hellenistic periods, when Mesopotamia became part of larger empires. Weeks 1 to 5, preceding mid-term exam, cover the periods ranging from the late Chalcolithic down to the end of the Middle Bronze age (late fifth to mid-second millennia BCE). Weeks 6 to 10 study the developments of the Late Bronze and Iron Ages, from the period of the archives of El-Amarna in the fourteenth century BCE down to the time of Alexander the Great in the late fourth century BCE.

Climate, Culture and Society in the Ancient Near East (NEHC 20464/HIST 20310)

This course is part of the new curricular initiative Course Cluster on Climate Change, Culture and Society. Using primarily case studies from the Ancient Near East (from prehistory to the first millennium BCE) as a basis for discussion, the course will investigate the nature of the relationship between human societies and their environment, with a specific focus on situations of climatic change. Students will be invited to reflect on discourses on human-environment interactions from Herodotus to the IPCC, on notions such as environmental or social determinism, possibilism and reductionism, societal collapse and resilience, and on recent academic trends at the crossroads of Humanities, Social Sciences and Environmental Studies. This will allow them to develop critical skills that nurture their reflexions on current debates on anthropogenic climate change and the Anthropocene.

Coping with Changing Climates in Early Antiquity I & II (NEHC 30466 & 30467)

This two-quarter seminar is offered as part of an ongoing collaborative research project called “Coping with Changing Climates in Early Antiquity: Comparative Approaches Between Empiricism and Theory,” developped jointly at the University of Chicago, the University of Michigan and Purdue University. Using a shared syllabus at the three institutions, and some joint sessions in the form of webinars, the seminar will cover the theoretical framework that allows for an in-depth understanding of the relations between human societies and their environments, and on social response to change in their social, political and environmental climates (Winter quarter); it will present a series of case studies in three key geographic areas: Egypt and Nubia; the Eastern Mediterranean and Anatolia; and Mesopotamia (Spring quarter). Students will be exposed to cross-cultural approaches and will be able to interact with partners at other institutions through an online discussion group. Students will have the opportunity to work collaboratively (2-3 students) within their institution and across institutions on a research project of their choice, whose results will be presented at a poster session during the project's final conference in 2020, and will then be exhibited at the three partner institutions in the course of Academic Year 2020-2021.

 

Did Climate Doom the Ancients? (NEHC 20464)

This course offers a critical introduction to the study of the relationship between human societies and their environment, with a specific focus on situations of rapid climatic change (RCC) in early historical periods. Students will be invited to reflect on discourses about climate and its influence on human societies from Herodotus to the IPCC; on notions such as environmental or social determinism, possibilism and reductionism, societal collapse and resilience; and on recent academic trends at the crossroads of Humanities, Social Sciences and Environmental Studies. Alternating lectures (Tu) and discussion sessions (Th), the first half of the quarter introduces the notion of “climate,” from its origins in Classical Greece to the present, and how this concept has been (and still is) used to define human groups and their history; it also offers an overview of the theories and methods that shape our current understanding of climate change and its effect on societies (past and present). The second half of the quarter is devoted to case studies, with a specific focus on the Ancient Near East (from prehistory to the first millennium BCE). Students will be asked to present the readings and participate in classroom discussions; write an article summary; and conduct a personal research (midterm annotated bibliography and research proposal; final essay) on a topic of their choice, which needs not be limited to the Ancient Near East.

 

Imperialism Before the Age of Empires (HIST 20312/30312; NEHC 30737)

This course offers a critical analysis of the use of concepts such as empire and imperialism in the historiography of ancient Mesopotamia to address political formations that developed (and vanished) from the Early to Late Bronze Ages (mid-3rd to late-2nd millennium BCE). Drawing from theoretical studies on imperialism and the imperial constructions that developed in the Iron Age and beyond (starting with the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian empires), this seminar will explore the nature of power, control, and resource management in these early formations, and how they qualify (or not) as imperial policies. Students will address a substantial part of Mesopotamian history (from the Sargonic down to the Middle Assyrian and Babylonian periods) and study in depth some key historiographical issues for the history of Early Antiquity. Primary documents will be read in translation and the course has no ancient language requirements. However, readings of secondary literature in common academic languages (especially French and German) are to be expected.
This course fulfills the requirements of a survey course in Mesopotamian civilization as defined by the Ancient PhD programs in NELC and MA program in the CMES.

The Age of Empires in the Ancient Near East (NEHC 21012/31012)

This course offers a critical appraisal of the concepts of empire and imperialism in the historiography of ancient Mesopotamia and Iran to address political formations that developed (and vanished) during the first millennium BCE, with a focus on the Neo-Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian, and Achaemenid empires. This seminar will explore the nature of power, control, and resource management in these early empires, and how they served as the blueprint for the later imperial formations of Classical and Late Antiquity. Students will address a substantial part of Mesopotamian and Iranian history and study in depth some key historiography issues for the history of Antiquity. Primary documents will be read in translation and the course has no ancient language requirements. However, some readings of secondary literature in common academic languages (especially French and German) are to be expected. Students will be asked to present the readings and participate in classroom discussions; write a book review; and conduct a personal research on a topic of their choice (midterm annotated bibliography and research proposal; final essay). This course fulfills the requirements of a survey course in Mesopotamian civilization as defined by the Ancient PhD programs in NELC and the MA program in the CMES.

François Richard

Anthropology of Space/Place/Landscape (ANTH 58510)

Materiality has emerged as a fertile interest in anthropology and other social sciences. Within this broad conceptual umbrella, space, place, and landscape have become critical lenses for analyzing and interpreting people’s engagement with their physical surroundings. Once an inert backdrop to social life, a mere epiphenomenon, the material world is now acknowledged as a generative medium and terrain of cultural production: at once socially produced and framing sociality, shaping and constraining human possibilities, both by and against design. This course concerns itself with these articulations: (1) the spatial production of social worlds, (2) its expressions in different cultural and historical settings, and (3) its trails of ambiguous effects. Drawing on several fields, anthropology and geography chiefly, but also art history, architecture, philosophy, and social theory, we will explore how the triad of space/place/landscape works on, in, and through different social worlds and its role in the making of social experience, perception, and imagination. We will also reflect on how spatial formations frequently elude the very social projects that have birthed them. The objective of the course is to provide you with a foundation in contemporary spatial thought, which can be creatively applied to questions of spatiality in your own research setting. 

Archaeologies of Political Life (ANTH 58702)

This seminar examines how archaeologists have approached political life in the past forty years. Its aim is to question the categories through which political worlds are often studied (beginning with such unwieldy terms as 'states,’ 'chiefdoms,’ ‘complexity,’ etc.) and complicate analyses of politics in the past. Rather than relying on concepts that already predetermine the outcome of political functioning, we will read key texts in anthropology and political theory (on sovereignty, domination, legitimacy, political economy, governance, ideology, hegemony, subjectivity, anarchy) to dissect the foundations and operations of power, expose its cultural logics, and explore the processes behind the categories. Some of the questions that will guide our discussions include: How do politics work in both past and present? Through what channels and modalities? With what effects (anticipated or not)? And what role does the material world play in mediating these relations? Each week will pair theoretical readings with case-studies drawn from different parts of the world and from different moments in history. Through this seminar, students will gain familiarity with classic archaeological thinking on power and critical perspectives steering contemporary studies of past politics. 

Archaeology Laboratory Practicum (ANTH 59500)

This hands-on lab practicum course exposes students to various stages of artifact processing on a collection from a recently excavated site (e.g., washing, sorting, flotation, identification, data entry, analysis, report preparation, curation). The primary requirement is that students commit to a minimum of nine hours of lab work per week, with tasks assigned according to immediate project needs. 

Archaeology Theory and Method (ANTH 39000)

This course offers an exploration of archaeological theory in historical and contemporary perspective. Our goals for this class are threefold: 1) To examine the foundations of modern archaeological thinking, its main conceptual trends, and ties to broader anthropological inquiry over time; 2) To expose students to key themes and conversations in contemporary archaeology; and 3) To discuss the intersections between archaeological research and other fields of ideas. Required for Anthro/Archaeology students, others with Consent of Instructor.

Materiality (ANTH 46821)

Materiality is on everyone’s lips these days. Literatures across the disciplines are full of living bodies and concrete experiences, object biographies, ‘theories of things,’ a return to ‘matter,’ ‘new’ materialisms spun
out of ‘old’ ones... While generative, materiality’s ubiquity also betrays a gap, an ambiguity, an absence. For what materiality is exactly remains unsure. Some seem to use it as a descriptive shorthand for the material world. Others as an analytic tending to the materialness of existence. Or as a discourse on it. For others still,
it denotes the tangible effects of actions, practice, signs, and thought. Or a framework for unpacking the relationships mediating between people and things... Conjurations abound, yet seldom escape a certain circularity (“materiality studies... materiality?”). The concept has been used to frame a near infinite horizon
of topics, from artefacts, of course, to cosmology, faith, finance, and absence, encompassing phenomena both enduring and ephemeral, both there and not-there. In taking on so much, has materiality outlasted its usefulness? What analytic work did it perform in the first place? With these considerations as background, through classic and recent literatures, this seminar will examine the relevance of ‘materiality’ (epistemologically, conceptually, methodologically) to anthropologies of the contemporary world, at a time when the ontologies of old are dissolving into a bubbling landscape of mixtures, hybridities, and posthumanities, which forces us to rethink basic questions of identity, agency, ethics and politics. 

Social Life of Things (And Beyond): Objects, People, Value (ANTH 46820)

Twenty years ago, Arjun Appadurai published a seminal collection on The Social Life of Things, marking a watershed in anthropological understandings of consumption, circulation, and production, and the role of objects in mediating between cultural sensibilities and economic flows. This work has stimulated a wealth of interest in materiality, and over the years, research has sought to expand the insights of Appadurai’s collection to shed greater light on the relationship between mind, matter, and subjectivity. Drawing on these recent developments, this course aims to explore the material dimensions of cultural life and cultural production. As we engage with contemporary and classic writings in cultural anthropology, archaeology, philosophy, and social theory, we will grapple with several key issues: the boundaries between objects and subjects; the agency of persons and things; the relationship between objects and meaning, between experience and imagination; and the production of sociality in the actions/transactions linking people to their material world. The question of value is crucially implicated in these processes, and will require particular attention. And because material transactions are embedded in overlapping fields of power and politics, we will remain attentive to the ways in which objects make/mark/transgress difference, inequalities, and social boundaries. While we will discuss theories of materiality per se, our focus will rest mostly in theorizing how things work in and through concrete social and historical contexts. In this light, ethnographic studies will provide precious resources in helping

us outline the logics, terrains, and lineaments of material and cultural production. Indeed, a central goal of this course is to examine how we can mobilize ethnographic insights on object worlds to reframe or expand archaeological inquiries and possibilities, and how, in turn, archaeological imaginations may help to enhance anthropological understandings of materiality. 

David Schloen

Archaeological Methods and Interpretations (NEAA 20100/30100, NEHC 30100)

The first part of this course surveys the history of archaeology as a discipline and the methods used by archaeologists to obtain evidence about past human activity via excavations, surface surveys, and remote-sensing technologies; and also surveys the methods used to date, classify, and analyze various kinds of evidence after it has been obtained. The second half of the course surveys the main paradigms in social theory and examines the theoretical concepts and assumptions archaeologists have used to make sense of what they find.

Art & Archaeology of the Levant (NEAA 20003/30003)

This course surveys the archaeology of the Levant from the Stone Age to the early Roman period, with emphasis on the Bronze and Iron Ages. For the periods after the Iron Age, the focus will be on the Southern Levant.

Households, Kinship, and Demography in the Ancient Levant (NEAA 30331)

IIn this course we will read widely in the archaeological, historical, and sociological literature pertaining to ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern households, kinship, and demography, with attention to methodological issues involved in interpreting relevant archaeological and textual evidence.

Introduction to Archaeology (NEAA 20100/30100)

Archaeology is the study of the material evidence of past human activity. This course, which is offered every year in the Autumn Quarter, explores the history of archaeology as a discipline and the methods used by archaeologists to obtain evidence about past human activity via excavations, surface surveys, and remote-sensing technologies such as satellite imagery and ground-penetrating radar, with emphasis on archaeological fieldwork in the Middle East. This course also surveys the latest methods used to date, classify, and analyze various kinds of evidence after it has been obtained. And since archaeological data is always collected and interpreted within an intellectual framework of theoretical conceptions concerning human society, culture, and history, this course provides a brief overview of “archaeological theory,” i.e., the uses made by archaeologists of a wide range of different social theories that may lead to quite different interpretations of the same data. This topic is explored in more depth in a companion course on “Social Theory and Ancient Studies” (NEHC 20010/30010), which is offered in alternate years in the Winter Quarter.

Social Theory and Ancient Studies (NEHC 20010/30010)

IThis course introduces the main paradigms of social thought and their philosophical basis and examines their impact on archaeology and historical studies. Theoretical views, whether acknowledged or merely implicit, strongly affect scholarly interpretations of empirical data. The data do not speak for themselves but are interpreted quite differently depending on the theoretical paradigm at work in the interpretation. In this course, we will focus on the ways in which various social theories have shaped scholarly views of social and economic life in the ancient Near East, in particular.

The Bible and Archaeology (NEHC 20121/30121)

In this course we will look at how interpretation of evidence unearthed by archaeologists contributes to a historical-critical reading of the Bible, and vice versa. We will focus on the cultural background of the biblical narratives, from the stories of Creation and Flood to the destruction of the Jerusalem temple by the Romans in the year 70. No prior coursework in archaeology or biblical studies is required, although it will be helpful for students to have taken JWSC 20120 (Introduction to the Hebrew Bible). 

Trade and Exchange in the Ancient Near East (NEAA 20332/30332)

In this course, we will discuss premodern modes of economic exchange and their systemic societal effects in light of their institutional embedding, with emphasis on trade and markets in the ancient Mediterranean and Middle East.

Mehrnoush Soroush

Ancient Empires IV: Persia  (NEHC 20014)

This course introduces students to the Achaemenid Empire, also known as the First Persian Empire (ca. 550-330 BCE). We will be examining the political history and cultural accomplishments of the Achaemenids who, from their homeland in modern-day Iran, quickly rose to become one of the largest empires of the ancient world, ruling from North Africa to North India at their height. We will also be examining the history of Greek-Persian encounters and the image of the Achaemenids in Greek and Biblical literature. The students will visit the Oriental Institutes’ archive and object collection to learn more about the University of Chicago’s unique position in the exploration, excavation, and restoration of the Persian Empire’s royal architecture and administrative system through the Persian Expedition carried out in the 1930s.

Ancient Landscapes I & II (NEAA 20061/30061 & 20062/30062; ANTH 26710/36710 & 26711/36711; GEOG 25400/35400 & 25800/35800)

This is a two-course sequence that introduces students to theory and method in landscape studies and the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to analyze archaeological, anthropological, historical, and environmental data. Course one covers the theoretical and methodological background necessary to understand spatial approaches to landscape and the fundamentals of using ESRI’s ArcGIS software, and further guides students in developing a research proposal. Course two covers more advanced GIS-based analysis (using vector, raster, and satellite remote sensing data) and guides students in carrying out their own spatial research project. In both courses, techniques are introduced through the discussion of case studies (focused on the archaeology of the Middle East) and through demonstration of software skills. During supervised laboratory times, the various techniques and analyses covered will be applied to sample archaeological data and also to data from a region/topic chosen by the student.

Gil Stein

Introduction to the Archaeology of Afghanistan (NEAA 20070/30070, ANTH 26755/36755) 

Afghanistan is the quintessential “crossroads of cultures” where the civilizations of the Near East, Central Asia, South Asia and China interacted over the millennia in a constantly shifting mixture of trade, emulation, migration, imperial formations, and periodic conflict. This complex history of contacts gave rise to some of the most important archaeological, artistic, architectural, and textual treasures in world cultural heritage – encompassing cultures as diverse as the Bronze Age cities of Bactria, the Persian Empire, the easternmost colonies founded by Alexander the Great and his Hellenistic successors, the Kushan empire astride the Silk Road, and the monumental Buddhas of Bamiyan. Although the first excavations began in the 1920’s, there has been only limited fieldwork in Afghanistan, and even this was truncated by the Soviet invasion in 1979 and the subsequent 35 years of continuous war in that country.
This course presents an introduction to the archaeology of Afghanistan from the Neolithic through the Medieval Islamic periods, focusing on sites in Afghanistan and the region’s cultural linkages to neighboring areas such as Iran, Central Asia, and South Asia. The final portion of the course will discuss the threats to Afghan cultural heritage, and current effort to preserve this patrimony. The course is intended for both graduate and undergraduate students who have had at least one introductory course in archaeology.

Introduction to Zooarchaeology (NEAA 30035)

This course introduces the use of animal bones in archaeological research. Students gain hands-on experience analyzing faunal remains from an archaeological site in the Near East. Topics include: (1) identifying, aging, and sexing animal bones; (2) zooarchaeological sampling, measurement, quantification, and problems of taphonomy; (3) computer analysis of animal bone data; and (4) reconstructing prehistoric hunting and pastoral economies (e.g., animal domestication, hunting strategies, herding systems, seasonality, pastoral production in complex societies). 

The Rise of the State in the Ancient Near East (NEAA 20030)

This course introduces the background and development of the first urbanized civilizations in the Near East in the period from 9000 to 2200 BC. In the first half of this course, we examine the archaeological evidence for the first domestication of plants and animals and the earliest village communities in the "fertile crescent" (i.e., the Levant, Anatolia, Mesopotamia). The second half of this course focuses on the economic and social transformations that took place during the development from simple, village-based communities to the emergence of the urbanized civilizations of the Sumerians and their neighbors in the fourth and third millennia BC. 

Topics in Mesopotamian Prehistory: The Ubaid Horizon and the Origins of Social Complexity in Mesopotamia (NEAA 20161/30161; ANTH 36725)

This course introduces the background and development of the first urbanized civilizations in the Near East in the period from 9000 to 2200 BC. In the first half of this course, we examine the archaeological evidence for the first domestication of plants and animals and the earliest village communities in the "fertile crescent" (i.e., the Levant, Anatolia, Mesopotamia). The second half of this course focuses on the economic and social transformations that took place during the development from simple, village-based communities to the emergence of the urbanized civilizations of the Sumerians and their neighbors in the fourth and third millennia BC. 

Russ Tuttle

Apes and Human Evolution (ANTH 21428/38600, BIOS 13253, HIPS 21428)

A critical examination of the ways in which data on the behavior, morphology and genetics of apes have been used to elucidate human evolution, with particular emphasis on bipedalism, hunting, meat-eating, tool behavior, food sharing, cognitive ability, language, self-awareness, and sociability. Visits to local zoos, films, and demonstrations with casts of fossils and skeletons.

Celebrity and Science in Paleoanthropology (ANTH 38300) 

This seminar explores the balance among research, "showbiz" big business, and politics in the careers of Louis, Mary, and Richard Leakey; Alan Walker; Donald Johanson; Jane Goodall; Dian Fossey; and Biruté Galdikas. Information is gathered from films, taped interviews, autobiographies, biographies, pop publications, instructor's anecdotes, and samples of scientific writings.

Reading Race (ANTH 38305) 

Before and since Anthropology became a discrete scientific field of study, questions about the biological reality, potential utility and misuse of the concept of race in Homo sapiens have been debated. We will read and discuss a sample of writings by 18th, 19th, and 20th century and contemporary authors who attempted to define human races and those who have promoted or debunked the utility of the concept of race with special attention to it role in retarding social progress, and the extermination and exploitation of some populations and individuals.

Donald Whitcomb

Archaeology of the Ancient Near East V: Islamic Period (NEAA 20005)

This survey of the regions of the Middle East presents the urban systems of each region. The focus is a comparative stratigraphy of the archaeological evidence and the contribution of this material towards an understanding of Islamic history and ancient archaeological periods in the Near East.

Introduction to Islamic Archaeology (NEAA 20501/30501)

This course is intended as a survey of the regions of the fertile crescent from the 9th to the 19th century.  The aim will be a comparative stratigraphy for the archaeological periods of the last millennium.  Key archaeological sites for each region will be presented to form a corpus of knowledge illustrating the interaction of history and archaeology.  The aim will be the study of patterns of cultural interaction over this region, which may also amplify understanding of ancient archaeological periods in the Near East.

Late Levant: Archaeology of Islamic Syria-Palestine (NEAA 20522, 30522)

This course is an exploration of the cultural patterns in the Levant from the late Byzantine period down to modern times, a span of some 1500 years.  While the subject matter will be archaeological sites of this period in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel, the focus will be on the role of medieval archaeology in amplifying the history of economic and social systems.  It is this connective quality of Islamic archaeology which contributes to an understanding of the earlier history and archaeology of this region.

Teagan Wolter

Introduction to the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East I - Mesopotamia (NEAA 20001/30001)

This course will give an overview of the archaeology of ancient Mesopotamia. We will examine the material remains of various cultures in and around ancient Mesopotamia and engage with themes of social complexity, urbanism, collapse, and continuity/change through time. Students in this survey course will gain basic knowledge of the archaeological data used to create a picture of life in the Mesopotamian region in ancient times.

Alice Yao

Archaeological Data Sets (ANTH 46900)

This course focuses on the methodological basis of archaeological data analysis.  Its goals are twofold, first to provide students with an opportunity to examine research questions through the study of archaeological data, and second to allow students to evaluate evidential claims in light of analytical results.  We will consider data collection, sampling and statistical populations, exploratory data analysis, and statistical inference.  The course is built around computer applications and, thus, will also provide an introduction to computer analysis, data encoding, and data base structure.

Archaeological Writing (ANTH 56950).  

This course is open to students currently working on writing a thesis, a dissertation or an article in archaeology. The course is organized around pre-circulation and presentation of a work in progress. Students will work collaboratively as a writing group and offer feedback during weekly meetings. Co-taught with Sarah Newman.

Creativity and Craftwork (ANTH 58517).  

The central theme of this course is an exploration of creativity from the perspective of anthropology, philosophy, and the design. From the creative industries, to the creative class and creative commons, creativity appears less a faculty of certain individuals and more a collective force which produces new relationships and values. Why is creativity a persistent and prominent item on a variety of agendas, education, commercial spheres and more broadly in culture? Why does it matter to consider the creative possibilities of skilled labor and of manufactured products? What is at stake in the creative life? This course aims to work through the conceptual issues posed by creativity, in particular its complex intellectual history and traditions of thought, for an anthropological approach to this topic. We will endeavor to shift the inquiry beyond Romantic notions of genius and modern perspectives on the commodity aesthetic with readings drawn from ethnographies of craftwork & design and theories of embodied and tacit knowledge. The course thus draws from a variety of disciplines to explore how the processes of making - the hand, skills, gestures, materials, and learning - may help us think about the shifting domains of creative action. We will also visit a pottery studio and take a lesson to complement our inquiry on embodied thought.

Death, the Body, and the Ends of Life (ANTH 48710)

Is death a universal and natural condition? Is life necessarily its opposite? Anthropologists have sought to problematize the biological and psychological ‘reality’ of death by drawing out the conditional ways death
is constructed and experienced across different cultural contexts. These range from ‘normal’ deaths to the unconventional (e.g. sorcery killings and human sacrifice) and even virtual deaths. How might these culturally specific accounts be open to comparison and influence new conceptualizations? This course will explore this wide-ranging literature to foreground how death puts self, personhood, and the social into question while engaging the body or corpse as a site of this cultural (re)production. A focus of the course is to seek out a possible productive tension between death as a form of cultural representation to those that analyze the making and allowing of life and death. Tracing classic to recent ethnographic, archaeological, psychological writings, this course will explore themes such as grief and mourning, the undead, immortality, disposals and funerals, and the materiality of dying. 

Material Worlds across Premodern East Asia (ANTH 21270; EALC 21270)

China, Korea, and Japan are recognized as key players in the globalized world. Together they figure East Asia as a region of dynamic growth where consumers and producers create new goods and tastes at an unprecedented pace. East Asia however perplexes in that liberal ideology and politic does not appear to be a condition of liberal economy. This course examines the topic of materialism in East Asia in its pre-capitalist formations (1000 BC-1500 AD) through the lens of consumption and production in China, Korea, and Japan. In particular we explore how things become goods within the framework of autocratic states, how rituals create consumers and temptations, as well as the conditions which entertain popular panregional forms such as manga, martial arts, and mafia. The course draws on anthropology, archaeology, mixed media materials, and museum visits.

People's Garbage: Introduction to Archaeology and Histories of Waste (ANTH 20007)

This course introduces students to the myriad ways in which archaeologists use material culture to understand social worlds both in the distant past and lived present. Through active course attendance, field trips, and lab exercises, students will gain a solid grounding in archaeological methods and theory and learn how archaeologists come to know or make claims about social lives. In particular we will draw on a range of world case studies to address how people's garbage permits us to study important social, economic, and political questions. How, for instance, does the size of a corn cob or the biography of a kettle narrate a "farm to table" story which also brings a history of consumer culture into view. We will inquire equally after "why the past matters" and "whose past is it anyway." In the process students will also examine archaeology's relationships with allied disciplines and fields.

Style (ANTH 58515)

Style is a paradoxical concept that seemingly defies description and interpretation. It is shared and individual, timeless yet impossibly mutable. Style also inspires and limits, defining traditional and novel forms of human expression. This course considers how the different stakes of representation are worked through the analytic of style. Surveying theoretical perspectives across several disciplines -- anthropology, art history, architecture, and technology studies -- this course reconsiders the conceptual basis of style and its applications to ethnographic and archaeological cases while attempting an exploration of its cognitive and affective dimensions.

 

Co-taught with Sarah Newman:

Archaeological Writing (ANTH 56950)

This course is open to students currently working on writing a thesis, a dissertation or an article in archaeology. The course is organized around pre-circulation and presentation of a work in progress. Students will work collaboratively as a writing group and offer feedback during weekly meetings.

 

Co-taught with Yung-Ti Li:

Archaeological Approaches to Early China (ANTH 56155, EALC 56155)

This course will examine the formation of cultures and societies in ancient China from the Neolithic period (beginning ca. 8000 B.C.E.) through the establishment of the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.E.-220 C.E.). Throughout the course we will focus particularly on recent archaeological discoveries in China and the ways they produce and challenge new and existing knowledge about the past. We will examine how (pre)historical origins and transitions are conceived and the limits and strengths posed by the material record, paying particular attention to the development and shifts in archaeological epistemologies with respect to the material record. In addition to covering major political developments, we will pay close attention to religious, intellectual, and social trends, as well as to changes in the material culture of ancient China. Topics which we will strive to think through include (1) time/change, (2) local/regional, (3) classification, (4) culture/identity, (5) nature/adaptation, (6) meaning/symbol. (7) action/agency, and (9) power/ideology.