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Mesopotamian Archaeology

Mesopotamian Archaeology

Please see also the MPhil in Assyriology for additional courses



Dr Augusta McMahon


The Course

This MPhil course covers the archaeology of the prehistoric and historical periods of Mesopotamia, from c 6000 BC to the Persian Period. The course is divided chronologically, with each half taught in alternate years:

  • Archaeology of Mesopotamia: Prehistory and early states [taught in 2020–21]
  • Archaeology of Mesopotamia: Territorial states through empires [taught in 2019–20]


The Themes

Themes addressed include:

  • origins and development of urbanism, complex societies and empires
  • development of religious institutions and economic bureaucracies
  • trade, diplomatic exchange and the creation of value
  • funerary rituals
  • the impact of climate change on settlement
  • elaboration of technology and hybridization in art.

This course option is appropriate for students with some background in Mesopotamian archaeology and for students new to the subject. Students wishing to combine study of the ancient languages with the archaeology and culture of Mesopotamia should apply for the MPhil in Assyriology.


The Structure

MPhil modules can either be one term or two terms (1T/2T) long. All students must complete the equivalent of three two-term modules:

(a)   Mesopotamian Archaeology I (2T)

(b)   Archaeological Concepts (1T) plus one other one term module

(c)   Either one two term module or two one term modules offered in the Department of Archaeology, subject to the instructor's consent and the approval of the MPhil co-ordinators.

In addition, students take the Research Skills module and write a 15,000 word dissertation on a topic in Mesopotamian Archaeology. The dissertation is an independent in-depth research project; it may be based on fieldwork or museum collections, or on analysis of existing literature.


For further information, contact Dr Augusta McMahon, co-ordinator for this option.