Course Themes

In the Bachelor of Arts in Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies, you can build a degree that matches your interests and goals.

Find courses related to your goals and interests through our course theme explorer. Explore our numerous themes, from authority and resistance to traditions and more.

The resistance that arises from the interplay between individuals and authority can manifest in many forms, from subtle acts of resistance to armed uprisings.

These courses will explore facets of resistance and what it means to the individuals and groups who took it upon themselves to resist. Students will be encouraged to study these actions' deeper meanings and consequences, while attempting to understand their greater cultural relevance and historical impact.

The agricultural revolution nearly ten thousand years ago brought about significant changes for human beings, encouraging settlement and the production of surplus food to feed families through winter. As villages grew into city-states and nation-states, the concepts of territory, ownership, and geographical belonging took shape. In turn, more powerful entities looked to gain what others had.

These courses will allow students to explore and analyze the underlying reasons for competition, conflict, and violence, and their impact on the evolution of societies and cultures throughout history.

Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern communities were far more connected than many realize, with vast social, political, and economic networks stretching thousands of kilometres. In antiquity, these networks catalyzed the spread of ideas and technologies, created security, and bolstered local and regional economies.

These courses will engage with connectivity as the central theme underlying many social processes that occurred during antiquity, while also observing how these network relationships can form and flourish.

These courses touch on themes relevant to the historical, ideological, and material foundations of Western Civilization. In doing so, they seek to understand how the ancient world has influenced the genesis of Western culture, from antiquity until today.

Within these courses, students will explore the problematic nature of scholarship, both past and on-going, as it relates to the subjugation and colonization of people within the ancient Mediterranean and Near East. While these concepts have recently been receiving much attention, both within academia and main-stream media, we are only now beginning to unpack the cultural and psychological legacies of imperialism. These courses will examine ancient examples, as well as address how the fields of Classics and Archaeology have been used to perpetuate colonial mindsets.

How did ancient peoples interact with each other, and with communities outside of their direct cultural and geographic vicinity ? How do our own modern, Western concepts of identity and ethnicity affect how we interpret the ancient world?

Courses under this theme will address these questions using an array of theoretical methods, including anthropological, linguistic, and philosophical approaches. In turn, students will gain tools with which to interpret how ancient peoples conceived of the concepts such as identity and ethnicity; and how this both informs, and differs, from our modern world.

From a Cypriot copper smith to an Egyptian scribe, the relationship between specialized knowledge and social power was instrumental in the construction of communities around the ancient world. These courses will examine how access to particular skills, intellectual resources, and even religious mysteries informed interactions within and amongst different Mediterranean and Near Eastern cultures.

Students will engage with theoretical approaches that elucidate this relationship, further providing them with a skillset to understand how this relationship continues to impact our modern world.

These course focus on the agency of ancient individuals and their roles within their larger societies. Different social roles determined varied social affordances. For example, elite women in classical Athens were relegated to the household and their public appearances were limited, whereas other women in society, such as hetairai, were able to attend the otherwise all-male symposia. In Rome, elite men could attain political influence through their experience in the military and the connections they formed during their tenure as soldiers. Through examples such as these, students will gain exposure to the various ways in which social power manifested in the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East.

Economic incentives lay at the heart of connectivity and communication in the ancient world. From small-scale coastal trade networks in the Cyclades to the expansive road networks paved by the Romans, trade facilitated cultural exchange and economic growth.

These courses will investigate how new technologies, from writing to coinage, transformed trade practices, and how maritime technological breakthroughs allowed for larger and further reaching shipments of goods.

These courses explore how traditions are formed and maintained not only through oral and textual transmission, but also through physical and material expressions. The penates and lares, statues of the Roman household gods and protective deities, are one such example of a physical rendering of customs passed on from generation to generation.

The individual experiences of ancient persons are often overlooked in favor of cultural monoliths. While holistic narratives are integral to understanding larger historical patterns, it is important to inform these narratives with personal stories of the past. As our different identities and experiences inform our sense of self, these courses afford the same opportunity for ancient persons and their stories to come alive.

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