HISTART 689-001

Upper Level Seminar: Empire, Art, Identity: Visual Cultures of the Ancient Middle East

Tappan Hall 210
MW 1-2:30pm
3 Credit Seminar

Meets Together with CLARCH 470.001 and HISTART 497.001

Empires and people groups engaged, came into conflict, did business, and shared lives, in the ancient Middle East in the period marked by Roman influence between the first and fourth centuries AD. Monumental buildings, rock-art carvings, sculpted and painted tombs, and mosaics, among other artifacts of visual culture, bear testimony to the complex layers of interaction, competition, selection, change, and adaptation, that the peoples of this region negotiated in these centuries. In this course we will consider these visual materials, as well as the built environments of sites ranging from the rock-cut desert tombs of Petra (Jordan) and Mada'in Saleh (Saudi Arabia) to the harbor towns of Tyre and Byblos (Lebanon), and including images ranging from the anionic domestic wall paintings of the Nabataeans to sculpted portraits of Mesopotamian figures in Persian dress (East Turkey and Iraq). Throughout, we will pay attention to the complex negotiations of identity and cultural signifiers of belonging that were employed by people in the varying landscapes of the Middle East in this time. We will ask what it means for art to be 'Roman', 'Persian', or 'Nabataean', (amongst other cultural appellations), in this context, and consider how a visual history of this region of cultural diversity might most accurately be constructed and ordered.

Textbooks/Other Materials: All readings will be available on Canvas, or through course reserve

Course Requirements:
1. Attendance and participation in class discussion 15%
2. Presentation 20%
3. Annotated bibliography assignment 20%
4. Final paper 45%

Intended Audience: Upper undergraduates and graduate students

Class Format: Two 80-minute meetings per week, primarily consisting of discussion

Estimated Cost of Materials: $0-50

HISTART Distribution Requirements: A. Middle East, D. Europe and the US, 1. Ancient