The Ancient Near East in the 2nd Millennium BC: Early Empires and International Relations

With the Late Bronze Age (c.1500-1200 BC), we enter a new phase of international relations and multi-cultural hegemonies. The rise of the Mittanian kingdom and the Hittite empire exemplify this new political constellation, where control is in the hands of a ruling elite and power depends on diplomacy as much as warfare. At the Hittite capital Hattusha, we investigate the organisation of power and the role of state religion. The importance of trade in foreign diplomacy is illustrated by the Amarna Letters, which record the relations between the Great Powers of the Late Bronze Age and help to explain the surge in luxury products and their distribution across the Aegean and the Near East. From the Kassites in Babylonia to the Egyptians in the Levant, we look at the assimilation of foreigners, the evidence for colonisation, and the emergence of a cosmopolitan civilization. What caused the collapse of the Bronze Age? We weigh the theories against the evidence.

Indicative module syllabus

  • Mittani and the Hurrians
  • Hattusha, Capital of the Hittite Empire
  • Hurro-Hittite Religion, Myths and Mortuary Cults: Yazilikaya
  • Trade and Diplomacy in the Armana Age
  • Luxury Industries and International Trends
  • Kassite Art and Architecture
  • Egypt's Asiatic Empire: Multi-Cultural Levant
  • Hittite Vassal Cities in Syria: Ugarit, Alalakh and Emar
  • The Great Collapse
  • Museum visit (Paris: Louvre)

15 credits at level 4

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First class: Thu 11-Jan-18 6.30pm-8.30pm

Class location Central London
Class code SSHC304H4ACB
Availability Availability limited

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