Civilizations of the Ancient Near East

Department of Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations 

The department of Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations is comprised of two divisions: Egyptology and Assyriology, which offer independent full BA, MA and Ph.D programs.

Research and teaching in the department focuses on the early civilizations of the Ancient Near East and Egypt. The roots of Western civilization are found no less in the dust of the extinct cultures of Western Asia and of  Egypt than in the Greco-Roman culture. The kingdoms of Egypt and Mesopotamia, from the dawn of history to the Hellenistic period effected their neighboring societies in later eras in the domains of religion, art and literature, as well as in mathematics, astronomy, political structures, economy and law. The study of these two great cultures of the past is therefore indispensable for an in-depth analysis of later history until the present.

The many layers of society in the Fertile Crescent  and  in the Land of the Nile were far from being monolithic. These two great cultures were dynamic and complex, based on writing and learning, hierarchic bureaucracy, presenting sophisticated propaganda and intricate expression of political and religious  power. The amount of material that emerge from the timeworn landscapes of  nowadays Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, and Iran is enormous, growing literally by the day, constantly widening the horizons of our knowledge, and offering new research possibilities.

Within the department, Egyptology aims to advance the study and scholarship of Ancient Egyptian civilization from the First Dynasty to Coptic Egypt, focusing on Ancient Egyptian writing systems, the different phases of Egyptian Language, as well as the history of Ancient Egypt and its culture. Assyriology advances the study of cuneiform texts from ancient Mesopotamia, focusing on the two main languages of this culture - Sumerian and Akkadian. The studies include political and social history of Mesopotamia, its religion and literature in earlier and later periods, and a systematic survey of the various dialects of Akkadian.

Assyriology and Egyptology are demanding fields of study,  requiring years of painstaking philological, historical and cultural research, but this long path is rewarding indeed. Very few other fields in the Humanities are so gratifying.


The Dying Lion, a stone panel from the North Palace of Ashurbanipal, Nineveh, northern Iraq, Neo-Assyrian, around 645 BC