A writing system based on moist clay and wedges. Magic spells and maps through the underworld to the throne of Judgment. The production of the first papyrus scrolls, the potter’s wheel, law codes, astronomical and mathematical systems. Monumental architecture, ranging from city walls to mountain shaped temples, and decorative and useful arts: pottery, jewelry, carpets—even recipes for making beer. This course examines the literary and other cultural artifacts of the Ancient Near Eastern civilizations, focusing on Mesopotamia, Egypt, ancient Iran (Persia) and the Levant (Syria, Israel, and Palestine). We’ll look at ideas of kingship, society and social stratification, mythologies, and the arts from the early bronze age (about 3300 BCE) to the time of the Babylonian and Israelite kingdoms (through 539 BCE). We’ll consider the reality of plunder, warfare, and destruction in this fragile region and the possibility of constructing a consistent history of competing early cultures in the 21st century.
taught by R. Joseph Hoffmann
Holocaust traces the origins of the Third Reich’s program for genocide, from the first shouts of anti-Semitism in the Munich streets to the Endlosung at places like Sobibor, Treblinka, and Auschwitz. We will read and discuss original documents, historical analyses, and personal accounts, tracing out the development of the ‘final solution’ from brutal discrimination and dispossession through forced emigration, ghettoization, ‘special action,’ and – ultimately – physical annihilation. Students will examine not only the plight of the victims, but the motives and ambitions of the perpetrators, as well as the roles of allies, enemies, and by-standers in the years of war and in the wake of Nazi defeat.
taught by James Klein