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Curricular information is subject to change
Module Specific Skills
Upon completion of the module, students will be able to demonstrate:
• awareness of the basic pantheon and surviving mythologies from ancient Mesopotamia and how these evolved over time
• greater awareness of the history of the Near Eastern civilisations that created these stories and sometimes appropriated and re-cast them in order to justify their rule over local populations (e.g. Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Macedonian, and Roman).
• the ability to engage directly with literary, visual, and material culture from the ancient near east in the first millennium BC.
• awareness of various methods used by modern scholars to study comparative literature/mythology and story telling across ancient cultures and compare these traditions to other story-telling traditions (e.g. Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian, etc).
Personal and Key Transferable/ Employment Skills and Knowledge:
• Through engagement with complex texts and trans-cultural traditions students will develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. They also will hone their ability to communicate their ideas and argument through oral and written presentations in lectures, tutorials, and coursework.
• Students will develop their ability to manage deadlines and balance conflicting demands on their time.
In lectures students will be introduced to ancient Mesopotamia both as a distinct region with longstanding connections to the Mediterranean world and as a source of a rich story-telling tradition that influenced Greece and Rome. Today we engage with these stories as paper or digital books, but some originated as parts of oral traditions and only survive for us to read today as archaeological artefacts made of clay. To that end we will explore the material challenges involved in compiling a canon of Mesopotamian myth, such as the nature of their preservation on clay tablets that were first written by scribes under the rulers of Sumer and Akkad, and later were copied and adapted by scribes living under Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Macedonian, and eventually Roman and Parthian rulers under whom the last cuneiform texts were written. Students also will consider how this material record affords us the rare opportunity to trace the development of these stories over time.
The module is divided into three units. In unit 1, lectures will explore the general pantheon of Mesopotamia and shorter works concerning key themes, such as creation, fertility, the flood, conflict, human mortality and the underworld, and the relationships between human beings and the divine. Each week will examine a key myth(s) in the Mesopotamian canon. Unit 2 builds on this foundational knowledge to explore one of the great masterpieces of ancient poetry, the Epic of Gilgamesh, for which we will read the 2nd edition of Andrew George's translation, which was published in 2020. The final lectures will reflect on some of the legacies of these stories.
Indicative Lecture Topics:
1) Introduction to Ancient Mesopotamia: From Sumer to Rome
2) Who's who? an Evolving Mesopotamian Pantheon
3) Combat Myths: the Gods at War
4) In the Beginning... Myths of Creation and Destruction
5) Fertility, Mortality, Death and the Underworld
6) Mesopotamian Monsters
7) The Epic of Gilgamesh: an Introduction
8) Creation and Companionship in Gilgamesh
9) Sexuality and Gender in Gilgamesh and the Ancient Near East
10) Combat Myths in Gilgamesh: Humbaba of the Cedar Forest and the Bull of Heaven
11) To the Edge and Back: Mortality, Loss, and Remembering in Gilgamesh
12) Legacies of Mesopotamian Myth I: From Hellenistic and Roman Mesopotamia to Anime and Star Trek
Indicative Tutorial Topics:
2) The Creation of Humanity
3) Trips to the Underworld
4) The Great Flood
|Student Effort Type
|Autonomous Student Learning
Not applicable to this module.
|% of Final Grade
Not yet recorded.
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
Within 20 working days from the date of submission.