Department of Egyptology and Assyriology


Undergraduate students have wide-ranging choices in courses including introductory language, history and archaeology as well as topical classes on subjects such as Egyptian and Mesopotamian religion, literature, and science.

Many of our classes are open to all students at Brown and have no prerequisites. Concentrators in the department have the option of following tracks in either Egyptology or Assyriology. Both tracks provide students with a solid background in the field through exposure to the critical study of these ancient cultures using the tools of archaeology, epigraphy, and historical inquiry, and a variety of interdisciplinary, comparative, and theoretical approaches in order to explore these regions’ ancient languages and literatures, political and socio-economic modes of organization, art and architecture, religious traditions and other systems of knowledge, such as ancient exact sciences.

Assyriology Track

The undergraduate concentration in Assyriology (ASYR) requires a total of at least ten courses that are determined in the following way:

All ASYR concentrators are required to take:

  • One of the following:
    • ASYR 800 Intro to Ancient Near East 
    • ARCH 0370 Archaeology of Mesopotamia
    • ARCH 1600 Archaeologies of the Near East
  • ASYR 1000 Intro to Akkadian 
  • ASYR1010 Intermediate Akkadian 

At least one course is required from each of the following three areas:

History and Culture of Ancient Mesopotamia and its Neighbors

Courses include but are not limited to:

  • ASYR 1100 Imagining the Gods: Myths and Myth-making in Ancient Mesopotamia (WRIT)
  • ASYR 1300 The age of the Empires: The Ancient Near East in the First Millenium BC
  • ASYR 1500 Ancient Babylonian Magic and Medicine
  • ASYR 2310B Assyriology I (WRIT)
  • ASYR 2310C Assyriology II (WRIT)
  • ASYR 2600 Topics in Cuneiform Studies 

Ancient Scholarship in Mesopotamia and its Neighbors

Possible offerings include but are not limited to:

  • ASYR 1600 Astronomy Before the Telescope 
  • ASYR 1650 Time in the Ancient World (WRIT)
  • ASYR 1700 Astronomy, Divination and Politics in the Ancient World (WRIT)
  • ASYR 1750 Divination in Ancient Mesopotamia (WRIT)
  • ASYR 1800 Scribes and Scholarship in the Ancient Near East
  • ASYR 2310A Ancient Scientific Texts: Akkadian

Archaeology of Ancient Mesopotamia and its Neighbors

Possible offerings include but are not limited to:

  • ARCH 1200F City and the Festival: Cult Practices and Architectural Production in the Ancient Near East (WRIT)
  • ARCH 1200I Material Worlds: Art and Agency in the Near East and Africa 
  • ARCH 1810 Under the Tower of Babel: Archaeology, Politics, and Identity in the Modern Middle East (WRIT)
  • ARCH 2010C Architecture, Body, and Performance in the Ancient Near Eastern World (WRIT)
  • ARCH 2300 The Rise (and Demise) of the State in the Near East 
  • ASYR 2800 Archaeology and Text

At least two additional courses offered in ASYR or ARCH dealing with ancient Mesopotamia and its neighbors. These courses must be approved by the undergraduate concentration advisor.

At least one course offered in EGYT or ARCH on the archaeology, art, history, culture, or language of ancient Egypt.

At least one elective course on the ancient world broadly defined. Usually this course will be offered in Assyriology, Anthropology, Archaeology, Classics, Comparative Literature, East Asian Studies, Egyptology, History, History of Art and Architecture, Judaic Studies, Philosophy, or Religious Studies. The elective course must be approved by the undergraduate concentration advisor.

Egyptology Track

The undergraduate concentration in Egyptology (EGYT) requires a total of at least ten courses. Six of these must be taken by all concentrators (*), but the remaining four can be chosen from a fairly broad range of courses, to suit individual interests.

All EGYT concentrators are required to take the following classes:

  • EGYT 1310 Middle Egyptian I*
  • EGYT 1320 Middle Egyptian II*
  • EGYT 1430 Ancient Egyptian History I*
  • EGYT 1440 Ancient Egyptian History II*
  • ARCH 0150 Archaeology of Ancient Egypt
  • EGYT 1420 Ancient Egyptian Religion and Magic - or - ARCH 1625 Temples and Tombs

All EGYT concentrators are required to take the following two classes:

  • EGYT 1330 Middle Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts*
  • EGYT 1410 Ancient Egyptian Literature - or - an EGYT or ARCH course in material culture

Any course covering the ancient Near East or Mediterranean world outside Egypt, such as:

  • ASYR 0800 Introduction to the Ancient Near East
  • ARCH 1600 Archaeologies of the Near East

Any course germane to ancient Egypt or the ancient Near East or Mediterranean world.

Alternative and elective courses

Alternative and elective courses must be approved by the undergraduate concentration advisor. Such courses will normally be offered by:

  • Egyptology and Assyriology
  • The Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World
  • Religious Studies
  • Classics
  • Judaic Studies
  • Anthropology
  • History of Art and Architecture
  • History
  • Philosophy

Concentrators are welcome to take most courses offered by Egyptology and Assyriology (EGYT and ASYR), Archaeology (ARCH), or related departments, though some may require the instructor’s approval. Concentrators should consult with the concentration advisor to discuss the courses most suitable to their interests.


All concentrators in Egyptology and Assyriology are required to complete a capstone project. The project can take many forms, but the common feature shared among all possible projects will be a public presentation. Typically in the final semester before graduating, the concentrator will give this capstone presentation before faculty, fellow students, and other interested audiences. If the concentrator is writing an undergraduate honors thesis, the procedure for which is detailed below, this work should provide the content for the capstone presentation. Students not writing an honors thesis will base their presentation on a research project more in depth than a class project, though the topic may stem from a course project or paper. The format of the presentation may vary; suggestions range from an illustrated lecture to a video or an installation presented with discussion. Both the content and the format of the capstone project should be discussed with and agreed upon by the concentration advisor no later than the end of the first semester of the senior year.