Here on I am putting together a curated collection of open-access resources to supplement my course on Ancient Near Eastern Culture that I am teaching as part of the Master of Liberal Arts program at Houston Baptist University in the Spring of 2013. Here is a description of the course:

This course will survey the history and culture of the civilizations that inhabited the areas from Iran to Egypt from the Neolithic period (ca. 10,000 BCE) to Alexander the Great (ca. 323 BCE). Topics of study include art, literature, religion, law, politics, geo-political effects of climate change, health care, economics and commerce, war and peace, and women. Special attention will be given to exploring the significance of the study of the ancient world for contemporary society as well as for biblical interpretation.

Starting in January, each week I will post a list of resources that pertain to one of eleven selected topics: art, literature, religion, law, scribal culture, geo-political effects of climate change, health care, economics and commerce, war and peace, and women. The lists will contain links to open-access resources such as interviews, lectures, essays, pictures, and online exhibits. For instance, here is the list for the first topic, art:

Furthermore, each week I will post a short video introducing the topic and the resources provided for it. In the videos I will also suggest ways in which studying these topics as they relate to the ancient world can help us understand more deeply our contemporary society.

Lastly–and I am very excited about this–the course will have a guest lecture by Seth Sanders, author of The Invention of Hebrew and one of the world’s experts on the scribal cultures of the ancient Near East. Dr. Sanders is Assistant Professor of Religion at Trinity College, CT. HBU students who are registered in the class will be able to ask questions but anyone is welcome to watch the seminar either live or recorded on my YouTube channel (I will announce the date and time here on this website in January).

We are using three main textbooks for this course: Salima Ikram, Ancient Egypt: An Introduction (Cambridge University Press, 2009); Benjamin Foster and Karen Foster, Civilizations of Ancient Iraq (Princeton University Press, 2009); and David Wengrow, What Makes Civilization? The Ancient Near East & the Future of the West (Oxford University Press, 2010).

Reading these three books, interacting with the content curated here, as well as viewing Dr. Sanders’s lecture, will provide a substantial introduction to the history and culture of the ancient Near East as well as its significance for better understanding modern civilization. I invite anyone interested in this topic to join us in our studies.

About the author

Charles Halton

10 Comments. Leave your Comment right now:

  1. I am historian and teach on the Faculty of Himanities and Social Sciences of the Pázmány Péter Catholic University in Hungary. My topics: history of ancient Israel, Old Testament Studies, hebrew epigraphic.

  2. by Daniele

    Dear Charles, I am one of your reader from far-away (Italy in my case)… I never had the luck of meeting you, anyway I find your initiative great!

    I also think using Wengrow’s OUP book as a textbook is a fantastic idea. I wish I could reset all my (modes) ANE knowledge to re-learn everything starting with your course!



    • Thanks so much Daniele, hopefully someday we can meet in person.

  3. by Angela Roskop Erisman

    Charles, are you going to post this here on Awilum, on an HBU webpage, or both?

    • Hi Angie, I will post it right here and plan to leave it up indefinitely.

  4. by Crystal J.

    I am excited to follow this blog and learn about the ANE!!! I am an avid ancient history buff and am currently trying to learn as much as I can….I would love to begin learning some languages, are there any you would recommend or any books that would help someone trying to learn on their own?
    Thank you so much!!

    • Glad you are excited! Which languages are you interested in? Hoffner and Melchert have a very nice Hittite Grammar; John Heuhnergard has very good Alkadian and Ugaritic grammars (Pardee also has a very good Ugaritic grammar) and there are many for Hebrew and Aramaic. Lastly, the Oriental Institute of Chicago has offered distance courses in various Egyptian languages.

  5. by Yael

    Thank you so much for doing this .
    I will have free time over the summer, and I was wondering if you will be leaving all of the links and information up through the summer so I can take advantage of this wonderful resource at that point.
    Thank you!

  6. Very interesting way to introduce students to this material. Where will you get these videos?

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