Science, Religion, Empire: Rediscovering the Ancient Near East in C19th Britain (A) sources

Department of History, School of History and Cultures

College of Arts and Law


Code 23591

Level of study Third/Final year

Credit value 20

Semester 1

Module description

This course examines how the exploration and excavation of the antiquities of Egypt, Mesopotamia and Asia Minor impacted on British culture from the late eighteenth century onwards. It focuses on primary-source-based case studies to reconstruct what nineteenth-century writers wrote about the Ancient Near East. More importantly it explores why they wrote it, by rooting their concerns into the great cultural, scientific, theological and political questions of the day: the antiquity of man, evolution, the nature and status of the Old Testament, the role of the classics in education, and whether ancient empires could provide lessons for the future of British civilisation. The module engages with several historiographical approaches, including orientalism, museum studies, art history, the history of religious thought, popular-culture studies and literary studies.