Ancient Near East
Studying the Ancient Near East in London
Once studied for the light it could shed on the Old Testament, the ancient Near East has now emerged from the sidelines as the fountainhead of modern civilisation. It was in the ancient Near East more than five thousand years ago that mankind first learned to live in cities, invented writing and developed the first high civilisations. The origins of modern man's spiritual and intellectual adventure were once sought in the Bible and in Greece but the fascinating discoveries of Near Eastern archaeologists over the last 150 years have revealed the crucial roles played in forming our common heritage by the peoples of the ancient Near East, especially the Sumerians, the Babylonians, the Egyptians and the Hittites.
London is one of the foremost international centres for the study of the ancient Near East. The various colleges of the University of London - in particular University College London (UCL), its world-renowned Institute of Archaeology and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) - are home to specialists in the languages, history and archaeology of the pre-Classical civilisations of Mesopotamia, Syria-Palestine, Egypt, Turkey, the Aegean, Iran and neighbouring regions. In addition, the British Museum houses unrivalled collections of ancient Near Eastern and ancient Egyptian antiquities, including the largest collection of Assyrian and Babylonian cuneiform tablets anywhere in the world.
SOAS possesses one of the country's best research libraries in Assyriology and related subjects. It has been a centre of research and teaching in Ancient Near Eastern Studies for more than five decades. The school runs two programmes in the subject, an undergraduate BA and a taught Master's degree:
- BA Ancient Near Eastern Studies
- MA Ancient Near Eastern Languages
A programme of introductory study is also available, leading to the award of Certificate in Ancient Near Eastern Studies.
SOAS is the base for the London Centre for the Ancient Near East.