This course will survey the religions of the ancient Middle East, situating each in its historical and socio-cultural context and focussing on the key issues of concern to humanity: creation, birth, the place of humans in the order of the universe, death and destruction. The course will cover not only the better known cultures from the area, such as Egypt and Mesopotamia, but also some lesser known traditions, such as those of the Hurrians, or of the ancient Mediterranean town of Ugarit. Religion will not be viewed merely as a separate, sealed-off element of the ancient societies, but rather as an element in various cultural contexts, for example the relationship between religion and magic, and the role of religion in politics will be recurring topics in the survey. Background readings for the lectures will be drawn not only from the modern scholarly literature, but also from the words of the ancients themselves in the form of their myths, rituals and liturgies.
Section 401 - LEC