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Near Eastern Archaeology

Degree Bachelor of Arts Master of Arts
Applications see Application Procedure Information mandatory
Course commences winter semester / summer semester winter semester / summer semester
Standard course duration 6 semesters 4 semesters
Study options main subject (75%), joint subject (50%), subsidiary subject (25%)  
Format options   full-time only
Language requirements None English, another modern foreign language (on application)
Language of instruction German and English German and English
Other features   postgraduate / consecutive







Faculty of Philosophy


Course outline

Near Eastern Archaeology is an historical subject. It investigates the material remains of the ancient Orient for what they can tell us about the settlement history of the Near East and the cultural history of that region. Additional consultation of ancient Oriental script sources is of course also indispensable in this connection.

In geographical terms, “Near East” refers to an area extending from Iran in the east to Syria and Turkey in the west, from Caucasia in the north to South Arabia in the south. It is an area notable for the very wide range of geographical and climatic conditions to be found there. Today it encompasses several states with different populations and a multiplicity of languages and religions.

The period on which Near Eastern Archaeology concentrates dates from the first human settlements after the last Ice Age to the beginnings of Islam, in other words a period of some 12,000 years. In the Heidelberg degree course there is an emphasis on the high cultures of the ancient Orient between the late Chalcolithic Age (4th millennium BC) and the end of the Achaemenidian Empire (4th century BC). These high cultures were located in present-day Iraq, Syria and the Levantine states, Turkey and western Iran.

The following themes and groups of monuments/relics come in for special consideration: settlement history, urbanisation and topography in ancient Oriental towns, architecture, utensils and weapons, production and technology (ceramics, metal artefacts, etc.) art and handiwork (sculpture in stone and metal, terra cotta objects, vessel decoration and murals, glyptics).


General requirements for the study of Near Eastern Archaeology are an interest in the history and culture of the ancient Orient, an eye for the implications of visual evidence and a good visual memory.

A working knowledge of (at least) English and French is required to understand the international literature on the subject. Proof of such knowledge can be furnished either by proficiency certificates or in presentations.

Both in the B.A. and the M.A. course, students are required to study either a second main subject (joint course) or a subsidiary (minor) subject. The acquisition of cross-disciplinary skills is also an integral part of both courses (B.A. and M.A.).

The choice of the joint or subsidiary subject will be dictated by the student’s interests and/or professional ambitions. Ideally, the subjects selected should combine to form a meaningful whole. One recommended joint or subsidiary subject is Assyriology. Other options that suggest themselves are Egyptology, Ancient History, Byzantine Archaeology, Classical Archaeology, Semitic Studies, Islamic Studies, Iranian Studies, Prehistory & Protohistory and Anthropology. Aside from these, students can also choose any subject admissible as a joint or subsidiary subject in B.A./M.A. courses at the University.


Course structure

The study of Near Eastern Archaeology divides into two programmes, the B.A. course and the (subsequent) M.A. course. Graduates can then go on to work towards a PhD.

The B.A. course takes six semesters. It is modular in structure, “modules” being learning/teaching units made up of a number of different classes. Successful completion of these classes is dependent on the quality of the oral/written work produced by the individual student. All students are required to take a so-called “orientation test” by the end of the second semester. The B.A. degree course ends with the B.A. thesis and the B.A. examination. Students completing the course successfully are awarded a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree.

Near Eastern Archaeology can be studied as a main (major) subject (75% = 74 CP), a joint subject (50% = 60 CP) or as a subsidiary (minor) subject (25% = 35 CP).

The M.A. course builds on a B.A. degree in the same subject obtained at Heidelberg University or successful completion of a course covering largely the same subject matter at another university. The course takes four semesters and can be chosen as a main subject (70 CP) or a subsidiary (minor) subject (20 CP). As a main subject, the Near Eastern Archaeology course concludes with the M.A. thesis and a final oral examination. Students completing the course successfully are awarded a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree.

As preparation for a doctorate, graduates may decide to continue their studies after the M.A. course with a view to working on a dissertation. (Only M.A. graduates are eligible for this option).  This third stage normally takes four to six semesters. As the dissertation usually requires collation and inspection of a large amount of material preserved in various collections/museums or scrutiny and interpretation of finds from archaeological fieldwork, it is impossible to say with certainty how long it will take to complete a dissertation in this subject.#

Subsidiary (minor) subject

In this programme, M.A. students need to acquire 20 CP in a subsidiary (minor) subject. You will a list of all the subsidiary subjects on offer here.

The M.A. in Near Eastern Archaeology can also be studied as a subsidiary (minor) subject accounting for 20 CP.


A course designed to produce young scholars will naturally revolve around instruction in exemplary aspects of the subject that is geared to the prevailing academic standards. Accordingly, and despite the modular structure of the course, the curriculum is not thematically defined from the outset and students are not required to work their way through the classes offered in any particular order. If the curriculum were indeed “carved in stone” in the way described, it would place such a restriction on the teaching staff that they could no longer do full justice to the requirements that a degree course in Near Eastern Archaeology necessarily involves. Only the introductory modules (archaeology/languages & cultures) are largely defined beforehand.

Lectures are open to students of all semesters, whereas seminars, practical classes and colloquia are geared progressively to the increasing demands made on the students’ expanding fund of knowledge and the degree of independent participation they can be expected to demonstrate. The specific didactic imperatives of the subject (training in the demonstration and analysis of monuments/finds, conduct of research projects) make it necessary to restrict attendance of these classes to 20 participants at the most. Excursions to the Orient and visits to museums are an essential component in the course.

In Near Eastern Archaeology, student success is very much a product of personal initiative. Students should not limit their activities to the compulsory and elective-compulsory modules in the programme. With a view to realising and defining their own study emphases and acquiring the requisite fundamental knowledge of ancient Oriental history, culture, literature, religion, mythology, etc., they are encouraged to attend other classes both in Near Eastern Archaeology itself and in neighbouring disciplines.


With the help of the specialist literature on the subject, students are expected to independently deepen and enhance the knowledge and skills imparted to them in class. With such a wide-ranging subject, it is imperative from the outset for students to appropriate significant parts of the course content by way of intensive self-study, especially if Near Eastern Archaeology is their main subject. Developing the ability to do this is one of the central aims of the course. Self-study is particularly helpful in gaining an overview of the range of the subject and acquiring basic knowledge of the history, culture, literature, religion and mythology of Antiquity in general. Students will be guided in this by their own personal interests. Taught classes will provide stimuli and assistance in self-study, which will largely take place in the intervals between semesters.

Practical training

Many practical aspects of the subject are difficult to address at the University itself. Accordingly, it is essential for students to take part in archaeological fieldwork and/or apply for a museum internship during their studies. Here again, between-semester breaks are ideal. Staff members will do their best to help students find suitable openings for such activity.


Main research interests

Research on Near Eastern Archaeology at Heidelberg University concentrates on the settlement history, architecture and visual arts of the ancient Orient with a specific emphasis on the cultural history of Mesopotamia and Syria. At present, research activity is based mainly on participation in the excavations going on in Assur (Qal’at Sherkat, Iraq), Shaduppum (Tall Harmal, Iraq) and Tuttul (Tall Bi’a, Syria) and the research projects associated with them (see


Formal requirements

Admission to B.A. course

There are no access restrictions for prospective students from Germany. You will find information on the matriculation procedure here.

International prospective students

There are special regulations for international applicants. For more information, apply to the International Relations Office of Heidelberg University (Seminarstraße 2).

Admission to M.A. course

Access to the course is restricted. The current Admission Regulations are available here.

Prospective students from Germany

Prospective students from Germany can enrol without prior application at the Central University Administration building by the beginning of the lecture period. To matriculate, they are required to show a written statement of admission issued by the representative of the Master’s programme they wish to attend, confirming that the requirements set out in the Admission Regulations have been met. Please apply to the Department of Prehistory and Protohistory for further information on how to proceed.

International prospective students

Prospective students from other countries students must apply in writing, so that their previous academic record can be verified. The deadlines for international applicants are 15 June for the winter semester and 15 December for the summer semester. Applications must be addressed directly to the International Relations Office. Please use the M.A. application form here and enclose the necessary documents.

Further information

Current information on procedure


Subject combinations

All possible combinations can be found in the Catalogue of Subjects.

Study and examination regulations

Examination regulations B.A. (14 June 2010, last amended 3 February 2016)
Examination regulations B.A. (8 February 2007)
Examination regulations M.A. (25 July 2007)

Module Handbook

Please click here to find the latest Module Handbook.

Examinations board

Issues arising in connection with examinations, credit transfer and academic credential recognition are dealt with by the relevant examinations board/office. For more information, consult the academic advisor(s) indicated below.


Tuition fees at Heidelberg University are payable at the beginning of each semester.


Academic advisor

Prof. Dr. Peter A. Miglus
Sandgasse 7
Thursdays 1 – 3 pm
phone: +49 (0)6221 543415



Department of Prehistory, Protohistory and Near Eastern Archaeology
Sandgasse 7
D-69117 Heidelberg

Daniela Wacker
phone: +49 (0)6221 542540
fax: +49 (0)6221 542526


Studente representatoin

E-Mail: Seitenbearbeiter
Letzte Änderung: 2019-02-26
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