Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

ARCH 21908: Archaeology of the Ancient Near East : Iron Age Mesopotamia and Egypt

This guide will help you get started with your research for Archaeology of the Ancient Near East

Iron Age Mesopotamia and Egypt

Nearly all of the dynamics of the Late Bronze Age came to a halt across the Near East as a result of combination of climatic factors, social unrest, and large-scale migrations and invasions that collectively are known the “Late Bronze Age Collapse.” This collapse, the reasons behind which are still debated, resulted in the sack of burning of cities across the Near East. Most notable perhaps is the “sack of Troy.” Thus, the Iron Age (about 1,200–539 BCE) began with a Dark Age that lasted for 300 years. Overall this period was marked by cultural, political, and economic decline in Egypt (the Third Intermediate Period) and across Mesopotamia. The Iron Age was also marked by the arrival of new people, notably the Sea People or Philistines. The Dark Ages ended with the establishment of the Urartian Empire, as well as the Neo-Hittite, Neo-Elamite, Neo Babylonian, and Neo-Assyrian empires across the region. Iran also saw the rise of the Median Empire, a prelude to the politics of Antiquity.

Key Sites

Assur (Iraq)

Babylon (Iraq)

Ectbatana (Iran)

Nineveh (Iraq)

Troy (Turkey)

Tushpa (Turkey)

Ugarit (Syria)

Key Citations


Bryce, Trevor

2012  The World of The Neo-Hittite Kingdoms: A Political and Military History. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Dothan, Trude

1989  The Arrival of the Sea Peoples: Cultural Diversity in Early Iron Age Canaan. Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research 49(1):1–14.

Elat, Moshe

1978  The Economic Relations of the Neo-Assyrian Empire with Egypt. Journal of the American Oriental Society 98(1):20–34. DOI:10.2307/600148.

Gorris, Elynn, and Yasmina Wicks

2018  The last centuries of Elam: the Neo-Elamite period. In The Elamite world, edited by Javier Alvarez-Mon, Gian Piertro Basello, and Yasmina Wicks, pp. 249–272. Routledge, London.

Kaniewski, David, Elise Van Campo, Joël Guiot, Sabine Le Burel, Thierry Otto, and Cecile Baeteman

2013  Environmental Roots of the Late Bronze Age Crisis. PLOS ONE 8(8). DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0071004, accessed August 27, 2020.

Kaniewski, David, Elise Van Campo, Karel Van Lerberghe, Tom Boiy, Klaas Vansteenhuyse, Greta Jans, Karin Nys, Harvey Weiss, Christophe Morhange, Thierry Otto, and Joachim Bretschneider

2011  The Sea Peoples, from Cuneiform Tablets to Carbon Dating. PLOS ONE 6(6):e20232. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0020232.

Kaniewski, David, Joël Guiot, and Elise Van Campo

2015  Drought and societal collapse 3200 years ago in the Eastern Mediterranean: a review. WIREs Climate Change 6(4):369–382. DOI:10.1002/wcc.345.

Llewellyn‐Jones, Lloyd

2016  Median Empire. In The Encyclopedia of Empire, edited by John MacKenzie. Wiley, Chichester, UK.

Meiri, Meirav, Dorothée Huchon, Guy Bar-Oz, Elisabetta Boaretto, Liora Kolska Horwitz, Aren M. Maeir, Lidar Sapir-Hen, Greger Larson, Steve Weiner, and Israel Finkelstein

2013  Ancient DNA and Population Turnover in Southern Levantine Pigs- Signature of the Sea Peoples Migration? Scientific Reports 3(1):1–8. DOI:10.1038/srep03035.

Oelsner, Joachim, Bruce Wells, and Cornelia Wunsch

2003  Mesopotamia: Neo-Babylonian Period. In A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law, edited by Raymond Westbrook, pp. 911–974. Handbook of Oriental Studies. Brill, Leiden.

Parpola, Professor Simo

2004  National and Ethnic Identity in the Neo-Assyrian Empire and Assyrian Identity in Post-Empire Times. Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies 18(2):5–22.

Schneider, Adam W., and Selim F. Adalı

2014  “No harvest was reaped”: demographic and climatic factors in the decline of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. Climatic Change 127(3):435–446. DOI:10.1007/s10584-014-1269-y.

Taylor, John

2000  The Third Intermediate Period. In The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, edited by Ian Shaw, pp. 324–363. Oxford University Press, Oxford.