Archeology Museums and Identities


University of Potsdam and the New University in Exile Consortium
Wednesdays 16:00 – 18:00 (CEST) / 18:00 - 20:00 (GMT+3) / 10:00 - 12:00 (EDT)
14 WEEKS (12 April 2021 - 23 July 2021)


States draw on the past to re-shape national identities. In this context, museum exhibits play a crucial role in the Middle East in connection with archaeological excavations that rediscovered new civilization centers such as Assur, Babylonia, Mari, Ebla, Ugarit, and others.
Museums in former colonial metropoles such as the Louvre in France and British Museum in the United Kingdom, enriched their collections with artefacts from some of these sites to demonstrate and enhance their imperial power. As a counterweight to imperial collections, museums in Middle Eastern countries were founded with the goal of reinforcing national identity.
This course will engage with the history of archaeology and museums in the Middle East. In addition, it will discuss the complex relationship between archaeology and museums and ask how both are related to cultural and national identities. In so doing, it will encourage discussions about new perspectives on cultural heritage and its role across the Middle Eastern societies.

Learning outcomes

  • To develop an understanding of archaeology as a discipline and its relationship with imperialism, colonialism and nationalism.
  • To promote a comprehensive understanding of policies used to employ cultural heritage in the construction national identities.
  • To promote a comprehensive understanding of national states’ histories and the cultural identities in the Near East.
  • To enhance awareness about the ideologies and their views on the past/antiquities (such as political parties or even the ISIS “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria”)


A full outline of the course syllabus can be found here


Please note that there will be a preparatory meeting that will take place during the usual class hours one week before the class starts. In this meeting, we will introduce you how the platform works and we will offer technical support so that everybody is technically ready for the first session.


Dr. Ahmed Fatima Kzzo, is currently a visiting research fellow at University of Zurich. He holds a Ph.D. in ancient Near Eastern archaeology from University of Rome. His research focuses on the ancient Near Eastern glyptic, history of ancient Near Eastern studies, cultural heritage and cultural identities.

A member of the Italian Expedition to Ebla (Syria) since 2004, Dr. Kzzo has participated in various archaeological projects, including excavations at al-Bimarestan al-Nuri (Aleppo) and Çatalhöyük (Turkey). He has also conducted surveys and archival work on inscriptions from the Ottoman period in the Aleppo Region. He has published several studies, and recently a book, Racconto d’Egitto, which is the first Italian translation of an Arabic manuscript on Egypt between 12th and 13th centuries.

Received his PhD in Oriental Archaeology on “Gods and Composite Creatures in Syria and West Mesopotamia in the Early Bronze Age” from Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg. He worked as lecturer at the University of Alfurat (Syria) and University of Sulaimani (Iraqi Kurdistan). He participated in numerous archaeological excavations in Germany, Syria, and Iraqi Kurdistan. He did a Postdoc at Warburg Institute, London  in 2017-2019 on Hybrid beings in the Glyptic of Syria, upper Mesopotamia, and Assyria in the Late Bronze Age (1600-1200 BC). He has published several articles and books, most recent of these, Studies in the archaeology of Media and Upper Mesopotamia (In Arabic), Damascus, Damascus, 2020; Hurrian Urkesh Kingdom (Tell Mozan), Historical Cultural Study (In Arabic), Qamishli, 2017; and Götter und Mischwesen in Syrien und Westmesopotamien in der Frühbronzezeit, Gladbeck, 2010.

This Seminar is funded by the New University in In Exile Consortium based at the New School  and  is  hosted by  the  Department  of  Global History at the Historic Institute at University of Potsdam.