Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


ARCH100 Archaeology of Ancient Israel ORHIST106 Australian Indigenous Peoples Past and Present ORHIST116 The Ancient Near East ORTHBS100 Introduction to the Bible OR ARCH200 Archaeological Evidence and Practice

Unit rationale, description and aim

It is important for archaeologists, historians and museum curators to be able to interpret the interplay between art, textual records and literature created across the millennia in the Ancient Near East which strongly influenced ancient Israel, as well as western culture more generally. In this unit, we delve into the traditions, myths and history of Ancient Israel, and set them within their broader ancient Near Eastern context. This includes discussion of the societies in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt from which they borrowed and adapted cultural aspects, and against which they ultimately contended. We seek to understand the importance of Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian and Egyptian art, textual records and literature as sources of contemporaneous information, and we explore how the Hebrew Bible responds to them. Our investigation uses a range of methodologies including textual criticism, Spatial Theory and Cultural Memory Theory that serve as interpretative lenses. The aim of the unit is to use diverse scholarly methodologies to examine the ways in which the Israelites interpreted their present through a re-narration of their past, and how they came to situate and differentiate themselves theologically from the peoples that surrounded them.  

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Articulate factual and theoretical knowledge of the art, textual records and literature of the ancient Near East (GA5, GA8) 

LO2 – Characterise and differentiate the application of a range of methodologies used as interpretative lenses of art, textual records and literature (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9) 

LO3 –Develop a clearly communicated and appropriately referenced historical argument using a variety of primary and secondary materials relevant to the ancient Near East that are interpreted through the lens of a selected methodology (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9) 

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include:

  • Key aspects of the art, textual records and literature of the ancient Near East and Egypt, set in their cultural and social contexts
  • The influence of ancient Near Eastern art, textual records and literature on the development of Ancient Israel.
  • How the Hebrew Bible describes and relates to antecedent and contemporary cultural influences.
  • The roles of politics and religion in ancient art, textual records and literature.
  • The use of interpretative methodologies for critical analysis.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This 10 credit-point unit is taught fully online. The one-hour lectures provide students with content which will help inform their understanding of primary and secondary sources related to the unit’s content, and the two-hour tutorials provide an opportunity for a variety of active learning experiences. Engaging students in active learning gives them the opportunity to work through the challenges that historians grapple with when studying ancient sources, and this will allow students to develop practical skills and learn how to apply them to the study of ancient history.  

Students in this unit will be encouraged to develop specific skills in locating, reading and analysing sources using critical methodologies to understand and interpret the past, and to detect and evaluate the influences on past societies and the ways in which they viewed themselves.

This unit has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

A set of scaffolded assessment tasks will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with university assessment requirements.

The Skills/Knowledge Development Assignment requires students to focus on learning and correctly applying some key discipline and content-specific terminology. This is particularly important in ancient history because students are often introduced to words and concepts with which they are unfamiliar. In completing this assignment students will demonstrate their ability to correctly apply ideas and knowledge relevant to the unit content (LO1). The Active Research Task gives students the opportunity to apply research techniques developed in tutorials, and key content and skills developed in the first assessment to investigate a research question and present their findings in the form of an evidence-based narrative or argument. The Summative/Analytical Task asks students to reflect on the unit as a whole and draw together themes, ideas and information in response to a specific question or questions. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: Skills/Knowledge Development Assignment 

The key purpose of this task is for students to articulate factual and theoretical knowledge of the art, textual records and literature of the ancient Near East. Skills developed in this task will help prepare students for the research task.



GA5, GA8

Assessment Task 2: Active research task

Students will characterise and differentiate the application of a range of methodologies used as interpretative lenses of art, textual records and literature.



GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Assessment Task 3: Summative/Analytical Task(s) 

The purpose of this assessment is for students to Locate and use with appropriate referencing a variety of primary and secondary materials relevant to the ancient Near East, combined with the use of a selected methodology, to develop an evidence-based, clearly communicated, historical narrative or argument.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Chavalas, M. (ed.) 2006. The ancient Near East. Oxford: Blackwell.

Frankfort, H. 1970. The art and architecture of the ancient Orient, Pelican History of Art, 4th ed., Yale University Press.

Hayes, C.B., 2014. Hidden riches: a sourcebook for the comparative study of the Hebrew Bible and ancient Near East. Westminster: John Knox.

Hendel, R. & Joosten, J., 2018. How old is the Hebrew Bible? A linguistic, textual and historical Study. Yale University Press.

 Leick, G., 2008. The Babylonian world. London: Routledge. 

Miller, J.M. and Hayes, J.H., 2006. A history of ancient Israel and Judah. New York: John Knox.  

Morris, I. & Scheidal, W. (eds.) 2009. Dynamics of ancient empires: State power from Assyria to Byzantium. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Snell, D.C. (ed.), 2007. A companion to the ancient Near East, Wiley-Blackwell. 

Stiebing Jr, W.H., 2016. Ancient Near Eastern history and culture. London & New York: Routledge, 2016. 

Van de Mieroop, M., 2015. A history of the ancient Near East, ca. 3000-323 BC. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. 

Werline, R., 2020, ‘New Methodologies’, in Henze, M. and Werline, R.A. (eds), Early Judaism and its modern interpreters, SBL Press: 117-146

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