Near Eastern Studies

University of California, Berkeley


Instruction in the Department of Near Eastern Studies (NES) is concerned with the languages, literatures, and civilizations of the ancient, medieval, and modern Near East. The department offers specialized training in archaeology; Assyriology; Egyptology; Judaic and Islamic studies; Comparative Semitics; Turkish language; and Hebrew, Arabic, and Persian language and literature.

The department's courses may also serve to enhance programs in related fields such as anthropology, linguistics, history of art, history, political science, comparative literature, and folklore. Lecture courses offered by the department present a comprehensive body of information on past (Near Eastern) and present (Middle Eastern) civilizations. Many of the courses taught in the department are restricted to a small number of students and thus afford an opportunity for close interaction with the instructing staff.

Cooperative arrangements between the University and the nearby Graduate Theological Union (GTU) enable students in the department to use the extensive library holdings of the GTU and to supplement their programs with additional courses in Syro-Palestinian archaeology, Biblical studies, and Semitic epigraphy and philology.


The four NES libraries play an essential role in the Department of Near Eastern Studies and are indispensable for student research. The libraries house reference materials and function as reading and seminar rooms for students and faculty.

The Islamic Studies Library contains references and other materials relating to Islamic Studies and Arabic, Persian, and Turkish languages and literatures, and incorporates the Mahjoub Persian Library. The Hebrew/Semitics library includes references and other materials relating to the fields of Comparative Semitics, and Hebrew and Judaic studies. Access — apart from seminar classes  is generally limited to graduate students in the department. Both libraries are non circulating. The Cuneiform Seminar Room is a library that provides a wide range of reference works, text editions, and primary sources for the study of the Ancient Near East, including Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite, Archaeology, and Art History.

The Baer-Keller Library of Egyptology is a non circulating collection of Egyptological volumes maintained by the Near Eastern Studies Department primarily for the use of UC Berkeley students and faculty pursuing serious study of Egyptology. Egyptology students and professionals from other institutions are also welcome; interested individuals should apply to the Near Eastern Studies Department for access. The core of the library collection comes from bequests to NES by Professors Klaus Baer (1987) and Cathleen (Candy) Keller (2008). Professor Baer was an Associate Professor of Egyptology and History at UC Berkeley before becoming a Professor of Egyptology at the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago. Professor Keller was an Associate Professor of Egyptology at UC Berkeley for many years.


The Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology has extensive holdings of ancient artifacts, including Classical material, cuneiform tablets, and an ancient Egyptian collection of more than 17,000 objects.

The Tebtunis Papyri consist of the papyrus documents that were found in the winter of 1899/1900 at the site of ancient Tebtunis, Egypt. The expedition to Tebtunis, led by the British archaeologists Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt, was financed for the University of California by Mrs. Phoebe Apperson Hearst. The Tebtunis Papyri is the largest collection of papyrus documents from a single site in the United States. Although the collection has never been counted and inventoried completely, the number of fragments contained in it exceeds 21,000.

The department's Ancient Near Eastern Seminar Room houses two Open Richly Annotated Cuneiform Corpus (ORACC) projects: the Digital Corpus of Cuneiform Lexical Texts (DCCLT) under the directorship of Niek Veldhuis and Hellenistic Babylonian Texts Images and Names (HBTIN) directed by Laurie Pearce. Dr. Pearce also heads another digital database project, the Berkeley Prosopography Service (BPS).

Other helpful resources can be found at the following website:

Colloquia, Seminars, and Lectures

The NES Brown Bag Talks are a series of informal papers presented at noon in 254 Social Sciences Building.

Undergraduate Programs

Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern Art and Archaeology: BA
Near Eastern Civilizations: BA
Near Eastern Languages and Literatures: BA (with emphases in Arabic, Hebrew, or Persian)
Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern Civilizations: Minor
Arabic: Minor
Hebrew: Minor
Persian: Minor
Turkish: Minor

Graduate Programs

Near Eastern Studies: PhD, MA (with concentrations in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian Languages and Literatures, Near Eastern Archaeology, Cuneiform, Hebrew Bible, Biblical and Judaic Studies, Egyptology, and Islamic Studies)

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Near Eastern Studies




Faculty and Instructors


Azza Ahmad, Assistant Adjunct Professor. Arabic Languages, CMES.

Wali Ahmadi, Associate Professor. Persian languages, Persian literature.
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Asad Ahmed, Associate Professor. Islam (social and intellectual history).
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Adam Benkato, Professor. Iranian Studies, Senior Research Scholar at CMES.

Daniel Boyarin, Professor. Talmud, rhetoric, Christianity, genealogy of, invention of Judaism.
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Simon Brelaud, Assistant Adjunct Professor. Assyrian Studies, Syriac Language.

Ahmad Diab, Assistant Professor. Modern Arabic Literature.
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Ronald Hendel, Professor. Textual criticism, Hebrew bible, ancient Near Eastern religion and mythology, Northwest Semitic linguistics.
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Chana Kronfeld, Professor. Comparative literature, modernism, Hebrew, Yiddish, modern poetry, minor literatures, politics of literary history, feminist stylistics, intertextuality, translation studies.
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Margaret Larkin, Professor. Near Eastern studies.
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Rita Lucarelli, Associate Professor. Near Eastern Studies, Egyptology.
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Maria Mavroudi, Professor. Byzantine studies.
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Nasser Meerkhan, Assistant Professor. Near Eastern Studies, and Spanish and Portuguese.

Benjamin Porter, Associate Professor. Archaeology, Near Eastern archaeology, Middle East, Arid Environments, anthropology, Heritage, tourism, and Museum Studies.
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Carol A. Redmount, Associate Professor. Egyptology.
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Francesca Rochberg, Professor. History of science, ancient near east, cuneiform studies.
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Niek Veldhuis, Professor. Digital humanities, intellectual history, Sumerian, cuneiform.
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Rutie Adler, Lecturer.

Hatem A. Bazian, Lecturer. Near Eastern studies.
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Elsa Elmahdy, Lecturer.

Gholam-Reza Ghahramani, Lecturer.

John L. Hayes, Lecturer.

Sanjyot Mehendale, Lecturer. Near Eastern studies, Central Asia, Central Asian studies, archaeology and art history.
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Haitham S. Mohamed, Lecturer.

Laurie Pearce, Lecturer.

Barbara Richter, Lecturer.

Jason Christopher Vivrette, Lecturer.

Emeritus Faculty

Ayla Algar, Lecturer Emeritus. Turkish language and literature, language pedagogy.

Hamid Algar, Professor Emeritus.

Robert B. Alter, Professor Emeritus. Comparative literature, Near Eastern studies, 19th-century European and American novel, modernism, literary aspects of the bible, modern and biblical Hebrew literature.
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Guitty Azarpay, Professor Emeritus. Art and archaeology of the ancient Near East and Central Asia.
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Ariel A. Bloch, Professor Emeritus.

Chava Boyarin, Professor Emeritus.

Wolfgang J. Heimpel, Professor Emeritus. Near Eastern studies.
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Anne D. Kilmer, Professor Emeritus.

David Larkin, Lecturer Emeritus. Egyptology.

James T. Monroe, Professor Emeritus.

Jaleh Pirnazar, Lecturer Emeritus. Modern Iranian history Persian language and literature, Iranian Cinema.

Martin Schwartz, Professor Emeritus. Near Eastern studies.
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Muhammad Siddiq, Professor Emeritus. Near Eastern studies.
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David B. Stronach, Professor Emeritus.

Contact Information

Department of Near Eastern Studies

250 Social Sciences Building

Phone: 510-642-3757

Fax: 510-643-8430

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Department Chair

Francesca Rochberg

262 Social Sciences Building

Phone: 510-642-3757

Head Graduate Advisor & Graduate Advisor in Ancient Near Eastern Studies

Niek Veldhuis

280 Social Sciences Building

Graduate Advisor in Islamic Studies, Arabic, Persian

Asad Q. Ahmed

272 Social Sciences Building

Graduate Student Services Advisor

Deanna Kiser-Go

250B Social Sciences Building

Phone: 510-642-4915

Undergraduate Student Services Advisor

Rania Shah

250A Social Sciences Building

Phone: 510-642-3758

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