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 and Middle East. The department offers specialized training in archaeology, art history, Assyriology, Egyptology, Iranian studies, Judaic studies, Islamic studies, comparative Semitics, and Turkish, Hebrew, Arabic, and Persian languages and literatures. Lecture courses offered by the department present a comprehensive body of information on past Near and modern Middle Eastern civilizations. For students in other disciplines, the department provides a wide variety of courses to supplement related fields including anthropology, linguistics, art history, history, political science, comparative literature, and folklore. Courses in the department are often small to medium-sized and afford students an opportunity for close interaction with the instructing staff.

The Department of Near Eastern Studies offers the following undergraduate majors:

  • The Major in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures (emphasis in a Modern Language: Arabic, Hebrew, or Persian; and emphasis in an Ancient Language: Egyptology)
  • The Major in Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern Art and Archaeology (emphasis in Ancient Near Eastern Art and Archaeology and emphasis in Egyptian Art and Archaeology)
  • The Major in Near Eastern Civilizations (emphasis in Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations and emphasis in Islamic Civilizations)

Minors are also available in Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern Civilizations and in the modern languages taught in the department.


The Near Eastern Studies libraries are essential parts of the Department of Near Eastern Studies. These non-circulating libraries are important for research for both graduate and undergraduate students in the department. The libraries house reference materials relating to the various disciplines within NES, as well as more general monographs and serials, and serve as seminar classrooms. 

The Hebrew/Semitics Library and the Islamic Studies Library both contain basic reference materials, including dictionaries and encyclopedias, and some of the most important texts in their fields. Access is generally limited to graduate students in the department. Both libraries are non-circulating. 

The Baer-Keller Library of Egyptology is a non-circulating collection of approximately 9,000 volumes maintained by the Near Eastern Studies Department primarily for the use of UC Berkeley students and faculty pursuing serious study of Ancient Egyptian culture, Coptology, and Papyrology. Egyptology students and professionals from other institutions are also welcome. Interested individuals should apply to the Near Eastern Studies Department. The core of the library collection comes from bequests to the Department of Near Eastern Studies 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.

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

Undergraduate Programs

Ancient Egyptian 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 (with concentrations in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian Languages and Literatures, Near Eastern Archaeology, Art History, Cuneiform, Hebrew Bible, Biblical and Judaic Studies, Old Iranian 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.
Research Profile

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 Barrows Hall

Phone: 510-642-3757

Fax: 510-643-8430

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Department Chair

Francesca Rochberg, PhD

262 Barrows

Phone: 510-642-3757

Undergraduate Faculty Advisor

Wali Ahmadi, PhD

284 Barrows Hall

Undergraduate Advisor for Ancient Near Eastern Studies

Rita Lucarelli

266 Barrows Hall

Undergraduate Student Services Advisor

Rania Shah, MA

250 Barrows Hall

Phone: 510-642-3758

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