Ancient Southwestern Asia (a.k.a. the Near East) – the region of the world centered on what is today Iraq – saw the earliest developments in many aspects of complex society. There, in the ‘land between the rivers’ (literally ‘Mesopotamia’) of the Tigris and Euphrates, the first agriculture, cities, writing, and empires all arose. Archaeologists examine material remains – architecture, pottery, technology, landscapes, material culture – to investigate societal developments of the past. This class introduces the archaeological methods and theories that help us contextualize and interpret material culture. Our focus is on the Chalcolithic, Bronze, and Iron Ages of the 4th through 1st millennia BCE in the area centered on Iraq and surrounded by Iran, the South Caucasus, Turkey, and Syria. As a region with writing that goes back over 5000 years, we are able to contextualize our understanding of the archaeological remains within a historical framework that includes the following cultures and periods: Uruk, Ur, Kura-Araxes, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Elamites, Hittites, Urartians, Phrygians, and Persians. We also discuss cultural heritage and the impact of archaeology in our contemporary world.