Dr. Joachim Bretschneider is Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology at the Department of Archaeology at the University of Ghent (Belgium). He received his PhD in Near Eastern Archaeology from the University of Münster (Germany) in 1990 and was lecturer and professor at the Near Eastern Department of the KU Leuven until 2014.
In Syria, he directed the German excavations at Tell Beydar between 1993-2000. Since 1999 he leads the Belgian Excavation Mission at Tell Tweini (Syria). Currently, he is director of the Belgian participation in the Saudi-Belgian Research Project at Al-Ghat/Saudi Arabia and in 2014 he co-initiated the Pyla-Kokkinokremos excavation on Cyprus.
His main research interests focus on the transition Late-Bronze - Early Iron Age in the Levant and Eastern Mediterranean, the development of early urbanism in the Near East, inter-regional contacts, glyptic in administrative systems and Ancient Near Eastern art. He has written over 100 journal articles, books, book chapters, and reviews. His most recent book (Jans G. & Bretschneider J., Seals and Sealings of Tell Beydar/Nabada) analyses the glyptic material of an Early Bronze Age official household in Northern Mesopotamia.
The origins of many features of civilisation - such as writing, urbanisation, science and metalworking - can be found in the Ancient Near East where societies evolved from small villages of hunter-gatherers and farmers to the first real cities.
‘Ancient Near East' is a term that covers a wide range. It comprises a very large geographical area as well as a significant period in history. Different peoples lived in this region that stretched over almost 5 million km2 for 10 millennia. The area has a great ecological diversity: alluvial plains, coastal regions, high mountain peaks and deserts. The combination of so many different living environments and ethnic diversity has led to rich and complex cultures that are gathered today under the term Ancient Near East.
The core countries are Iraq and Syria (east of the Euphrates) (= Mesopotamia), Israel, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria west of the Euphrates (= the Levant or Syro-Palestine), and more peripheral areas such as Turkey (= Anatolia or Asia Minor), Iran, Afghanistan and the Arabian Peninsula. The archaeology of Ancient Egypt is part of Egyptology, and is generally considered a separate discipline. Apart from archaeological finds, our historical knowledge of the Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Hittites and other peoples is also based on written sources. For Mesopotamia, this means clay tablets written in cuneiform script. The cultural-material developments in the different regions (with a focus on Mesopotamia and its neighbouring areas) are covered in the bachelor and master programme Ancient Near East.