Near Eastern Archaeology

At Ghent University research and teaching on the Ancient Near East started in 1920 by Louis Speleers. In 1953 he was succeeded by Louis Vanden Berghe (1923-1993), who directed the "Seminar of Near Eastern Archaeology" until 1989. Undoubtedly L. Vanden Berghe's interest in the past of Iran and his many fieldactivities there clearly oriented research by Ghent. His yearly expeditions between 1965 and 1979, in Pusht-i Kuh Luristan in the W-Iranian Zagros mountains, are world-wide known. "Luristan Bronzes" in numerous museums and collections can now, thanks to this research, be better situated in a cultural and chronological context.

In 1986 a new initiative was taken by Ernie Haerinck, who was appointed in 1991 as his successor. Research was started in SE-Arabia. In collaboration with London, Copenhague and Lyon II, excavations began at the first c. A.D. site of ed-Dur, in the Emirate of Umm al-Qaiwain, U.A.E. A team from Ghent University worked there yearly between 1987 and 1995. Not only religious, funerary and domestic architecture was discovered but also numerous small finds. The material testifies of the site's integration into long distance commerce between East and West. Excavations were also conducted at a large third mill. BCE burial in the Emirate of Ajman.

After completion of this project, research was initiated in 1998 on the islands of Bahrain with surveys of S-Bahrain and on Hawar Island. In 1999 and 2000 two large burialmounds were excavated at Shakhoura, in N-Bahrain. In  2009  a new five year project started at Mleiha (Emirate of sharjah).

Since October 2014, Joachim Bretschneider took over the research unit. He obtained his PhD in 1990 at the University of Münster (Germany) and became director of the German excavations in Tell Beydar (Syria) in 1993-2000. From 1999 on, he is leading the Belgian excavations in Tell Tweini (Syria), and he also is coordinator of the Belgian delegation in the Saudi-Belgian Research Project at Al-Ghat (Saudi-Arabia) since 2012.

Recent PhD's that were succefully finalised are those of Nadine Nys (2018) and Francesca Porta (2019).


Prof dr Joachim Bretschneider


The Sphinx Unriddled (2015-2018)

The sphinx and related composite creatures. A motif of political-religious legitimation during the dynamical period of cultural changes appearing in the Late Bronze (1600-1200 BC) and the Early Iron Age (1200-800 BC) in the Eastern Mediterranean. (Doctoral research: Nadine Nys)