The Ancient Near East in Brazil and Argentina From the Origins of Research to the Present

By: Josué Berlesi

Brazil and Argentina are not the first places you think of for ancient Near Eastern studies. But the story of ancient Near Eastern studies in these places is both interesting in its own right and says important things about education and culture in these countries.

There are similarities between the discipline in these two countries but their differences are tremendous and are related to the larger history of academic institutions. Argentina’s academic tradition is far longer and more solid than Brazil’s. The first Brazilian university (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro) was created only in 1920, while the oldest in Argentina, the University of Cordoba, was founded in 1613.


Former Rectory, University of Cordoba (source:

Unfortunately, there are few sources to investigate the development of ancient Near Eastern studies in these two countries. But this also says something about the important differences between the two. In Brazil there are useful articles about the development and the present situation of the discipline of ancient history, but these are rarely found in Argentina. Why? In my opinion the abundance of sources in Brazil is an attempt to bring visibility to an area that has been given little space in most Brazilian universities. In contrast, ancient history has been more successful in Argentina, where it has been solidly represented since the second half of the twentieth century. The need for acknowledgement is therefore lower. Continue reading