John F. Robertson received his B.A. in history from St. Joseph’s College in 1971, and his M.A. (1977) and Ph.D. (1981) from the University of Pennsylvania.

Office: Powers 205
Phone: (989) 774–1145
Office Hours: (pdf)

Research and Teaching Interests

Professor Robertson’s research interests focus principally on the social and economic history of the ancient Middle East, with particular concentration on ancient Mesopotamian systems of social and economic organization and intra-societal tensions and conflict during the third to first millennia B.C.E. His research also includes early urbanization and state formation, and cross-cultural interaction in the ancient Middle East and Egypt, as well as the Bronze Age Aegean. His interest in the social and economic history of the ancient world also encompasses the Classical Mediterranean, Hellenistic, Roman/Byzantine, Parthian/Sassanid, and early Islamic Middle East.

He also pursues a significant scholarly and teaching interest in the modern (18th- to 21st-century) Greater Middle East, with particular focus on the history of the relationships between the Middle East and the West, the Arab-Israeli relationship and conflict, and the impact of Euro-American actions and policies in the region. In that role, he has published numerous essays and been interviewed and cited in diverse media outlets, including the Associated Press, CNN, and the Voice of Russia.

Recent Publications

Cursed Cradle: A Short History of Mesopotamia/Iraq (Oxford: One World Publications, forthcoming 2013).

Perpsectives From the Past: Primary Sources in Western Civilizations, 5th ed. (New York: W. W. Norton, 2012), 4th ed. (2009).

“Social Structure and Mobility, Ancient Near East,” in The Encyclopedia of Ancient History, ed. Roger Bagnall et al. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012).

“Nomads, ‘Barbarians,’ and Societal Collapse in the Historiography of Ancient Southwest Asia,” in If a Man Builds a Joyful House: Assyriological Studies in Honor of Erle Verdun Leichty, edited by Ann K. Guinan et al. (Leiden: Brill, 2006), 325–336.

“Social Tension in the Ancient Near East,” in A Companion to the Ancient Near East, ed. Daniel Snell (London: Blackwell, 2005).​

Current Courses​

Fall 2015

  • HST 236 - Babylon & Beyond: Ancient Civilizations of the Near/Middle East
  • HST 382/REL 382 - History of Israel
  • HST 697 - Great Britain & the United States and/in the Middle East Since ​1800

Spring 2016

  • HST 237 - Baghdad & Beyond: Modern Middle East
  • HST 336 - Iran & Iraq in History
  • HST 535 - Middle East in the Modern Era​