Who were the first powerful leaders? How did they portray themselves, and what was the source and basis of their power? This course provides a comprehensive survey of the origins and rise of political leadership in the Near East from its beginnings in the Neolithic period to the famous kings and military leaders of Sumer, Assyria, and Babylon. Sources consulted include archaeological data (architecture, monuments, narrative art) as well as historical sources. The course is intended as an introduction to a broader understanding of the mechanisms that result in the formation of political power structures. Although it focuses on the ancient Near East, the course will discuss parallels from other parts of the world, both ancient and modern, that are relevant to understanding manifestations of political power in our present-day world.