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Sioux Falls Scientists endorse History of the Ancient World for describing
all the civilizations of the ancient world, a global perspective.

History of the Ancient World:
A Global Perspective
Lectures by Professor Gregory S. Aldrete

History of the Ancient World (2011) - 48 lectures, 24 hours
History of the Ancient World at TheGreatCourses.com

Even though you might never stop to think about it, the ancient world and the civilizations it produced are with you in almost everything you do. The ancient world has influenced our customs and religious beliefs, our laws, and the form of our governments. It has taught us when and how we make war or pursue peace. It has shaped the buildings we live and work in and the art we hang on our walls. It has given us the calendar that organizes our year and has left its mark on the games we play.

And even though each day finds you, in ways almost too numerous to mention, paying tribute to this ancient past, it is too often without an awareness that you are even doing so.

  • In what ways were these civilizations different from each other and from our own?
  • How were they similar?
  • What part did they play in making us what we have now become, so many centuries later?

These and other questions of that ancient past and its great civilizations - which helped set the stage for the world you live in today - are still relevant to almost everything you do and everything you are. And understanding these lessons helps you to better understand yourself - why you think and act as you do - as well as the effects of those same forces on the people you interact with. Grasping the full scope of your bequest from the ancient world can't help but give you a more nuanced base from which to make decisions and choose pathways in your own life.

The 48 lectures of History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective represent a fresh and innovative way to look at history. They take you on a multidisciplinary journey that ranges across not only the traditional domains of politics and war that are normally the province of history courses, but also those of religion, philosophy, architecture and the visual arts, literature, and science and technology, to name but a few.

The course, delivered by Professor Gregory S. Aldrete of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay - a brilliant lecturer/scholar whose areas of expertise include classical history, archaeology, and philology - examines the ancient world's greatest civilizations from the Mediterranean, Asia, and the Americas - including those of Rome, Greece, China, Persia, India, and the Maya - not in isolation but in the full context of where they came from, the cultures that flourished around them at the same time, and the civilizations that were to come from them.

Get a Startling Comparison of Ancient Cultures

Although its structure is roughly chronological, History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective is especially notable for its deliberately comparative approach, often pausing in its journey along the timeline to feature startling juxtapositions of individuals and themes from different cultures, even when their commonalities or contrasts might not be evident to a casual glance. These include

  • a comparison of the epic poetry of Vedic India with Homer's Iliad;
  • an exploration of the explosion of intellectual questioning that seemed to occur spontaneously and simultaneously in many cultures in the 6th and 5th centuries B.C., spawning an array of new philosophies or religions, including Confucianism and Daoism in China, pre-Socratic philosophy in Greece, Buddhism and Jainism in India, and Zoroastrianism in Persia;
  • a four-lecture examination of five great conquerors and empire builders, including Philip of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great, Chandragupta Maurya and his grandson Asoka of India, and Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of China;
  • a discussion of the craft of history itself, comparing the different approaches to "inventing"the discipline that were chosen by Herodotus, Thucydides, and the great Chinese historian, Sima Qian - none of whom had the advantage enjoyed by later historians of being able to pore over and learn from the contributions of generations of predecessors;
  • a side-by-side examination of two of the greatest empires of all time - the Roman Empire and Han China - that compares their approaches to administration, leadership, the incorporation of newcomers, and technology and innovation;
  • a close look at the topic of war - including equipment, strategy, and tactics - that compares how Mayan, Roman, and Chinese military systems reflected aspects of their respective cultures through the ways in which they chose to go to battle; and
  • an analysis of how ancient civilizations expressed their power through art and architecture, revealing thematic similarities in monuments as varied as the tribute frieze of Persepolis, Trajan's Column in Rome, the tomb of Shi Huangdi in China, and the reliefs of Cerro Sechin in Peru.

There's even an insightful glimpse at how the structure of monasteries under the Rule of Saint Benedict might actually find one of its closest historical analogs in the rigid inculcation of values by the Greek city-state of Sparta.

Professor Gregory S. Aldrete is Professor of Humanistic Studies and History at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. A prolific writer in history, archaeology, and philology, he has received numerous awards for his teaching and research, including two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Professor Aldrete maintains an active schedule of lectures to the public and is a National Lecturer of the Archaeological Institute of America.

48 Lectures - 30 minutes each

1: Cities, Civilizations, and Sources 25: The Great Empire of the Han Dynasty
2: From Out of the Mesopotamian Mud 26: People of the Toga - Etruscans, Early Rome
3: Cultures of the Ancient Near East 27: The Crucible - Punic Wars, Roman Imperialism
4: Ancient Egypt - The Gift of the Nile 28: The Death of the Roman Republic
5: Pharaohs, Tombs, and Gods 29: Augustus - Creator of the Roman Empire
6: The Lost Civilization of the Indus Valley 30: Roman Emperors - Good, Bad, and Crazy
7: The Vedic Age of Ancient India 31: Han and Roman Empires Compared - Geography
8: Mystery Cultures of Early Greece 32: Han and Roman Empires Compared - Government
9: Homer and Indian Poetry 33: Han and Roman Empires Compared - Problems
10: Athens and Experiments in Democracy 34: Early Americas - Resources and Olmecs
11: Hoplite Warfare and Sparta 35: Pots and Pyramids - Moche and Teotihuacán
12: Civilization Dawns in China - Shang and Zhou 36: Blood and Corn - Mayan Civilization
13: Confucius and the Greek Philosophers 37: Hunter-Gatherers and Polynesians
14: Mystics, Buddhists, and Zoroastrians 38: The Art and Architecture of Power
15: Persians and Greeks 39: Comparative Armies - Rome, China, Maya
16: Greek Art and Architecture 40: Later Roman Empire - Crisis and Christianity
17: Greek Tragedy and the Sophists 41: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire?
18: The Peloponnesian War and the Trial of Socrates 42: The Byzantine Empire and the Legacy of Rome
19: Philip of Macedon - Architect of Empire 43: China from Chaos to Order under the Tang
20: Alexander the Great Goes East 44: The Golden Age of Tang Culture
21: Unifiers of India - Chandragupta and Asoka 45: The Rise and Flourishing of Islam
22: Shi Huangdi - First Emperor of China 46: Holy Men and Women - Monasticism and Saints
23: Earliest Historians of Greece and China 47: Charlemagne - Father of Europe
24: The Hellenistic World 48: Endings, Beginnings, What Does It All Mean?


History of the Ancient World:
A Global Perspective
Lectures by Professor Gregory S. Aldrete

Sioux Falls Scientists endorse History of the Ancient World for describing
all the civilizations of the ancient world, a global perspective.