This experience is optimized for Internet Explorer version 9 and above.

Please upgrade your browser

Send the Gift of Lifelong Learning!

Cities of the Ancient World

Cities of the Ancient World

Gifting Information

FAQ
FAQ

To send your gift, please complete the form below. An email will be sent immediately to notify the recipient of your gift and provide them with instructions to redeem it.

  • 500 characters remaining.

Frequently Asked Questions

With an eGift, you can instantly send a Great Course to a friend or loved one via email. It's simple:
1. Find the course you would like to eGift.
2. Under "Choose a Format", click on Video Download or Audio Download.
3. Click 'Send e-Gift'
4. Fill out the details on the next page. You will need to the email address of your friend or family member.
5. Proceed with the checkout process as usual.
Q: Why do I need to specify the email of the recipient?
A: We will send that person an email to notify them of your gift. If they are already a customer, they will be able to add the gift to their My Digital Library and mobile apps. If they are not yet a customer, we will help them set up a new account so they can enjoy their course in their My Digital Library or via our free mobile apps.
Q: How will my friend or family member know they have a gift?
A: They will receive an email from The Great Courses notifying them of your eGift. The email will direct them to TheGreatCourses.com. If they are already a customer, they will be able to add the gift to their My Digital Library and mobile apps. If they are not yet a customer, we will help them set up a new account so they can enjoy their course in their My Digital Library or via our free mobile apps.
Q: What if my friend or family member does not receive the email?
A: If the email notification is missing, first check your Spam folder. Depending on your email provider, it may have mistakenly been flagged as spam. If it is not found, please email customer service at (customerservice@thegreatcourses.com) or call 1-800-832-2412 for assistance.
Q: How will I know they have received my eGift?
A: When the recipient clicks on their email and redeems their eGift, you will automatically receive an email notification.
Q: What if I do not receive the notification that the eGift has been redeemed?
A: If the email notification is missing, first check your Spam folder. Depending on your email provider, it may have mistakenly been flagged as spam. If it is not found, please email customer service at (customerservice@thegreatcourses.com) or call customer service at 1-800-832-2412 for assistance.
Q: I don't want to send downloads. How do I gift DVDs or CDs?
A: eGifting only covers digital products. To purchase a DVD or CD version of a course and mail it to a friend, please call customer service at 1-800-832-2412 for assistance.
Q: Oops! The recipient already owns the course I gifted. What now?
A: Great minds think alike! We can exchange the eGifted course for another course of equal value. Please call customer service at 1-800-832-2412 for assistance.
Q: Can I update or change my email address?
A: Yes, you can. Go to My Account to change your email address.
Q: Can I select a date in the future to send my eGift?
A: Sorry, this feature is not available yet. We are working on adding it in the future.
Q: What if the email associated with eGift is not for my regular Great Course account?
A: Please please email customer service at (customerservice@thegreatcourses.com) or call our customer service team at 1-800-832-2412 for assistance. They have the ability to update the email address so you can put in your correct account.
Q: When purchasing a gift for someone, why do I have to create an account?
A: This is done for two reasons. One is so you can track the purchase of the order in your ‘order history’ section as well as being able to let our customer service team track your purchase and the person who received it if the need arises.
Q: Can I return or Exchange a gift after I purchase it?
A: Because the gift is sent immediately, it cannot be returned or exchanged by the person giving the gift. The recipient can exchange the gift for another course of equal or lesser value, or pay the difference on a more expensive item

Priority Code

Cancel

Cities of the Ancient World

Course No. 3723
Professor Steven L. Tuck, Ph.D.
Miami University
Share This Course
4.3 out of 5
26 Reviews
80% of reviewers would recommend this series
Course No. 3723
  • Audio or Video?
  • You should buy audio if you would enjoy the convenience of experiencing this course while driving, exercising, etc. While the video does contain visual elements, the professor presents the material in an engaging and clear manner, so the visuals are not necessary to understand the concepts. Additionally, the audio audience may refer to the accompanying course guidebook for names, works, and examples that are cited throughout the course.
  • You should buy video if you prefer learning visually and wish to take advantage of the visual elements featured in this course. The video version includes more than 600 visual elements to support the topics discussed in each lecture, including photographs from archaeological expeditions. On-screen text reinforces key dates, people, and events, in addition to showing you the sometimes tricky spelling of ancient city names, while maps show you the location of the city in the ancient world and what country it is in today.
Streaming Included Free

What Will You Learn?

  • Explore housing, murals, and shrines in Catalhoyuk: the world's first city.
  • Explore the architectural remains of the famous walled urban community known as Jericho.
  • Learn how the monuments and public buildings of Pergamon used scale and drama to try and surpass Periclean Athens.
  • Examine Constantinople to learn how the development of this famous city was accompanied by political riots.

Course Overview

Jericho: The famous walled city from the story of Joshua, whose conquerors left only rubble for future archaeologists.

Deir el-Medina: Home to the workers who built the tombs of King Tut and other pharaohs in the desert.

Alexandria: The awe-inspiring metropolis that housed wonders of ancient architecture along the North African coast.

Rome: Arguably the most famous and most impressive city of the ancient world, and the seat of one of the world’s most powerful empires.

These and other cities tell us much about the development of civilization: why people settled in cities, how they lived, how they overcame the challenges of urban life, and more. Because we now live in a world of cities—and for the first time ever, the majority of the population lives in an urban environment—reflecting on these ancient models of the “city” as a human phenomenon offers important lessons for our culture today.

Cities of the Ancient World is your opportunity to survey the breadth of the ancient world through the context of its urban development. Taught by esteemed Professor Steven L. Tuck of Miami University, these 24 eye-opening lectures not only provide an invaluable look at the design and architecture of ancient cities, they also offer a flesh-and-blood glimpse into the daily lives of ordinary people and the worlds they created. For instance, you will:

  • consider the benefits of living in cities, from mutual defense to trading opportunities;
  • compare domestic and public spaces and see what implications these spaces have on politics and society;
  • investigate critical infrastructure, including water supply and drainage systems;
  • learn about how such common ideas as city blocks and crosswalks were invented; and
  • marvel at the elaborate monuments and works of art created in antiquity.

From the world’s first city of Çatalhöyük to the mysteries of the Indus Valley to Constantinople, which served as the hinge between the ancient and medieval worlds, Cities of the Ancient World gives you insight into cities both large and small, famous and obscure. Ultimately, however, this is a course about people, not just buildings. Studying these cities will give you a new appreciation for the remarkable cultures of the ancient world, from the ruins of Uruk to the Golden Age of Athens, and spur you to reflect on what makes a city survive.

Discover a Wide Range of Urban Development

From orderly cities to sprawling suburbs, the ancient world offers the same variety of urban living you find around the world today. By looking at such a wide range of cities, you get a sense of the changing ideas about what it takes to make a city—and it allows you to make connections across time and geography. For example, you’ll trace the development of orthogonal planning, in which cities are constructed in a grid with rectilinear blocks, and find out how it gradually spread around the ancient world.

Using a case-study approach, Professor Tuck shows you the incredible breadth and richness of urban design across the ages:

  • Tour the mysterious citadel of Mohenjo-daro, part of the lost civilization of the Indus Valley.
  • Consider the Egyptian “company town” of Kahun, which housed paid laborers who built the tombs of pharaohs.
  • Explore the Minoan city of Knossos, a labyrinthine metropolis seamlessly integrated into the rocky island landscape.
  • Meet Hippodamus of Miletus and find out about his principles of urban design. He is credited with formalizing orthogonal planning.
  • View the splendor of Alexandria, the first major city built directly on the seacoast, whose great lighthouse was among the seven wonders of the ancient world.
  • Examine Roman infrastructure and find out how building codes helped mitigate fires and other dangers.

Examining the structures of these ancient cities teaches us much about the lives and priorities of their inhabitants. For example, are the city blocks short and walkable? Do zoning laws isolate various ethnic groups and social classes? Do city walls protect from outside invasions? Professor Tuck also demonstrates how ancient peoples dealt with the challenges of infrastructure, waste removal, neighbors, and the environment—issues that will resonate with today’s city dwellers.

Weigh the Evidence to Reconstruct Daily Life

More than anything else, Cities of the Ancient World is a course about human beings—what life was like in these cities and how people lived. Professor Tuck assumes the role of a historical detective and examines the archaeological and written evidence for each city we visit. Some cities such as Mohenjo-daro are incredibly mysterious, so we can only deduce who may have lived there and what their lives might have been like. In other cities, including Athens, Rome, and Constantinople, we have a wealth of official records and written accounts that give us a complete picture of everyday life.

One of the many treats of this course is being able to walk through these cities as if in the shoes of an ordinary citizen. From the gender-segregated symposia in Athens to the array of social classes in the Roman baths to the patriotic citizenry on the frontier edges of the Roman Empire, Professor Tuck gives you a three-dimensional feel for everyday life in the ancient world:

  • See how the temples of Çatalhöyük and the ziggurats of Uruk suggest cities first emerged to accommodate religious structures, and that agriculture soon followed.
  • Study the layout of Amarna, the revolutionary capital of Egypt, and connect city planning with the ideology of social control.
  • Trace the average day of a shoemaker as he travels through the streets of Athens.
  • Experience two perspectives of daily life in Rome, first as a well-to-do citizen and then as a poor immigrant.
  • Visit the unique Roman satellite community of Ostia, which appears to have been an entirely middle class city, with no extremes of wealth or poverty.

The urban layouts and archaeological records give you a remarkable window into each city, as well as the relationships among the cities—and in some cases, clues about why certain cities failed. As you travel from the Indus Valley in the east to Algeria in the west, and from far-flung outposts to imperial capitals, you’ll learn about trade, economies of scale, and the development of communal identity, which plays an especially important role in an increasingly globalized world.

Case Studies Build on Themselves

Professor Tuck’s approach in this course—presenting each city as a case study—allows you to experience the course in many ways. Each lecture is a self-contained episode, but they build on each other to create a vivid and complete picture of life from the earliest civilizations to the beginning of the Middle Ages. This comprehensive portrait will change the way you look at our modern world.

As you’ll discover, cities are here to stay. Considering the lessons from ancient cities—how they succeeded and why they failed—will make a difference in how we live in communities today or plan new ones for the future. The designs, challenges, and solutions to urban life you’ll encounter in Cities of the Ancient World have been with us for thousands of years, and studying communities in antiquity provides valuable insight into what it means to be human—and makes for good citizenship as we build the cities of the future.

Hide Full Description
24 lectures
 |  29 minutes each
  • 1
    The Lure of the City
    Cities are integral to our modern lives. Begin your tour by considering why wandering ancient humans left the forests and plains to create settlements. The fundamental question of “why” is just the first step toward understanding the inhabitants and lessons from ancient cities. x
  • 2
    Çatalhöyük—First Experiment in Urban Living
    Imagine a city with no streets, no public buildings, and no common spaces. Built in layers on a small mound, the world’s first city offers an intriguing window into life in the Neolithic era. Explore the remains of Çatalhöyük’s family housing, murals, and religious shrines. x
  • 3
    Jericho and Its Walls
    Nearly everyone has heard the story of the walls of Jericho, which famously came tumbling down in the book of Joshua. Look past the biblical story and find out what architectural remains suggest about this city, whose ritual spaces helped create a community and whose walls helped define this urban environment. x
  • 4
    Uruk—City of Gilgamesh
    Shift your attention to one of the most marvelous cities in the ancient world. Located in the heart of Mesopotamia, Uruk exhibits many of the hallmarks of ancient civilization, including division of labor among its craftsmen, a class hierarchy that included professional priests, and records of art and literature. x
  • 5
    Mysterious Mohenjo-daro
    Venture east to the Indus Valley, home of one of the great unknowns among ancient civilizations. The lack of written evidence from the region means we are reliant on the archaeological record to understand the culture of cities such as Mohenjo-daro. Tour its so-called citadel in the city center, examine its remarkable water systems, and more. x
  • 6
    Kahun—Company Town in the Desert
    Enter the world of ancient Egypt during the peaceful era of the Middle Kingdom. Here in the desert, paid laborers built tombs and temples for the pharaohs. To house the laborers, the Egyptians built Kahun, a planned city whose walls and layout reinforced the system of social class and served as a means of control over the population. x
  • 7
    Work and Life at Deir el-Medina
    At the height of Egyptian power during the New Kingdom, skilled workers enjoyed more prosperity than ever before, and opportunities for promotion allowed for great social mobility. Meet several ordinary workers from this society and review some of the literature that teaches us about Egyptian social structure. x
  • 8
    Amarna—Revolutionary Capital
    Deliberately created as a capital city near the center of the kingdom, Amarna served as an administrative and religious center designed to redirect political authority to the pharaoh, Amenhotep IV. Study some of the most iconic images from ancient Egypt and unpack the relationship between city planning and the social structure. x
  • 9
    Knossos—Palace, City, or Temple?
    Delve into the remarkable Minoan city of Knossos, a labyrinthine complex integrated into the natural landscape. This sophisticated example of urban design was home to figures of myth, religious spectacles, sizable food storage and distribution areas, and a unique system of architecture. Tour this visionary civilization. x
  • 10
    Akrotiri—Bronze Age Pompeii
    Visit another Minoan city, which was obliterated by one of the largest volcanic eruptions in human history. The eruption destroyed much of the city but also preserved a great deal. Look at some of the surviving houses and wall paintings and find out what archaeologists can deduce about daily life in the city from its remains x
  • 11
    Mycenae, Tiryns, and the Mask of Agamemnon
    Investigate the culture of Bronze Age Greece. After learning about the intriguing masonry at Tiryns and the impressive walls of Mycenae, you’ll take a look at how vernacular architecture reveals differences in political systems among regional powers. Then find out about the Mycenaean collapse and the end of the era. x
  • 12
    Athens—Civic Buildings and Civic Identity
    Leap forward to classical Athens in the Golden Age of the 5th century B.C. Tour some of the city’s most well-known landmarks, including the Agora, the Acropolis, and the Parthenon. Learn about the Periclean building program in the years following the Persian Wars, and examine some of the city’s great statues and friezes. x
  • 13
    Athenian Domestic Architecture
    Turn from the Athenian public sphere to the domestic spaces and find out what life was like for everyday citizens. See how a shoemaker or a sculptor might fill his day—including a stop by the Agora—and consider gender separation and the role of women in ancient Greece. x
  • 14
    Hippodamian Planning—Miletus and Ephesus
    Meet Hippodamus of Miletus, the father of urban planning. He used the system of orthogonal planning—including broad avenues and streets at right angles—to reflect the ideal social order. From city blocks to the creation of districts, see this system in action and discover its impact on the history of urban design. x
  • 15
    Olynthus—A Classical Greek City Preserved
    Founded for defense at the start of the Peloponnesian War, the planned city of Olynthus contains the best-preserved classical houses yet excavated from anywhere in the Greek world. Walk among the row houses and suburban villas to gain a rare glimpse into the patterns of domestic life in the ancient world. x
  • 16
    Wonder and Diversity at Alexandria
    Built directly on the seacoast and a major transportation hub, Alexandria is the first massive, cosmopolitan city we know of in antiquity. Its lighthouse was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the variety of artists’ workshops and its ethnic diversity made Alexandria the Greek cultural center. x
  • 17
    Pergamon—The New Theatricality
    While Hippodamian planning emphasized practicality, the organic layout of Pergamon emphasized theatricality, great scale, and drama—all intended to evoke wonder in viewers. See how this great city’s monuments and public buildings imitated and tried to surpass Periclean Athens. x
  • 18
    The Good Life in Rome
    Travel through Rome in the footsteps of a well-to-do citizen, from his freestanding apartment complex to the political happenings at the Forum Romanum to the Markets of Trajan. Then witness how all social classes interacted at the public baths, where lower classes wrangled dinner invitations from wealthy Romans. x
  • 19
    The Lives of the Poor in Rome
    Trace a day in the life of an immigrant glass blower in Rome, whose life would be considerably less fortunate thanks to xenophobia, dark and dank tenement housing, and the strong possibility of death by fire, flood, or famine. Then look at what alternatives poor Romans had, including life as a gladiator or soldier. x
  • 20
    Ostia—Middle-Class Harbor Town
    One of the most intriguing cities in the ancient world is Ostia, a “producer city” that appears to have been comprised solely of middle- and working-class people. Go inside the warehouses and storage buildings to learn about the city’s economy, and then reflect on what it means to have no evidence of the desperately poor or extravagantly wealthy. x
  • 21
    Timgad—More Roman Than Rome
    Take an excursion to the frontiers of the Roman Empire, where a group of military veterans lived in a planned city that represented the ideal Roman vision. Because many of these veterans had recently earned full citizenship, they were notably patriotic, transmitting much of Roman culture into new territory through this community. x
  • 22
    Karanis—On the Fringes of the Empire
    Consider another city at the edge of the empire—an agricultural community comprised of a diverse population. Here you’ll learn about the farm-based economy and its relationship to the consumer city of Rome, and you’ll examine the integration of Greek, Roman, and Egyptian ethnic groups. x
  • 23
    Constantinople—The Last Ancient City
    Your tour of ancient cities closes with an examination of Constantinople, which bridges the gap between the era of antiquity and the Middle Ages. Witness the development of this city and the political demonstrations and riots that accompanied its growth. You’ll also study the Hagia Sophia, whose dome is considered the greatest work of Byzantine architecture. x
  • 24
    Lessons and Legacies of Ancient Urban Life
    What does this survey of ancient cities add up to? What lessons can we draw from antiquity? Conclude the course with a look at Venice and London to see what elements of ancient cities have endured in modern architecture and urban design. Then reflect on the future of the city. x

Lecture Titles

Clone Content from Your Professor tab

What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Video Download Includes:
  • Ability to download 24 video lectures from your digital library
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
Audio Download Includes:
  • Ability to download 24 audio lectures from your digital library
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 24 lectures on 4 DVDs
  • 184-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
CD Includes:
  • 24 lectures on 12 CDs
  • 184-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 184-page printed course guidebook
  • Photos & illustrations
  • Suggested readings
  • Questions to consider

Enjoy This Course On-the-Go with Our Mobile Apps!*

  • App store App store iPhone + iPad
  • Google Play Google Play Android Devices
  • Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Tablet + Firephone
*Courses can be streamed from anywhere you have an internet connection. Standard carrier data rates may apply in areas that do not have wifi connections pursuant to your carrier contract.

Your professor

Steven L. Tuck

About Your Professor

Steven L. Tuck, Ph.D.
Miami University
Professor Steven L. Tuck is Professor of Classics at Miami University. After earning his B.A. in History and Classics at Indiana University, he received his Ph.D. in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. He held the postdoctoral Arthur and Joyce Gordon Fellowship in Latin epigraphy at The Ohio State University. An esteemed teacher, Professor Tuck received the 2013 E. Phillips Knox Teaching Award,...
Learn More About This Professor
Also By This Professor

Reviews

Cities of the Ancient World is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 26.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A stroll down memory lane Audio download. As I read through the reviews of these lectures prior to purchasing them, I noted that a common complaint was the lack of visuals on the DVD/video downloads. A course such as this, built around the examination of ruins from ancient cities with cultural implications to our own times, needs to have plenty of visuals, including maps with circles and arrows...even if it's photos of the good doctor riding a camel in Algeria. I did find a solution. For those considering buying this set, I found Professor Tuck an extremely clear speaker, in a conversational manner, and very good command of the history of the great variety of times and places he discussed. Having visited some of these locations, I found his descriptions spot-on and his dialogue enlightening. I would have loved to have been along with him during his visits. I enjoyed these lectures, not on a treadmill as I usually do, but on my laptop, dialed into some online tools (that will not get by the editors if I name them) that allowed close examination of each city's layout, with abundant photos sprinkled in taken by amateurs like you and me. It really made this course a 4 to 4.5 and well worth spending a lot more time with the individual lecture. If you are thinking about a purchase...wait for a sale and get a coupon, and experience them my way...you won't regret it. If you've already purchased the audio version and missed the visuals, retry it with the online aides. It will make a difference. Very much recommended for a classic stroll through history.
Date published: 2017-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating for history buffs I'm a travel writer and have been to 8 of these 22 cities, so I wasn't sure the course would be worth it, but learn a tremendous amount about even those I had visited. For history buffs, this is the sort of detail you rarely get on daily life in ancient times that rounds out our superficial knowledge of basic facts. Those with an interest in urban planning will be especially enthralled.
Date published: 2016-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Review of important cities . An excellent review of many of the important cities of the ancient and current modern day cities of the world.
Date published: 2016-10-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from
Date published: 2016-08-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding Introduction to Ancient Urban Living As a long time customer, this is one of the most interesting and engaging courses to which I have ever listened. Though the course skips from location to location, Prof. Tuck does an outstanding job of highlighting themes and trends in urban settlements as well as introducing us to a wide range of sites. I found the episodic nature of the course to be particularly accessible. Each lecture was largely self-contained and thus each was accessible even if it had been a while since I listened to the last one. Prof. Tuck is well-organized, clear and engaging in his lectures. Thought and planning in the structure of his presentations enables him to convey complex ideas clearly and succinctly while still maintaining an engaging and often humorous style. Though some prior knowledge of the civilizations involved is helpful, Prof. Tuck does a good job of providing an introduction to each city that can largely stand alone. I would highly recommend this course to those interested either in the ancient history of the Mediterranean, or in urban planning and modern urban development. I would highly recommend this course!
Date published: 2016-06-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Why Ancient Cities Developed & What It Means Today A great course in which Prof. Tuck — in his engaging and often humorous way — conducts a tour of ancient cities going all the way back 10,000 years. Some of the cities we visit are well known (e.g., Rome, Athens and Alexandria), but many were fascinating places that had been unknown to me. Why do humans form cities in the first place? Why live together in such density? What are the cultural and historical implications of ancient cities to us today? These and other issues are explored as we tour these captivating places. Both edifying and entertaining. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2016-03-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing Archeology As a history major in college, I loved the study of ancient civilizations, and the Great Courses have given me a much broader education so many years later with regard to the lives and accomplishments of those early peoples. Archeology has made great strides in the intervening years, and we know so much more about them. This course is well-designed and accompanied by enlightening maps and text. I would prefer that it had subtitles, since I am hard of hearing. I would recommend other courses of similar interest such as "Lost Civilizations of South America," "From Mao to Tao,"
Date published: 2016-01-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from
Date published: 2015-05-27
  • y_2017, m_6, d_23, h_4
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_1.0.0-hotfix-1
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_7, tr_19
  • loc_en_US, sid_3723, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.0
  • CLOUD, getContent, 10.07ms
  • REVIEWS, PRODUCT

Questions & Answers

Questions

1-10 of 11 Questions
1-10 of Questions

Customers Who Bought This Course Also Bought

Video title