Rated 5 out of 5 by NicC Asia Minor: Eastern & Western Trajectories
Professor Kenneth W. Harl’s course Great Ancient Civilizations of Asia Minor and his other CLASSICAL and BYZANTINE presentations have cleared many pre-conceptions and stereotypes in my understanding of history in general. Concepts such as the barbarian, heresy, paganism, Oriental-ism, persecution, religion, etc. simple but deceptive ideas, have come into a much clearer, refined, and critical focus allowing further depth analysis and objectivity to my historical studies.
These lectures document the ancient civilizations that inhabited, developed, fragmented, and transformed the political, cultural, social, and religious landscape of ASIA MINOR (Anatolia / Modern Turkey) which covers a wide time frame. It ranges FROM early Neolithic settlements 6000 BC, domestication, writing, merchant trade, urbanization, and rise in city life; TO the Fall of Constantinople and the rise in the Ottoman Empire 1453 AD. The professor’s empirical data and conceptual historical narrative is supplemented with the disciplines of archaeology, anthropology, mythology, and theology helping to clarify the social processes taking place on this strategic landscape which is a geographical-cultural BRIDGE connecting the EASTERN and WESTERN TRADITIONS of yesterday and today. Its interior mountainous plateau regions gravitate toward Iran and the Near East, its northern shores / Black Sea towards Eastern Europe, and its western and southern shores / Aegean and Mediterranean Seas towards Western Europe. These pulls towards the East and West are still making the headlines today.
These lectures focus on five major HISTORICAL STAGES portraying the rise, maturity, decline, crisis, fall, transformation, and continuity of the great ancient civilizations that inhabited this Anatolian landscape: EARLY ANATOLIAN period (6000 – 500 BC), HELLENIZATION period (750 – 31BC), ROMANIZATION period (200BC – 395 AD), BYZANTIZATION period (395 – 1453 AD),
ISLAMIZATION period (1071…). Whether designed or unintended, the presentation is a microscopic view of macro-Mediterranean world history through the cultural lens of Asia Minor’s changing landscape. According to the professor, the CULTURAL and RELIGIOUS RE-WRITES on this soil by the Hittites, Phrygians, Lydia, Trojans, Greeks, Persians, Romans, Western-Latin Church, Byzantines, Eastern-Greek Orthodox Church, Arabs, Turks, and Muslims have contributed to today’s richness of its culture which is still evolving toward modernization. These earlier periods echo and are sketched with the DARKNESS and ILLUMINATION of kings, generals, emperors, pharaohs, sheiks, grandees, satraps, sultans, ghazi-warriors, theologians, philosophers, renaissance-artists-scholars, mystics, caliphs, popes, bishops, patriarchs, prized cultural artifacts, secular-religious architectures, gods-goddesses, competing theologies, ecumenical councils, iconoclastic controversies, pagan cults, Christians, Shiites-Sunni Muslims, Seljuk-Ottoman Turks, Sufis, crusaders, migrations, famous battles, civil wars, etc., much still vibrating today, are all documented in detail in the excellent course guidebook with accompanying maps, timeline, glossary, biographies, and bibliography. (Should become the standard on how to organize and document a detailed guidebook – just excellent!)
Finally, I close with a comment I previously made on Professor Harl’s Byzantium lectures since it also applies here: the only historical point not addressed concerns the Belgian scholar Henri Pirenne whose work MOHAMMED AND CHARLEMAGNE deals with this area and periodization of history. To quote from the book cover: “the cause of the break with the tradition of antiquity was the rapid and unexpected advance of Islam…an event of historical proportions…causing the axis of life to shift northwards from the Mediterranean for the first time in history”. To hear the professor discuss, critique, and interpret Pirenne’s thesis in light of the civilizations of ASIA MINOR and BYZANTIUM would be very enlightening indeed. *** AN HISTORICAL NECESSITY, EXCELLENT, and HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ***
September 16, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by PacificNW Another Great Course by Professor Harl
Professor Harl has done a number of excellent courses for The Great Courses and this course is just as excellent as the others. Professor Harl presents history in a manner which is both informative and entertaining.
A lot of the courses on ancient history start with major well-known empires such as the Persians, Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. This course starts at the beginning with the first known civilizations and explains the evolutionary path from these earliest civilizations to the major empires.
Consequently, this course should be one of your first courses on ancient history so that you will have an appreciation of the “big picture” before delving into the other excellent ancient history courses by Professor Harl and other professors who have created courses for The Great Courses.
June 15, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by AZSteve Introduction to an Area Neglected in School
From grade school through college, Asia Minor was mentioned occasionally but seldom, if ever, studied in any depth. This course addresses that neglect. I now have a much better appreciation of the area. Harl definitely filled in some gaps which allows other historical information I've learned make more sense. Harl clearly explains the who, what, where, and when. (Yes, he ums and uhs quite a bit. But, I've learned from his other courses to ignore this and to instead listen to what he is saying. It's definitely worth it!)
My one criticism of the course is the amount of time he spends on Greece. Many other courses, including some of his, cover Greece in depth. I would have preferred that he spend more time talking about other aspects of Asia Minor.
Overall, this course includes the history of Asia Minor and the interactions between its inhabitants and the civilizations surrounding them. I recommend this course.
March 26, 2015
Rated 4 out of 5 by geoperky Weaving history
Audio download (augmented with online maps and outside sources).
This lecture series is the ninth series from the "Harl Collection" of lectures...dealing with not only the eastern Mediterranean, but the Viking, Roman, and Steppe Barbarians lectures...that I have had the pleasure of hearing (all have been audio with augmentation). For those considering purchasing these lectures please understand that, unless you are very well versed in the geography of this part of the world (and few are here in the US), you may be better served by the video versions, unless you have the luxury of pausing and checking things out on Google Earth and other sources. In addition, there is a fair amount of repetition within the Harl repertoire, but that shouldn't surprise you since the history of this part of the world within this historic time frame is intricately interwoven...each lecture series reinforcing the others...each series stressing a particular aspect that allows a bit more depth, and an increase in curiosity.
I thoroughly enjoyed these lectures (even though #24 seemed a bit rushed), and could easily have given them a '5'...but I didn't...we want to keep the good Professor humble, don't we?
Dr Harl is probably my favorite lecturer and I appreciate his no-nonsense, direct lecture style and wry sense of humor...you might, as well.
Recommended, but wait for a sale...and coupon.
February 22, 2015