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The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World

The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World

Professor Robert Garland Ph.D.
Colgate University
Course No.  3810
Course No.  3810
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Course Overview

About This Course

48 lectures  |  30 minutes per lecture

Imagine you’re a Greek soldier marching into battle in the front row of a phalanx. Or an Egyptian woman putting on makeup before attending an evening party with your husband. Or a Celtic monk scurrying away with the Book of Kells during a Viking invasion. Welcome to the other side of history, the 99% of ordinary people whose names don’t make it into the history books—but whose lives are no less fascinating than the great leaders whose names we all know. Here you’ll encounter such diverse individuals as

  • a Mesopotamian hunter-gatherer making a living in one of the world’s earliest permanent settlements;
  • an Egyptian craftsman decorating the pharaoh’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings;
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Imagine you’re a Greek soldier marching into battle in the front row of a phalanx. Or an Egyptian woman putting on makeup before attending an evening party with your husband. Or a Celtic monk scurrying away with the Book of Kells during a Viking invasion. Welcome to the other side of history, the 99% of ordinary people whose names don’t make it into the history books—but whose lives are no less fascinating than the great leaders whose names we all know. Here you’ll encounter such diverse individuals as

  • a Mesopotamian hunter-gatherer making a living in one of the world’s earliest permanent settlements;
  • an Egyptian craftsman decorating the pharaoh’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings;
  • a Minoan fleeing the island of Santorini during a volcanic eruption;
  • a Greek citizen relaxing at a drinking party with the likes of Socrates;
  • a Roman slave captured in war and sent to work in the mines; and
  • a medieval pilgrim on the road to Canterbury.

The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World is your chance to get beyond the abstract dates and figures, kings and queens, and battles and wars that make up so many historical accounts. Over the course of 48 richly detailed lectures, Professor Robert Garland of Colgate University covers the breadth and depth of human history from the perspective of the so-called ordinary people, from its earliest beginnings through the Middle Ages. You’ll gain new insights into what daily life was like—what the world actually looked, smelled, and felt like in Neanderthal caves, ancient Egypt, Persia, Greece, Rome, and medieval Britain.

The past truly comes alive in this ambitious course, as Professor Garland takes a series of imaginative leaps to put you inside the world of history’s anonymous citizens, providing you with a fuller understanding of the distant past. You’ll see what daily life was like for workers, the poor, the elderly, the sick, the disabled, refugees, women, children, slaves, and soldiers. Through the professor’s engaging stories and with the aid of dazzling graphics, you’ll experience the texture of daily life in these civilizations like never before—and you’ll be delighted by the ways you’ll identify and empathize with people from another world.

Put Yourself in the Sandals of Ordinary People

The 19th-century historian Thomas Carlyle wrote, “The history of the world is but the biography of great men.” There’s no doubt that most histories take the conventional approach of introducing us to the major figures and important dates. But The Other Side of History stimulates your imagination by providing you a vivid glimpse into the real world of the past:

  • Go back to the Neanderthal caves, where evidence suggests that although life was dominated by the environment, Neanderthals took care to bury their dead—honoring them just as we do today.
  • Experience the rhythms of the Nile, whose predictable rise and fall created a sense of security and tranquility for its inhabitants for 2,000 years.
  • Take a harrowing trip as a Greek refugee as you strike out to create a new settlement, but be forewarned: There’s no turning back. Herodotus tells the story of refugees who, after failing to find a suitable land to colonize, tried to return home—only to be pelted with missiles by their fellow countrymen.
  • Imagine you’re a poor Roman living under the eaves in the upper floors of a leaky, cramped, rat-infested housing complex. Navigating 200 stairs with a chamber pot was bad enough, but the threat of fire from oil lamps and the rampant spread of disease only added to your vulnerability.
  • Contrast the lot of the poor with life as a Roman celebrity. From gladiators who were household names to famous wives such as Theodora, the Roman world of entertainment, sport, and celebrity culture was remarkably similar to that of the 21st century.

The true joy of this course lies in seeing what life was like for ordinary people—and therefore what life would have been like for most of us if we had been born in a different era. Through archaeological evidence and literary records, you’ll connect with a wide range of people over the ages and experience life from their perspectives. This imaginative leap is why we study the humanities—to expand our circle of empathy, compassion, and open-mindedness about the world.

Experience the Texture of Everyday Life

The Other Side of History moves systematically through history, with significant stops in ancient Egypt, Greece, Persia, Rome, and medieval Britain. In each location, Professor Garland explores life from all angles: What did the citizens do for a living? What was their home like? What did they eat? What did they wear? What did they do to relax? What were their beliefs about marriage? Religion? Death and the afterlife? You’ll encounter such interesting aspects of everyday life as

  • the use of cosmetics, perfumes, mirrors, hairpieces, and even tweezers in ancient Egypt;
  • the secrets of how to survive to old age in ancient Greece, and the society’s system of medicine;
  • the intensive military training regimen of Greek hoplites, Spartans, Roman soldiers, and medieval knights;
  • the range of career prospects in Persia, from husbandry to goldsmithing to administrative scribing; and
  • leisure time in an Anglo-Saxon great hall, complete with board games, drunken storytellers, and a minstrel playing the lyre.

To complement archaeological records, Professor Garland quotes liberally from great literature throughout the ages, explicating key passages that reveal the other side of history. You’ll hear from Herodotus, the Greek playwrights, Homer, Vergil, Tacitus, Ovid, Seneca, Juvenal, and Chaucer, along with anonymous poets and scribes.

Gain New Insights into Our Cultural History

In addition to providing intriguing details about daily life, The Other Side of History offers a cultural perspective. You’ll explore exciting new anthropological discoveries and cutting-edge academic disciplines—such as the burgeoning field of “disability studies”—which offer you a well-rounded overview of the humanities today. Professor Garland’s fascinating analysis not only enriches your knowledge of the past, but sheds light on civilization as we know it.

  • See what a powerful influence the development of language had on human culture. Our capacity for symbolic thought led to reason, art, social connections, and more, which allowed our lives to be more than just a brutal fight for survival.
  • Discover how to make a mummy, learn about the scales of justice when you meet Osiris in your journey to the afterlife, and see how tomb robbing became a profitable industry for those who believed the afterlife was mere hocus-pocus.
  • Follow the trial of Socrates, from his rabble-rousing in and around Athens to his decision to drink the hemlock rather than to flee into exile. You’ll also get inside the heads of the jurors, some of whom must have felt doubt over their decision to condemn him.
  • Consider the origins of slavery and explore the different types of slavery in the ancient world, from business workers and industrial miners in ancient Greece to slaves who could earn their freedom—manumission—in ancient Rome. See, too, how slavery evolved into serfdom, and be present at the first great peasant uprising in the Middle Ages.
  • Study the role of women in different ancient and medieval civilizations. While many of these societies were deeply sexist by today’s standards, you will meet powerful women who broke the mold and made names for themselves, such as Dido, Cleopatra, and Margery Kempe. You’ll also explore the lives of housewives, prostitutes, and nuns.

Passionate, Personal Lectures

The heart of this course lies in Professor Garland’s passion for his subject. With 30 years of teaching experience and as the author of such books as Daily Life of the Ancient Greeks, he is an expert in the field. He sprinkles the course with anecdotes, such as singing “Onward Christian Soldiers” at the dinner table as a child or his first encounter with the mummy called Ginger at the BritishMuseumin London, which make the lectures personal and engaging. In fact, he says, “This course fits my interests to a tee. In a way, it’s what I’ve been preparing for all my life.”

With a lifetime of preparation for a course on the other side of history, Professor Garland’s enthusiasm is contagious. You, too, will be moved by his vivid descriptions of daily life—in the home and on the job, on the battlefield and in the graveyard. These descriptions are enhanced by a rich display of graphics, maps, and models that illustrate the art, the relics, and the geography of these historical periods.

At the end, you’ll come away with a new understanding and appreciation for past eras, but more important, Professor Garland’s compassionate look at the other side of history enriches our own lives. By crossing space and time in an effort to be another person—someone with whom you might not think you have anything at all in common—you come to realize our interconnectedness. The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World takes us on a journey to vastly different eras and shows us the range of possibilities of what it means to be human, making this a journey very much worth taking.

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48 Lectures
  • 1
    Taking on the Other Side of History
    The past comes alive when you consider the imaginary lives of ordinary people—the citizens, soldiers, and slaves who lived on the other side of history. In this course, you’ll ask questions that many textbooks never ask. x
  • 2
    Being Paleolithic
    What does it mean to be human? Take a look at the lives of our ancestors, from ancient hominids to Homo erectus to the earliest humans. Picture yourself as a Neanderthal, whose life was dominated by the environment, and discover the significance of the human mind, language, and art in the Old Stone Age. x
  • 3
    Living in Mesopotamia
    Step into the world’s earliest permanent settlement—the river banks in Mesopotamia. The development of agriculture was a revolution because it allowed humans to live permanently in one place, which led to the invention of writing, the creation of laws, an increase in trade, and technological innovations such as the wheel. x
  • 4
    Being Egyptian
    What was it like to be an ancient Egyptian? Travel to the world’s first Western civilization and explore everyday life during the New Kingdom era. You’ll learn about the richness of the Nile, the conservatism and stability of the society, and relics that have survived across millennia—hieroglyphics, papyri, art, and more. x
  • 5
    Belonging to an Egyptian Family
    Professor Garland takes you deep inside the lives of an ordinary Egyptian family, from marriage, fertility, and the rights of its women, to social gatherings a couple might host or attend. You’ll experience the house, its furniture, and even the cosmetics—all the elements of everyday life. x
  • 6
    Practicing Egyptian Religion
    Egyptian religion was a hierarchical affair, and since common people were not allowed in the temples, they mainly left it to the priests to pray on their behalf. You’ll meet some of the gods—Hathor, Amun-Re, Osiris—and learn about the myths attached to them. You’ll also learn the ins and outs of the Egyptian priesthood. x
  • 7
    Being a Dead Egyptian
    Mummies. The Book of the Dead. Tomb robbers. Death was big business in ancient Egypt, and in this lecture you’ll discover Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife and the journey from this world to the next. You’ll learn how to make a mummy and how to get past Osiris at the gates to the afterlife. x
  • 8
    Being an Egyptian Worker
    As an ancient Egyptian, you might have been a farmer, a herdsman, a craftsman, a hunter, or, most dangerously, a miner. Take a tour of people in the professions that would been available to you in the village of Deir el-Medina—from educated scribes to the craftsmen who built royal tombs. x
  • 9
    Being Minoan and Mycenaean
    While most ancient civilizations sprang up near rivers, Minoans and Mycenaeans lived in a thalassocracy—an empire based on control of the sea. This lecture surveys life on the island of Santorini, including the threat of earthquakes and volcanoes, the shift of power from Crete to mainland Greece, and life in the Greek Dark Age. x
  • 10
    Being Greek
    Explore the world of the Greek polis and of true democracies run by ordinary citizens—that is, free male citizens. Women were cut off from society and kept in the home, and slaves performed much of the labor. After seeing the broad strokes of this society, you’ll go inside the mind of a juror casting his ballot at the trial of Socrates. x
  • 11
    Growing Up Greek
    Growing up in ancient Greece, you’d face a myriad of challenges between birth and adulthood, beginning with whether your father decided to raise you or expose you to the elements shortly after birth. See what your childhood would have been like, from the games you’d play to the schools you’d attend. x
  • 12
    Being a Greek Slave
    What are the origins of slavery? Although ancient Greeks didn’t invent the concept, they did leave records. You’ll discover the range of work slaves did, from performing domestic duties to being worked to death in the mines. Then travel to Sparta, where helot slaves outnumbered free Spartans by as many as 7 to 1. x
  • 13
    Being a Greek Soldier or Sailor
    Go inside a phalanx battle and experience it as an average citizen-soldier or hoplite. Then turn to Sparta, a society that revolved around military life from childhood education to retirement at age 60. Finally, explore the rise of Greek mercenaries, whom some Greek writers feared were a threat to civilization. x
  • 14
    Being a Greek Woman
    This lecture takes you into the world of Athenian women, who were subjugated to males all their lives and who rarely left the home except for festivals and funerals. You’ll also look at the hetaerae—or female companions—whose lives were relatively independent. x
  • 15
    Relaxing Greek Style
    As a Greek citizen, your life would have been much more leisurely and relaxed on a day-to-day basis than ours is today. Put yourself in the sandals of an average citizen taking a morning stroll to the agora or enjoying a lively evening of drinking and discussion at a symposium. Then tour the clubs, witness the athletic events, and participate in the festivals that would have been part of your daily life. x
  • 16
    Being a Greek Refugee
    Consider the lives of those truly on the other side of history—the refugees long ignored by historians. From the 8th to the 6th centuries B.C., a large percentage of Greeks were uprooted from their homelands. This lecture shows you the harrowing colonization process from the point of view of the refugees themselves. x
  • 17
    Being a Sick or Disabled Greek
    What was it like to live in the world before painkillers, antibiotics, and modern medicine? Disability Studies is a relatively new form of scholarship, and the field shows that despite Greek sculptures depicting the idealized human form, real people in the ancient world were at great risk for serious injuries, disfigurement, and disease. Find out the ancients’ perspective on disability, deformity, and illness and the often crude way these conditions were treated, as well as the stigma such people faced. x
  • 18
    Practicing Greek Religion
    Take a look at what, in many ways, is one of the most bizarre religious systems in human history—a system with no rules, no holy book, and no orthodoxy. You’ll meet some of the famous gods of Mount Olympus and the Underworld, with their jealousies and other human emotions, and you’ll experience the festivals and observances that were part of Greek religion. x
  • 19
    Being an Old Greek
    Despite their lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality, some Greeks managed to live to a ripe old age, especially the poets and philosophers, who lived a more sedentary life. Discover the secrets to their longevity, and how you would support yourself in an era without anything like today’s retirement systems. x
  • 20
    Being a Dead Greek
    An ancient Greek faced death head on. You would die in the home, surrounded by family, and afterward women would tend to your body and sing dirges in your honor. Your corpse would be tainted with miasma—pollution—and would be buried outside the city. Meanwhile, your spirit would be carried across the River Styx to Hades, where life among the shades of the dead awaited you. x
  • 21
    Being Persian
    Turn to ancient Persia, a kingdom that came from the other side of history and rose to greatness. See how Cyrus the Great was a tolerant, pragmatic ruler, who allowed his subjects to maintain certain rights. Then see how Darius built roads, adopted a currency, and created an innovative system of communication and administration. x
  • 22
    Living in Hellenistic Egypt
    Revisit Egypt in the years after Alexander the Great, an era when Greek (Hellenistic) culture spread throughout the region. Tour the city of Alexandria, which was arguably the greatest city of the ancient world and which now lies mostly beneath the sea. Then explore the ethnic tensions between the Egyptians, Greeks, and Jews. x
  • 23
    Being Roman
    See how the Romans extended citizenship, expanding the word “Roman” to encompass more than just a person from Rome itself. As Vergil’s Aeneid shows, Romans considered it their civic duty to expand their territory for the public good; yet, despite this noble aspiration, they also had a penchant for violence and cruelty. x
  • 24
    Being a Roman Slave
    Could Romans have achieved all they did without the labor of slaves? Imagine yourself as part of the largest slave force in human history, perhaps as an agricultural slave worked to death or as a semi-independent craftsman. Then explore manumission, the process by which domestic slaves were sometimes freed. x
  • 25
    Being a Roman Soldier
    Find out what daily life was like for a Roman soldier, from the training to engagement on the battlefield. You’ll discover how the army was structured, what benefits you could expect, and what would happen if you were disobedient. Finally, you’ll explore what you’d do when you were not fighting—likely constructing the Roman road system. x
  • 26
    Being a Roman Woman
    As in ancient Greek society, a Roman woman lived on the other side of history under the domination of the paterfamilias—most likely her father or husband—yet examples of love letters and poems offer evidence that loving marriages did exist. This lecture explores wedding rituals, the complexity of Roman women’s roles in society, and how opportunities for women differed based on class status. x
  • 27
    Being a Poor Roman
    Put yourself into the world of Rome’s plebian class. This lecture takes you to the leaky, rat-infested housing where the urban poor suffered from disease and malnutrition, and you’ll experience the threat of fire that hung over Rome in the 1st century A.D. You’ll also get a glimpse of what sustained the day-to-day life of the poor. x
  • 28
    Being a Rich Roman
    Now check out the lives of the rich. You’ll tour the grand house in the city and the countryside, learn about the customs of dress, food, and hygiene, and follow a rich Roman around for the day—complete with doting clients who make him seem important. x
  • 29
    Being a Roman Celebrity
    “Celebrity” is not a modern phenomenon. Politicians, criminals, actors, and even ordinary citizens in ancient Rome strove for recognition. Here you’ll chart the lives of some of Rome’s celebrities, including gladiators, charioteers, and the emperor Nero. You’ll also look at women who knew how to hog the limelight, including Cleopatra and Theodora. x
  • 30
    Being a Roman Criminal
    Experience the world of Roman crime and punishment, law and order. You’ll witness crime ranging from midnight muggings to piracy to bandits in the countryside, and you’ll discover the variety of punishments meted out in a society lacking prisons—from loss of civic rights and exile to impalement and crucifixion. x
  • 31
    Relaxing Roman Style
    The Romans balanced the sobriety of running an empire with a healthy need to relax. Delve into the spectator side of Roman society and learn about its public games—chariot races, theatrical performances, gladiatorial combats, and circuses. Experience the venues, the violence, and the excitement of relaxing Roman style. x
  • 32
    Practicing Roman Religion
    Cicero called the Romans the most religious of all mortals. See what religion meant in the Roman world, both inside the family, where the paterfamilias supervised various ceremonies, and in the state at large, whose emperor was considered divine. You’ll also compare how the Roman view of the gods differed from the Greek perspective. x
  • 33
    Being Jewish under Roman Rule
    Discover the problem of being a monotheist in a polytheistic state—with the Romans requiring the Jews to acknowledge their gods and the divinity of their emperor. This conflict escalated in the 1st century, leading first, to acts of terrorism; then, to the outbreak of the Jewish revolt of A.D. 66; next, to the destruction of Jerusalem; and finally, to the diaspora. x
  • 34
    Being Christian under Roman Rule
    Among the competitors of Roman polytheism was a religion that preached love and salvation for the poor, the meek, and the downtrodden—bringing those on the other side of history to the fore. Chart the rise of Christianity over the first few centuries, and explore the daily lives of those who resolutely held their faith in the face of Roman persecution. x
  • 35
    Being a Celt in Ancient Britain
    Shift your attention to the world of the Celts, a mysterious European race that left few excavation sites—and none in Britain. This lecture takes you into the daily life of a Celtic village during the Iron Age, a world of tribes and chieftains, of war and bravery, and of the legendary Druids. x
  • 36
    Being a Roman Briton
    Picture what it was like to be a British native under Roman rule. How did you make peace with being subjugated when Claudius subjugated you in A.D. 43? The Romans built cities and showed natives new, more efficient agricultural practices, and protected the island for 365 years. After all that, how would you have felt when they abandoned you? x
  • 37
    Being Anglo-Saxon
    Meet the people who filled the vacuum left by the Romans. The Anglo-Saxons, a warrior culture responsible for King Arthur and Beowulf, invaded Britain at the beginning of the so-called Dark Ages. In addition to meeting the wealthy thanes, struggling peasants, and unfortunate slaves, you’ll examine the lives of monks and nuns. x
  • 38
    Being a Viking Raider
    The Vikings have always been on the “other side” of history, their deeds recorded only by their victims. In this lecture, you’ll get at the truth of this enigmatic culture. While a small number were the raiders we know from other accounts, the Vikings had a vibrant trading culture based on the sea. x
  • 39
    Living under Norman Rule
    The last successful invasion of England was by the Normans, who won the well-known Battle of Hastings in 1066. Go inside that invasion and learn about Norman culture and its lasting influence on the British—especially the creation of a strong central government that has fortified the island to the present. x
  • 40
    Being Medieval
    From the Magna Carta, which granted rights to ordinary citizens, to the rise of vernacular English, as evidenced by The Canterbury Tales, the Middle Ages marked a turning point for the “other side” of history. Find out what influenced life for ordinary people, from the control of the church to the horrors of the infamous Black Death. x
  • 41
    Being Poor in the Middle Ages
    Visit the daily life of peasants in the wake of the Black Death. Experiencing economic hardship due in part to the feudal system, the poor organized the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381, the first popular uprising of its kind. Beyond the dramatic revolt, this lecture takes you to the dinner tables of everyday people, and to the anonymous cemeteries where they’d be buried. x
  • 42
    Being a Medieval Woman
    Like the ancient world, the Middle Ages was patriarchal and male-dominated, so a woman had few options—to get married, to become a nun, or to turn to prostitution. But Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, the seducer in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” and the notion of courtly love all added new dimensions to womanhood. x
  • 43
    Being a Medieval Christian or Heretic
    Look at ways in which the medieval church wielded enormous influence over the lives of ordinary people, and how it did everything in its power to maintain its influence. You’ll witness life as a clergyman, go into the world of a monastery, and see what became of those the church deemed heretics. x
  • 44
    Being a Medieval Knight
    Were the Middle Ages really an era of knights in shining armor and damsels in distress? In this lecture you’ll gain new insights into the realities of knighthood, from the rigorous training during childhood to the bloodthirstiness of battle. You’ll also study the code of chivalry, where courtesy is the mark of a civilized man. x
  • 45
    Being a Crusader
    Unpack the term “Crusade” and situate it in its cultural context. When Pope Urban said it was the Christians’ duty to take up arms against the “infidels,” ordinary people were swept up in the idea that they were fighting to save Christianity and their own souls against the advance of Islam. x
  • 46
    Being a Pilgrim
    Imagine you were one of Chaucer’s pilgrims on your way to visit the tomb of Thomas Becket. Chaucer died before he could finish his tales, but this lecture takes you on the road from London all the way to the massive crowds at Canterbury. Then turn to a more hazardous journey, the 3,000-mile trek from England to Jerusalem to visit the holiest shrine in Christendom. x
  • 47
    Relaxing Medieval Style
    Soccer. Chess. Skating. Music. Life in the Middle Ages was full of misery and toil, but the world of sports and leisure was not that different from today. Learn about the origins of soccer, the history of chess, the variety of medieval music, and more. Conclude with a look at touring entertainers and professional guilds. x
  • 48
    Daily Life Matters
    Reflect on the humanistic value of putting yourself in the hearts and minds of ordinary people from the Neanderthal era to the late Middle Ages. The difference between their lives and ours is profound, yet this course leaves you with an equally profound connection to the anonymous majority who make up the other side of history. x

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Robert Garland
Ph.D. Robert Garland
Colgate University

Dr. Robert S.J. Garland is the Roy D. and Margaret B. Wooster Professor of the Classics at Colgate University. He earned his B.A. in Classics from Manchester University, his M.A. in Classics from McMaster University, and his Ph.D. in Ancient History from University College London. A former Fulbright Scholar and recipient of the George Grote Ancient History Prize, Professor Garland has educated students and audiences at a variety of levels. In addition to teaching classics at Colgate University, he has taught English and Drama to secondary school students and lectured at universities throughout Britain as well as the British School of Archaeology in Athens. Professor Garland is the author of numerous articles in both academic and popular journals and books capturing details of all aspects of ancient Greek and Roman life, including The Greek Way of Life: From Conception to Old Age; Introducing New Gods: The Politics of Athenian Religion; and Daily Life of the Ancient Greeks. His expertise has been featured in The History Channel's Last Stand of the 300, and he has repeatedly served as a consultant for educational film companies.

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Reviews

Rated 4.4 out of 5 by 74 reviewers.
Rated 5 out of 5 by Engaging Look at Ordinary People Prof. Garland is a lot of fun -- he presents the material with a twinkle in his eye, and really makes the ancient world come alive! Starting in ancient Mesopotamia and going through medieval Britain, he goes through the lives of the ordinary, non-famous people. I appreciated that he did not overlook women, disadvantaged groups, children, etc. August 22, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by Great overview of Daily Life This course is grand in scope - covering human Prehistory all the way to the Christian Reformation - but incredibly intimate at the same time. You are asked to imagine that you live in the shoes of a Roman, an Egyptian, or Celtic Briton as you travel through history. I found myself connecting to history in a way I didn't think possible. A course like this has the risk of relying overly on speculation. Dr. Garland is careful to not make that mistake. A little bit of speculation is of course required but Dr. Garland is careful to let you know what is his speculation and what speculations are coming from other sources. Overall, this is a fascinating look at a subject which is often missed in most historical analysis. This is a journey I would readily take again. August 14, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by Informative Course, Compassionate Instructor ***AUDIO VERSION*** I thoroughly enjoyed this course, and I did not feel that I missed anything by listening to the audio version. There were no significant reference to images that I could not see. The professor is excellent, and the content is well-selected to give an overview of each culture and each subject he addresses. Many of the complaints I read regarding this course were centered on content the reviewer felt was missing. This is an OVERVIEW of many thousands of years of history. There is also a certain amount of supposition ("suppose you were a slave in..."). I do not regard these as issues. If you lack imagination or lack the willingness to let go of hard facts in order to explore the possibilities of largely undocumented lives, this is not the course for you. If you are willing to understand that the professor is dealing with a lot of conjecture based on current archeological evidence, and if you are willing to understand that the professor participates in his lectures by adding his own feelings on various topics, you will enjoy the class immensely. Some complain that the professor is too modernist in his approach because he finds disturbing the things that were commonplace in the ancient world. Personally, I felt that he was trying to clearly contrast current and past social norms without being deadly dull about it. I loved this course, and I thoroughly enjoyed the professor's approach. I will listen to it again, and I will recommend it to friends and family. August 7, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN *RELIGION* GET THIS. My primary interests are religion and science. I bought this course because I am interested in anthropology. This course covers MANY cultures and talks about each one's religious beliefs and practices. It definitely will appeal to people interested in Judaism, and in many cases Christianity. I've been reading rather than listening to the lectures, although I listened to a few and the professor is an excellent speaker. As I'm going through it I can't help thinking this REALLY shows HOW different Jewish culture, religious values, etc., were from other ancient cultures. Unfortunately, Judaism and ancient Israel/Judah are NOT discussed. I think the main reason for that is that Prof. Garland says the situation of "the common man" in ancient cultures is normally NOT mentioned -- but the Hebrew Bible often DOES discuss such material. This course will definitely interest people interested in religion. I do need to point out that it does also cover a good deal of non-religious cultural topics. But a lot of the "cultural" topics are issues commonly addressed by modern religion, such as treatment of women, treatment of the poor, the elderly, etc. July 21, 2014
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