Classical Archaeology of Ancient Greece and Rome

Course No. 3340
Professor John R. Hale, Ph.D.
University of Louisville
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Course No. 3340
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Course Overview

Classical archaeology—the excavation and analysis of ancient Greek and Roman sites—was born on Wednesday, October 22, 1738. On that day, Roque Joaquín Alcubierre, an engineer in the army of the Bourbon royal family in Naples, was lowered by ropes down a square well shaft cut through volcanic material that had formed on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. When Alcubierre reached the bottom of the well, 65 feet below the surface, he began to wind his way through tunnels carved into the volcanic material, noting pieces of architectural elements as he went.

This discovery became the first systematic study of the astonishingly intact ruins of the Roman city of Herculaneum, buried for 1,700 years in the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Alcubierre's recording of the artworks, colored marbles, inscriptions, lamps, and items of everyday life he discovered deep inside the earth marked the "Big Bang" of Classical archaeology—a quest to understand Greek and Roman culture through its material remains that continues to this day.

In the 36 lectures of Classical Archaeology of Ancient Greece and Rome, archaeologist and award-winning Professor John R. Hale guides you through this fascinating field of study and through dozens of ancient sites with the skill of a born storyteller. Mixing the exotic adventures, unexpected insights, and abiding mysteries of archaeology's fabled history with anecdotes of his own extensive field experience, Dr. Hale creates a fascinating narrative that unfolds like a series of detective stories and provides a new perspective from which to view the world of the Greeks and Romans.

A Discipline unto Itself

Many disciplines have tried to claim Classical archaeology as their own, yet it is a discipline wholly unto itself. Classical archaeology is less a branch of archaeology and more the root of the entire field.

"It was in the archaeology of Greece and Rome that the entire discipline of trying to understand the past through its material remains began," notes Dr. Hale. "It's through archaeology that some of the most important advances—such as proper field technique, experimental archaeology, and underwater archaeology—were all brought into this great world of study."

As you discover in Classical Archaeology of Greece and Rome, the field has evolved over the years from a pastime for collectors and antiquarians to a mature science. Today, Classical archaeology is a multidisciplinary effort that involves not only traditional diggers but geologists, geographers, chemists, anthropologists, historians, and linguists.

Through Classical archaeology, the civilizations of Greece and Rome come into sharper focus through a reconstruction of the past in all its color: its ideals, aspirations, achievements, and virtues; its vices, superstitions, disasters, and crimes. From the various physical remains of these long-gone places, Classical archaeologists create a window in which to see the richness of the worlds of Greece and Rome, resurrecting them in all their glory and affording us a better grasp of cultures which have greatly influenced our own.

Explore Ancient Sites and Meet Early Pioneers

The course introduces you to a series of exciting archaeologist sites that provide you with a detailed idea of what Classical archaeology entails, as well as insights into the details of ancient Greek and Roman life. These case studies—involving both famous sites and discoveries unknown outside the field—include:

  • Troy: In 1871, the German entrepreneur Heinrich Schliemann confirmed the long-forgotten site of ancient Troy in northwest Turkey, based on astute detective work by a resident English diplomat. Schliemann's sensational discoveries at this and other Bronze-Age sites made him the most famous archaeologist of his day.
  • The Athenian Agora: Since 1931, the American School of Classical Studies in Athens has been excavating this civic heart of ancient Athens, which witnessed momentous events including the trial of Socrates. Buildings and artifacts discovered here give you an unsurpassed picture of life in a major city of Classical Greece.
  • Torre de Palma: In 1947, plowmen working a field in southern Portugal chanced upon the base of a Roman column, which turned out to be sitting on a mosaic floor. Archaeologists eventually uncovered an entire Roman country estate, equipped for complete self-sufficiency in the uncertain times of the later Roman Empire.
  • The Cape Gelidonya Shipwreck: In 1960, American archaeologist George Bass forged the techniques for systematic underwater archaeology by excavating a rich Bronze-Age cargo ship off of southern Turkey. He discovered a hoard of artifacts and the largest stockpile of ingots ever recovered from the Trojan War period.

Through an analysis of these and other riveting sites, you get a superb sampling of Classical archaeology and learn how it combines ancient history, anthropology, ethnography, comparative religion, art history, experimental engineering, historical linguistics, paleobotany, and other pursuits with a dash of Indiana Jones–style adventure.

You also encounter some of the pioneering figures in Classical archaeology whose work had a lasting impact on the field, including:

  • Guiseppe Fiorelli: who conceived the strategy of pouring plaster into cavities in the volcanic rock at Pompeii in the 1860s to reveal the precise forms of long-dead Pompeiians.
  • Sir Mortimer Wheeler: who with his wife developed the grid system of excavation still in use today, in which the site is laid out like a checkerboard with a wall of the original ground left around each excavated square to give an exposed sequence of the dig's different layers.
  • Michael Ventris: who discovered that Linear B, a mystifying script discovered in the early 1900s at a Bronze-Age complex on Crete, was a form of Greek.

Three Views from Complimentary Perspectives

Dr. Hale divides Classical Archaeology of Greece and Rome into three parts, each of which approaches the field from a different, complimentary perspective.

  • Creating a Science of the Past (Lectures 1–12): You trace the origin of archaeology—from the enthusiasm surrounding early excavations at Herculaneum and Pompeii to the latest technological advances of today—and focus on methods, tools, technologies, and how archaeologists evaluate evidence and solve problems.
  • An Archaeologist's Casebook (Lectures 13–24): You tour a dozen important archaeological sites or discoveries ranging from the Bronze Age to late antiquity: sites in Greece or Greek waters, sites in Rome or its provinces, and a pair of bronze statues found off the coast of southern Italy.
  • A View from the Trenches (Lectures 25–36): You approach Classical archaeology thematically, exploring what the field has contributed to our knowledge of ancient life including topics like diets, entertainment, engineering, slavery, religion, and the role of women. Two lectures investigate what archaeology has to say about a pair of big-picture controversies: What are the roots of Classical culture, and why did the Roman Empire fall?

Details that Bring the Ancient World Alive

One of the joys of Classical archaeology is that it brings history alive in very specific, personal ways by offering you glimpses into the lives of real people—sometimes very famous ones:

  • The most renowned of all Greek sculptors was Phidias, and while little of his sculptural work survives, his personal drinking cup was found at the excavation of his workshop in Olympia, inscribed: "I belong to Phidias."
  • A papyrus discovered in 1904 was recently studied in detail and appears to have an instruction written in the handwriting of Cleopatra: to grant tax exemptions to one of her generals and the friend of her lover, Mark Antony.
  • In 1980, excavations at Herculaneum found the remains of 300 men, women, and children who were awaiting evacuation when the eruption of Vesuvius engulfed them. Some of the personal effects uncovered included a carpenter's tool chest, a nursemaid's bracelet, and a child's treasure box—with a pair of coins still inside.
  • Graffiti on a Roman outpost dated to A.D. 238 bears the chilling message, "The Parthians have fallen upon us." Archaeologists found evidence of a great assault that overwhelmed the imperial garrison.
  • Among the many "curse tablets" found at the Roman spa in present-day Bath, England, is one from the victim of an ancient purse snatching. He asks the gods for various favors: the return of the money, bad luck for the thief, and, if nothing else, the perpetrator's name.

Classical Archaeology of Greece and Rome enables you to view the world of the Greeks and Romans not as a sequence of historical events but as an immense living organism; a system in which society, culture, and the natural environment interact in dynamic, creative, and sometimes destructive ways.

See History through the Eyes of an Expert

Dr. Hale is an experienced archaeologist who has lectured widely beyond the university and brought the wonders of archaeological discoveries to the general public. His background includes a long-running position as field director for the University of Louisville's excavations at Torre de Palma and his participation in the search for sunken ships from the armada that attached Greece during the Greek and Persian Wars.

From Spain and the Black Sea to Romania and the shores of North Africa, Dr. Hale takes you on a captivating 2,000-year journey that will strengthen what he calls your "archaeological literacy." At the end of Classical Archaeology of Greece and Rome, you will have a clearer understanding of Classical archaeology: its scope, its methods, its accomplishments, its terms, its controversies, and—above all—what it can tell us about life in antiquity and how it relates to our own time.

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36 lectures
 |  Average 31 minutes each
  • 1
    Archaeology’s Big Bang
    In 1738, Roque Joaquin Alcubierre began the first systematic excavations of Herculaneum, a Roman city buried during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79. This spectacular dig marked the beginning of archaeology as a scientific discipline. x
  • 2
    “Ode on a Grecian Urn”
    The excavations at Herculaneum and nearby Pompeii fueled an already enthusiastic cult for collecting Greek and Roman antiquities, and sparked new insights into ancient art and history by scholars such as Johann Joachim Winckelmann. x
  • 3
    A Quest for the Trojan War
    The superstar of archaeology in the 19th century was Heinrich Schliemann, who was inspired by the Homeric epics to search for Troy, Mycenae, and other fabled Bronze Age sites, making remarkable and controversial discoveries in the process. x
  • 4
    How to Dig
    Archaeology was a trial-by-error affair of largely haphazard digging until General Lane Fox (later Lord Pitt-Rivers) developed scientific methods of fieldwork, later improved by Mortimer Wheeler in his excavations of Roman sites in Britain. x
  • 5
    First Find Your Site
    This lecture looks at techniques for finding archaeological sites, including the use of technology that "sees" below the surface. One famous archaeologist achieved success by simply asking, "If I were a Bronze Age king, where would I put my palace?" x
  • 6
    Taking the Search Underwater
    The bottom of the Mediterranean Sea is a museum of ancient shipwrecks and artifacts. Jacques Cousteau, coinventor of SCUBA gear, helped pioneer underwater archaeology, followed by George Bass, who brought rigorous surface techniques to the sea floor. x
  • 7
    Cracking the Codes
    Epigraphy is the study of ancient inscriptions, which are often found in sites around the Mediterranean. This lecture covers the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphs on the Rosetta Stone, and the decoding of Linear B, a late Bronze Age script. x
  • 8
    Techniques for Successful Dating
    To establish accurate dates, archaeologists employ high-tech methods such as radiocarbon and thermoluminescence. The most useful and precise technique is the simplest, tree-ring dating, which can determine the exact year and also the climate associated x
  • 9
    Reconstructing Vanished Environments
    Archaeologists turn to geologists, soil scientists, botanists, palynologists, and zoologists to answer a range of questions about the history and setting of an artifact or site. This expertise is also useful for identifying fakes and forgeries. x
  • 10
    “Not Artifacts but People”
    The study of human remains opens a window on life in the ancient world, concerning diet, disease, longevity, and other demographic data. This lecture looks at several case histories, including an athlete, a gladiator, and King Philip of Macedon. x
  • 11
    Archaeology by Experiment
    Experimental archaeology tests the technology of the ancient world by recreating it as accurately as possible, shedding light on such arts as shipbuilding, chariot racing, pottery making, and acoustical engineering in amphitheaters. x
  • 12
    Return to Vesuvius
    This lecture examines the digs at Pompeii and Herculaneum in light of the many innovations in archaeological technique over the last century, including the 1980 discovery of 300 bodies trapped at dockside during the eruption. x
  • 13
    Gournia—Harriet Boyd and the Mother Goddess
    Starting the section of the course focusing on specific sites, this lecture looks at the remarkable career of Harriet Boyd, discoverer of a Bronze Age Minoan town at Gournia, Crete, complete with a shrine to a snake goddess. x
  • 14
    Thera—A Bronze Age Atlantis?
    Popularly identified with Atlantis because of the richness of its vanished civilization, Akrotiri on the Greek island of Santorini was destroyed by earthquake and volcanic eruption, possibly as early as 1670 B.C. x
  • 15
    Olympia—Games and Gods
    Excavations at Olympia have recovered thousands of artifacts relating to the ancient Olympic games and the religious cults practiced at the site, including the workshop of Phidias, the sculptor of the temple's lost statue of Zeus, one of the Seven Wond x
  • 16
    Athens’s Agora—Where Socrates Walked
    The Agora was Athens's civic and commercial center. This lecture tours the American-led excavation of the Agora, ongoing since 1931, giving a glimpse of a typical day for an archaeologist—and for an Athenian in the Classical Age. x
  • 17
    Delphi—Questioning the Oracle
    The ancient legends of the oracle of Delphi have been confirmed by contributions from a number of modern scientific disciplines. Research by Dr. Hale and a colleague overthrew a century-long view that had rejected the role of intoxicating gases in the x
  • 18
    Kyrenia—Lost Ship of the Hellenistic Age
    Ancient writings give almost no details about Greek or Roman merchant ships and freighters, but a 4th-century B.C. wreck off Kyrenia, Cyprus, miraculously preserved 60 percent of the hull, allowing exact replicas to be built and tested. x
  • 19
    Riace—Warriors from the Sea
    Discovered by a diver in 1972, two ancient statues known as the Riace Bronzes are the site of the world's smallest archaeological dig: a microscopic study of their clay cores in an attempt to ascertain their date and place of manufacture. x
  • 20
    Rome—Foundation Myths and Archaeology
    How do the myths of Rome's founding match archaeological evidence? This lecture looks at such traditions as Rome's connection to Troy, its foundation date, its relation to neighboring towns, and the site of the hut of Romulus. x
  • 21
    Caesarea Maritima—A Roman City in Judea
    Caesarea Maritima on the coast of Israel was an important harbor and administrative center that tied King Herod of Judea to the Roman world. The now-submerged harbor works are an extraordinary example of Roman engineering. x
  • 22
    Teutoburg—Battlefield Archaeology
    In A.D. 9, German tribesmen ambushed and massacred three Roman legions in the Teutoburg Forest. The battle site was long lost until archeologists recently pinpointed the location and uncovered details that clarify German tactics. x
  • 23
    Bath—Healing Waters at Aquae Sulis
    The spa at Aquae Sulis in modern Bath, England, was a natural wonder of the Roman Empire. Excavations have uncovered a range of objects, including curse tablets and more than 10,000 coins, an early example of the custom of tossing coins in water. x
  • 24
    Torre de Palma—A Farm in the Far West
    In 1947, a chance discovery on a Portuguese farm initiated the excavation of an entire Roman country estate from the later empire, when wealthy Romans had abandoned the cities. Dr. Hale himself has participated in the dig since 1983. x
  • 25
    Roots of Classical Culture
    Where did Classical civilization originate, and what does it owe to the older civilizations of Egypt and the Near East? Archaeological evidence suggests there was no clear-cut time or place of birth, rather the culture developed slowly and unevenly over millennia. x
  • 26
    The Texture of Everyday Life
    Using the wealth of evidence from the excavations at Pompeii, this lecture explores aspects of everyday life in Classical antiquity, including childhood, games and pastimes, public latrines, reading, timekeeping, baths, and sex. x
  • 27
    Their Daily Bread
    Vast sectors of the ancient economy were devoted to securing grain imports for bread. Obsession with grain was the basis for the mystery cult of the goddess Demeter at Eleusis. Grit in bread provides a method for gauging the age of human remains through patters of teeth wear. x
  • 28
    Voyaging on a Dark Sea of Wine
    Wine was an essential element of Greco-Roman culture. Wrecks from all over the Mediterranean attest to the long-distance trade in wine, and the culture surrounding the grape penetrated into many aspects of daily life including religion. x
  • 29
    Shows and Circuses—Rome’s “Virtual Reality”
    To Romans the circus meant the racetrack, particularly the chariot races. Their love of spectacle also took in gladiatorial shows and combat with wild beasts at the Colosseum, where excavations reveal that the animals were in terrible health. x
  • 30
    Engineering and Technology
    The Greeks and especially the Romans are renowned for their waterworks. Less well-known technological feats include an early pipe organ and a rudimentary astronomical computer, discovered as a mass of gears aboard a shipwreck. x
  • 31
    Slaves—A Silent Majority?
    The ancient economy relied heavily on slavery. Archaeology reveals the nature of the institution, which differed in significant ways from American antebellum slavery. One difference: potentially everyone was a slave, if captured in war. x
  • 32
    Women of Greece and Rome
    Archaeology has made surprising findings about the roles of women in antiquity, including graves of probable female soldiers and gladiators. Julia Felix of Pompeii is one woman about whom archaeology tells a full and personal story. x
  • 33
    Hadrian—Mark of the Individual
    Emperor Hadrian is the most archaeologically visible of all Roman emperors. From designs on his coins to such gigantic projects as the Pantheon and Hadrian's Wall, he tried to remake the empire and set it on a new course. x
  • 34
    Crucible of New Faiths
    One of the striking features of the Classical world is the presence of temples in every city, with a limited range of deities presiding from one end of the Mediterranean to the other. Archaeologists find signs of alternative cults, of which Christianity was one. x
  • 35
    The End of the World—A Coroner’s Report
    Ancient writers do not seem aware of a "fall of the Roman Empire." Nonetheless the remains of villas such as Torre de Palma show a gradual cannibalizing of infrastructure to make do in what were clearly increasingly difficult times. x
  • 36
    A Bridge across the Torrent
    A Roman bridge in Spain bears the inscription: "This bridge will last forever." The secret of the Classical world was the desire of many of its leaders and creators to build for eternity. If nothing else, archaeology has brought to light more and more evidence of their enduring achievements. x

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Your professor

John R. Hale

About Your Professor

John R. Hale, Ph.D.
University of Louisville
Dr. John R. Hale is the Director of Liberal Studies at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. He earned his B.A. at Yale University and his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge in England. Professor Hale teaches introductory courses on archaeology, as well as more specialized courses on the Bronze Age, the ancient Greeks, the Roman world, Celtic cultures, the Vikings, and nautical and underwater archaeology. An...
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Reviews

Classical Archaeology of Ancient Greece and Rome is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 107.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Everybody has already said it. Why has this course earned 4.9 stars out of 5? Because it is that great. I could write what I feel about Professor Hale and this course but others have already written everything I would say. So all I can say is -- BUY THIS COURSE.
Date published: 2013-12-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Peace, Love & Dr Hale Apparently I am either one of the few or maybe the only person who listened to the audio-only version of these lectures. Thrift, in this case, has its drawbacks, and thoroughly agree with those who have insisted that the DVD is the only way to go. However, I may be different than many viewers/listeners in that I follow these audio lectures on my laptop, online with a world of images and in-depth texts regarding Dr Hale's subject matter. I commonly pause the audio and read a bit more or search the internet for more images. In addition, I have been fortunate enough to have visited many of the locations singled-out in the lectures. Dr Hale's lectures are very well structured and ordered into a comfortable flow that is easy to follow and builds interest to the final seconds. His resonant voice and timing are prefect...yet perfect in the way you and your friends talk about the things that are of interest to all. This is a course I will revisit often...and wish I had the video! Try it!
Date published: 2013-10-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Marvelous Course I have viewed many of these courses and I believe that this is one of the best both in content and presentation. All of the 36 lectures were well designed and wonderfully presented. There is no doubt that Professor Hale loves his life's work. I have been to a number of the site's that he presents and I found his insights quite illuminating as to what I didn't even know I had seen. Well worth anyone's time.
Date published: 2013-09-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Review: Classical Archaeology Greece & Rome In order of increasing risk-taking, there are 3 kinds of teachers: The first are the "Deconstructionists", the frequent products of PhD programs who rarely enlighten. These more often foist narrow, populist academia onto students who themselves have insufficient information to counter such drivel. "Re-constructionists" take more risks. Like highly trained news reporters, they are very important for those who need advanced information in a narrow field like the Teaching Company's esteemed Professor Ken Harl. Finally there the rare competent Constructionists like Prof John Hale who sift through enormous amounts of data, go to the field to check the research, and present to their audience a synthesis of their field. They present only the items of most value to the camera and interweave those items with story-telling devices designed to help their students understand the truth behind the messages. Hale, in lecture 35, notes that he himself admires "anybody who pulls back from the trenches to the big picture". Hale's lectures have 3 parts. In Part I, he gives you a solid basis for interpreting the rest of the series. That might sound daunting but he often comes across more as a tour guide than a professor. This, for me, actually required reading the book the day after the lecture so that I could separate out Hale's road-map from the extremely interesting side excursions. In Part II, you enter what is best described as time travel. Hale's examples are so engrossing that you feel you are walking alongside of him. People with any interest in women's studies need to read why Hale holds up Harriet Boyd, not as a token to feminism, but as the person revolutionizing thought about the Minoan Civilization. Finish Lectures 13 & 14 and then watch the History Channel's rather craven depiction of Atlantis, Thera, and Knossos and you will understand why the Teaching Company must exist. The other elements of this casebook are discussed elsewhere, but pay particular attention to lecture 24 on Torre de Palma, which really sets the stage for the surprising ending in Part III. Part III provides for an astounding series of conclusions. The importance of "virtual reality" to autocratic control is breath-taking. 3 mind-bending lectures follow: 31 on slaves, 32 on the women of Greece & Rome, and 34 on the Crucible of New Faiths. Between them are very solid takes on Roman Engineering and on Hadrian, an emperor who viewed his own soul as a "little spirit, little wanderer, little charmer". After closure in lecture 35, you are finally prepared for 36, one of the most brilliant syntheses of both the ancient world and the world that we now live in that has ever been written. Get the DVD.
Date published: 2013-02-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Masterful, authoritative, compelling ! With more than 500 images, almost 100 maps, the DVD version is, I feel, the natural choice for this outstanding series of talks. Dr Hale, a gifted storyteller, has a marvellous speaking technique which is at once fascinating and compelling, drawing you into his narratives as he relates events, bringing them to life in his inimitable, authoritative way, with the occasional injection of a little humour where appropriate. For sure, classical archaeology does NOT have to be stuffy and dull, when you can be taught in this almost-effortless style. The lecturer has an affable, friendly way about him, makes everything he says sound important ~ great! As I said in my review of his course "Exploring the Roots of Religion": It's a pleasure to hear him speak, without the ers, ums, y'knows, etc of some other lecturers! Just a small point, but I wish Thomas Young had been mentioned re his role in deciphering the Egyptian scripts on the Rosetta Stone. Champollion seems always to be given full credit. Many of these 24 lectures are real favourites; it's hard to choose one or two, and that alone is a fine tribute to a master teacher. Congratulations to Great Courses and Professor Hale!
Date published: 2012-11-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A master storyteller guides you. DVD required. DVD review. If I had to recommend a single TTC course for those of you just mildly interested or dipping your toes in ancient Mediterranean civilizations, it would be Dr Hale's CLASSICAL ARCHAEOLOGY OF ANCIENT GREECE AND ROME. This might seem counterintuitive. Why focus on the digging and the interpretive work? Why not limit oneself instead to the survey courses offering final conclusions such as HISTORY OF ANCIENT ROME or ANCIENT GREEK CIVILIZATION? I have seen and reviewed these two TTC courses and many more covering specific aspects of the ancient West. They are all excellent for various reasons. But I still think Hale's CLASSICAL is the best starting point. Here's why. 1. STORIES: Hale is an excellent raconteur. The first third of his course (lessons 1-12), for example, is an introduction to archeology through the lives of influential pioneers. History does not exist in a vacuum; it is always about the living seeking wealth, fame, guidance, self-knowledge or at least entertainment from the past. And since digging costs money and takes time, many of these pioneers were wily self-promoters and media hogs. In any case, Hale's use of storytelling transforms archaeology into a quest, not the mere accumulation of museum artifacts. 2. CASE STUDIES: The second third (lessons 13-24) looks at specific sites from Germany to Sicily, and from Portugal to Turkey, even including two underwater digs. Here too storytelling is central, but the focus shifts from lives to detective work. And each lesson is also a specific look at an aspect of ancient life: a goddess (the role of women), a public square (political and economic life), a battlefield (military history and Roman expansion), etc. 3. THE TEXTURE OF LIFE: The final third (lessons 25-36) groups various sites to illustrate key aspects of ancient Greek and Roman life — bread and wine, bloody spectacles as "virtual reality", slavery, women, new faiths, the life of an emperor, etc. This last portion brings together the personalities and archaeological sites introduced earlier in the course. All of these snapshots, like tiles in a mosaic, create a vivid, memorable portrait of two cultures that defined the pre- and early-Christian West. It will not explain the Peloponnesian Wars or the rise of Christianity in detail. Other courses do that. It will instead give you a superb feel for the daily life of the various social classes that participated in these events. PRESENTATION is superlative with plenty of maps and on-site pictures. AVOID CDs OR AUDIO DOWNLOADS therefore. DVDs are the only way to go. Highly, highly recommended.
Date published: 2012-10-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another vote What can I say about this course and about this presenter, Dr. Hale, that hasn't been said by others before? In my opinion, Dr. Hale is simply the best presenter that I have seen of the four courses previously viewed. He has the ability to speak extemporaneously in a clear and logical manner without "uhs," taking his "students" on a progressive journey through the subject material, connecting the topics and telling the story of archaeology itself, and the stories that archaeology tells us, in a most pleasant and understandable way. The feeling you get from Dr. Hale is one of being in the room with him, having him talking to you personally. You can feel the passion he has for the subject, and it is infectious. I feel like I've made a friend after watching him for 18 hours. I wish I could go out on a dig with him. To bad I didn't have professors like Dr. Hale when I was in college!
Date published: 2012-10-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Buy the DVD! I don't recommend buying this course on audio only, even taking into account people who listen to these while driving in their cars, because by the nature of the course it is heavily visual. Many lectures have visual components built into them: Digging techniques Understanding deciphering Carbon dating City of Thera & art Kyrena ship Warriors A & B Various maps, for example bread & wine lectures have maps of trade routes which he uses to support his argument of their high influence. Some of the visuals to be used are hidden as background like a helmet. Covers a wide variety of subjects and makes each one seem like its the most important and interesting part of ancient society. I'd love to see more courses by him or a more in-depth archaeology course dealing with specific topics. Usually I tend to get tired of watching longer courses around or over 36 lecture, but this is one where it could've continued to 48 or more lectures.
Date published: 2012-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fascinating Subject Taught By a Superb Teacher As a teacher at the university level, I was steadily impressed by how well Propfessor Hale had organized his material and presented it. There were none of the "you knows" or "Uhs" that plague the presentations of so many of us. This man can teach. And the material itself is fascinating. This is our second course with Professor Hale (the other was the Grand Tour from Athens to Istanbul) and with both we looked forward to each and every class. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2012-05-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the very best! This is my 32nd review and, while I have a number of courses that are my favorites, this course is one my top three most enjoyed courses. The other two are History of Egypt and Understanding the World's Great Structures. I have many other courses that I like very much but these are my top three. I watched this course only after completing many others on ancient Greek and Roman civilizations and I thought that perhaps there would be too much overlap. I need not have been concerned because I was mistaken. As a history of archaeology and in 12 site studies this course held my interest to the end. If there is any weakness it is in the last part but even there it is excellent. For anyone interested in classical archaeology or ancient Greece and Rome this is a course I feel certain that you will enjoy. The enthusiasm that the professor brings to the course is infectious. An example is the work that he did at Delphi to establish the geological basis for the oracles and his treatment of the underwater achaeology in Cyprus at Kyrenia. This is a course I will look forward to viewing again. I can recommend this course without any qualification.
Date published: 2012-05-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wonderful except This course, its content and lecturer, would be superb but for one major limitation apparently imposed by the Teaching Company. The teacher does his absolute best, but he is severely limited by the Teaching Company's apparent insistence that the course be provided in audio as well as video format. Thus, while the DVD version that I watched had numerous excellent graphics, maps, photos, and the like, the lecturer could not refer directly to any of them because they were not available to audio listeners. He could not say "look at this part of this statute," but had to describe everything he wanted to discuss in words for the sake of the audio listeners. The audio format, which was the only format TeachCo offered when I started buying courses from them many years ago, is fine for literature, philosophy, music, and other courses where ideas rather than objects are the focus of the course. But Archaeology is a hands-on science, a science of objects and places, and simply talking about it doesn't do it justice. Professor Hale does his absolute best with this mixed format. But I can only imagine how much better this course could have been if it had been released only in DVD format (as have several other courses I have found excellent such as Professor Ressler on the World's Greatest Structures, a fantastic course, or Professor Cook's Cathedral.) Had Professor Hale had the opportunity to show and discuss artifacts as his audience was looking at them, or include short video clips of the archeological sites, this course could have gone beyond mere excellence and been one of the best TeachCo courses I have every enjoyed. But TeachCo, for some reason, made Professor Hale give the course without these opportunities. It was a great shame that they did so, and deprived TeachCo's customers of the chance to enjoy the full glories of classical archaeology which Professor Hale, freed from this limitation, could have provided.
Date published: 2012-05-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Looking good so far My Classical Archaeology course just arrived this morning so at the first opportunity I sat down and watched the first two lectures. I have previously enjoyed William Kloss's history of European Art, which was excellent but this series is important to me as I have just completed two bridging courses on the way to starting work on an MA in Archaeology by Distance Learning, next month. I will view this as adding valuable colour to my course whilst giving me some pleasant and informative "down time" from the some of the more overwhelmingly academic reading I shall have to do. So far it has been a joy. I very much like Prof. Hale's presentation style and the intimacy of the set-up really feels as if he is speaking to YOU, the viewer. I consider myself well-read, if not (yet!) an archaeology expert but the first two lectures (focusing on early exploration of Pompeii and Herculaneum) was really 90% entirely new ground for me - and all very INTERESTING new ground. I cannot wait to tuck into the rest - and probably won't be going out much for the next couple of weeks. Although it has been a while since my last Great Courses purchase I shall be back for more which can help my course! Thank you!
Date published: 2012-05-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Learned A Lot About History And Archaeology I am not really sure what I expected from this course. However, I was pleasantly surprised by all aspects of it. Prof. Hale did an excellent job with this course. He chose his material well. He was organized and clear. I enjoyed his sense of humor. He provided a nice bibliography. What I found most surprising was how much I learned about archaeology. I suspect that before this course, I thought archaeology was simple -- just go out and dig in the ground, right? There is a lot more to it than that -- the RIGHT way to dig in the ground, how to dig underwater, etc. Prof. Hale explains all of it and keeps it interesting. Prof. Hale tells many interesting stories about antiquity as well as providing an excellent introduction to archaeology. Thanks for this Great Course.
Date published: 2012-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The evidence suggests that this course is awesome! Dr. Hale is one of my favorite lecturers in the TGC pantheon. His course on Greek and Persian Wars is inspiring. My wife, who can scarcely stand it when I pop in another one of those "educational lectures", kept wanting to see more. It became a nightly event for two and a half weeks as we devoured the course. We both came away with an immense appreciation for the history of Archaeology, the peoples and places. We honestly had no interest in archaeology before this course. I am more of a history buff. But given Dr. Hale's stellar work on the Greeks and Persians, I knew that I would, at the least, be entertained. It far exceeded my expectations. The middle 12 lectures, the Casebook, was truly awesome. We couldn't wait to get the kids in bed so we could see what Professor Hale had in store for us! It is difficult to find a flaw in this course and 5 stars is simply not enough.This is one of my top three courses from TGC.
Date published: 2012-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ONE OF MANY OF MY FAVORITE AUTHORS Course was more than expected with the professor's side stories worth the enire course.I would recommend this to anyone with the least bit of interest in archeology.Easily to follow and understand even the the references to earlier chapters.One can appreciate Professor' Hale's love of the subjectand it adds to enjoyment of the lectures.
Date published: 2012-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent The course was such a nice surprise... Was the first of archeology... We are sorry that it finishes.. We watched also the Greek and Turkey course of prof Halle and now the holly land revealed of prof Magness All three are excellent courses in archeology, but we enjoyed more prof Halle style and presentation...... A real gem We are waiting for new courses of prof Halle
Date published: 2012-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Eighteen Hours of Classical Archeology In eighteen hours, I learned more about classical archeology than I ever thought possible. In this course, Dr. Hale brings us throughout the classical world -visiting shipwrecks, grottoes of mythic gods, battlefield sites and the art adorning salvaged pottery. The course is well organized and delivered in intriguing, story-like narratives. I shall replay these videos many times.
Date published: 2012-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course, talented professor Prof Hale is my favorite professor thus far. His presentations are interesting, and he is one of the most gifted teachers in Greek and Roman history/archaeology that I have seen. It is very fortunate that the Great Courses company has him on faculty. He presents this more technical (in terms of how archaeologists work and the tools and techniques they use, over time) in an extremely interesting manner. He illustrates each technique by using a place/site and describes how that site is excavated, and how the artefacts were evaluated and studied, and more importantly, what we learn from that experience which can then be applied to similar digs. If one is even remotely interested in the practice of archaeology, this would be a valuable course.
Date published: 2011-09-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Entertainment A master storyteller. Like all great teachers he makes you think you are having fun while learning more than you realize about the subject. His many asides are priceless, casual references to a whole other subject, that add color,especially if you have enough background to pick them up and understand.As a History major, I found this course shed light on things I thought I already knew and left a new appreciation for Archaeology. This is our 11th course from TTC and as others have said easily the best.
Date published: 2011-08-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Series of Delightful & Memorable Lectures It is no surprise that Professor Hale has also produced a series on Public Speaking, his lectures on classical archaeology are models of excelllent formulation and presentation in themselves. I knew Peter Throckmorton and Spyridon Marinatos and I know they would have been honoured. This is a wonderful, informative, entertaining, insightful series and I cannot recommend it more. And I never could wait to see what Professor Professor (sic) Hale would be wearing next....
Date published: 2011-08-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb Presentation If I had attended Prof. Hale's course when first choosing a career path, archaeology certainly would have been a strong contender. He is a joy to listen to and presents the material in a manner easily digested and totally engaging. I have been to many of the sites described in these lectures and will revisit them with greater appreciation. I live in Greece and do volunteer work with archaeologists at the Wiener Laboratory of the American School of Classical Studies. Before taking this course, I consulted with the director, Dr. Sherry Fox, who knows Prof, Hale, and absolutely endorsed my actions. This is among the best of the TC courses I have taken. Bravo!
Date published: 2011-07-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Showing how Archaeology works Prof Hale truly enjoys his subject. I found this course fascenating. He backs up his theory with solid archaeological research. Several theories were new to me, and he explained them well.
Date published: 2011-06-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A memorable journey worth every minute This was my first Teaching Course and is still the best after viewing half a dozen courses. Professor Hale presented the field of classical Archeology like a feast filled with joy and excitement. Archeological theories are often contested and new theories constantly pop up, in contrast Professor Hale painted a coherent picture showing Archeology as series of scientific discoveries with pioneers and innovators having charming side stories. A very convincing and pedagogical device. A must for any person with any interest in history or sciences.
Date published: 2011-06-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fascinating! Professor Hale is clearly a passionate archaeologist. His enthusiasm is so great that I am sure some listeners will actually consider starting a new career! Lectures are very well organized. Each is astutely introduced with a specific archeological site. This, pardon the pun, ‘grounds’ whatever topic is developed further on. Interestingly, very recent elements are integrated what not only demonstrates Professor Hale’s openness to novelty but also the surprisingly dynamic nature of archaeology itself. Two thirds of the way, however, Professor Hale seems to lose some wind. He clearly is much less comfortable with history than with field work. He pales in comparison to Professor Vandiver who deals with similar topics in various Teach 12 courses. Overall, however, this course is very worthwhile and will appeal to persons with a wide variety of interests.
Date published: 2011-05-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Not a dusty course!! There are two specific things about Professor Hale's presentation of this course that I find absolutely wonderful: First - he is able to be objective about the beginnings of archaeology instead of ripping the first people to dig in the Greco-Roman world in the early 1700's. Without these people, who were digging a water well when they found some statues, the site may never have been recognized for what it was. I have seen a recent TV program where these people were ridiculed for not immediately recognizing the value of what they had stumbled on and for not excavating in a 21st century method 300 years ago. In their day there was no precedent for them to be any different. Instead, archaeology usually involved pillaging artifacts and carting them off to foreign countries. The sensibilities that have brought about laws against such things are MUCH more recent. Second - Professor Hale's ability to bring to life the people and their surroundings from the evidence at the sites is nothing short of miraculous, from the residence and businesses of a woman named Julia Felix, a name you could find in a phone book today, to a potty seat for a small child, to a tag on a dog collar with the dog's name and the owners name and address, to the regimin young athletes followed to become professional, to quoting grafitti written by the ordinary people of over 2000 years ago. During this course Professor Hale led me on a walk through the streets of Ancient Greek and Roman cities and country-sides, and introduced me to people from the distant past and took me into their homes, as surely as he introduced me to various archaeologists of the last 3 centuries at their digs. Unforgettable!
Date published: 2010-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fascinating and very enjoyable course! I looked forward to watching these lectures and did so whenever I had a spare half hour. Professor Hale does an amazing job of teaching Classical Archaeology using a wonderful blend of stories and information. One reason this course so enjoyable was because Professor Hale obviously enjoyed teaching it!
Date published: 2010-10-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating Course This course exceeded my expectations in every way. Prof. Hale is a remarkably talented lecturer. He delivers extremly well-designed lectures and is adept at holding his audience's attention without using notes. His stories of his own experiences in the field and his photos and graphics contribute a great deal to the lectures. Moreover, the organization of the course into lectures on the history of archaeology, how archaeologists actually work, and then on specific sites throughout the classical world work beautifully. I was truly astonished after every lecture by the degree to which I learned new things about the classical world and its peoples.
Date published: 2010-09-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great on archaeology, but on science? I enjoyed the course. Learned many things. Enjoyed the somewhat unusual way in which the material was presented, i.e., more or less by site, rather than by time line. However, I am a scientist and was somewhat shocked by how science was discussed in such a relatively naive way and using many phases and some words in a manner that no chemist or physicist would use them. I am not sure if Dr. Hale was doing this mainly to better appeal to his liberal arts audience or, seemingly more likely, whether he needs to take a few hard core science courses himself. The science covered was important and not really wrong, but, for examples, attributing thinking to atoms in certainly not in main stream science or wanting to change the term decay to something else when falling off or decline is a common usage in other areas and is used to indicate the continuing decline of radioactivity or when atoms leave an excited state to a lower energy one.
Date published: 2010-08-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous I just finished this masterful series and loved every minute of it. I am extremely impressed with the way that Professor Hale organized these lectures. It would have been so easy to stick with a straight time line or work his way east to west across the map. His topics become deeper and more complex as the series progresses, yet I never felt lost or overwhelmed. Professor Hale is a masterful storyteller and has a wonderful balance of facts and anecdotes. His frequent references help remind the listener of previous information without making us feel an eye-rolling sense of "been there, heard that." I especially appreciate his inclusion of several areas of archaeology that don't always get covered in some classes, such as underwater archaeology, and what artifacts can tell us about the people who used them, and why it is important to think of them. I highly recommend this course!
Date published: 2010-08-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This course deserves an award for excellence! I've purchased many courses from TTC, this one is the best by far. Many other professors are reading notes, but Dr. Hale is speaking from his heart virtually without any written notes. His knowledge is amazing, and his enthusiasm for archaeology is the best. Perhaps the best sign is that I learned and enjoyed this course much more than any other TTC course I've purchased so far. I come to this course with a good foundation in ancient history and archaeology, and was able to gain much more than any other TTC course I've purchased so far. You'll learn about underwater archaeology, many of the subtleties of archaeology, and the stories of many of the players in the field, and much, much, much more. This course is absolutely amazing! If there are awards, this course deserves one for excellence!
Date published: 2010-08-08
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