Great Ancient Civilizations of Asia Minor

Course No. 363
Professor Kenneth W. Harl, Ph.D.
Tulane University
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Course No. 363
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Course Overview

Perhaps no other region of the world has played so many different roles in culture, religion, and politics, for so long a period of time, as the peninsula of Asian Turkey, known to the Greeks as Anatolia and to the Romans as Asia Minor. Though today we call it Turkey, that name dates back only to the Middle Ages.

9,000 Years of History

From 7000 B.C., when Neolithic hunters began the transition to a pastoral and agricultural lifestyle, to the founding of modern Turkey in the 20th century, this varied geographical area about the size of Texas has been a crossroads of history.

Homer composed the Iliad and Odyssey on the shores of Asia Minor. All seven of the great ecumenical councils that defined Christian theology in the centuries after the conversion of Constantine took place within the boundaries of modern Turkey. To study the region is to study a land that has nurtured successive civilizations that have defined the Western and Muslim traditions that embrace so many of the modern world's inhabitants.

A Hands-On Professor

Professor Kenneth W. Harl bases these lectures on both a lifetime of academic study and decades of his own firsthand fieldwork at sites throughout Turkey. He is Professor of History at Tulane University, where he has taught since 1978, after receiving his Ph.D. in History from Yale University. At Tulane, he has received the annual Student Award for Excellence in Teaching eight times. In Fall 2001, he was the national winner of the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teachers.

Conquest and Culture

The history of the region includes these milestones:

  • the rise of the Hittites, a chariot-borne warrior people who struck out from their Anatolian heartland to overrun the Babylonian Empire and fight the armies of Egypt's Ramses II to a standstill
  • the Trojan War, a legend created from historical events of the late Bronze Age, when Achaean merchant princes and adventurers clashed swords with Hittite emperors in Asia Minor
  • the birth of Western philosophy in the search for a rational account of all things by thinkers such as Thales, Anaximander, and Heraclitus—all Greek-speaking sages from what is now the Aegean coast of Turkey
  • the fiery revolt of the Ionian Greek cities that led to the Persian Wars (499-479 B.C.) and the rise of Periclean Athens as both the world's first democracy and the leader of a maritime empire wealthy enough to build the Parthenon
  • the great early victories of Alexander the Great that paved the way for the period of brilliant cultural and spiritual creativity we call the Hellenistic Age
  • the spread of early Christianity under the guidance of St. Paul, a native of Tarsus on the southern coast of Asia Minor
  • the golden age of the Byzantine Empire, which preserved the Greek classics and repeatedly saved Europe from nomadic invasion
  • the Muslim transformation of Asia Minor culminating in the Ottoman Empire, which at its height in the 16th century threatened to take over Europe itself.

Change and Continuity

Cultural change and continuity, says Professor Harl, are the main themes of this course. Each successive civilization inherited and modified the political, social, religious, and economic institutions of its predecessor.

The scope of Anatolian history can be best understood as a series of transformations in the religious landscape of the peninsula. Anatolia has experienced a number of major cultural and religious rewrites: first by the Hittite emperors; then by the elites of Hellenic cities; next by their Hellenized descendants in the Roman age; then by Christian emperors and bishops in the Byzantine age; and, finally, by Turkish rulers and Muslim mystics.

The final chapter, the transformation of Muslim Turkey into a modern secular nation-state, is still in progress. In looking at cultural changes, certain archaeological sites and important monuments will be featured as examples of wider changes.

Cultural Components

The course can be divided into five cultural components:

Early Anatolia (6000–500 B.C.)

The first lectures deal with the earliest civilizations of Anatolia, emerging at the dawn of agriculture in Neolithic villages on the Konya plain (in central Turkey); through the Hittite Empire, the apex of civilization in the late Bronze Age (1400–1180 B.C.); to the emergence of Phrygia, Lydia, and Persia, heirs to the Hittite traditions in the early Iron Age (1100–500 B.C.).

The Hellenization of Anatolia (750–31 B.C.)

The shores of western Anatolia came under the influence of the earliest Greeks, the Achaeans or Mycenaeans, during the late Bronze Age. Although this contact inspired the epic poems of Homer, it was only from 750 B.C. that Hellenic influence spread into the peninsula. Alexander the Great (336–323 B.C.) conquered Anatolia, and his successors transformed the region into a center of Greek cities that played a major role in the civilization of the Hellenistic Age (323–31 B.C.).

Roman Asia Minor (200 B.C.–395 A.D.)

The Romans built on the Hellenistic cities and institutions, and Anatolia was transformed into one of the most prosperous regions of the Roman world and homeland of the future Byzantine Empire. The Hellenic cities of Anatolia not only adapted Roman institutions and culture but also influenced the Roman monarchy, known as the Principate.

Byzantine Civilization (395–1453)

Imperial crisis in 235–305, and Christianization after 324, produced a new Byzantine civilization on Anatolian soil by 600, the basis of Orthodox Eastern Europe today. The Byzantine Empire, reduced to its Anatolian core, weathered two and one-half centuries of invasions and emerged as the leading civilization of medieval Christendom in the 10th and 11th centuries.

Islamic Turkey (since 1071)

The Anatolian peninsula was transformed from a Christian to a Muslim land in the wake of Byzantine decline and the arrival of crusaders from Western Europe. Ottoman sultans then built the last great Muslim empire in the Middle East and Mediterranean world, an empire that fragmented in the 20th century into a series of nation-states. In 1922-1939, Anatolia became the core of the Turkish Republic, a Muslim society that has successfully met the challenges of modernization.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Introduction to Anatolia
    The lands around the central Turkish plateau have historically "faced" two ways. The western and southern shores have been drawn to Greece and Europe. The mountain-ringed interior has been linked to Iran and Asia proper. x
  • 2
    First Civilizations in Anatolia
    Neolithic Anatolians were among the first farmers and herders, dwelling in villages with sophisticated technology and organization. From the Sumerians to the south, they learned to write and build palaces and cities. x
  • 3
    The Hittite Empire
    Beginning as invaders from the Balkans, the daring Indo-European people called the Hittites overran Anatolia's core with their war chariots and founded a dynasty that rivaled the Egypt of Ramses II. x
  • 4
    Hattušaš and Imperial Hittite Culture
    Hittite kings became the first of many conquerors who would leave their mark on the land. Near their ritual capital of Hattušaš, they carved from the living rock a mighty open-air shrine to their thousands of gods. But shortly thereafter, Hattušaš was sacked and abandoned. x
  • 5
    Origins of Greek Civilization
    As the Hittites were uniting Anatolia, early Greeks (called Achaeans) were visiting its western reaches. From fortress-palaces at places like Mycenae and Pylos, Achaean warlords traded and raided along the shores of Asia Minor and, in time, would become the first Greeks to clash with the armies of a great king to the east. x
  • 6
    The Legend of Troy
    The most enduring legacies from early Anatolia are The Iliad and The Odyssey (c. 750 B.C.). How do the siege of Troy and the exploits of Homer's warrior chieftains fit into the wider tale of imperial struggle and decline during the Greek Dark Age (1100–750 B.C.)? x
  • 7
    Iron Age Kingdoms of Asia Minor
    From 1200 to 1000 B.C., migrations reshaped Anatolia. Phrygians came from the Balkans, only to be overcome by Cimmerian nomads (c. 700 B.C.). In the West, Hittite provincials founded trade-rich Lydia, whose last king was Croesus. x
  • 8
    Emergence of the Polis
    From 750 B.C. the Greeks distinguished themselves with the polis, a city-state based on citizen rule and destined to influence the world. By 500 B.C., Athens had devised the first democratic constitution, with all adult male citizens forming the sovereign assembly. x
  • 9
    Ionia and Early Greek Civilization
    The Archaic Age (750–480 B.C.), known in glimpses, remains one of history's most creative periods. Its poets, philosophers, sculptors, and architects gave birth to the mind of the West. At its forefront were the Greek trading cities of Ionia on the coast of Asia Minor and the nearby islands. x
  • 10
    The Persian Conquest
    In 546 B.C., Cyrus the Great of Persia made Anatolia part of his world empire. Anatolian grandees took to Persian ways, and life across Asia Minor soon bore a Persian stamp. Only the Ionian Greeks stood apart. When they rebelled against their Persian-sponsored local tyrants in 499 B.C., war flamed forth between the Greek city-states and the Great King. x
  • 11
    Athenian Empire and Spartan Hegemony
    As the 5th century B.C. closed, war among the Greeks left the Great King once again ruler of Ionia, but with a weakened empire. It seemed that Persian and native elites would carve out kingdoms, and that Ionia would again become the meeting place of East and West. But Alexander the Great had other ideas. x
  • 12
    Alexander the Great and the Diadochoi
    In eight years beginning in 334 B.C., Alexander and his Macedonians overran the Persian Empire, unexpectedly altering the course of Anatolian civilization by making Hellenism the leading cultural force in Asia Minor for the next 15 centuries. x
  • 13
    The Hellenization of Asia Minor
    Alexander's successor dynasts promoted Greek culture. The Attalid kings turned their fortress city of Pergamum into a showcase of Hellenic arts and learning that the Romans admired. Elites poured their wealth into public display and buildings, and cities knew themselves to be part of a wider Hellenic world. x
  • 14
    Rome versus the Kings of the East
    Pompey charged the Hellenistic cities with administering the Roman provincial system in the parts of Asia Minor the legions conquered. Thanks to his reforms, these rich cities paid for the civil wars (48–31 B.C.) that destroyed the Republic and made the brilliant politician Octavian Rome's first emperor. x
  • 15
    Prosperity and Roman Patronage
    Under the pax Romana, Hellenic cities of Anatolia attained their greatest prosperity and cultural accomplishment. Polished Hellenic aristocrats sought Roman citizenship and, more than any other provincials, imposed the notion that an emperor should act not as a ruler of subjects but as a leader of free men. x
  • 16
    Gods and Sanctuaries of Roman Asia Minor
    In the Hellenistic and Roman ages, the native gods of Anatolia assumed Hellenic guises. The record of religious life at this time is at odds with the common opinion that the public worship of civic gods (including emperors) declined before enthusiastic, irrational mystery cults. x
  • 17
    Jews and Early Christians
    Paul preached in the cities of Anatolia, converting Hellenized Jews and Judaized pagans. In A.D. 250, Christians were still a tiny minority, but with impressive institutions developed in Anatolia. When the convert Emperor Constantine (r. 306–337) summoned the First Ecumenical Council to Nicaea in 325, a momentous new chapter in religious history opened. x
  • 18
    From Rome to Byzantium
    After a century of crisis in the Roman world, Constantine unified it and created an imperial church. By 500, Anatolia had undergone yet another cultural and religious transformation into a Christian land. Anatolia had passed over into the Byzantine age. x
  • 19
    Constantinople, Queen of Cities
    When Constantine dedicated his New Rome on the site of an old Greek colony on the European side of the Bosporus, he was founding a capital that would stand as the bastion of Roman government and classical learning under great emperors such as Justinian. x
  • 20
    The Byzantine Dark Age
    The restored Roman Empire of Justinian and after faced many foes, including the new armies of Islam. Urbane classical life yielded to a martial society. Fortress cities rose in the interior. Tenacious Byzantine defense broke the Arabic advance, and Anatolia prospered for a time. x
  • 21
    Byzantine Cultural Revival
    Macedonian emperors revived patronage of the arts and letters at Constantinople, and this cultural rebirth was echoed across Anatolia in the 10th and 11th centuries. By 950, nobles were hiring first-class artists who painted in naturalistic styles that looked back to classical models and would influence the Italian Renaissance. x
  • 22
    Crusaders and Seljuk Turks
    For a century, the fate of Anatolia lay poised between Byzantines and Seljuk Turks. Though damaged by Crusader depredations, the Byzantines struggled to stem the Turkish tide. As the 13th century opened, the outlines of a new Muslim Turkish civilization began to appear in Anatolia. x
  • 23
    Muslim Transformation
    The sultans sponsored a new, vital Muslim society that once again reshaped the religious landscape of Anatolia, this time with mosques and minarets. The Mongol attacks of the 1240s, ironically, would help make possible the rise of a new Turkish Muslim dynasty, the Ottomans. x
  • 24
    The Ottoman Empire
    The Ottomans forged the last great Mediterranean empire, ruled from a rebuilt Constantinople. Suleiman the Magnificent's failure to capture Vienna (1529) checked Ottoman expansion, but Ottoman military power remained formidable for centuries. x

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Your professor

Kenneth W. Harl

About Your Professor

Kenneth W. Harl, Ph.D.
Tulane University
Dr. Kenneth W. Harl is Professor of Classical and Byzantine History at Tulane University in New Orleans, where he teaches courses in Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Crusader history. He earned his B.A. from Trinity College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University. Recognized as an outstanding lecturer, Professor Harl has received numerous teaching awards at Tulane, including the coveted Sheldon H. Hackney Award. He has...
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Reviews

Great Ancient Civilizations of Asia Minor is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 79.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 27 of 27 People Recommend This Course From a personal experience I took this course right before going on a trip to Turkey. Professor Harl does an outstanding job covering the vast history of a land that has had such a diverse and interesting history. Professor Harl is well organized and is a good speaker. He isn't what I would call a comedy speaker, and he is more of an all business type of speaker. That's okay because everyone has their own personality. I'll get used to Professor Harl as I get more of his courses. To have his mind for ancient history is something that I respect and envy to an extent. Turkey to me is a magical, mystical place. This is still a great course even if you are not interested in Turkey, because it may cover a period of history that you are interested in which ties into Turkey. What I mean by this is that the history in this course covers the Ancient Hittites, the Greeks and Romans, Constantine and early Chistianity, and the Byzantine Empire. If any of the history I just mentioned appeals to you, then I strongly recommend this course.
Date published: 2012-09-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great even on audio I always get audio if it's available, as I want to listen in situations (such as driving) where I need to look elsewhere. I'm sure the maps would have helped, but these were wonderful lectures even without visual aids. Harl is an excellent and organized speaker with a fantastic command of his subject matter. I don't know why it's not more common to organize ancient history around the Anatolian peninsula, because it's a powerful approach, and who better to do it than Harl, with his lifelong concentration on the archaeology (especially coins) of the area? Don't get the impression, though, that the focus on Anatolia is myopic, because this is a lecturer with an unshakeable grasp of the history of the entire ancient world, who effortlessly shows Anatolia's changing place in it over the centuries.
Date published: 2012-09-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Survey -- Please Get the Video Version Prof. Harl provided an excellent survey of Asia Minor. It is somewhat of a reach to cover 3000 years of history of any region in 24 lectures, but Prof. Harl did a nice job in surveying the peoples that crossed and conquered this region. He did a nice job in selecting his topics. I enjoyed his course guide and bibliography. I especially enjoyed his presentation of the Byzantines and the crusaders. For somewhat complicated reasons, I had purchased both the audio and video version of this course. While I realize that TTC indicates that the video version is superior, I would urge people to only consider the video version of the course unless there is a very good reason to get the audio version. I initially began listening to the audio version. I had an extremely difficult time following Prof. Harl's presentation. In fact, at that point, I was disappointed in the course, and I couldn't figure out why the reviews were so favorable. After about 12 lectures, I switched over to the video version, and I could appreciate how much the maps and the other pictures helped Prof. Harl's presentation. As a result of the switch to video, my opinion of the course also switched from negative to positive. I would definitely recommend the video version of the course. I would only recommend the audio version of the course if one cannot access the video version -- and I am not sure that I would even recommend the audio course in that situation.
Date published: 2012-05-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Prof Harl Does It Again! This course is a different take on the history of this region. There are two important things to realize. First of all, note that the title references Asia Minor, not the Middle East. This course does not discuss Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, which are the standard topics for "Western Civ" type classes. He does give considerably more attention to the Hittites, Iron Age Asia Minor and Assyria than is typical in such classes. Secondly, this isn't just ancient history. The course covers Asia Minor from its prehistoric period, through the Hittites, the Iron Age, the Hellenic and Hellenistic eras, the Roman and Byzantine eras, and the Turkish period down to the end of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of modern Turkey. This is an amazing sweep of history that you're not likely to get in any other course. And Prof Harl does it so well. He is extremely knowledgeable and an excellent lecturer. His discussions are at a deeper and more insightful level than those of other professors who teach similar course for TTC. In short, an outstanding effort. Home run.
Date published: 2012-05-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Broad Expanse Of Anatolia Civilizations This is my 2nd TC course. My 1st one was "Brief History Of the World" by Prof Peter Stearns. I chose this one because of my recent trip to Turkey & Greece and to learn more historical detail about the sites in western Turkey which I visited. Since I also study the Bible, this course taught me about origins of the peoples mentioned in the Bible such as the Hittites (OT) and Phyrgians, Galatians, and Ephesians (NT) Places mentioned in NT Acts such as Pontus, Bithynia, & Cappadocia mentioned in the NT came alive. Prof Harl's excellent maps showed routes & interactions between the various peoples & his pictures clarified their culture. Therefore I would recommend the DVD. Prof Harl covered a lot of facts & stories in each lecture & didn't beat a topic to death as an earlier reviewer wanted. My only disappointment was in lecture 6 he only covered the Troy VI story (Trojan War). Scholars actually characterize as many as IX Troys each built over the earlier civilization. However I was so impressed with Porf Harl I ordered his Rome & the Barbarians lecture.
Date published: 2012-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding overview of history of Asia Minor First, cannot imagine audio only being a fraction of the value of the DVD. The maps are critical to understanding the content. Second, I bought this course to get a discount on another course I really wanted. Was not sure how much I would enjoy this course. I loved the presentation and the continual showing of maps. The professor has a dry humor, brings the material to life in terms of what the people were like in each period. I believe this course is a strong foundation for studying other historical eras, especially in understanding Turkey of today. It has been one of the best courses I have had from the teaching company, which is many.
Date published: 2012-01-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Asia Minor, Who Knew? I admit I was searching a bit, and Asia Minor seemed different enough. I started in cautiously. However Professor Harl very quickly got me very interested. I have since taken other courses by the Professor and he is a very engaging lecturer. I had no idea of the importance Asia Minor has played in history and it was fascinating to follow the rich history. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2011-12-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Turkey, Here We Come! What I like most about Professor Harl's presentations is the way he puts history into context. From the Hittites through the Greeks and Romans all the way to the Ottoman Empire, Dr. Harl shows how each culture grew out of its predecessors. I particularly liked his explanation of how Islam emerged. The graphics work well, both to show the part geography played in the history of the region, as well as to demonstrate the art and architecture of each period. This was my third course by Dr. Harl and he has yet to disappoint. He is very enthusiastic about this topic, and he certainly conveys how rich in culture Asia Minor is. I am looking forward to visiting the sites he talks about.
Date published: 2011-10-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from OUTSTANDING Course!!! I love the Teaching Company lectures, and this one REALLY shines! Dr. Harl is such an engaging lecturer, and he is clearly passionate about the subject material. He speaks from his mind rather than from notes at his podium, and he often even walks away from his podium while talking. As a result, it is easy to get into the material, and his enthusiasm about the subject makes it gripping. I wasn't sure if I'd be interested in the lecture topic but was hooked after the first lecture. I hope Dr. Harl does many more lectures!
Date published: 2011-09-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Overview of Asia Minor I bought five courses that overlap each other and was afraid there would be too much repetition. So far that has not been the case. I started by watching Ancient Empires before Alexander, then History of Egypt and now Great Ancient Civilizations of Asia Minor. Next will be Between the Rivers and finally Alexander the Great. I am glad I started where I did and so far each course has built on its predecessor. To the extent there is overlap it helps to reinforce what I learned in the previous course. So far History of Egypt has been my favorite both in presentation and depth of coverage. But this course has added to my knowledge of the history of the Middle East from the standpoint of Modern Turkey taking the history from its earliest days through the Crusades and Ottoman Empire. Before this course I had some knowledge of the area from travels to Greece and Turkey but I now understand more fully how the history fits together and with all the troubles brewing in this part of the world having a background in the history is helpful to understand modern events. Anyone planning a trip that would include Istanbul and Ephesus would find this course a wonderful introduction and give you much deeper understanding of what you will be seeing. Or, as in my case, after returning from such a trip just what you saw putting it in historical context. The Professor in this course can be a bit dry and his manner of presentation takes some getting used to, especially coming right after watching Professor Brier and his History of Eqypt. But that does not mean the presentation is weak or not worthwhile. One of the problems with this course and the first in the series that I watched is that they cover vast periods of time and often those periods do not have much in the way of written material or visual material (e.g., the mud brick buildings have disappeared) that help in understanding these ancient cultures. The strongest part of this course for me was its discussion of Byzantium and the end of the Roman Empire into the Crusades and the Ottoman Empire. But to understand this material the knowledge in previous lectures of the history of Asia Minor will give you a deeper understanding of how the area developed and changed. I now have some 15 courses dealing with ancient Italy, Greece, Egypt and the Middle East and am half way through these courses. So far each has contributed to a better understanding of the cultures and helped me to fit together a much better understanding of the ebb and flow of cultures leading up to current times. Overlaps have been minimal and in many cases helpful to reinforce what I learned in prior courses. As with many of these courses I plan to go back and review them again when I finish all that I have bought so far. The only problem is that as I finish one course I keep adding to my list of other courses to buy eventually! For anyone with interest in the subject I can highly recommend the course.
Date published: 2011-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Ishtar Gate to Ancient Near East This short lecture series provides an excellent overview of the ancient near east. The course is very short and is only intended as a gateway to other courses. As such, someone with extensive knowledge about any one sub-period, ie. the Sumerians, Akkadians, Persian, or Egyptians will find the material rather superficial and repetitive. Prof. Harl is a superb speeker whose lecture style is very conducive to the CD/audio format. I have enjoyed a number of his courses so far. The lecture notes and recommended reading are excellent.
Date published: 2010-07-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fun Story Dr. Harl is an excellent raconteur. He is obviously very knowledgeable and it is very enjoyable to listen to his stories. But that is also his major weakness. He always presents his perspective as though there is no other perspective. When one listens to other TTC courses that overlap with his courses, one realizes that there is much more to the subject than what he presents. Dr. Harl never presents any uncertainty or scholarly debate. If one is looking for some rip-roaring fun stories, then this course will do quite well. However, if one is looking for an academic, scholarly exposition, then caveat emptor.
Date published: 2010-05-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It's Asia Minor but Major History Dr Harl's course about Asia Minor is major history. In 24 lectures, Professor H weaves a coherent and fascinating tale of civilizations that weave in and out of the history of the West and the Mideast. Dr Harl tells a wonderful story the starts in roughly 7000 BC and enthralls the listener for 9000 years of peoples and cultures that impacted our past and still impact our present. If you have an interest in Antiquity, the Classical Age or the Middle Ages, Professor for this course but not a necessary one. For some, the first 2 - 3 lectures might require close listening as he follows the incredible parade of peoples who arose from and traveled out from Asia Minor but by lecture 4 Dr H is in full stride and his enthusiasm and grasp of his subjects sweeps you along. When Professor H stops talking 9000 years later you will know more about the history of the West and Mideast and, most importantly, you will have enjoyed learning. This is another great course by Dr Harl, I hope the TC gives him additional opportunities and that you give him a try.
Date published: 2010-04-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from what an intro to Asia Minor I enjoyed this course immensely. I had previously known a little bit about the ancient civilizations in this area, about Greece and Rome but this ties it all together for me. Dr. Harl is clearly very enthusiastic about the subject matter and this came through in his presentation. I hope the Teaching Company will add courses which go into more details for Persia, the Islamic movement over time, etc. they would be great complements to this course.
Date published: 2010-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Essential to understanding Turkey Prof. Harl covers the history of Asia Minor (modern Anatolia) from pre-history, through the Hittites to the Ottoman Empire. A massive amount of information is covered in 24 lectures. Inevitably, some compression of what was going happening on the other side of the Aegean sea has to occur. For example, Harl covers the Greek wars with Persia, and the story of Athens and Sparta, without mentioning Thermopylae. Always engaging, occasionally funny, and passionately commited to his subject - so much so that he commits an amusing malapropism, refering to Anna Komnena (a Byzantine Princess and historian) as a "silk stocking" - he brings alive the mysterious world of Byzantium (I am currently watching his course that deals in more detail with Byzantine history). A particular strength of the course are the large number of photographs of archaeological sites (many of which are off the regular tourist track). The discussions of Byzantine and Ottoman architecture and art are also well illustrated. Fascinating and absorbing. Recommended for anyone planning a trip to Turkey.
Date published: 2009-09-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Deep but wonderful review of history This is one of the first Teaching Company courses that I bought, on DVD. I bought it because I had read many books about the Greek, Roman, and Byzantine worlds, which necessarily included references to their predecessors in Anatolia. My wife and I have made three trips to Istanbul and love the sheer, palpable weight of its history and culture. I loved this course, and have become a fan of Dr. Harl, buying 4 or 5 other courses of his. He's a passionate and effective teacher who clearly knows his profession.
Date published: 2009-08-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from You must see Anatolia This course complements other courses like Greek Tragedy, The Iliad, The Odyssey, and Classical Mythology. It puts them all into perspective. Knowing how people lived in ancient times in Asia Minor help you understand the literature and art and the events like the Trojan war. I happened to be very fortunate to be in Asia Minor, Turkey, when I needed something to help me understand the archaeological sites better. I turned to the teaching company again. I bought this course in Turkey online and was traveling in Anatolia while listening to it. It was a pleasure to hear from someone who has also been here. I have now seen Troy (Truva), Gordion, Assos, and Hattusa- all in 1 week. Thank you Dr. Harl.
Date published: 2009-03-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another Dr. Harl favorite! Dr. Harl is so personable when conveying information and his great sidebar “asides”, although they don’t happen often, help information stick with us. Excellent graphics, well delivered and well paced topics and lectures. This was a good course to precede Classical Archaeology of Greece and Rome with Dr. Hale as it gives the background of the ancient world and the role of Asia Minor throughout history. (Dr. McInerny’s course on Ancient Greece is a good course to follow this.) My only COMPLAINT is the MAPS – they appeared RAISED for the oceans/waters instead of raised for the land masses. This was very confusing as we had to orient ourselves each time we saw a map. We thought global warming had already taken place!
Date published: 2009-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from best lecturer Professor Harl is no doubt one of the best lecturers I have enjoyed. His knowledge, wit and presentation all make for some of the best in listening experience I have had in such subject matter. I have listened to this series more than once and still find it as enjoyable as the first time.
Date published: 2009-02-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A history of one of the cradles of civilization. I am a fan of Prof. Harl. I like this course, as well as his course on foundations of ancient civilizations, since I am a fan of ancient civ. (though it is not my discipline professionally). This course covers many centuries, and actually several civilizations, in essence. It is, at least in some ways, a survey course, in one of Prof. Harl's specialty areas. It is admirable that Prof. Harl tackled this task in only 24 courses, as I tend to prefer courses that summarize subjects into 24 lectures or fewer. But Prof. Harl tends to "cram" lots of information into each lecture. Sometimes, there is just too much. He might benefit, for example, from a slower pace of diction, sometimes, and from other professors' practice of giving the same ideas repeatedly, in different words (see, e.g., Prof. Sugrue's lectures). Choose one central theme for each lecture, and hammer it home, albeit with examples and illustratiions. But I am especially fond, in these lectures, of the treatment of Hittite civilization. This civilization is not yet satisfactorily covered in any other course by The Teaching Company, to my knowledge. Prof. Harl's ability to satisfactorily lecture on so many different civilizations, is remarkable. Incidentally, in my humble opinion, the need for additional courses by The Teaching Company on Asia is highlighted by this course. There ought to be courses on Central Asian civilizations, including the ancient Harappan civilization (in what is, today, Pakistan), Mongol civilizations, and Iranian/Persian civilizations. The civilizations of Asia Minor, what is today Turkey, have been cradles of Western and southwest Asian civilization for centuries. We owe a great debt to the inhabitants, across the centuries, of this area. This course will, probably over time, help you to appreciate the debt we owe. For this, we ought to be grateful to Prof. Harl, notwithstanding his rapid-fire, rat-a-tat-tat diction and delivery. Respectfully submitted, mulligan452002.
Date published: 2009-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding An outstanding course on a fascinating area which most westerners know little about. I bought this course with some naive and biased trepidation, thinking 'how much of interest could possibly have happened in Asia Minor?' It turns out, a lot. This course covers an area where East and West met, coexisted, and battled for centuries. The material itself is fascinating, and the professor is extremely articulate, engaging, organized, and provides both breadth and depth. (I highly recommend the DVD - it's worth it for the maps alone, and the photos add tremendously to the course.)
Date published: 2008-12-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fascinating subject The complex history of this ancient piece of land is mind-boggling. This course will definitely inspire the viewer to travel to Turkey.
Date published: 2008-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Illuminating and Profound The narrative Professor Harl gives is captivating. His lively style keeps you on track through the end. It's like a good novel. At the end you are sad that it's over. A truly great course!
Date published: 2008-12-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My first course This was my first course with the Teaching Company, two years and some 15 courses ago, and it remains one of my favorites. I would and will buy any course professor Harl teaches.
Date published: 2008-12-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Everything i've seen of your courses are too focused on Western Civilizations. WHy not mroe on the rest of the world.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The professor spoke too fast. It was difficult for me to keep up with him especially when he became involved in some digression.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Professor Harl's passion for his subject had me on the edge of my seat. My degree is in history w/an emphasis on ancient history and yet I learned much form his comprehensive approach
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Your course answered questions that I have regarding Asia Minor for decades. I look forward to my next "Great Course" experience.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Professor K.W. hare is excellent. He obviously has traveled in the area as well as been involved archelogically. He is able to present the material with touches of humor that bring it to life. I thoroughly enjoyed the course!
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dr. Harl is magnificent stroyteller. The student becomes engaged in the causes and effects, the startegies, and the human rationale involved in the unfolding of a great drama. Congratulations on an excellent job.
Date published: 2008-10-17
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