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

Course No. 3810
Professor Robert Garland, Ph.D.
Colgate University
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Course No. 3810
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What Will You Learn?

  • numbers Embark on a fascinating exploration of what it was like to live in ancient times.
  • numbers Study the first civilizations to learn about how Egypt, Greece, and Rome laid the foundation for our modern world.
  • numbers Learn about the significance of religion and how spiritual conflicts gave birth to the discovery of new worlds.
  • numbers Take an in-depth look at how the daily life of ancient people has impacted the world we know today.

Course Overview

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
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 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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Your professor

Robert Garland

About Your Professor

Robert Garland, Ph.D.
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...
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The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 305.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Prof. Garland, "the Other Side of History I really enjoyed Prof. Garland's lectures which revealed interesting historical facts. He also keeps a students' attention using humor and modern day inroads to the ancient life.
Date published: 2020-06-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyable, Entertaining, Educational! I so much enjoyed this Other Side of History series. Professor Garland was able to bring to life various everyday life situations by "imagine you are..."; plus he has a great wit and obviously enjoys the material. I'm glad that Ginger inspired him. The courses were really interesting as I have always been intrigued by the history of the non-rich, non-extraordinary people upon who's lives ours are built upon, one life at a time. So interesting.
Date published: 2020-06-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Only ok Lots of information. Not all of it was consistent with college courses that I have taken for my History major. Really didn't like the professor's demeanor.
Date published: 2020-05-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from THE BEST history course EVER! This course is well presented. The professor is very articulate and well versed. He conveys the message in a very realistic manner and provide visuals. My children and I enjoyed these videos , as they showcased many aspects of how the real people behind historical events lived daily. If you are a fan of history , you will learn so much more from this engaging series. I only wished there was a part two and so on. A must see!
Date published: 2020-05-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyed Immensely! How much I enjoyed settling in for an hour each afternoon with Professor Garland's stories of life in the ancient world from the everyday perspective. He captured my imagination by asking me to imagine myself as a person of the time and then proceeded to paint a word picture about the architecture, weather, housing, clothing, jewelry, government, family life, work, friendships and the feelings I would be having as a member of that society in that time. Sometimes I would just close my eyes and listen as the images took shape in my mind. Magical! I regaled family and friends with all that I learned. The breadth of the course helped me make many connections between ancient people and their daily lives and how many similarities there are to how we still live today. I recommend this course wholeheartedly.
Date published: 2020-04-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lecturer really knows his stuff! The concept of talking about the ordinary people in ancient times is great. We have only watched 6 of the 18 lectures so far. We are really enjoying it!!!
Date published: 2020-04-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Expansive and Balanced This was my first Great Course, and I was very satisfied, though it took me forever to start watching it. One of the advantages of the recent stay-at-home order is that I was finally able to watch these DVDs (that I bought in January of 2019, but left virtually untouched) while working from home during lulls in the day. I was able to binge this over a week and a half, essentially watching one DVD out of the 8 every day. I'm not an audio learner by any stretch, so I needed to be in front of the screen for these 48 lectures. Dr. Garland was a fine host. A little start-and-stop with his vocal delivery that took a little getting used to, but it's clear that he knows the material, particularly with regard to the ancient Greek world. As someone whose knowledge of the ancient past of Egypt and Greece comes primarily from two Assassin's Creed games ("Origins" and "Odyssey," respectively), I was curious in particular to see how the real conditions of the time were reflected by the games (which are renowned for blending real history and historical figures in a fictitious adventure), and that provided even more interest for me once things got rolling. The games actually got a lot right (though women were depicted as far more independent than they actually were - I wouldn't be surprised if the game designers consulted with Dr. Garland). One prominent review here mentions that this course could have been done in 30 lectures, rather than 48. I'm not sure I agree, particularly because I really benefited from a completely linear telling, from Neanderthals to Mesopotamia to Egypt, then Greece, Rome, and the Middle Ages. While many aspects of ordinary people across those eras seemed to align with one another, I don't know if the subtle changes would have been so evident had they been lumped together and taken out of their respective chronologies. There's a lot of material to chew on and it was fascinating to try to imagine myself as a disabled Greek, a Persian warrior, an ancient hunger-gatherer, and so on. If history on the macro scale (with micro details provided in spades) is your cup of tea, don't pass up on this one.
Date published: 2020-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favorite courses so far. I loved this course. I learned a lot, especially about how events in history affected ordinary people. Dr. Garland did a great job and kept every lecture interesting. I was sad when I came to the last lecture.
Date published: 2020-04-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Approachable & Engaging! My three teens and I used this course as a spine in our homeschool study of ancient history. We found Professor Garland approachable and engaging. The material presented a full context of daily life in the ancient world and also proposed themes with great resonance to our present world.
Date published: 2020-04-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course - I come back to it often This is a very interesting course based on its content alone - the Professor does a wonderful job narrating what daily life would be like, on average, for certain people throughout the past. I've found this very useful - especially when comparing the difference between Greek and Roman slavery, and in fact got great reviews when putting some of the notes I'd had taken from the lectures on Quora for an answer to that very question. Listening to the lectures from the various perspectives, you realize awful life was for those at the bottom of the social class structure. I found the presentation done very well. I'd definitely recommend this course to anyone interested in learning specifics as to the different roles people played in society. History from the other side was excellently conveyed, and struck a nerve with me.
Date published: 2020-03-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Nothing special Not impressed with course, teacher or app. Will not order any more from here.
Date published: 2020-03-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from best we actually finished the course. 2 lectures at a time. I only fell asleep once....amazing. This is one of the best Great Courses we have seen. The professor is wonderful and the content is interesting. It is long but I was actually sorry to see it end.
Date published: 2020-02-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Other Side of History This was a great course. I was up until 1 in the morning binge watching the sessions because I couldn’t turn it off! I was sad when I finished the 48 sessions as I had gotten so used to the teacher that I hated to see him go
Date published: 2020-02-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting topic! We are enjoying the presentation! The professor is well-spoken, very informative and occasionally even funny, in a wry sort of way.
Date published: 2020-02-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So Interesting, opens my mind. I purchased the "Other side of history". I love to learn about every day people in ancient Greece. The professor builds a story you can imagine in your mind. Hes so easy to understand. Love your courses, I plan to purchase more. Thank you.
Date published: 2020-02-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointing I was disappointed that this is strictly a lecture course. Since it purports to describe daily life of ancient peoples I expected more illustrations and perhaps some re-enactments but the professor dismissed that idea scornfully. So there isn’t the detail one would like. Just judgements of lives as brutal and so forth and no detail of occupations or living conditions.
Date published: 2020-02-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from This is ridiculous The information is sound. He’s a wonderful speaker and obviously very well informed on the subject. My problem with this course is the way it’s executed. I understand fully that this is a series of ‘lectures’. What I cannot understand is how they can charge so much for discs of a man talking. Just talking. There’s no re-enactments, hardly any visuals, not even CGI or video on the subject matter. You’re paying for a guy to stand in a bland room and make eye contact at various perspectives who just talks with the occasional picture thrown in the mix. This is the first course I’ve ever bought and I’m seriously thinking about it being my last if this is going to be a reoccurring theme. This classroom setting idea of there’s is monotonous and dull. Do ignore the people going on about evolution though if you do decide to buy this. Science is science, historical or not. Go to church if you want to learn fairytales and cover your ears to facts. It’s baffling to me that evolution (or that we were alive over 10,000 years ago as in the case of this lecture) is still being shunned. Most of you don’t even research HOW the research is composed and found out to be a fact. They hear the word ‘evolution’ or ‘big bang’ and immediately cover their ears without wondering HOW scientists reaches this conclusion. It contradicts faith therefore it is a lie, they say. Even so, this series has left a bad taste in my mouth. I was so bored and I’m rereading Brian Green’s Fabric of the Cosmos for the third time in two years for pure joy. I’m a bit wary to buy anything else from here.
Date published: 2020-02-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from I may review if I ever receive the course. It may get here in few more months.
Date published: 2020-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from other side of history This course is beyond excellent. I would watch one section and then say "just one more". Professor Garland is beyond excellent and I am enjoying every moment. Wide appeal for all History or Language Teachers. In fact I would say a must. I had cataract surgery and could not read nor exercise. The brochure came in the mail and I was looking it over when lo and behold there was a course on Ancient Greece and Rome from the Common Person's Point of View. Well that was enough but then it was Professor Garland teaching the course whom I knew so I signed up as quickly as possible. Thanks Robert Garland very much!
Date published: 2020-01-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from No closed captions I I am just getting started on this course. The problem is that there are no closed captions. I have a hearing disorder which makes it hard to understand speech in many cases. So I rely on closed captions. If I had know this DVD did not have them, I would not have bought it.
Date published: 2020-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This guy is amazing and passionate about his subject. I loved every minute!
Date published: 2020-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting Great price fast shipping. Hard to pull myself away from this DVD. Excellent speaker. Glad I bought it J. Hellmann
Date published: 2020-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating and marvelous delivery Professor Garland is a most engaging teacher: thoughtful, full of wisdom and compassion, as he describes the lives of "ordinary" people in ancient times. I'm mesmerized by each lecture and find the quality of his research, organization and delivery to be impeccable.
Date published: 2020-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Material throughly presented I am 1/3 of the way through and am enjoying this unique rake on history,
Date published: 2020-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from History "on the ground" I've read a lot of ancient history, and I really enjoy learning about the commoner's "on the ground" point of view. Good work! Well researched and informative.
Date published: 2020-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unique focus, unique learning experience Focusing on the other side of history brings the often forgotten actors into the frame of history. Professor Garland does a marvellous job of bringing ordinary folks to life. Information is sparse, the temptation to judge others according to our values is strong, but Professor Garland confronts both these challenges beautifully and helped me imagine what it must have been like to have lived in those times. The Great courses at their best - helping me to more fully develop my imaginative faculties.
Date published: 2019-12-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Terrific series We watched this with some friends of ours. Our sessions lead to great discussions and provided new insight into the process which led to our world today. We really enjoyed this Course.
Date published: 2019-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent choice Fascinating and very interesting view of ancient people and their daily lives.
Date published: 2019-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Other Side of History I bought the course because I was interested in the other side of history. If I wanted to read a text book or the Cambridge series, I could have done that. Listening to the account given by a person whom one gets to know himself as a person is more meaningful than the alternative. I cannot overstate how much I have enjoyed the several watchings of this Garland series. Garland is a very engaging lecturer. Whoever attended his lectures in person will I hope appreciated how much of a privilege that must have been.
Date published: 2019-10-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Interesting, good delivery - totally ignores women I was excited to listen to this course, because Prof. Garland's focus is on "the other side of history" -- that is, the social history not of kings and generals but of the great majority of people who are too often ignored. And as I began the course, I enjoyed his invitation to the listener to engage in historical imagination by using the second person: "As an ordinary Egyptian, your day would have consisted of... your rituals were... you believe strongly that...." It was therefore incredibly jarring to find that Prof. Garland's imagination apparently does not extend to half the human race. The "you" he invites the listener to imagine is invariably male, and so what he describes "you" experiencing in each historical setting is reflective entirely of male life. Sometimes the construction is relatively innocuous (e.g., "At the party, your wife sits with the other women, and you sit with the men."). Sometimes, however, it is misleading (e.g., "You have to be educated in order to read and write hieroglyphics. The hope is, too, that your parents would have chosen this career [the priesthood] for you at birth, because you had to be circumcised."). To be clear, in the latter example, he is talking exclusively about male circumcision (female circumcision was not practiced in this setting) -- but the important thing is that he is describing for "you" a career and a life that would not have been open to women. The reason this is pernicious is that for the listener who does not already have mastery of the material, it is often *not clear* when he is describing something that would have applied to everyone, or only to men. For instance, when he discusses religious practices and obligations, is he describing the rites of men or the rites of everyone? While from time to time Prof. Garland does describe the activities of women, as well as their legal rights and the nature of family relations, women are very much ancillary to the discussion, and apparently not of much interest to the professor himself. Here's the thing -- I am a male listener, and I don't think I'm particularly sensitive to this. If Prof. Garland were using a "he" to refer to both genders, I'd honestly probably let it go without a lot of thought. The fact that I'm writing an entire review around this weakness is because it is so extreme and so pervasive that I have not only been consistently distracted by it, but it actually leaves me with a lack of confidence that Prof. Garland is able to accurately convey the social history that is supposed to be his area of expertise. (I want to offer a caveat here: I am offering this review after the 8th lecture, because it has become so distracting that I am moving on to another course. It is possible that the approach changes once the lectures get beyond ancient Egypt.) As a glancing note, I will also say that he makes certain observations about things that are "first" or "unique" in history, which I know for a fact to have been present in China or elsewhere. So I suspect that his language may also sometimes confuse the Ancient and Classical Mediterranean world for the *entire* world. But I will leave it to better educated reviewers than I to elaborate on that aspect. All in all: very important topic, engaging delivery, and an interesting rhetorical approach ... but deeply, fatally flawed by its failure to consider the lives of women in any serious way.
Date published: 2019-09-06
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