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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  • You should buy video if you prefer learning visually and wish to take advantage of the visual elements featured in this course. The video version is well illustrated and features more than 1,000 animations, maps, timelines, charts, photographs, and 3-D graphics. Among those you'll find here are a fascinating visual on what it would have been like to live through a major volcanic eruption; captivating photographs of Egyptian mummies, the ruins of a Roman circus, and medieval armor; detailed maps that lay out the Nile River Valley and Greek cities; and visual tours of Greek agoras and medieval monasteries.
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What Will You Learn?

  • Embark on a fascinating exploration of what it was like to live in ancient times.
  • Study the first civilizations to learn about how Egypt, Greece, and Rome laid the foundation for our modern world.
  • Learn about the significance of religion and how spiritual conflicts gave birth to the discovery of new worlds.
  • 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 4.5 out of 5 by 232.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great information - excellent presentation I didn't want the lecture to end. It truly painted a picture of life long ago. I recommend this lecture for anyone who enjoys the 'hidden' parts of history. We have been taught dates and the main characters in school - but here is a chance to learn about the other 99% of the people who make up history.
Date published: 2017-09-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding in every way I have never been disappointed in any of the Great Courses I have purchased and this was no exception. Simply outstanding in content and presentation.
Date published: 2017-09-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Like being there! This is a "great course"--pun intended. The presenter is affable, knowledgeable, easy to listen to, and his descriptions are evocative. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would suggest the DVD is preferable as the course has many illustrations of the topic at hand.
Date published: 2017-08-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An intriguing glimpse of everyday life Most courses on ancient history focus on famous leaders, remarkable battles, or wonderful archaeological sites. By necessity, this course mentions such topics but in the context of daily life. What was it like to be a Greek slave, for example, or a Roman woman? A Spartan boy or a Roman Briton? The instructor is endeavors to create an atmosphere in which you imagine yourself in various circumstances through the frequent use of the second person: "You are..."
Date published: 2017-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Charming and Insightful I bought this course on DVD, since it was not available on CD at the time (I usually listen while driving). The course would work well either way. History writ small, the lives of the common people who drive the machinery of the great arcs of the times, is simply fascinating. You will enjoy meeting our ancestors from the Western tradition.
Date published: 2017-07-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not DVD worth I have bought several courses and with only one exception I have enjoyed them all. This is the first time I splurged on a DVD set instead of CD because then my husband and I could enjoy it together. Should have just gotten the CD. While the professor is very knowledgeable and good to listen to there is very little visual to justify it being a CD.
Date published: 2017-07-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I am enjoying the program. I like the subject matter and how the processor is presenting it.
Date published: 2017-06-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Other Side I've just finished the course on Daily Life in the Ancient World by Robert Garland. The course was fascinating and well done. How I wish history had been as well taught when I was a schoolgirl. I found myself depressingly horrified not only at the realities of slavery, but also at the treatment of women through history. Both are treated as non-human "others". It makes me wonder why women didn't expose their male children instead of raising them to further enslave and rule over other women.
Date published: 2017-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very interesting! Presentations are short and focused, easy to understand. Presenter is clear, mildly amusing at times, easy to listen to. Good details, in interesting organization.
Date published: 2017-06-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative, absorbing and entertaining Incredible amount of fascinating information delivered with skill and humor. Would benefit from more visuals, photos, etc.
Date published: 2017-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engaging and enjoyable Professor Garland is a wonderful instructor. He has passion for the subject matter, and he takes you places most lecturers don't, showing what daily life was like through history. He is a delightful leader through the chapters of history. We have taken several Great Courses, most very good, but this was by far our favorite.
Date published: 2017-04-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very enjoyable in content and delivery When watching these lectures, I was frequently surprised that a half hour had already passed. There were only a handful I did not find highly entertaining. After having previously watched the Foundation of Western Civilizations, this was a thought provoking contrast to the history of kings. It also made clear how much we have in common with people throughout time. This is one of the few courses I plan to rewatch so as to retain more of the interesting facts interspersed with the primary topic.
Date published: 2017-04-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating course with a fabulous presenter This course is my favorite so far! Professor Garland has a great speaking voice and infuses the information with his own dry wit, making it both fun and educational. I listened to the CDs while walking, then reviewed the information in the book afterwards. I would definitely recommend this to anyone.
Date published: 2017-04-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from The presenter knew his subject very well, however the presentation was poor. Very few maps, drawings, or pictures were used and when they were used, it was such a brief view that I could not fully absorb the content. Instead, we went right back to the lecturer talking to us. I've taken dozens of college classes and even though they may be lecture based, they use far more visual material than this lecturer.
Date published: 2017-04-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Intriguing. As a pastor I have an interest in this I have gotten numerous courses. My wife and I inhance our retirement by doing 1 lecture a day and talking about it.
Date published: 2017-03-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A tribute to the 95% omitted from our history text A thoughtful well researched look at the lives of the vast majority of our forefathers who were not rich and famous. Well worth the time spent! Describing the challenges ordinary folk overcame with clarity and wit, Prof Garland's course filled in the background that the histories of the movers and shakers barely touch.. I really wanted to get a sense of how daily life was for the vast majority of our forefathers this course delivered while at the same time incorporating the common threads of religion, the restricted lives of woman and the evolution of society. It was fascinating to gain an appreciation of how the different generations overcame the challenges of living in a far more brutal world than ours,filled with violence, ignorance and disease. Often meeting these challenges despite the problems that the rich and famous created in their lives. Although I am of UK background I would have preferred if the latter half of the course had covered a wider international range than the British Isles.
Date published: 2017-02-28
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Decent content but dull presentation I'm having trouble finishing this course. It really needs more visual images and much much less time watching Professor Garland standing up in front of the camera delivering his lecture. There are few illustrations. What there are are very good and very relevant, but I would like to be able to inspect them in more detail as he continues to speak. Instead they flash on briefly and then are gone while he keeps talking about them. And he spent way way way too much time on his thesis topic on the ancient Greek funeral customs. This was more like watching a lecturer in a hall for 300 students. And Dr Garland is a very deliberate speaker, i.e. quite slow. I'm disappointed. I was really attracted to the topic; I like cultural anthropology and was looking forward to learning about ordinary people in ancient history. Sigh....
Date published: 2017-02-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from REOMMEND! I bought this course along with another one during a sale in February and I loved them both. Dr. Garland is a fascinating tour guide into the past, very knowledgable, and his sense of humor is charming. You will find yourself thinking about the ancients in much greater depth, much differently, as he takes you on an intimate journey through their daily lives. Fascinating! This is definitely a must-buy. Happy journey!
Date published: 2017-02-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thanks, Ginger! Prof Garland attributes his enthusiasm for history to the unnamed 'Ginger' discovered in Egypt about 5200 years ago that he was exposed to as a child. Without Ginger to inspire him, we might not have been able to experience the entertaining and informative lectures about the other people of history. Those 'other' people are those faceless folks who lived and died in some of the most formative times of human history. These lectures are spawned from thoughts and informed conclusions about the lives of those not fortunate enough to be 1) educated enough to record lifetime events, 2) wealthy enough to have the 'free' time to spend in reflection and 3) aware enough to recognize that their lives, thoughts and feelings might ever matter. Mostly, for me, the lectures caused me to think about all those fellow humans that have lived throughout those ancient, classical and medieval times that tried desperately just to survive, and how those people might appear to us today. It made me think about how the homeless in 2017 might be remembered in 5000 years. What will our future historians say about the average laborer, working on a high-rise, who just tries to provide for his family, or the single mom making ends meet as a bank teller, or the immigrant used car salesman, who drives for Uber in his spare time, tries to make ends meet in a hostile social environment. All these faces will never be the subject of an epic poem, or grace the ceiling of a grand cathedral or the floor with a heroic mosaic. In much the same way, Dr Garland has gently introduced us to those nobodies of yesteryear and has breathed (new) life into them...according to them the recognition due them, and perhaps giving them just a little of the immortality afforded heretofore only to the likes of Achilles-like famous characters from our history textbooks. I would have enjoyed hearing a bit more about the lives and times of the other people from far eastern cultures (China, Japan, Thailand), and even the seemingly arrested development in the Aborigines of Australia...are there other conclusions and lessons to be learned in our human social evolution that are not apparent from our western European point of view? I found the lectures well-paced, clear and well-organized. The good Professor has a pleasing voice and dry sense of humor. These lectures took a long time, but it was time well spent. The lectures made me think in ways I might not have considered before. Highly recommended for the serious student of ancient, classical and medieval history...especially when the series is on sale, and you have a coupon handy.
Date published: 2017-02-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This one truly is a Great Course My husband and I are not history buffs, but this one sounded intriguing, so we purchased it in audio format. We listen to it while we are in the car for at least half an hour. The professor truly has a speaking gift; as others have said, his clear, articulate manner of speaking, staying on point, with his charming yet easily understood English accent, make this a joy to listen to. He makes ancient history come alive and shares interesting details about things we would not hear about in the history books. The whole premise of "the other side of history", learning about how the common man lived, is truly interesting. This feels a bit like an anthropology or ancient sociology class, and it sheds light on who we are and how some of our traditions came to be. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2017-02-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Extremely Informative This course is extremely informative, down to the details of the subject matters. This very vast and lengthy course was more than I needed for my own research (... I only needed the information on the ancient Greeks), but I still found the entire course interesting. Although the professor is clearly an expert in this field of study, I found that he was not as passionate as Professor John Hale (who taught the course on public speaking). Nevertheless, I highly recommend this course on the daily life in the Ancient World for anyone and everyone interested in how people lived in the past.
Date published: 2017-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Top Notch Presentation I am one third of the way through the course and feel a little guilty over what I paid for such a great product. I am very happy I found The Great Courses and especially this Course. The production quality is EXCELLENT and I look forward to each new lesson.
Date published: 2017-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great class!! The class is very interesting and the instructor has a sense of humor which just adds to my enjoyment!!
Date published: 2017-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Daily life brought to life The content and presentation were at an interest level that I enjoyed a great deal. This was well worth the price; very detailed, and painted a great picture of daily life through the ages.
Date published: 2017-02-05
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Boring narrator, low on actual content Bought it a month ago, partially for my daughter's school and partially for myself to learn something new. I found the narrator tip be excremely boring, not engaging, and especially the context was so plain - i expected much more, since it was advertised in Nat geo. Waste of money and disappointment.
Date published: 2017-02-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Ver informative and interesting! We are really enjoying our Lectures. They're interesting and informative. A LOT of research went into this series.
Date published: 2017-02-03
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not much to get excited about here Ostensibly, the professor was to take a different look at the daily life of people in different cultures. He spent the majority of the first lesson saying this in several ways, but when he got to talking about the people he merely quoted common knowledge about the kinds of tools and a generality-bound description of what they had and what they had to put up with. I have to admit to dozing off several times, and have put off watching the rest of the DVDs for lack of interest. He is very erudite. Normally I don't mind being bored if I'm finding really interesting information, but major insight doesn't seem his strong suit. In the third and fourth lectures he alluded to a shift of gears for times about which we know a lot about, but he'd already discouraged us to continue. After lesson 4 he does seem to improve, but I've not been encouraged to set aside the time to listen to more than a couple more. I will get through the rest over time. I advise purchasers to listen to about ten minutes of lecture one then skip to lecture four or five and hope he gets to the point and stops his nervous pacing back and forth. It would also help if he modulated his voice to elicit interest and excitement in what he's saying. Actually, after the fourth lecture, it does get more interesting, even without showing much enthusiasm. As a university faculty member, I've learned to make the first lecture especially exciting to set up interest in my students and to let them know what to expect. He starts off boring then improves a bit as he goes. Perhaps after 30 years of teaching this, perhaps he has gotten a bit bored with repeating his prepared lectures.
Date published: 2017-02-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from good overview I expected more visual content. Just watching the professor walk around is boring. I would recommend just audio.
Date published: 2017-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating Learn about history through listening to stories. The lecturer tries to put you in the shoes of the ancients and does a noble job - but you have to use your empathy. His presentation style and use of language is excellent and keeps you engaged throughout the 48 lectures.
Date published: 2017-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Why can I download this course on my iPad, but not my iphone
Date published: 2017-01-22
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