I used to think that the history of Ancient Egypt was as overwhelming and daunting as a trek across the desert. Professor Brier takes the listener step by step and breaks it down into manageable sections, like a traveler going from oasis to oasis, with time for review and reflection between segments. He also tells some great campfire stories about colorful Egyptologists in history, his own experiences in Egypt, and his work on creating a modern mummy.
Bob Brier does a lot of television documentaries, and he's just the same in his lectures. He gives his own theories about historical events, as well as theories by others, and lets the listener decide.
I enjoyed his lectures about Egyptians referenced in the Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament. Specifically, Joseph and Moses.
The lecture about how he created a modern mummy was kind of gross, but so interesting that I listened to it more than once!
I'm not sure if this is because he's from New York, but he talks about the ancient Egyptians in the way someone would talk about people in their neighborhood or their extended family. For example, he called Pharaoh Snefru a great builder, but also a bit of a nerd. He loves the Ancient Egyptians so much that he tries to present as complete portrait as he can: the good, the bad, and the quirky.
The narrators are professors speaking directly to the listener so their personalities and enthusiasm for the topics really comes through. No dry voice reading in monotone here.
This course is like a greatest hits playlist of topics in ancient history, or an ancient world highlight reel. This isn't the "deep cuts" so it is a good place to start if you like ancient history movies or documentary films. It covers the high points, important points and the popular points. These lectures don't include endless background information or things interesting only to academics. These lectures focus on aspects of the ancient world that are still relevant and interesting to the modern world.
Here's the table of contents:
JOY OF ANCIENT HISTORY LECTURES
1 Lessons of the Peloponnesian War
2 Parthenon and Acropolis
3 Heroes at Thermopylae
4 On Athenian Tragedy
5 The Parable of the Cave
6 Famous Greeks—Solon
7 Aristotle's View of the Natural World
8 The Battles of Megiddo and Kadesh
9 Greco-Roman Views on Death—and Beyond
10 Gaius Julius Caesar
11 Early Germanic Europe
12 Gladiatorial Games
13 Dining in Imperial and Republican Rome
14 The (Mad) Emperor Caligula
15 Being a Rich Roman
16 The Mystery Cults
17 Herodotus’s Account of Egypt
18 The Great Pyramid of Giza
19 Being an Egyptian Worker
20 Cleopatra—The Last Pharaoh
21 What Do the Mayan Glyphs Say?
22 The Amazon—Civilization Lost in the Jungle
23 Chalice of Blood in Ancient Peru
24 Attila the Hun—Scourge of God
25 Mesopotamian Creation Stories
26 The Empire of Hammurabi
27 The Epic of Gilgamesh
28 The Chariot Revolution
29 The Assyrian War Machine
30 The Art and Architecture of Power
31 Cyrus, Xenophon, and the Ten Thousand
32 Opening the First Dead Sea Scroll
33 Jesus in His Context
34 The Legend of Troy
35 The Qin and the First Emperor of China
36 Alexander Invades India
What caused the almost simultaneous falls of so many great Bronze Age civilizations? The Minoans, the Hittites, the Trojans, the Babylonians and the Mycenaean Greeks all disappear around 1200 BC. What caused the decline and 2-step-back struggle of surviving Bronze Age civilizations in the Levant and Egypt? Who were these Sea Peoples which the ancient worlds' chroniclers wrote about with such dread?
What was going on?
Why did the world go through an Ancient Dark Age in 1177 BC?
Finally a comprehensive exploration of the current scholarship relating to what in the world was going on in the world around 1200 BC. Eric H. Cline presents the complicated history of the time through a cross-discipline survey of ancient literature, geology, archaeology, biblical scholarship, military accounts and diplomatic correspondence in a way that's well organized and easy to understand.
Great for anyone interested in ancient world history.
The narrator gives some strange accents when reading ancient diplomatic letters. The ancient documents have enough emotional tone on their face and the narrator's performance in these instances detracts from the poignancy.
This is in my top 5 audiobooks.
Tom Holland - RubiconBarbara Mertz - Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient EgyptJennifer Tobin - The Modern Scholar: Seven Wonders of the Ancient WorldStephen P. Kershaw - A Brief History of the Greek Myths Adrienne Mayor - Greek Fire, Poison Arrows, & Scorpion Bombs
All are interesting topics by enthusiastic experts.
His enthusiasm came through in his narration. I loved how he made the history so personal. He gets listeners to identify with ancient people by asking the listeners to imagine themselves in the ancient world. He made it easy to relate to people from over 3000 years ago.
I was impressed by his analysis of injury and illness in the ancient world, and their effects on ancient people. He brought home the horrors of a world without antibiotics, without pain medication, without hygeine and sanitation, and without basic medical knowledge and care. His account of what the ancients thought about disability and what happened to the old, the ill or the disabled shouldn't have been shocking, but it was.
When listening to this, I kind of felt like a time traveler.
At one point in its history, Rome was ruled by toga wearing citizen soldiers who were elected by people so afraid of kings that the term of office was only one year. At another point in history, Rome was ruled by decadent and insane emperors who commanded their subjects to worship them as gods. This book explains how and why such a huge change could take place. The book has lively descriptions of the actions of the key players and does a great job in expanding on the motives and consequences of their choices. Highlights include Publius Clodius crashing a female only party in drag, Crassus’ severed head being used as a stage prop by Rome’s enemies in Parthia, Julius Caesar’s exciting campaign in Gaul, Cicero’s sarcastic court case speeches, and tales of grisly battles waged by Pompey Magnus a/k/a “the teenage butcher.” Both the writing organization and narrative style are excellent and I was enthralled. If you only could read one book about Rome, this is a good choice.
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