We live in a world of cities - for the first time ever, the majority of the population lives in an urban environment - and reflecting on ancient models of the "city" as a human phenomenon offers important lessons for our culture today.
Cities of the Ancient World is your opportunity to survey the breadth of the ancient world through the context of its urban development. Taught by esteemed Professor Steven L. Tuck, of Miami University, these 24 eye-opening lectures not only provide an invaluable look at the design and architecture of ancient cities, they also offer a flesh-and-blood glimpse into the daily lives of ordinary people and the worlds they created.
Cities of the Ancient World gives you insight into cities large and small, famous and obscure. Ultimately, however, this is a course about people, not just buildings. Studying these cities will give you a new appreciation for the remarkable cultures of the ancient world, from the ruins of Uruk to the Golden Age of Athens, and spur you to reflect on what makes a city survive. More than anything else, Cities of the Ancient World is a course about human beings - what life was like in these cities and how people lived.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2014 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2014 The Great Courses
Learning About the Ancient World
Archaeology generally explores what can be learned about people based on their personal or cultural objects, but this lecture series explores what can be learned about a group of people based upon their physical surroundings.
Why does a population to plan and design their city in a certain way? What do those choices tell us about the people? How does the design continue to influence and impact the population living there? How do cities from different eras compare? How do cities from the same civilization differ from each other? How do different social and economic classes differ within the same city?
The professor looks at things like geographic location, building materials, civil engineering, socio-economics of neighborhoods, zoning issues, municipal infrastructure and resource accessibility to gain knowledge about its inhabitants.
Each city lecture illustrates an aspect or universal theme of city living or lessons about the evolution of urban planning, or gives us insight about the inhabitants and what we can learn about them based on how they lived.
The professor’s lecture style is more conversational than academic and occasionally he is more enthusiastic than organized. Even so, I thought his delivery worked well with the subject matter, which might be very dull with the wrong type of narrator. I found his enthusiasm contagious and enjoyed thinking about how my modern city life compares and contrasts with those in some of the ancient cities.
Ancient Cities Featured In This Course
Çatalhöyük—First Experiment in Urban Living
Jericho and Its Walls
Uruk—City of Gilgamesh
Kahun—Company Town in the Desert
Work and Life at Deir el-Medina
Knossos—Palace, City, or Temple?
Akrotiri—Bronze Age Pompeii
Mycenae, Tiryns, and the Mask of Agamemnon
Athens—Civic Buildings and Civic Identity
Athenian Domestic Architecture
Hippodamian Planning—Miletus and Ephesus
Olynthus—A Classical Greek City Preserved
Wonder and Diversity at Alexandria
Pergamon—The New Theatricality
The Good Life in Rome
The Lives of the Poor in Rome
Ostia—Middle-Class Harbor Town
Timgad—More Roman Than Rome
Karanis—On the Fringes of the Empire
Constantinople—The Last Ancient City
I found it interesting how he took each city and built upon them a ground work of how people have progressed.
City life is one of those rare areas in history that most historians overlook (at least in context with writing books for the laymen people) so it was a nice change.
This book is based on cities and that's the key here. Don't expect a detailed history of any one culture. He covers a city in one lecture so, by their nature, he won't cover all there is to know or is known.
Urban planner. Environmentalist. Geek.
Sounds like a great course, but I think you need to watch the video version. It's really hard to draw anything useful from the course when it isn't possible to see the ancient architecture he is discussing.
To paraphrase an old joke, talking about music is apparently like talking about architecture.
The concepts about why people live in cities has fascinated me for many years. The varying examples used by Dr. Tuck were very interesting and covered most of the ancient world, and I enjoyed it. His humor creeps through, especially towards the end. This is a person with whom I could chat for many hours. I really enjoyed these lectures.
Love the author's informational take and what he DOES NOT assume. It's a breath of fresh air to hear someone say "We honestly don't know but here is what is fascinating!" As a side note, I sped up the delivery so it went faster.
Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.
This course covers how cities of the ancient world have developed to accommodate changes in social, religious and political developments, and what we can learn from each city about the lives of its inhabitants.
I hoped for more of an overview of the great cities of the ancient world and how they influenced the present. This book was more a guide of how archeologists reason about what the artifacts found at ancient sites imply about those ancient societies. Many important ancient events and peoples were not discussed. The author was clearly very knowledgable, but this wasn't the subject I was hoping to learn about.
Expertise and a palpable passion for the subject matter
I didn't like this one as much as the other great courses. It took me a long time to get through it because it felt as though it jumped around a lot. I got bored frequently listening to the monotonous details of ancient city planning. I still enjoyed the information and I like this guy's other great courses.
I greatly enjoyed the greater depth provided by this close look at a selection of cities, all chosen as prime examples of certain qualities valued in civilization at different times and places. I learned a great deal of context for certain famous buildings and works of art, as well as the roots of elements that have carried on into present day city planning - and what that says about what's important to us - both then and now.
Perhaps the video version is better, as I repeatedly was looking for images of the cities described. Prof. Tuck has a good delivery. He makes it clear when he is givibh an opinion which is not universally agreed upon. There are surprises, such as how cities apparently were first constructed for religious reasons, and not for trade.
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