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Origins of Great Ancient Civilizations | [The Great Courses]

Origins of Great Ancient Civilizations

Locales like Mesopotamia or the Indus Valley, peoples like the Hittites or Assyrians, or rulers like Sargon, Hammurabi, and Darius are part of a long-dead antiquity, so shrouded with dust that we might be tempted to skip over them entirely, preferring to race forward along history's timeline in search of the riches we know will be found in our studies of Greece and Rome.
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Publisher's Summary

Locales like Mesopotamia or the Indus Valley, peoples like the Hittites or Assyrians, or rulers like Sargon, Hammurabi, and Darius are part of a long-dead antiquity, so shrouded with dust that we might be tempted to skip over them entirely, preferring to race forward along history's timeline in search of the riches we know will be found in our studies of Greece and Rome.

But, according to Professor Harl, these civilizations, "act as the cultural basis for many of the civilizations that will emerge on the Eurasian landmass and will dictate the destinies of many of the people living today on the globe." These remote, ancient civilizations stand behind the traditions of Greece, so it is critical to understand these great societies in order to better understand those that would come later - including our own.

These 12 fast-paced lectures cover many civilizations that may only receive a few lines of cursory discussion in the average Western civilization textbook. Beginning in the Bronze Age and the emergence of urban-based literate civilizations, the story continues through the demise of Persia's great empire at the hands of the Greeks.

Along the way, you'll examine advances such as the invention and evolution of writing, the development of vast empires dependent not only on military might but on laws and administration, the growth of trade, and the contributions of the Hebrews to the religious and ethical future of Western civilization.

History lovers will appreciate this course for its deep insights and its rock-solid foundation for deeper exploration.

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

©2005 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2005 The Great Courses

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (40 )
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4.2 (33 )
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4.2 (34 )
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  •  
    AlexIndia Fort Worth, TX, United States 06-08-14
    AlexIndia Fort Worth, TX, United States 06-08-14 Member Since 2011

    I am a Real Estate broker in Texas who is so occupied by all that I do, I no longer have time to actually read books... so I cover allot more territory in the literary world by listening... especially since I stole my daughter's ipod nano!

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    "Great material lecture"
    What made the experience of listening to Origins of Great Ancient Civilizations the most enjoyable?

    It lays a foundation for further historical review


    Would you be willing to try another book from The Great Courses? Why or why not?

    Yes and I have many volumes in my wish list. They have valuable information which lays a foundation for further study.


    What about Professor Kenneth W. Harl’s performance did you like?

    He had a strong deliverance, however I felt that he was a bit rushed in his execution of the speech. This might not be his fault however. The producer might have only given him so much time to cover this vast portion of history. I would have preferred a more relaxed lecture where he would have been able to go into more detail of the story lines within these dynasties. Many times it is easier for us to remember history if it is in a story form, rather than a facts and figures regiment.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I would say that it is material that needs to be listened to over a few days. If this is the first time you have covered this material then it needs to be digested over a time span of a week. I would suggest listening to it about 3 times to let the information permeate. For myself, my minor was history at TCU, but predominately American History. My only real exposure to Ancient History beyond my own personal research, was an Art History class I had in the Fall of '91.


    Any additional comments?

    Though I gave this lecture a lower rating in performance and story, I did give it a high rating overall. It received a lower rating in performance because the professor seemed to rush the lecture as previously mentioned. On story I gave it a low rating because it was more of a brief on the facts and figures of the topic and less on the in-depth story line of some of the individuals. Overall I will be interested to listen to this professor in further lectures, as I do have others by him marked in my line up within my wish list.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thai 07-17-14
    Thai 07-17-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Amazing"
    Where does Origins of Great Ancient Civilizations rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    As far as audiobook education goes Professor Harl is outstanding.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Sargon


    What about Professor Kenneth W. Harl’s performance did you like?

    It felt like he was speaking freely as he followed his lesson plan as opposed to just reading out of a book.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The section where he describes the origins of writing.


    Any additional comments?

    I enjoyed this so much that I purchased credits in order to get the other 9 courses by Professor Harl. I've taken an history course over ancient civilizations before so this series of lectures did not bring any new entree's to my plate. However some of the details he decides to elaborate on is beyond the scope of the class I took. Also he frequently explains the why's and how's the historical community came to understand things they way that they are. Such as stating which documents from a particular people still exists and how a particular language became readable by modern historians and scholars.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Raphael Helsinki, Finland 10-13-13
    Raphael Helsinki, Finland 10-13-13 Member Since 2008

    An engineer enjoying his share of escapism.

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    "Interesting subject; lacking in output and content"

    Terse and limited run through the driving forces during the ancient history of Sumer, Egypt, Babylon and nearby regions. Covers the timespan from the development of Sumerian writing to Assyrian empire during the early iron age. Would have personally enjoyed a more detailed and extensive lecture set. Also, it bothers me that in the "Origins of Great Ancient Civilizations", there is really nothing on East Asian history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane Garson, ON, Canada 04-20-14
    Diane Garson, ON, Canada 04-20-14 Member Since 2013

    I've loved reading and writing for as far back as I can remember. I live in Ontario, Canada with my dear dog Joram (Maltese).

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    "My ears needed time to recover"

    I was really anxious to sink my teeth into this course. The subject matter was truly satisfying for me (I love soaking up all the history that I can). The course itself was great! I thoroughly enjoyed the course itself. However, this was much overshadowed by the 'performance' . I don't know if it's just his style of lecturing but Professor Kenneth W. Harl seemed to always be yelling. There would be times where this approach would have improved the presentation of the lecture if done sparingly. When he seems to be yelling all the time through every lecture through the whole course this most definitely ruined it for me.

    I highly doubt I will ever be listening to this again just because of the 'performance'. The 'performance' is what ruined this course for me and therefore why I rated it the way that I did. I've since noticed that Professor Harl has done many other courses whose subject matter I very much would like to learn of, but I am extremely hesitant to get them due to how he narrated this one.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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