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Publisher's Summary

For the past few hundred years, most of what we’ve been taught about the native cultures of North America came from reports authored by the conquerors and colonizers who destroyed them. Now - with the technological advances of modern archaeology and a new perspective on world history - we are finally able to piece together their compelling true stories. In Ancient Civilizations of North America, Professor Edwin Barnhart, Director of the Maya Exploration Center, will open your eyes to a fascinating world you never knew existed - even though you’ve been living right next to it, or even on top of it, for as long as you’ve been on the continent. 

The peoples of ancient North America were exceptionally knowledgeable about their environment, but their intellectual and artistic curiosity went much beyond the immediate need for food and safety. Beginning thousands of years ago, and without benefit of written language, native peoples became mathematicians, construction and soil engineers, astronomers, urban planners, and more. They developed thriving cities, extensive trade routes, canals to bring water to the desert, and earthworks we still marvel over today. 

In 24 exciting lectures, you’ll learn about the vibrant cities of Poverty Point, the first city in North America, built about 3,500 years ago, and Cahokia, the largest city of ancient North America. You’ll explore the many ways in which the Chacoan environment provided cultural and religious focus for peoples of the southwest. And you’ll learn about the Iroquoian source of some of our most basic “American” values. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2018 The Great Courses (P)2018 The Teaching Company, LLC

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SketchPro

This was absolutely outstanding. I loved this course, I wish there was more to listen to I hope they develop a number of other courses focusing on other tribes and even natives of Canada, and the Caribbean. Or state by state. This was wonderful. Get it already.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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A different perspective - civilizations not tribes

The perspective of thinking of the civilizations and nations rather “tribes” of North America is what prompted me to listen to this course. I have been to many of the locations mentioned in the course, particularly in the Southwest, and had managed a small contract archelogy/environmental company for a bit. So, considered myself somewhat conversant. vis a vie educated, in native or first people cultures. I now realize I missed so much on my brief project reviews and visits to some wonderful National Monuments and other historic sites.

This course has provided me with a bit of education and a very different perspective. Barnhart presents history from the arrival of the first peoples across the Bering land bridge to first European contact. The course proceeds through cultural history in a logical manner of regions of North America. Where I saw ruins and interesting mounds, I now see the rise and fall of civilizations just like those of western and eastern world history. He presented broad interconnected picture of pre-contact life in North America.

I see first contact as another period of change and upheaval no more brutal than Alexander’s conquest of Persia, the Saxon conquest of England and so many other conquests from China to Egypt. I’m sure some reading this may disagree; that just fine with me. Perhaps, as I enter my eighth decade of my cycle of life, I see a different perspective. The culture and nation we live in will end at some time just as it did for those who were here long before us. My lens is not so much one of good and bad as it is a lens of that is how things are. This course reinforced that worldview.

The course also made places I have visited like Chaco Canyon come alive. The mystery of roads, equivalent to Roman roads, that lead to nowhere we can understand is fascinating. The accurate astronomical alignments throughout the Chaco region are impressive. particularly since the Chaco nation had no writing language we know of to record decades or even centuries of observations. I want to revisit Chaco Canyon, the Aztec Ruins, and other places.

In summary, the course was interesting, informative, transformative and well worth time to listen to. Barnhart states that was part of his goal in designing the course. Well done, sir.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Excellent

Really appreciated the lecturer’s treatment of Native peoples. He was respectful of them in a way that many whites would scoff at.
His skepticism of daring methods and honesty regarding new discoveries or opinions regarding old discoveries was refreshing.
I’d love to see more lectures from him.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Exceptional Science; Exceptional Subject

Dr Barnhart is an archaeologist by trade, and a story-teller by nature - the perfect person to deliver Great Courses material that is utterly empirical yet still comes to life. I personally could never get enough of his nuanced yet compelling treatment of First Nations / European contact, whether it's his courses on the Aztec, Inca, or here with the Mississippian cultures and de Soto. But the focus here on pre-contact lifeways is even more fascinating, as the stories of cities like BCE Poverty Point and CE Cahokia deserve their rightful pedestals in the halls of history.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Too politically correct

The author cares less about teaching ancient history than he does about choosing just the right hair-splitting word to describe people and cultures. His overly self conscious worrying about offending anyone makes this book intellectually inert and boring. This is yet another example of tepid scholarship so afraid of stepping outside the boundary of an ever constricting radius of intellectual freedom.
The author displays a dystopian self censorship that makes the material vacant and sterile.

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Very Respectful and Informative

I listened to this course during my short commute to and from work and would find myself slowing down to give me more time to listen! I was sorry it ended the way it did -- on a rather macabre note.

I loved this course and will do what I can to help preserve the history of the great people of North America.

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Fascinating

This is a great, substantive as possible overview of native north America mostly before contact with Europeans. The narrator is easy to understand with a speech pattern that is not a monotone nor sing song. I loved it and plan on listening over and over.

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Eye opening

I've studied Native American history, but it's been a while and the when it came to civilizations, the emphasis was always on the southwest and the influence from Mexico. Cultures within North America were given short shrift in most accounts. This set of lectures is a revelation when it comes to civilizations east of the Mississippi. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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A needed addition to Great Courses<br />

After hearing good Courses on South America and Central America, North America stood out. after listening to these lectures it's easier to understand why it has not been done. Thanks seems to be much less information available. It is still important that what we have gets out there. Edwin Barnhart does very well putting a good story together with much less information than with Mezo-America or South America. Now, if the pre-contact history of Africa can only be told. As well as Northern Canadian and Alaskan early America

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Fascinating history with a little sales pitch

I went into listening to this lecture series knowing very little about North American history prior to contact. I knew a little about South and central American history, and I knew a good deal post contact, but other than a third grade "Indian" segment of history, I knew very little.

This course goes into great detail about all the peoples and their history. It traces their roots back to Asia and their migration around the hemisphere. It also goes into great detail about just how little we do know.

There is also a lot of reverence here towards native American populations. That's good, it might get a little old as the series goes on, but there has been a lot of insensitivity so better to be on the safe side I suppose. There were also some plugs in here, which while relevant were still new to my great courses experience. I suppose that's partially because of the local and unstudied nature of the material.

I would recommend this course. It was awesome. Just expect a little more familiarity than you are accustomed to in other lecture series.