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Publisher's Summary

When we imagine what life might have been like thousands of years in the past, the images we often conjure are primitive ones: reed and mud huts or plain brick dwellings, cooking pits, villagers, and simple farms. That was indeed what life was like in the earliest settlements, but by 5,000 years ago, life in some places had become much more sophisticated than we might think. Impressive achievements - like stepped temples that towered like mountains, elaborate palaces (some with bathrooms and plumbing), and complex houses - were also a part of life for people who lived in cities that arose thousands of years ago, particularly in the fertile region that emerged along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

Welcome to Mesopotamia, the ancient name for the region that is now Iraq, a remarkably advanced civilization that flourished for two-thirds of the time that civilization has existed on Earth. Mesopotamians mastered irrigation agriculture; built the first complex urban societies; developed writing, literature, and law; and united vast regions through warfare and diplomacy. While civilizations like Greece and Rome have an unbroken tradition of written histories, the rich history of Mesopotamia has only been recently rediscovered, thanks to the decipherment of Mesopotamia's cuneiform writing less than 200 years ago. In this 24-lecture course taught by Professor Podany, you'll fill in the blanks of your historical understanding as you witness a whole new world opening before your eyes.

Riveting stories about kings and priestesses as well as ordinary people from all walks of life transport you back in time, giving you invaluable insights into the history of a landmark region that has long been known as the cradle of civilization.

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

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars

Captivating, informative, an amazing experience.

Unlike some of the Great Courses, which tend to be conveyed in the usual fact-listing monotone with little or no background story, these lectures captivate you from the start. The way Dr. Podany describes everyday life in the context of Mesopotamian history brings the entire period to life and holds your attention from beginning to end. She truly loves her work and you can hear this in her voice. She uses what we know to understand the people. Suddenly, you feel as if you were there, sharing their lives, understanding their thinking and how they saw their own world. This is the best course in the Great Courses series that I listened to so far.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Time with a great scholar & fantastic lecturer

Best course this year! Sometime ago I read Amanda Podany's "Brotherhood of Kings How International Relations Shaped the Ancient Near East" and enjoyed the lively vigorous and compelling narrative regarding the birth of diplomacy I found her lectures for Ancient Mesopotamia were likewise, and some of the very best I have ever listened to. Professor Podany has a great speaking voice, a fine sense of humor and has the unique ability in a series of well-organized lectures to bring the world of Sumer and Akad to life. As a scholar Podany is able to both translate the four thousand year old cuneiform tablets and reveal the world's first literature, legal systems and civic governments. Her lectures are lively, well paced and display a wide knowledge of the ancient world.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • Hillsdale, MI, United States / Abu Dhabi, UAE
  • 06-10-18

Professor Podany Makes it Real!

Hard-evidence-based research and understanding complemented by an artful, conversational deilvery made this an entertaining as well as educational escape to the very-relevant past. Brava, Professor!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Excellent

One of the best Great Courses I've listened to. scholarly but not dry. The enthusiasm of the lecturer is infectious.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Contemptuouse

I ordered this book to learn about the Mesopotamian empire not to learn about Professor Podnay's life. After two chapters of self inflated reflection, you can tell this professor is completely satisfied with herself. I found this book completely irritating and overpriced.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • John
  • Lampasas, TX, United States
  • 09-06-18

Great

Before this course, I knew practically nothing about Mesopotamia but always was curious about it. Having listened to this course, I am better informed about it and motivated to learn even more about the history of that area. Dr. Podany's narration was clear and understandable.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Solid!

The Western world traces its religious and ethical outlook to Ancient Mesopotamia and would do well to better understand this period of history. Dr. Podany has done an excellent job of opening up the Mesopotamians to a modern audience. As she presents them, you are unaware of how long ago they lived, worked, prayed, and died. They are almost contemporaries.

Thank you Great Courses and thank you Professor!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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This was a learning experience!

I enjoyed Dr Podany's lectures very much. She is a marvelous teacher! I never knew very much about these civilization until now. I will continue to reenforce my existing knowledge base.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Awesome listen

Awesome listen but is not standalone. Other sources (especially maps) are required to understand what is happening and where.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Loved it

It is a well-presented fascinating history of ancient Mesopotamia. I enjoyed he authorx's narration tremendously.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Happy Shopper
  • 08-04-18

Excellent - I've learnt so much

This is a brilliant set of lectures, I feel like my time has been very well spent and I now am eager to learn more about ancient Mesopotamia, a time I knew nothing about. I'm a historian but lecture on 19th century British history so this was several millennia out of my comfort zone, but have enjoyed it so much I'm planning to listen again and read around the subject.

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  • Linus Daniel
  • 07-13-18

Good historical context to OT writings

Intersting listen. Gave me a good background on the topic. Strong belief in causal effect is very prelevant in Hinduism, Buddhism, etc even today. I guess all religions would teach consequences for bad actions.
Seems as Ur was developing into a new modern civilization, Abraham migrated out of that area and wondered and followed a religion contrary to what everyone believed those days.

1 of 7 people found this review helpful