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Publisher's Summary

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Do People Make a City or a City Make the People?

Any additional comments?

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
Mysterious Mohenjo-daro
Kahun—Company Town in the Desert
Work and Life at Deir el-Medina
Amarna—Revolutionary Capital
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

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

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Not suitable for audio

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.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Ancient Cities

What did you love best about Cities of the Ancient World?

I found it interesting how he took each city and built upon them a ground work of how people have progressed.

What did you like best about this story?

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.

Any additional comments?

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.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

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Some parts are more interesting than others

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Chuck Jones
  • Oklahoma city, Oklahoma United States
  • 07-13-15

Great information.

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Not what I was expecting

What would have made Cities of the Ancient World better?

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.

What does Professor Steven L. Tuck bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Expertise and a palpable passion for the subject matter

11 of 15 people found this review helpful

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The Demands of the City

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Urban engineering through the ancient world

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Fun lecturer, great material

This course goes beyond tourism history, and won't just focus on famous buildings. It's about the practicality of city design from the ancient world, and the life of ordinary people living in these cities.

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Interesting

Professor Tuck is passionate about what he teaches, and adds snippets of his personal life throughout the lectures.