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The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World Lecture

The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World

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Publisher's Summary

Look beyond the abstract dates and figures, kings and queens, and battles and wars that make up so many historical accounts. Over the course of 48 richly detailed lectures, Professor Garland covers the breadth and depth of human history from the perspective of the so-called ordinary people, from its earliest beginnings through the Middle Ages.

The past truly comes alive as you take a series of imaginative leaps into the world of history's anonymous citizens, people such as a Greek soldier marching into battle in the front row of a phalanx; an Egyptian woman putting on makeup before attending an evening party with her husband; a Greek citizen relaxing at a drinking party with the likes of Socrates; a Roman slave captured in war and sent to work in the mines; and a Celtic monk scurrying away with the Book of Kells during a Viking invasion.

Put yourself in the sandals of ordinary people and discover what it was like to be among history's 99%. What did these everyday people do for a living? What was their home like? What did they eat? What did they wear? What did they do to relax? What were their beliefs about marriage? Religion? The afterlife?

This extraordinary journey takes you across space and time in an effort to be another person - someone with whom you might not think you have anything at all in common - and come away with an incredible sense of interconnectedness. You'll see the range of possibilities of what it means to be human, making this a journey very much worth taking.

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

©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses

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  •  
    RM85 New Haven, CT 02-21-17
    RM85 New Haven, CT 02-21-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Filled with stereotypes about the Middle Ages"

    Garland's accounts of various aspects of the Middle Ages is woefully inaccurate and riddled with stereotypes. As a medieval historian, really disappointed by this.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doug 01-23-14
    Doug 01-23-14
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    "All Hail To The Ninety and Nine"
    What did you love best about The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World?

    A fascinating affirmation of familiar life down through the ages.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The breadth of this work is so wide as to make it difficult to pick just one favorite character, but the story of an Egyptian couple going out on the town sticks in my mind.


    Have you listened to any of Professor Robert Garland’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    While I have not listened to other works by Professor Garland, I can say that it is delightful to hear his voice, his presence in the topics he addresses that goes beyond tonal quality, replete with a sense of humor one might imagine he was in a mode of self-entertainment while assembling much of his material.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    "So you think you have it rough?!"


    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Em 05-13-17
    Em 05-13-17
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    "A lot of inaccurate info in here"

    Had I not just listened to the fantastic set of lectures by John Hawks (The Rise of Humans: Great Scientific Debates) which was so fascinating it had me reading the original research papers and some anthro textbooks, then I probably wouldn't have realized what HUGE liberties Robert Garland takes with the facts in the early chapters of this book.

    For instance he tells us that scientists believe the famous partial skeleton Lucy is female only because she's short. He talks emotionally about how the ancient Laetoli footprints were made by a male walking with his arm placed protectively around a female and thus represent the earliest proof of pair bonding. He says the withered arm found on a distant human ancestor was proof that those hominids felt love for each other. He dismisses decades of DNA analysis of Neanderthals and the Human Genome Project by saying it's probably not right. But none of those stories is even close to being scientifically accurate, and in one case the 'scientist' Garland cites as the originator of the information is not a scientist at all, but travel writer Bill Bryson.

    To hear decades of scientific research twisted into something completely inaccurate because it made for a better story really made me uneasy and untrusting of this man's categorical statements. So as the book went on I kept fact checking him and yep, time and time again he sacrificed accuracy for showmanship. He tells a good yarn, it's just not always true. Early human ancestry is clearly not his specialty era. I know he's a specialist in greek and roman history so I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt in those areas, but there is no excuse for what I've heard so far - this is meant to be an educational lecture, given by someone who has taken the time to research the facts and create an interesting narrative around them, not historical fiction with liberties taken to make a smoother story.

    Also he's got a hefty speech impediment that occasionally disappears for a word and then comes back. If it was consistent my brain would have tuned it out after a short while, but it comes and goes and so it was hard to filter out as I waited to see what his next S would sound like. And the way he emphasizes minor words was also distracting. I kept getting the impression he was putting on a show, playing with projecting his voice, emphasizing words for creative effect, rather than really trying to communicate. The entire thing was weirdly performance based, from the loose treatment of scientific fact to the audio, and really doesn't belong in the 'lecture/education' category.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacobus Johannesburg, South Africa 05-28-14
    Jacobus Johannesburg, South Africa 05-28-14 Member Since 2013

    When I drive, I read... uhm listen. I like SciFi, Fantasy, some Detective and Espionage novels and Religion. Now and then I will also listen to something else.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Climb through the ‘looking-glass’"

    Focussing on Everyman throughout history, Dr. Robert Garland, Roy D. and Margaret B. Wooster Professor of the Classics at Colgate University, USA, attempts to put you, the listener, in the everyday sandals of different people of the Ancient World. Cladding the listener with the respective identities of a Palaeolithic human (1 lecture), a Mesopotamian (1 lecture), an Egyptian (4 lectures), a Greek (11 lectures), a Roman (11 lectures), the different ancestors of the British (4 lectures) and that of a Medieval person (7 lectures), he confronts you with the lives of ordinary humans. This is probably the reason why the material presented is so interesting.

    The comparisons with our own day and age makes it fascinating. Dr. Garland is a tour guide that takes you through the proverbial looking-glass to show you the other side of history. This metaphor he uses in various way throughout the course hence he is able to bind 48 30 minute lectures together in a whole. I admire the way he carefully compiled and structured the course. He kept me with him even though I am not British or American. (I was acutely aware of his Western bias during the course. It is probably also the reason for its popularity.)

    Throughout the lectures, Dr. Garland was engaging. I didn’t count any ‘uhm’ or ‘ah.’ The course is highly polished and tremendously informative. So if you are interested in history or just everyday life, recline at this table the cuisine is ready to be enjoyed.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anna Seattle, WA, USA 12-28-13
    Anna Seattle, WA, USA 12-28-13 Member Since 2007
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    "THIS is the kind of history I care about!"
    Any additional comments?

    I'm not much interested in who won which wars, or in developments in weaponry and battle tactics, or in ancient politics. This series of lectures delves into what *does* interest me: how everyday people lived their lives, in as much detail as possible, in a generous selection of ancient (western) cultures. Professor Garland's delivery is the icing on the cake. He seems knowledgeable and clearly interested in his subject matter, but lightens his lectures with a gentle and sometimes irreverent (but never disrespectful) twinkle. One credit bought me more than 24 delightful hours of pleasant and informative listening. One of my best purchases from Audible.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Russell Bernard Salt Lake City, Utah United States 12-03-13
    Russell Bernard Salt Lake City, Utah United States 12-03-13 Member Since 2014

    Avid Listener of books at 1-1/2 times the normal speed. Trying to make up for all those boring high school teachers that could not reach me.

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    "Gave me a thirst for more"
    Where does The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This was my first Great Courses book. What a treat to learn so many things that I had no real Idea about. I have bought several courses since then and find that if I speed up the voice to 2 times the normal speed I can digest all kinds of information rather quickly. If I had payed more attention in school, this info would not be so new to me. The narrator was very interesting to listen to and gave a perspective of the common man that I found very enjoyable.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tom D 10-24-14
    Tom D 10-24-14
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    "Heavy on Speculation, Short on Supportable Content"
    What disappointed you about The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World?

    Intriguing until you realize how many times the author says some version of, "we don't know of course, but we can speculate that..." We apparently KNOW a lot less about daily life in the ancient world than the title implies. There a whole sections that are pure speculation.


    Would you ever listen to anything by The Great Courses and Robert Garland again?

    No


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The author speaks in short clauses, not complete sentences, with pauses between the clauses. It's distracting, but passable.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointing for all the speculation. Sure, it's a tough subject but "speculation" isn't the solution.


    Any additional comments?

    If the "speculation" were removed and the content was limited to what the author can actually support, this might be condensed to 10 half hour lectures.

    18 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 08-23-14
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 08-23-14 Member Since 2012

    Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always."

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    "When the Mundane makes History Real"

    The Villa of the Papyri is nestled on the bluffs of the Pacific Palisades in California. Finished in 1974, it was closed for renovations and reopened in 2010 as "The Getty Villa." J. Paul Getty's Villa - and The Getty Center in West Los Angeles are, as Getty promised, free to all.

    Okay, maybe the original Villa dei Papiri was in Herculaneum, which was destroyed in AD 79 - along with Pompeii - when Mt. Vesuvius erupted. Pompeii is now temporarily at the California Science Center in Exposition Park, near the LA Coliseum and USC.

    I coincidentally finished listening to Dr. Robert S. J. Garland's "The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World" (2010) just before I took out of town family to the Pompeii exhibit. Garland's lectures were so concise and vivid, I recognized every single artifact and I knew what it was used for - and keep in mind, I listened to the Audible version which doesn't come with books. I knew what kind of artisan made something, the training they had, and whether they were a slave, a manumitted slave, or free born. I looked at a restored fresco, and impressed my sister by telling her that the ancient Romans would have changed the painted scene as fashions changed. Trends and fads are as old as Ancient Greece. Just as the 1980's Laura Ashley overstuffed and frilled pastels and floral wallpaper gave way to furniture and frames various hues of the same color, tailored linens, hardwood floors and painted walls 30 years later, the painted harbor scene popular during one emperor's reign gave way to starkly contrasting blocks of color, proving that abstractionism isn't a modern construct. I even knew when I got to the gift shop which replica jewelry belonged with the exhibit, and the social class of the women who would have worn it. It didn't stop me from buying the regionally misplaced and historically non-existent Sphinx earrings just because I liked anyway.

    The title of this series of lectures is a misnomer, though. Garland's lectures on Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Ancient Egypt, and to a limited extent Ancient Persia, are worth the price and the listen. However, he's missing entire major ancient civilizations: China's written history is more than 4,000 years old; there's the Mayans, who were a civilization for about 3000 years, until the Spanish arrived, with their viruses, in 900 AD; and many other cultures that flourished and vanished or were absorbed by conquerors. These civilizations had writing, so they were historic, not pre-historic.

    If the title had been accurate, I'd give this 4 instead of a 3. It's not higher because some of the lectures are repetitive. I did enjoy Dr. Gardner's voice and his delivery, but I wasn't so excited that I listened to more than one lecture a day.

    [If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

    25 of 31 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Threatt 12-16-13 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not So Much About Daily Life as Basic Culture"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I was excited to find this book, but I was eventually disappointed in that selection. Don't get me wrong. I thought it was a good series. It just wasn't what I surmised from the title. I have taught introductory courses about the ancient world. I know about ancient cultural practice: religion, class, labor, concepts of the world, gender roles, etc. What I was hoping for was a clear picture of daily life. Where did these people sleep? What did they do when they got up in the morning? What did they do during the day? At night? How exactly, really, specifically, did the daily life of a king differ from that of a laborer, for example? I wanted to be able to see individual people living their lives.


    What about Professor Robert Garland’s performance did you like?

    His voice was pleasant, easy to listen to.


    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shannon Carty 10-23-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Cannot recommend enough"

    Highly interesting, entertaining, and informative. One of the best Great Courses I have taken. Although the speaker has a lisp, it is barely noticeable and he does not whistle while he talks. His descriptions of ancient life are also quite varied and engaging.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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  • paper
    Reading, United Kingdom
    3/29/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Shallow!"

    Perhaps that's not surprising - it's a lot to cover, particularly as the topic strays out of the ancient world and into medieval England (I'd suggest ancient China would have been more interesting). The lecturer is an old-school historian, very partial to Christianity and Ancient Greece to the detriment of understanding the perspective of ancient pagans or the Persians. Many of the whistlestop anecdotes I know to be either false or misrepresented, which makes me doubt the validity of those anecdotes I'm new to. I've no doubt he's an immensely talented historian and lecturer, but this course tries to cover too much ground and ends up with a thin patchwork.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Andrew J Nolan
    1/22/17
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    "Simply brilliant"

    This course gives a great idea of what it was like to be an ordinary person. The course covers all stages of a persons life,and is very informative. Robert Garland makes a great host.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Rodney Jones
    8/31/16
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    Story
    "Excellent!"

    One of the best Great Courses I have taken. I can thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested in history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • David Robert Jones
    1/28/16
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    "loved every second of it"

    The narration is excellent and makes easy listening of what is at times dense material. Professor Garland gives a very entertaining 101 style lecture

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • LC
    8/5/15
    Overall
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    "Shame about the narration"

    Good content but it was quite spoiled by the author pausing before almost every word.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ca Gonzalez Lopez
    Uk
    8/3/15
    Overall
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    "Amazingly addictive "

    I enjoyed every second. I have heard this twice
    Highly recommended. The author/narrator is charming, funny and extremely knowledgeable

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tereza H
    8/3/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "More a thorough introduction than anything else"
    What did you like best about The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World? What did you like least?

    The course tries to cover a broad time period and I think it's a great introduction for someone who is new to the subject of cultural studies / history etc.. However, for someone who is a slightly familiar with this area the course is not as satisfying. It repeats basic facts from other more interesting and entertaining works. While this might be just a matter of taste or background, some facts need an update reflecting current discoveries - especially the part on prehistory.<br/>What I value most about the course is the humanistic approach of the professor.


    Would you ever listen to anything by The Great Courses and Robert Garland again?

    This is the first course by R. Garland I have listened to. I would probably listen to some other course by him if the subject was more specifically defined.


    Which character – as performed by Professor Robert Garland – was your favourite?

    N/A


    Do you think The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • kate
    6/30/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent"

    Wonderfully informative, easy to listen to.
    I'm very glad I chose to listen to this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ahmad
    6/10/15
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Like going back in time."


    The narrator was great. He was eloquent creating a world that you can really live in.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Olly
    7/30/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Accessible, satisfyingly detailed, and fascinating"
    What did you like best about this story?

    The Other Side of History is a delightful idea for a series of lectures. It makes ancient history seems so much more tangible, real, and fascinating. The macro-scale progression of ancient society is woven into the details of how its citizens actually lived their lives in such a coherent and natural way. Professor Garland is consistently entertaining, and his obvious passion for the subject is wonderfully infectious. Highly recommended.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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