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Cities of the Ancient World Lecture

Cities of the Ancient World

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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

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  • Emily
    Philadelphia, PA, United States
    19/08/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • Tristan
    26/01/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
  • Amazon Customer
    Salt Lake City
    16/08/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
  • Chuck Jones
    Oklahoma city, Oklahoma United States
    13/07/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
  • Nathan Hertel
    Monterey, CA USA
    07/01/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
  • Phillip
    Dallas, GA, United States
    15/07/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
  • Deep Reader
    Earth
    29/12/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
  • Tod
    15/07/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "This was a great course."

    I very much enjoyed the course and the supplemental document was very helpful.
    A wide range of cultures and cities were covered with parallels given to modern cities.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Palday
    20/06/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not What I Was Hoping For"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    It was not what I was expecting. I thought it got off to a great start by outlining how ancient cities differed in many ways from our modern ones, but then subsequent lectures are very heavy on architectural descriptions and very light on city life and operation. Most lectures are descriptions of building dimensions, aesthetics, locations, general purposes (like "shops" or "entertainment"), etc. Overall, I found it dry and the lectures lacked a human voice. Also, like most ancient world series, the "world" doesn't cover much beyond the Mediterranean, which is also a little disappointing.


    Would you recommend Cities of the Ancient World to your friends? Why or why not?

    I would recommend it if listeners are interested in a broad overview of the architectural layout, aesthetic, and development over time of major ancient cities in and around the Mediterranean. However, if like me they're interested in general city life, operation, and its citizens I would give it a pass. Most of my questions and curiosities about ancient cities were not answered or even addressed.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    There was a brief description of Simon the shoemaker in Athens and how the shop was a combo of living space and work space which was interesting. I wish there were more like it in the series.


    Was Cities of the Ancient World worth the listening time?

    The professor is obviously knowledgeable, but the lectures are often a literal description of the buildings of the cities without much more insight. I would have preferred more emphasis on human narratives like how the local citizens worked and played, how was the city run, what was the local government like, what was crime and punishment like, what was the civil engineering like, trade, sanitation, planning, etc. There are brief mentions of some of these aspects, but without substance. I like architecture, but this was not what what I was hoping for.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Katherine
    04/10/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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