Ancient Civilizations

To borrow from Dr. Seuss's book title, "Oh the Places You'll Go!

Here's a coming attraction of the people, places, ideas, and things coming at you: Your 3.2 million-year-old human ancestor Lucy, mummies, pyramids, Cleopatra, "an eye for an eye", the birth of major religions Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, the birth of democracy, the first Olympics, Julius Caesar, gladiators, the invention of writing, paper, and the wheel, kingdoms built of stone in Africa, the Great Wall of China, the introduction of such concepts as zero, time, and monotheism (the belief in one god), Samurai, martial arts, palaces of gold, and even the Sphinx. Whew!

The study of ancient civilizations and people raises some profound questions. Who are humans? Where did we come from? Where are we going?

As you explore these civilizations, see if you can make sense of this Sphinxlike statement from author William Faulkner: "The past is never dead. It's not even past." It may help you see where you are going.

Knowledge of history is empowering. An event is but the furthest ripple of an ever-expanding wave that may have started eddying outward hundreds of years ago. One who "sees" history is able to harness the power of that wave's entire journey.

The United States and our world today represents the latest chapter in the book that is history. This course presents many of the chapters that led up to our chapter. Here is much of the back-story that helps us all understand our historic inheritance and the choices we may make.

As Seuss promises later in that same book, "Will you succeed? Yes, you will indeed. (98¾% guaranteed.)"

  1. How Do We Know?
    1. Archaeologists and Their Artifacts
    2. Anthropologists and Their People
    3. Historians and Their Time
    4. Geographers and Their Space
  2. Prehistoric Times
    1. "I Love Lucy"
    2. Food, Clothing and Shelter
    3. A Page Right Out of History
    4. First Technologies: Fire and Tools
  3. Ancient Egypt
    1. Life along the Nile
    2. Egyptian Social Structure
    3. Dynasties
    4. Mummies
    5. Pyramids
    6. Women of Ancient Egypt
  4. The Early Middle East
    1. Life in Sumer
    2. Babylonia
    3. Hammurabi's Code: An Eye for an Eye
    4. Assyrians: Cavalry and Conquests
    5. Persian Empire
    6. Phoenicians: Sailing Away
    7. Hebrews and the Land of Milk and Honey
    8. Birth of Christianity
    9. Muhammad and the Faith of Islam
  5. Ancient Greece
    1. Rise of City-States: Athens and Sparta
    2. Democracy Is Born
    3. Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes
    4. Greek Literature
    5. Art and Architecture
    6. Thinkers
    7. Alexander the Great
    8. The Olympic Games
  6. Ancient Rome
    1. The Roman Republic
    2. Julius Caesar
    3. The Pax Romana
    4. Life of the People
    5. Gladiators, Chariots, and the Roman Games
    6. The Fall of the Roman Empire
  7. Africa
    1. Kingdom of Ghana
    2. Mali: A Cultural Center
    3. Benin and Its Royal Court
    4. Great Zimbabwe
    5. Life on the Desert
  8. South Asia: India and Beyond
    1. Early Civilization in the Indus Valley
    2. The Caste System
    3. The Rise of Hinduism
    4. The Birth and Spread of Buddhism
    5. The Gupta Period of India
  9. China
    1. The Middle Kingdom
    2. Shang Dynasty — China's First Recorded History
    3. Han Dynasty — Cultural Heights
    4. Tang Dynasty — The Golden Age
    5. Taoism and Confucianism — Ancient Philosophies
  10. Japan: An Island Nation
    1. Japanese Religion and Spirituality
    2. Early History and Culture
    3. Feudal Japan: The Age of the Warrior
    4. The Martial Arts
    5. Life During the Edo Period
  11. Central and South American Empires
    1. Blood of Kings: The World of the Maya
    2. Deciphering Maya Glyphs
    3. The Inca Empire: Children of the Sun
    4. The Aztec World
    5. Clash of Cultures: Two Worlds Collide