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Publisher's Summary

What impulse drove ancient cultures to create sites like Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, and the pyramids at Giza? Why are we so transfixed by their presence today? And what do they reveal about our ancestors-and humanity?
The dynamic force of religious belief is responsible for some of the world's most popular and ancient locales.With these 36 riveting lectures, you can dig through the earth and learn how sacred buildings, complexes, tomb structures, artwork, and more have provided us with unparalleled knowledge about early spiritual experiences around the world. Using the tools and knowledge of their field, archaeologists can now determine the nature of a sacrificial ritual, compare the visible attributes of ancient deities, and map out the orientation of a temple or tomb.
Professor Hale gives you a comprehensive look at specific religious archaeological sites around the world-inside caves and crypts, through vast deserts and ancient cities, from Polynesia to Mexico to the American Midwest.
Studying these breathtaking sites such as Lascaux Cave, Machu Picchu, and Easter Island, you learn the points of interest that attract the attention of archaeologists and scholars, survey the principal features unearthed during the site's excavation, discover what evidence at the site reveals about the evolution of religion, and more.
By the final lap of your international journey, you'll have developed a new vision of religion and its crucial role in ancient history. You'll become more attuned to spirituality's universal elements and its unique characteristics. And you'll realize just how much credit religion deserves for remarkable sites that continue to captivate us.
©2009 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2009 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By karen on 08-07-16

My Favorite Course

Any additional comments?

There are 36 lectures:<br/><br/>1. The Roots of Religious Experience<br/>2. Neanderthal Burials at Shanidar<br/>3. Hunting Magic in Sacred Caves<br/>4. Myths of the Shaman<br/>5. Realm of the Mother Goddess<br/>6. Mysteries of the Megaliths<br/>7. Towers and Tombs of Sumeria<br/>8. Tomb of the First Emperor of China<br/>9. Feasting with the Dead at Petra<br/>10. Druid Sacrifice at Lindow Moss?<br/>11. Honoring Ancestors in Ancient Ohio<br/>12. A Viking Queen Sails to Eternity<br/>13. Dancing with Bulls at Knossos<br/>14. Oracle Bones in Ancient China<br/>15. Sun and Sexuality in Early Scandinavia<br/>16. Apollo Speaks at Klaros<br/>17. Chalice of Blood in Ancient Peru<br/>18. Decoding Rituals at Palenque<br/>19. Temple of the Goddess on Malta<br/>20. The Aten—Monotheism in Egypt<br/>21. Deities of the Acropolis<br/>22. Gods and Pyramids at Teotihuacan<br/>23. Sacred City on the Mississippi<br/>24. Sun and Shadow at Machu Picchu<br/>25. Celestial Gateway at Giza<br/>26. Cosmic Hub at Stonehenge<br/>27. Desert Lines at Nazca<br/>28. Skywatchers at Chaco Canyon<br/>29. Mountain of the Gods at Angkor<br/>30. The Stone Heads of Easter Island<br/>31. Tending Zoroaster's Sacred Fire in Iran<br/>32. Writing the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran<br/>33. Taking Religions Underground at Rome<br/>34. Forging Iron at Jenne-jeno on the Niger<br/>35. Carving Monasteries at Ajanta in India<br/>36.Faiths Lost and Found

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful


By Scott on 06-01-16

Interesting but not great

The lecture series covers several early religious traditions but the course lacked a unified idea for a consistent perspective. Somewhat broad but nothing is covered in depth. A bit disappointing but I did learn some items.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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By Anthony Christie on 06-14-15

Superb lecture.

Learned but accessible. Great delivery. Hugely enjoyable and informative. Shows clearly the common elements of religions and their origins throughout human history an across the globe. Highly recommended.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful


By dirk on 06-24-16

Best course ever

This has it all: the reading, storytelling, vast subject, new and fresh insights. Highly recommended

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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By Tim Dubber on 09-02-16

Excellent course

Having mainly stayed in the history department of the great courses this is my first foray into the religious aspect of world history and culture. a thoroughly entertaining and informative introduction across the breadth of ancient and modern religion from the archaeological perspective.

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By Rajesh on 06-15-16

Impressive view of archeology

The course covers a brief history of the world from the archeological view.
Covers a range of places from all continents.
I am not sure now, but I think Harappa mohenjodaro site was missed out. Was it not a source of religious practices?
The definitely gave me new perspectives and some facts.
The reading is a bit slow and this is a long course. I put it at 1.25x speed.
Definitely recommend it to all.

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