What defines a civilization? How did the first states emerge? How were the world's ancient states similar and different? Answer these and other dramatic questions with this grand 48-lecture course that reveals how human beings around the world transitioned from small farming communities to the impressive cultural and political systems that would alter the course of history.
Taking a gripping archaeological and historical approach to formative states such as the ancient Egyptians, the Chinese, and the Maya, Professor MacEachern completes your understanding of the history of civilization by exploring it at its earliest stages. Unlike traditional surveys of ancient civilizations, which tend to focus only on the glorious achievements of these cultures, you'll look at those first all-important steps that the world's first civilizations would take on the road to glory.
You'll investigate places such as Mesopotamia, where agriculture laid the foundation for groundbreaking experiments in social and political development in places like Uruk and Sumer; the eastern Mediterranean, where expanding maritime trade during the Bronze Age increasingly knit the different societies of these islands into a web of political and economic relationships; and Mesoamerica, where the indigenous states in and around what are now Mexico, Honduras, and Nicaragua reveal the full flowering of Olmec and Maya civilization.
You'll also take an engaging look at what archaeologists have learned from some of the world's oldest and most intriguing sites. In the end, these lectures will leave you awestruck at the diverse ways that ancient people crafted complex systems - systems whose broad strokes remain with us even today.
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I've listened to the first third of this set, and the thought of finishing the other two downloads just seems like a chore. It's really disappointing, because I LOVE this subject matter, and was looking forward to learning more about it, and in greater depth.The first several lectures revolved around archeological theory, which is fine, except that it was repetitive, dull, and didn't really add much to explain or contextualize the data that came later. When there was explanation or context, though, that actually made things worse. For example, there was far too much respect given to the influence of Karl Marx and his ideas - one would think the body count resulting from his philosophy would be enough to convince educated people that there may be some problem with his view of the human condition (a critical part of any anthropological study), but apparently not. Not only was this offensive, but it made every other conclusion or analysis proffered by the lecturer suspect.There has been some fascinating information buried in a lot of detritus, and I'm sorry those parts weren't distilled better. It might be the format - a student in a lecture hall needing to understand key points for an exam (and for building a foundation for future study in that field) probably benefit from a lot of that repetition, but it wasn't was I was looking for. I've learned FAR more (and was entertained much more, too) about these and related subjects from books such as Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel" and Charles Mann's "1491" and "1493".