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The Gift in Antiquity

In what ways were these civilizations different from each other and from our own? How were they similar? What part did they play in making us what we have now become, so many centuries later? Get a Startling Comparison of Ancient Cultures Although its structure is roughly chronological, History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective is especially notable for its deliberately comparative approach, often pausing in its journey along the timeline to feature startling juxtapositions of individuals and themes from different cultures, even when their commonalities or contrasts might not be evident to a casual glance.

These include a comparison of the epic poetry of Vedic India with Homer's Iliad ; an exploration of the explosion of intellectual questioning that seemed to occur spontaneously and simultaneously in many cultures in the 6th and 5th centuries B. Explore a Wealth of Major Historical Themes Professor Aldrete's course includes in-depth analyses of not only key individuals and historical moments, but also history's most important themes, from the nature of rulership and the evolution of religion and philosophy to the practice of warfare and the expression of power through art and architecture.

Hide Full Description. Average 30 minutes each. Learn about the different kind of approach the course will take in its explorations of the ancient world and hear a story that perfectly illustrates the risks inherent in letting one's own cultural biases and limited perspective overly influence the interpretation of archaeological discoveries.

The course's first civilization reveals a theme that will appear again and again. Grasp the critical role of geography and resources in shaping not only Mesopotamia's method of subsistence, but also its religion, structures, empire, and means of leaving its written record. The lack of geographical barriers made it difficult for even the most powerful cities to retain their power. See how a succession of empires rose and fell, leaving behind legacies ranging from the use of intimidation in warfare to seafaring, astrology, mathematics, and a systematic legal code. Your introduction to Egypt reveals a civilization irrevocably shaped by geography.

Discover how Egyptian views of death and tombs changed with the kingdom's occupation by—and eventual expulsion of—the Hyksos, including an examination of how the stark differences between the Egyptian and Mesopotamian environments may have influenced their visions of the afterlife. Your exploration of a once-lost civilization introduces a key theme of the course—the enormous problems faced by modern historians and archaeologists in interpreting an ancient civilization through physical evidence alone, with no written documents to bring that evidence to life.

In an ironic reversal of the Indus legacy, the next great era of Indian history is known through an enormous bounty of texts, but relatively little archaeological or material evidence. Grasp what the thousands of verses we have tell us about Vedic culture and religion. Turn to the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations of the Mediterranean. Learn about the historical underpinnings of the Minotaur myth, Plato's account of what might have been the basis for the legend of Atlantis, and the rediscovery of writing as Greece emerged from its own Dark Ages.

Discover how a work or body of literature can become the core of an entire culture in this examination of the influence of Homer on the Greeks and of the centrality of the Vedas and Epics in the civilizations of ancient India. Greece's most famous city-state is often praised for its creation of democracy.

You examine the origins of that system and discover some surprising revelations, including the seminal role played by an instance of spurned affection and perhaps the earliest example of stuffing a ballot box. Experience what it was like to be raised a Spartan man or woman, the changes in military tactics and equipment that made their armies so feared, and the tragic flaw that guaranteed that this Greek city-state's power, no matter how widespread or intimidating, could not endure.

Witness the early development of a unique culture that viewed itself as constituting the entirety of the world and thus the site of all cultural advancement, with the latter self-image largely maintained even after China gained an awareness of the world beyond its borders.

From to B. This lecture focuses on those whose concerns addressed this world and its pragmatic issues through rational inquiry, including Confucius, the Legalists, and the Greek philosophers known as the Ionian Rationalists. Your attention shifts to those thinkers who looked beyond the physical world for answers to their questions about the fundamental issues of existence. Examine the impact of several key texts and belief systems, including the Upanishads, Jainism, Buddhism, Daoism, and Zoroastrianism. Discover the reasons the Greek city-states were able to emerge intact from their conflict with a vastly superior Persian Empire.

Learn, too, how the defensive alignment put in place to protect those states—begun as an alliance of equals—instead became an Athenian empire. Pause in your study of historical events to appreciate two of classical Greece's most important contributions to art and architecture. Learn the distinguishing characteristics of Greek sculpture and the principles that gave such extraordinary beauty to Greece's temples. Continue your examination of Greece's cultural heritage with this look at Greek theater—especially its greatest playwrights of tragedy, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides—and the second wave of philosophers known as the Sophists, led first by Socrates and then by his disciple Plato.

Learn how the end of Greek unity brought down the astonishing political and cultural successes of the early 5th century, culminating in one of the most shameful episodes in Greek history: the trial and execution of one of its greatest thinkers, Socrates. Begin a four-lecture exploration of what has come to be known the Great Man Theory of History—that a single person could indeed alter the course of history—by reviewing the careers of five rulers who might well provide the best arguments for the theory.

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With the successful invasion of the western Persian Empire, Philip's son successfully carried out his father's plan. Alexander the Great would then create his own path, and you follow him along the route of the greatest sustained conquest the world had yet seen. Alexander's death in B. C caused his vast empire to fragment. You meet the father and son who created the largest Indian empire that would be seen until the establishment of the modern Indian nation in Discover how the father of the Chinese nation combined ruthlessness and vision to unify his country, create the largest empire that part of the world had known, and execute a clear and coherent philosophy that would be China's political model for almost a millennium.

Consider what it must have been like to be among the very first historians, not only practicing your art, but having to define it and its standards, as well. See how fundamental questions about writing history were answered by Herodotus, Thucydides, and Sima Qian.

Ancient Greek civilization

Although the three centuries following Alexander were years of warfare, absolutism, and political stalemate, the Hellenistic era did leave a legacy of cultural richness and originality. See how achievements in philosophy, science, and art belied the suffering and mass enslavement of this time. Much of the world in B. Focus on the first of these two powers, each of which would shape a stable empire for the next four centuries. In this first of five lectures tracing the rise of Roman civilization, you begin with Rome's geography, its traditional origin story, and the formative scars left by the experience of being ruled by a foreign power, and especially by a king holding supreme authority.


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Learn how the series of conflicts with Rome's burgeoning Mediterranean rival—the city-state of Carthage, whose forces were led by the brilliant Hannibal—were both the closest Rome ever came to total defeat and the stepping-stone to its ultimate success. The century between and 31 B.

Grasp how the consequences, including political assassinations of Julius Caesar and others, ultimately resulted in the dissolution of the Roman Republic. With Julius Caesar dead, who would seize power?

Ancient Western Civilizations Timeline 3500BC-476AD

Trace the struggle that involved the Brutus-led "liberators" who claimed a goal of restoring the republic; Caesar's lieutenant, Marc Antony; and a surprise third candidate—Caesar's year-old nephew, Octavian, named his heir in Caesar's will. Follow the fortunes of the empire during the two centuries following Augustus and Tiberius, which included not only some of Rome's wisest and most conscientious emperors, like Trajan and Marcus Aurelius, but also some of its most notorious and deranged tyrants, like Caligula and Nero.

The peak four centuries of Rome's power coincided almost exactly with one of China's most enduring dynasties. Begin a multilecture comparison of these empires on several fronts, including political organization, transportation, military philosophy, economic stability, cultural and social integration, ideology, lasting influence, and many others. The comparison continues, focusing initially on the administrative structure that allowed these two vast empires to identify and train the members of their evolving bureaucracies, and then moving on to consider the role of the person at the top: the emperor himself.

Consider the potential problems faced by the two empires—beginning with the emperor and examining the impact of imperial weakness, incompetence, or even insanity—before reflecting on the issues of assimilating the conquered and defending the empire against the encroachments of barbarians. Shift your attention to North and South America. These were among the last regions humans would settle, and you follow their progress from nomadic hunter-gatherers to the civilizations that would be defined by geography and available resources, beginning with the Olmecs of what is now Mexico.

Turn your focus to Peru and Mexico and the many cultures that left behind stunning examples of their now-vanished civilizations, from impressive pyramids and tombs to startling examples of artistic pottery, especially those produced by the Moche. Delve into the achievements of the Maya, who were among the longest-lasting, most geographically extensive, and most culturally sophisticated of all Mesoamerican cultures. Grasp how we can know these things only because the Maya left behind what those other peoples did not: the records of a culture with a written language.

Although civilization almost always tends to be an urban phenomenon, there are exceptions. Examine the origins of societies that evolved sophisticated cultures but did not build cities, including hunter-gatherers like the Fenni of Scandinavia, the Aborigines of Australia, and the seafaring peoples of Polynesia. The structures unearthed by archaeologists are more than just evidence of the past or messages to the future; they were often meant as statements to their own time.

Explore how ancient societies used art and architecture to promote their rule and illustrate their power. Gain a sense of how the empires of the Mediterranean, Asia, and the Americas both defended themselves and brought their power to bear on others with this comparison of the structure, weapons, and tactics of the Roman, Chinese, and Mayan armies.

Explore the century that followed Rome's Golden Age and the time of the "Five Good Emperors" as the empire suffered through political, military, and economic crises that brought it to the brink of collapse, staged a near-miraculous and unexpected recovery, and underwent an even-more surprising transformation to Christianity. The questions of when Rome fell—and why—are arguably the most famous ongoing historical debates in the Western tradition. One German scholar has even posited plausible answers to the "why.

The eastern Roman—or Byzantine—Empire would outlast its counterpart in the West by a thousand years. Follow the fortunes of this flourishing hub, which included one of the most powerful women of antiquity and one of the ancient world's most globally influential legacies. Learn how the chaotic three-and-a-half centuries that followed the dissolution of the Han Empire spawned new philosophical and religious yearnings and paved the way for the founding of the next great dynasty.

Examine some of the most impressive aspects of the Tang dynasty. This highly urbanized culture is commonly regarded as one of the cultural pinnacles of Chinese civilization, producing sophisticated culture, advanced technological innovation, and a flourishing of the arts ranging from poetry to ceramics. Grasp how the tribes of the Arabian peninsula—within only years of their conversion to Islam—were able to conquer half the Mediterranean world, shattering its unity, spinning its parts onto divergent paths, and establishing religious, linguistic, and cultural boundaries that persist to this day.

Gain new insights into the key church fathers of Christianity's first centuries—whose actions, ideas, and writings irrevocably shaped the faith—as well as the influential religious movements that emerged at this time, including monasticism and the cult of sainthood. Learn why the word "great," though applied to any number of famous and infamous rulers, may be fully justified in the case of Charlemagne, whose impact in the areas of war, politics, religion, and culture left an mark on Europe and the world that few have equaled. A discussion of the early 20th-century historian Henri Pirenne puts Charlemagne in a new perspective and underlines why it is so important to understand each of the civilizations you have studied not as a separate entity, but in the context of all the others.

Clone Content from Your Professor tab. What Does Each Format Include? Standard carrier data rates may apply in areas that do not have wifi connections pursuant to your carrier contract. About Your Professor Gregory S. Gregory S. He earned his B. Honored many times over for his research and his teaching, Professor Aldrete was named by his university as the winner of its highest awards in each The Rise of Rome. The Decisive Battles of World History. Rated 5 out of 5 by raygray from Excellent Course This course gave me a much deeper comprehension of the ancient global world.

I particularly liked how it showed what was going on, not only in ancient Egypt and Europe but also China and Polynesia.

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This is easily one of my favorite courses. Date published: Rated 4 out of 5 by No name right now from Great Supplement The course is a great supplement to the reading I am doing on the same subject. Rated 5 out of 5 by Canadian from Stirring Overview! The accent is particularly posed on the graffiti in funerary context, and this emphasis appears problematic, since the clear absence of a transmission of property or of a renunciation of property makes it difficult to understand them as gifts rather than as simple acts of homage.

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Archaic Greece is the topic of B. This analysis of such a discursive strategy is highly interesting and convincing, and it would be worth proposing an enlargement of the topic through a comparison with the discourses connected to Christian alms. Theoretically the contribution does not move much from Mauss, while such an approach and a topic could gain much from an explicit confrontation with the models proposed by the so-called Third Paradigm School.

Finally, G. The lack of a conclusion makes it also difficult to draw together the results and novelties which abound at each page and will surely make of this volume one of the reference publications about the gift in Antiquity. Its highest merit is on the other side the great attention dedicated to the ancient Jewish culture, which has been too often neglected in this field of studies, even recently. Algazi et al. Klinkott et al. Magnani Ed. BMCR Bryn Mawr Classical Review Satlow ed. The ancient world: comparative histories.

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