The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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Imagine you’re a Greek soldier marching into battle in the front row of a phalanx. Or an Egyptian woman putting on makeup before attending an evening party with your husband. Or a Celtic monk scurrying away with the Book of Kells during a Viking invasion. Welcome to the other side of history, the 99% of ordinary people whose names don’t make it into the history books-but whose lives are no less fascinating than the great leaders whose names we all know.
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a Mesopotamian hunter-gatherer making a living in one of the world’s earliest permanent settlements;
an Egyptian craftsman decorating the pharaoh’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings;
a Minoan fleeing the island of Santorini during a volcanic eruption;
a Greek citizen relaxing at a drinking party with the likes of Socrates;
a Roman slave captured in war and sent to work in the mines; and
a medieval pilgrim on the road to Canterbury.
The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World is your chance to get beyond the abstract dates and figures, kings and queens, and battles and wars that make up so many historical accounts. Over the course of 48 richly detailed lectures, Professor Robert Garland of Colgate University covers the breadth and depth of human history from the perspective of the so-called ordinary people, from its earliest beginnings through the Middle Ages. You’ll gain new insights into what daily life was like-what the world actually looked, smelled, and felt like in Neanderthal caves, ancient Egypt, Persia, Greece, Rome, and medieval Britain.
The past truly comes alive in this ambitious course, as Professor Garland takes a series of imaginative leaps to put you inside the world of history’s anonymous citizens, providing you with a fuller understanding of the distant past. You’ll see what daily life was like for workers, the poor, the elderly, the sick, the disabled, refugees, women, children, slaves, and soldiers. Through the professor’s engaging stories and with the aid of dazzling graphics, you’ll experience the texture of daily life in these civilizations like never before-and you’ll be delighted by the ways you’ll identify and empathize with people from another world.
Put Yourself in the Sandals of Ordinary People
The 19th-century historian Thomas Carlyle wrote, “The history of the world is but the biography of great men.” There’s no doubt that most histories take the conventional approach of introducing us to the major figures and important dates. But The Other Side of History stimulates your imagination by providing you a vivid glimpse into the real world of the past:
Go back to the Neanderthal caves, where evidence suggests that although life was dominated by the environment, Neanderthals took care to bury their dead-honoring them just as we do today.
Experience the rhythms of the Nile, whose predictable rise and fall created a sense of security and tranquility for its inhabitants for 2,000 years.
Take a harrowing trip as a Greek refugee as you strike out to create a new settlement, but be forewarned: There’s no turning back. Herodotus tells the story of refugees who, after failing to find a suitable land to colonize, tried to return home-only to be pelted with missiles by their fellow countrymen.
Imagine you’re a poor Roman living under the eaves in the upper floors of a leaky, cramped, rat-infested housing complex. Navigating 200 stairs with a chamber pot was bad enough, but the threat of fire from oil lamps and the rampant spread of disease only added to your vulnerability.
Contrast the lot of the poor with life as a Roman celebrity. From gladiators who were household names to famous wives such as Theodora, the Roman world of entertainment, sport, and celebrity culture was remarkably similar to that of the 21st century.
The true joy of this course lies in seeing what life was like for ordinary people-and therefore what life would have been like for most of us if we had been born in a different era. Through archaeological evidence and literary records, you’ll connect with a wide range of people over the ages and experience life from their perspectives. This imaginative leap is why we study the humanities-to expand our circle of empathy, compassion, and open-mindedness about the world.
01 Taking on the Other Side of History
02 Being Paleolithic
03 Living in Mesopotamia
04 Being Egyptian
05 Belonging to an Egyptian Family
06 Practicing Egyptian Religion
07 Being a Dead Egyptian
08 Being an Egyptian Worker
09 Being Minoan and Mycenaean
10 Being Greek
11 Growing Up Greek
12 Being a Greek Slave
13 Being a Greek Soldier or Sailor
14 Being a Greek Woman
15 Relaxing Greek Style
16 Being a Greek Refugee
17 Being a Sick or Disabled Greek
18 Practicing Greek Religion
19 Being an Old Greek
20 Being a Dead Greek
21 Being Persian
22 Living in Hellenistic Egypt
23 Being Roman
24 Being a Roman Slave
25 Being a Roman Soldier
26 Being a Roman Woman
27 Being a Poor Roman
28 Being a Rich Roman
29 Being a Roman Celebrity
30 Being a Roman Criminal
31 Relaxing Roman Style
32 Practicing Roman Religion
33 Being Jewish under Roman Rule
34 Being Christian under Roman Rule
35 Being a Celt in Ancient Britain
36 Being a Roman Briton
37 Being Anglo-Saxon
38 Being a Viking Raider
39 Living under Norman Rule
40 Being Medieval
41 Being Poor in the Middle Ages
42 Being a Medieval Woman
43 Being a Medieval Christian or Heretic
44 Being a Medieval Knight
45 Being a Crusader
46 Being a Pilgrim
47 Relaxing Medieval Style
48 Daily Life Matters
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