This course is about the peoples, cultures, and ideas that shaped the ancient world. It can be considered a prequel to World History, as it corresponds to about the first third of the content of that course. We begin with the evolution of modern humans, including their global migrations and the cultural evidence they left behind, and end with the arrival of Islam and the spread of the Caliphate. After the first two units, which are truly global in scope, our region of study is essentially Afro-Eurasia. Emphasis is given to those cultures and religions that spanned the Mediterranean World, the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia. A central place is given to the role of the Great Ideas, both religious and secular, that drove and defined the course of civilization in these regions of the ancient world. Students will explore these ideas both in their original context as well as apply them to the act of understanding our world today.
This course is organized into two semesters, each with six units of study, with a final exam at the end of each semester. iTunes U materials will complement the classroom environment and course texts with multimedia content that will provoke further inquiry and discussion. Written reflection is a major part of this course, and video-lectures will usually be accompanied with questions to spark reflective thinking. Essays and other projects will comprise the remainder of student work. Please see the course Outline for the arrangement of the units in this course.