Ancient Mesopotamia: Life in the Cradle of Civilization

Ancient Mesopotamia: Life in the Cradle of Civilization

  • 2018
  • 1 Season

Explore Mesopotamia, a civilization that flourished for more than 3,000 years. Mesopotamians built the first complex urban societies; developed writing, literature, and law; and united vast regions through warfare and diplomacy. However, much still remains to be discovered about this fascinating region.

Filter by Source

Seasons
End of the Neo-Babylonian Empire
24. End of the Neo-Babylonian Empire
April 27, 2018
Finally, arrive at the end of the independence of Mesopotamia with the conquest of the Neo-Babylonian empire by the forces of the powerful Persian king, Cyrus the Great. Witness religious changes that were taking place across the Near East. Mesopotamian culture gradually died out, but it left an incredible legacy.
Babylon and the New Year's Festival
23. Babylon and the New Year's Festival
April 27, 2018
Hear the glory of the Babylonian creation story involving Marduk and the evil goddess Tiamat. Through ancient records, relive the 12-day Akitu religious festival that involved priests, singers, artisans, musicians, and the king. You'll also explore the ritual humiliation of the king at the heart of the festival.
Neo-Assyrian Empire, Warfare, and Collapse
22. Neo-Assyrian Empire, Warfare, and Collapse
April 27, 2018
Discover how the Assyrian empire was restructured by Tiglath-Pileser III, how the Assyrians struggled to keep Babylonia within their empire, and how they even attempted to conquer Egypt. Hear of the mysterious hanging gardens that sat magically on roofs. Bear witness to the fall of the Assyrian Empire at the hands of angry enemies, including the Babylonians.
Ashurbanipal's Library and Gilgamesh
21. Ashurbanipal's Library and Gilgamesh
April 27, 2018
Here, discover the intellectual King Ashurbanipal whose library is one of the first in recorded history. In it, find clay tablets recording omens from the gods, as well as the world's oldest epic poem, The Epic of Gilgamesh.
Assyria Ascending
20. Assyria Ascending
April 27, 2018
Learn about the grand state of Assyria with its huge palaces and iconic winged lion sculptures. The long and stable dynasty of Assyrian kings always longed to expand the boundaries of the empire, believing that their great god, Assur, had instructed them to do so. Their kings could be brutal in putting down rebellions, but they were also effective in administering the growing empire.
The Late Bronze Age and the End of Peace
19. The Late Bronze Age and the End of Peace
April 27, 2018
This dramatic installment details the end of a period of peace and stability between great powers, as a result of possible natural disasters, attacks on cities, and movements of the mysterious Sea Peoples. The era that followed was one of smaller kingdoms that left few written records.
Land Grants and Royal Favor in Mittani
18. Land Grants and Royal Favor in Mittani
April 27, 2018
In a world before mass media, learn how Mittanian kings maintained visibility and control across vast distances and large populations without much need for force. Perhaps somewhat ironically, the story of a gold statue reveals the decline of Mittani's golden era.
Princess Tadu-Hepa, Diplomacy, and Marriage
17. Princess Tadu-Hepa, Diplomacy, and Marriage
April 27, 2018
Discover how the kingdom of Mittani maintained a peaceful relationship with Egypt through the power of diplomacy. Letters between King Tushratta and the pharaoh demonstrate the roles of envoys in transporting letters and gifts over hundreds of miles, negotiating royal marriages, and defusing arguments.
The Hana Kingdom and Clues to a Dark Age
16. The Hana Kingdom and Clues to a Dark Age
April 27, 2018
The kingdom of Hana and an intriguing Kassite text provide clues to a mysterious dark age, which may have lasted for 100 years. Few records survive from this period, so Professor Podany illuminates historians' detective work to fill in the gaps.
Justice in the Old Babylonian Period
15. Justice in the Old Babylonian Period
April 27, 2018
The Babylonians had a sophisticated legal system that emphasized evidence and truthfulness. Two trials provide an insider's look into the workings of this system. Uncover what court records reveal about the types of crimes prosecuted, as well as the people's most pressing concerns regarding family and finance.
War and Society in Hammurabi's Time
14. War and Society in Hammurabi's Time
April 27, 2018
Meet the mighty King Hammurabi, who ruled for an incredible 43 years. You'll also discover how the family can be viewed as a microcosm for Mesopotamian society, with each member playing an important role. Delve into the daily lives of families and the laws (both official and unspoken) governing their behavior.
Royalty and Palace Intrigue at Mari
13. Royalty and Palace Intrigue at Mari
April 27, 2018
Here you'll gain an intimate glimpse into the lives of royal families in the mid-second millennium BCE, from diplomatic marriages to extravagant gifts to family squabbles. Archival letters show us how royal women served as informants for their fathers, while sometimes dealing with abusive husbands.
Migrants and Old Assyrian Merchants
12. Migrants and Old Assyrian Merchants
April 27, 2018
An influx of immigrants greatly enriched the Mesopotamian region, and we see other issues that have echoes in today's world. This was a time of frequent warfare but also of increased literacy and private enterprise. Join merchants on their 800-mile caravans as they delivered tin and textiles in exchange for silver.
Ur III Households, Accounts, and Ziggurats
11. Ur III Households, Accounts, and Ziggurats
April 27, 2018
Although rulers during this period attempted to create a "cult of the kings," local leaders, merchants, and especially households performed essential roles in society. Cuneiform records reveal a remarkable level of organization, from taxes to diplomacy.
The Fall of Akkad and Gudea of Lagash
10. The Fall of Akkad and Gudea of Lagash
April 27, 2018
Learn some of the theories behind the fall of the Akkadian Empire. Major kings during this time run the gamut from Naram-Sin, one of the few Mesopotamian kings who claimed to be a god, to Gudea, a pious and benevolent king who may have served as a model for later leaders.
Akkadian Empire Arts and Gods
9. Akkadian Empire Arts and Gods
April 27, 2018
The Akkadian Empire was a high point for artistic achievement in Mesopotamia. Depictions of humans were believed to possess some of the life force of the people they represented. Professor Podany shows how the many gods had differing roles and powers and were as much a part of everyday life as one's family. Examine an emotional hymn by a priestess, who is the world's first-known author.
Lugalzagesi of Umma and Sargon of Akkad
8. Lugalzagesi of Umma and Sargon of Akkad
April 27, 2018
Meet King Lugalzagesi, who controlled several city-states in southern Mesopotamia. His much more powerful successor, Sargon, had a mysterious origin, but was able to build an empire and expand trade over a wider region than ever before.
Early Dynastic Workers and Worshipers
7. Early Dynastic Workers and Worshipers
April 27, 2018
In a period where the causes of disease and natural disasters were not widely known, gods were believed to be the cause of, and the solution to, instability in life. Learn how evidence found in tombs suggests a belief in the afterlife, and discover just how large a workforce was employed by the grand temples where the gods were believed to live.
Mesopotamia's First Kings and the Military
6. Mesopotamia's First Kings and the Military
April 27, 2018
Why did people accept the rule of monarchs? This lecture reveals the fascinating world of the first kings, including their numerous important duties - from conducting diplomacy to levying taxes - and explores how they believed that the gods supported and chose them.
Uruk, the World's Biggest City
5. Uruk, the World's Biggest City
April 27, 2018
Witness the rise of urban civilization 5,500 years ago, a mere 200 generations before modern times. Discover how and why the first writing system developed and examine the earliest-known evidence of warfare.
Eridu and Other Towns in the Ubaid Period
4. Eridu and Other Towns in the Ubaid Period
April 27, 2018
The Ubaid people constructed the earliest monumental buildings, standardized some measurements, and must have had some sort of formal leadership to care for and control their populations. See how the people of the Ubaid coordinated their efforts to develop irrigation systems, despite a lack of written language.
Neolithic Farming, Trading, and Pottery
3. Neolithic Farming, Trading, and Pottery
April 27, 2018
Though travel was dangerous, people transported valuable goods, like obsidian for knife blades, across hundreds of miles, perhaps via chains of merchants. Plunge into everyday life in Neolithic Mesopotamia, where homes and villages reflect a simple, unstratified society, but evidence of intricate pottery shows that technology was advancing and people cared about aesthetics.
Natufian Villagers and Early Settlements
2. Natufian Villagers and Early Settlements
April 27, 2018
The spread of any technology tends to be slow. While today we may see the enormous value of plant and animal domestication, here you will discover the surprising theories about the transition from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to agriculture and the challenges that farming presented. Also, gain valuable perspective on the cultural sophistication of pre-agrarian peoples.
Uncovering Near Eastern Civilization
1. Uncovering Near Eastern Civilization
April 27, 2018
Although Egypt, Greece, and Rome may be better known to the public, in fact more written evidence survives from Mesopotamia, home to many of the great powers of the ancient world. As you embark on a journey through over 3,000 years of history, you will understand the ways we uncover ancient historical knowledge, and learn why Mesopotamia's "rediscovery" is so valuable. #History
Description

Explore Mesopotamia, a civilization that flourished for more than 3,000 years. Mesopotamians built the first complex urban societies; developed writing, literature, and law; and united vast regions through warfare and diplomacy. However, much still remains to be discovered about this fascinating region.Ancient Mesopotamia: Life in the Cradle of Civilization is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (24 episodes). The series first aired on April 27, 2018.

Ancient Mesopotamia: Life in the Cradle of Civilization is available for streaming on the The Great Courses Signature Collection website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Ancient Mesopotamia: Life in the Cradle of Civilization on demand at Amazon Prime, Amazon and The Roku Channel.

  • Premiere Date
    April 27, 2018