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We live in a world of cities - for the first time ever, the majority of the population lives in an urban environment - and reflecting on ancient models of the “city” as a human phenomenon offers important lessons for our culture today. Cities of the Ancient World is your opportunity to survey the breadth of the ancient world through the context of its urban development.

Cities of the Ancient World is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (24 episodes). The series first aired on August 29, 2014.

Cities of the Ancient World is available for streaming on the The Great Courses Signature Collection website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Cities of the Ancient World on demand at Amazon Prime, Amazon, The Roku Channel online.

The Great Courses Signature Collection
1 Season, 24 Episodes
August 29, 2014
Cast: Steven L. Tuck
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Cities of the Ancient World Full Episode Guide

  • What does this survey of ancient cities add up to? What lessons can we draw from antiquity? Conclude the course with a look at Venice and London to see what elements of ancient cities have endured in modern architecture and urban design. Then reflect on the future of the city.

  • Your tour of ancient cities closes with an examination of Constantinople, which bridges the gap between the era of antiquity and the Middle Ages. Witness the development of this city and the political demonstrations and riots that accompanied its growth. You'll also study the Hagia Sophia, whose dome is considered the greatest work of Byzantine architecture.

  • One of the most intriguing cities in the ancient world is Ostia, a "producer city" that appears to have been comprised solely of middle- and working-class people. Go inside the warehouses and storage buildings to learn about the city's economy, and then reflect on what it means to have no evidence of the desperately poor or extravagantly wealthy.

  • Trace a day in the life of an immigrant glass blower in Rome, whose life would be considerably less fortunate thanks to xenophobia, dark and dank tenement housing, and the strong possibility of death by fire, flood, or famine. Then look at what alternatives poor Romans had, including life as a gladiator or soldier.

  • Travel through Rome in the footsteps of a well-to-do citizen, from his freestanding apartment complex to the political happenings at the Forum Romanum to the Markets of Trajan. Then witness how all social classes interacted at the public baths, where lower classes wrangled dinner invitations from wealthy Romans.

  • While Hippodamian planning emphasized practicality, the organic layout of Pergamon emphasized theatricality, great scale, and drama - all intended to evoke wonder in viewers. See how this great city's monuments and public buildings imitated and tried to surpass Periclean Athens.

  • Built directly on the seacoast and a major transportation hub, Alexandria is the first massive, cosmopolitan city we know of in antiquity. Its lighthouse was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the variety of artists' workshops and its ethnic diversity made Alexandria the Greek cultural center.

  • Founded for defense at the start of the Peloponnesian War, the planned city of Olynthus contains the best-preserved classical houses yet excavated from anywhere in the Greek world. Walk among the row houses and suburban villas to gain a rare glimpse into the patterns of domestic life in the ancient world.

  • Meet Hippodamus of Miletus, the father of urban planning. He used the system of orthogonal planning - including broad avenues and streets at right angles - to reflect the ideal social order. From city blocks to the creation of districts, see this system in action and discover its impact on the history of urban design.

  • Turn from the Athenian public sphere to the domestic spaces and find out what life was like for everyday citizens. See how a shoemaker or a sculptor might fill his day - including a stop by the Agora - and consider gender separation and the role of women in ancient Greece.

  • Leap forward to classical Athens in the Golden Age of the 5th century B.C. Tour some of the city's most well-known landmarks, including the Agora, the Acropolis, and the Parthenon. Learn about the Periclean building program in the years following the Persian Wars, and examine some of the city's great statues and friezes.

  • Investigate the culture of Bronze Age Greece. After learning about the intriguing masonry at Tiryns and the impressive walls of Mycenae, you'll take a look at how vernacular architecture reveals differences in political systems among regional powers. Then find out about the Mycenaean collapse and the end of the era.

  • Delve into the remarkable Minoan city of Knossos, a labyrinthine complex integrated into the natural landscape. This sophisticated example of urban design was home to figures of myth, religious spectacles, sizable food storage and distribution areas, and a unique system of architecture. Tour this visionary civilization.

  • Deliberately created as a capital city near the center of the kingdom, Amarna served as an administrative and religious center designed to redirect political authority to the pharaoh, Amenhotep IV. Study some of the most iconic images from ancient Egypt and unpack the relationship between city planning and the social structure.

  • At the height of Egyptian power during the New Kingdom, skilled workers enjoyed more prosperity than ever before, and opportunities for promotion allowed for great social mobility. Meet several ordinary workers from this society and review some of the literature that teaches us about Egyptian social structure.

  • Enter the world of ancient Egypt during the peaceful era of the Middle Kingdom. Here in the desert, paid laborers built tombs and temples for the pharaohs. To house the laborers, the Egyptians built Kahun, a planned city whose walls and layout reinforced the system of social class and served as a means of control over the population.

  • Venture east to the Indus Valley, home of one of the great unknowns among ancient civilizations. The lack of written evidence from the region means we are reliant on the archaeological record to understand the culture of cities such as Mohenjo-daro. Tour its so-called citadel in the city center, examine its remarkable water systems, and more.

  • Shift your attention to one of the most marvelous cities in the ancient world. Located in the heart of Mesopotamia, Uruk exhibits many of the hallmarks of ancient civilization, including division of labor among its craftsmen, a class hierarchy that included professional priests, and records of art and literature.

  • Nearly everyone has heard the story of the walls of Jericho, which famously came tumbling down in the book of Joshua. Look past the biblical story and find out what architectural remains suggest about this city, whose ritual spaces helped create a community and whose walls helped define this urban environment.

  • Imagine a city with no streets, no public buildings, and no common spaces. Built in layers on a small mound, the world's first city offers an intriguing window into life in the Neolithic era. Explore the remains of Çatalhöyük's family housing, murals, and religious shrines.

  • Cities are integral to our modern lives. Begin your tour by considering why wandering ancient humans left the forests and plains to create settlements. The fundamental question of "why" is just the first step toward understanding the inhabitants and lessons from ancient cities. #History

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