In the 36 lectures of Classical Archaeology of Ancient Greece and Rome, archaeologist and award-winning Professor John R. Hale guides you through this fascinating field of study and through dozens of ancient sites with the skill of a born storyteller. Mixing the exotic adventures, unexpected insights, and abiding mysteries of archaeology's fabled history with anecdotes of his own extensive field experience, Dr. Hale creates a fascinating narrative that unfolds like a series of detective stories and provides a new perspective from which to view the world of the Greeks and Romans.
A Discipline unto Itself
Many disciplines have tried to claim Classical archaeology as their own, yet it is a discipline wholly unto itself. Classical archaeology is less a branch of archaeology and more the root of the entire field. "It was in the archaeology of Greece and Rome that the entire discipline of trying to understand the past through its material remains began," notes Dr. Hale. "It's through archaeology that some of the most important advances-such as proper field technique, experimental archaeology, and underwater archaeology-were all brought into this great world of study." As you discover in Classical Archaeology of Greece and Rome, the field has evolved over the years from a pastime for collectors and antiquarians to a mature science. Today, Classical archaeology is a multidisciplinary effort that involves not only traditional diggers but geologists, geographers, chemists, anthropologists, historians, and linguists. Through Classical archaeology, the civilizations of Greece and Rome come into sharper focus through a reconstruction of the past in all its color: its ideals, aspirations, achievements, and virtues; its vices, superstitions, disasters, and crimes. From the various physical remains of these long-gone places, Classical archaeologists create a window in which to see the richness of the worlds of Greece and Rome, resurrecting them in all their glory and affording us a better grasp of cultures which have greatly influenced our own.
Explore Ancient Sites and Meet Early Pioneers
The course introduces you to a series of exciting archaeologist sites that provide you with a detailed idea of what Classical archaeology entails, as well as insights into the details of ancient Greek and Roman life. These case studies-involving both famous sites and discoveries unknown outside the field-include:
Troy: In 1871, the German entrepreneur Heinrich Schliemann confirmed the long-forgotten site of ancient Troy in northwest Turkey, based on astute detective work by a resident English diplomat. Schliemann's sensational discoveries at this and other Bronze-Age sites made him the most famous archaeologist of his day.
The Athenian Agora: Since 1931, the American School of Classical Studies in Athens has been excavating this civic heart of ancient Athens, which witnessed momentous events including the trial of Socrates. Buildings and artifacts discovered here give you an unsurpassed picture of life in a major city of Classical Greece.
Torre de Palma: In 1947, plowmen working a field in southern Portugal chanced upon the base of a Roman column, which turned out to be sitting on a mosaic floor. Archaeologists eventually uncovered an entire Roman country estate, equipped for complete self-sufficiency in the uncertain times of the later Roman Empire.
The Cape Gelidonya Shipwreck: In 1960, American archaeologist George Bass forged the techniques for systematic underwater archaeology by excavating a rich Bronze-Age cargo ship off of southern Turkey. He discovered a hoard of artifacts and the largest stockpile of ingots ever recovered from the Trojan War period.
Through an analysis of these and other riveting sites, you get a superb sampling of Classical archaeology and learn how it combines ancient history, anthropology, ethnography, comparative religion, art history, experimental engineering, historical linguistics, paleobotany, and other pursuits with a dash of Indiana Jones-style adventure. You also encounter some of the pioneering figures in Classical archaeology whose work had a lasting impact on the field, including:
Guiseppe Fiorelli: who conceived the strategy of pouring plaster into cavities in the volcanic rock at Pompeii in the 1860s to reveal the precise forms of long-dead Pompeiians.
Sir Mortimer Wheeler: who with his wife developed the grid system of excavation still in use today, in which the site is laid out like a checkerboard with a wall of the original ground left around each excavated square to give an exposed sequence of the dig's different layers.
Michael Ventris: who discovered that Linear B, a mystifying script discovered in the early 1900s at a Bronze-Age complex on Crete, was a form of Greek.
Three Views from Complimentary Perspectives
Dr. Hale divides Classical Archaeology of Greece and Rome into three parts, each of which approaches the field from a different, complimentary perspective. Creating a Science of the Past (Lectures 1-12): You trace the origin of archaeology-from the enthusiasm surrounding early excavations at Herculaneum and Pompeii to the latest technological advances of today-and focus on methods, tools, technologies, and how archaeologists evaluate evidence and solve problems. An Archaeologist's Casebook (Lectures 13-24): You tour a dozen important archaeological sites or discoveries ranging from the Bronze Age to late antiquity: sites in Greece or Greek waters, sites in Rome or its provinces, and a pair of bronze statues found off the coast of southern Italy. A View from the Trenches (Lectures 25-36): You approach Classical archaeology thematically, exploring what the field has contributed to our knowledge of ancient life including topics like diets, entertainment, engineering, slavery, religion, and the role of women. Two lectures investigate what archaeology has to say about a pair of big-picture controversies: What are the roots of Classical culture, and why did the Roman Empire fall?
Details that Bring the Ancient World Alive
One of the joys of Classical archaeology is that it brings history alive in very specific, personal ways by offering you glimpses into the lives of real people-sometimes very famous ones: The most renowned of all Greek sculptors was Phidias, and while little of his sculptural work survives, his personal drinking cup was found at the excavation of his workshop in Olympia, inscribed: "I belong to Phidias." A papyrus discovered in 1904 was recently studied in detail and appears to have an instruction written in the handwriting of Cleopatra: to grant tax exemptions to one of her generals and the friend of her lover, Mark Antony. In 1980, excavations at Herculaneum found the remains of 300 men, women, and children who were awaiting evacuation when the eruption of Vesuvius engulfed them. Some of the personal effects uncovered included a carpenter's tool chest, a nursemaid's bracelet, and a child's treasure box-with a pair of coins still inside. Graffiti on a Roman outpost dated to A.D. 238 bears the chilling message, "The Parthians have fallen upon us." Archaeologists found evidence of a great assault that overwhelmed the imperial garrison. Among the many "curse tablets" found at the Roman spa in present-day Bath, England, is one from the victim of an ancient purse snatching. He asks the gods for various favors: the return of the money, bad luck for the thief, and, if nothing else, the perpetrator's name. Classical Archaeology of Greece and Rome enables you to view the world of the Greeks and Romans not as a sequence of historical events but as an immense living organism; a system in which society, culture, and the natural environment interact in dynamic, creative, and sometimes destructive ways.
See History through the Eyes of an Expert
Dr. Hale is an experienced archaeologist who has lectured widely beyond the university and brought the wonders of archaeological discoveries to the general public. His background includes a long-running position as field director for the University of Louisville's excavations at Torre de Palma and his participation in the search for sunken ships from the armada that attached Greece during the Greek and Persian Wars. From Spain and the Black Sea to Romania and the shores of North Africa, Dr. Hale takes you on a captivating 2,000-year journey that will strengthen what he calls your "archaeological literacy." At the end of Classical Archaeology of Greece and Rome, you will have a clearer understanding of Classical archaeology: its scope, its methods, its accomplishments, its terms, its controversies, and-above all-what it can tell us about life in antiquity and how it relates to our own time.
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