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Daily Life in the Ancient World

Course enrollment will be available for this course once it is scheduled.

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Course Description

The history of ancient civilizations is marked by the names of their great leaders. But what about the ordinary people, who made up the majority of these cultures? In this class we will explore what we actually know about the daily lives of these fascinating individuals by looking at texts and material culture of the ancient world, including Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome.

We shall investigate thematically the daily lives of ancient people, who are not well represented in historical narratives. We will look at various categories of population in Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, ancient Greece and Rome. This class will deal with issues and topics pertaining to, but not limited to, households, growing up, family, education, love, medicine, money, law and leisure. Thus, we will focus on various classes of people and their role in society as well as on their individual experiences throughout the ancient world.
Class format will be a combination of lectures, supported by short documentary videos and visiting local museums in order to observe and be able to recognize the material objects of daily life. Students will also be required to prepare short presentations on a topic or object of their choosing. We will engage with and analyze primary sources, such as administrative documents and literature (in translation), iconography and material culture. These will be supplemented by secondary readings, discussed by students in class. By the end of the course, students will have acquired a general knowledge about what it meant to live in the ancient times without the perks of the modern world.

Students will acquire a general understanding of the ancient civilizations and their non-royal inhabitants. They will develop critical and comparative thinking skills, especially in both primary and secondary source analysis, which are the most important and necessary assets in studying humanities. They will also gain skills in communication, by presenting complex concepts and arguments to others. Moreover, students will learn how to approach a study of ancient civilizations through engaging with ancient objects, art and inscriptions.

There are no prerequisites for this class, only enthusiasm!

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