Nipissing University

HISTORY 2055  -- Ancient Civilizations

2000-1

Revised March 4, 2001

Note Correction:  As announced in class, the sixth journal (March 21) will not be required.

Instructor: Dr. Steve Muhlberger
Office: P 605
Office Phone: 474-3461 ext 4458
Home Phone: 776-1247
E-mail: stevem@nipissingu.ca
 

What this course is about:

The subject of ancient history is vast, since most of humanity's existence qualifies as ancient. We will look at only a selection of topics to keep things manageable. Our focus will be on the ancient civilizations of the Middle East and the Mediterranean -- not because they are necessarily the most important, but because they are relatively well known and form the background for later European history. In the course of the year, we will examine social, political and economic topics, emphasizing the institutions and ideas that organized ancient societies.

We will especially be interested in Greek and Roman civilization, because they have consistently provided later generations with food for thought.

Required Books:

Gavin Lewis, Close-ups of the Past, Volume I:  Ancient Civilizations

 Julius Caesar, The Conquest of Gaul

Recommended Writing Manuals:

Diana Hacker, A Canadian Pocket Style Manual

Mary Lynn Rampolla, A Pocket Guide to Writing in History.  The answer to the question "What kind of footnotes do you want?" is "Look it up in the Rampolla book."

Grading:

The course grade will be based on 2 papers, journal writing, a midterm exam, and the final exam.

For each of the  papers (8-10 pages), you will read one of the required books and respond to it. More detailed assignments will be distributed separately.

 In addition, you will be reading excerpts from primary sources (documents written during ancient times) throughout the year. The excerpts will be distributed to you via the Internet, which is by far the most flexible and cheapest way.   All students have Internet access through the university, but if you foresee a problem, please let me know.

Rather than have a "participation" mark, there will be a journal requirement.   You will be expected to write at least a page on the primary sources, on the lectures, or on other relevant material every week.    Sections will be due for grading three times each term.  For more details see the Journal Writing Requirement handout.
 
 

1. First Paper  -- due Nov. 20 -- 20%

2. Midterm exam -- Dec. 8 -- 20%

3.  Second Paper -- due Feb. 7-- 20%

4.  Journal -- sections due on Oct. 11, Nov. 6,  Nov. 29; Jan. 29, Feb 26 -- 10%

5.  Final examination -- 30%

Both the midterm and final examinations will require you to discuss primary source excerpts listed below.

Course Outline -- Lectures and Required Readings

You will be asked, in connection with most lectures, to read an excerpt from a primary source.   Passing the midterm and final exams will depend, in part,  on your ability to discuss source excerpts intelligently.  The source excerpts have brief introductions.   I have also provided questions to help you understand what is interesting about them.

Some of the source excerpts are in the Ancient History Sourcebook or elsewhere on the web.   For those excerpts, my questions are in the course outline below.
Some of the excerpts are on the Nipissing University web site (marked NU).   Go directly to the document to find my comments and questions.

See the home page for the course for links to lecture notes and outside sites that may be of help.
 

Sept. 11 Introduction to the course

Sept. 13 Prehistory to the Agricultural Revolution

Sept. 18 An Early Town -- Catal Huyuk

The 'Great Goddess' Theory and the Goddess Revival, a lecture by J. Linnekin, U. of Connecticut.
How does this document show the relevance of ancient history to modern times?  (You may want to look at the various Catal Huyuk sites to be found on the web).
Sept. 20 General Characteristics of Mesopotamian Civilization
Umma and Lagash
These documents are good examples of the earliest "historical" writing of Mesopotamia.   In what sense are these documents "history?"  What seems to be important to the writers and their audience?   What are the limitations of the documents as records?
Sept. 25 Sumer and Akkad to the Time of Sargon
The Legend of Sargon of Akkadê
Sargon of Akkade was perhaps the first ruler to conquer all of  Sumer and Akkad.  What do we learn about Sargon from this document?
Sept. 27 Gilgamesh
Hymn to Shamash
A Prayer to Every God and Goddess
Discuss early Mesopotamian religious ideas in the light of these two prayers.
Oct. 2  Nomads and Citizens in the Second Millenium B.C.
Epilogue of the Code of Hammurabi (NU)
Oct. 4  Men and Women in the Second Millenium B.C.
Family Law in the Code of Hammurabi (NU)
Oct. 9 -- Thanksgiving

Oct. 11   Early Egypt

The Palette of Narmer
What do we learn about the earliest Egyptian monarchy from this artifact?
JOURNAL DUE
Oct. 16   Pharoahs and Pyramids
The Dead Pharaoh Ascends to Heaven
What are the chief religious ideas and values present in this document?   What if anything does this tell us about the ordinary history of early Egypt?
Oct. 18  Early Developments -- Metalworking & Writing

Oct. 23 Writing

Oct. 25  Civilization Spreads to the West

Reports of Minos and Knossos
These documents date from the 1st/2nd c. A.D. and the 5th century B.C.   What problems are there with using them as evidence for Cretan history?   How much difference would it make if these documents had been lost?
Oct. 30  Akhenaten
Akhenaten:  The Hymn to Aten
The Kadesh Battle Inscriptions of Ramses II (NU)
The Hymn to Aten is sometimes seen as a important turning point in human religious history.   What do you think?
Nov. 1  Ancient Israel
Abraham's Covenant (NU)
The People Demand A King (NU)
Nov. 6  The Assyrian and Babylonian Empires
The Assyrian Army Attacks a City
Tiglath-Pilaser's inscription (NU)
Description of Babylon (NU)
Nov. 8  Cities of the Western Mediterranean
Hellenes & Phoenicians
Once again, we have a Greek document written much later than the events it describes.   What can we learn about the history of the early Mediterranean from it?
JOURNAL DUE
Nov. 13  Politics in Archaic Greece
Documents of the Hoplite Revolution
Solon: Select Fragments
For the first reading:   Make the connection between military service (or capability) and the developing idea of citizenship.   What are the rights and privileges of the citizen?   For the second reading:   Solon was an aristocratic Athenian who was given the task of rewriting the Athenian constitution in a situation of threatening civil war.   What are Solon's political ideals?   What political methods did he think would be effective in attaining them.   What did he think of the demos?  What does demos mean?
Nov. 15  Sparta and Athens
Xenophon:  The Polity of the Spartans
Xenophon was an aristocratic Athenian who wrote after the defeat of his home city by the Spartans.   Why does he have such a sympathetic view of the Spartans?   What does he think makes "a good man?"   Are the virtues of the Spartans different from those of other Greeks,  or similar?
There will be no lecture on "The Republics of Ancient India" but you can read about them at:
/muhlberger/histdem/indiadem.htm

Nov. 20  The Persian Empire

Cyrus the Great: The Decree of Return for the Jews
Compare the policy of Cyrus to that of Tiglath Pileser (Nov. 1 reading).   What are Cyrus' intentions?   How did the Jews interpret his policy?
FIRST PAPER DUE
Nov. 22  The Persian War
Demaratus on the Spartan Conception of Freedom
Discuss Demaratus' concept of freedom.   How much do you think other Greeks of the 5th c. B.C. would have agreed with him?
Nov. 27  Periclean Athens
Pericles' Funeral Oration
Thucydides' History of the Pelopennesian War includes this famous speech, attributed to the Athenian leader Pericles.    Compare this speech to Xenophon's discussion of the Spartan polity (written more than  a generation after Pericles' death).    In what ways are Pericles and Xenophon in agreement?   Where do they disagree?
Nov. 29   Peloponnesian War
Thucydides: Civil War in Corcyra
Thucydides gives a picture of bloody political conflict in Corcyra and elsewhere in Greece.   What were the issues that produced such conflict?   What characteristics of Greek life encouraged or allowed civil wars to spring up?
JOURNAL DUE
Dec. 4  Midterm exam

Jan. 8  The Trial of Socrates
Aristophanes:  A Satire on Socrates
Aristophanes wrote comedies for the civic drama festivals of Athens during the Pelopennesian War.   This is from a play written while Socrates was still alive.    What does it tell us about how some Athenians saw Socrates and his activities?
Jan. 10  Early Rome and Carthage
Livy:  Institutions and Defense of the Roman Republic
(Selection from Book 2 only) Livy recorded the classic stories of the early Roman Republic as the Republic fell under the rule of emperors in the late 1st c. B.C.   What, for Livy, constituted Roman freedom?   What means were necessary to maintain it?
Jan. 15 The Macedonian Conquest of Greece
Diodorus Siculus:  The Battle of Chaeronea
Letter of Alexander the Great to the Chians
First reading:  What seems to be the advantage enjoyed by Philip of Macedon when fighting Athens and other Greek cities?  Second reading:   What does this letter tell us about the political changes made by Philip and Alexander in Greece?    What can be said about the democracy restored to Chios by Alexander?
Jan. 17 Alexander's Conquests
Plutarch:  Life of Alexander (NU)
Jan. 22 The Successor States and Hellenistic Culture
Athanaeus: The Great Spectacle and  Procession of Ptolemy II
Theocritus: Fifteenth Idyll
Both of these readings portray aspects of life in Alexandria, a Greek city founded in Egypt after Alexander's conquest.    What do we learn about Greek life in the new areas of conquest from these excerpts?   How does Alexandria differ from the cities of Old Greece?
Jan. 24 The Greek Heritage: Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics
Life of Hipparchia
We often think of Greek philosophers as early scientists or intellectuals.  What does this text show us about "philosophy?"
Jan. 29 The Roman Conquest of Italy
JOURNAL DUE
Jan. 31 The Punic Wars
Polybius: Rome and Carthage Compared (NU)
Feb. 5   The Conquest of Greece and the Roman Response to the Greeks
Plutarch:  Life of Marcus Cato (NU)
Feb. 7  Roman Imperialism
Slavery in the Roman Republic
What do these excerpts tell us about the conditions that slaves lived under, and about attitudes toward them?
SECOND PAPER DUE
Feb. 12  Origins of the Roman Revolution: The Gracchi to Sulla
 Plutarch:   Life of Tiberius Gracchus (NU)
Feb. 14 Roman Warlords -- Marius to Caesar
Sallust:  Life in Rome in the Late Republic
On what did Sallust blame the troubles of the Republic in his time?  If he had been able to talk to Livy about them, would they have agreed?   What made possible the rise of a man like Cataline?
Feb. 19 & 21  Study Week

Feb. 26  The Victory of Augustus

The Deeds of the Divine Augustus
This is Augustus' account of what he did for the Roman people.   Who were the Roman people at this time?  What did Augustus think had pleased them?   How does this list compare to other lists we've read?
JOURNAL DUE
Feb. 28  The Empire of Augustus
Petronius Arbiter:  The Banquet of Trimalchio
This excerpt describes a fictional banquet and cannot be taken literally.    What do you think the original audience would have found funny or telling, and why?   What social information can we gather from it?
Mar. 5  Latin Literature
Juvenal: Satire VI (On Women)
Pliny the Younger: The Decline of Oratory
Horace:  We All Must Die
These excerpts may seem to focus on "decline"(a constant Roman worry)  but look at them also for indications of the function of Roman classical and "Silver" literature.
Mar. 7   The Arena
Seneca: The Gladiatorial Games (NU)
Mar. 12  The Early Emperors
Tacitus:  Tiberius Becomes Emperor (NU)
Mar. 14  The Jewish War and the Birth of Christianity
Paul:  Letter to the Galatians (NU)
Mar. 19  The Good Emperors
Pliny and Trajan:  Correspondence
What do these letters tell us about the methods of government, the strengths, and the weaknesses of the Roman Empire in the 2nd century A.D.?
Mar. 21  Egypt and Gaul: Two Roman Provinces in the 2nd Century
Claudius: A Discourse  in the Senate
Egypt under the Roman Empire
What does the first reading tell us about Roman attitudes to the empire and its peoples?  What does the second reading tell us about conditions in Egypt (especially local life and government) under the Romans.
JOURNAL DUE
Mar. 26  The Military Emperors
Herodian of Syria:  How Didius Julianus Bought the Empire at Auction
What does this incident tell us about institutional and cultural change in the empire in the 2nd and 3rd centuries?
Mar. 28  The Spread of Christianity
The Roman Attitude toward Foreign Religions
Can a consistent Roman attitude about religion be seen in these excerpts?
Apr. 2  The Age of Diocletian and Constantine
Certificate of Having Sacrificed to the Gods
Eusebius: The Conversion of Constantine
What does the first document tell us about the Later Roman Empire?   How would you relate the first and second readings?
Apr. 4  The Christian Empire
Theodoret: St. Ambrose Humiliates Theodosius the Great
What is the significance of this incident?   Does it mark a turning point in religious or political history?