Origins of Western Civilization: The Ancient Mediterranean World

History 4A

Fall 2011
101 Barker
Day & Time: 
MWF 9-10 AM
  • This course satisfies the Pre-Modern Requirement for the History Major.
  • This course offers an introductory survey of the history of the ancient Mediterranean world, from the rise of city states in Mesopotamia circa 3000 BC to the emergence of the Byzantine Empire in the sixth century AD. The course has three main foci. The first is to survey the major events and developments in the social, economic, and political history of the ancient Near East, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The second focus is to consider, very much along the way, the origins and development in the ancient world of ideas, practices, and institutions that have had an enduring influence on the development of western civilization. These will include the emergence of cities, kingship, organized religion, and written law in the Near East and Mesopotamia; dynastic rule and priestly power in Egypt; tyranny, democracy, citizenship, imperialism, colonization, slavery, freedom, religious persecution and martyrdom in the Greek and Roman worlds. The third focus will be the Mediterranean itself, for it was on and around its deep waters that all of these developments took place, and it left on each of them its distinctive mark. Lectures and textbook readings will provide an essential historical narrative as well as interpretations of central problems. Primary source readings (including epic poetry, songs of labor and lamentation, political propaganda, narrative history, public documents, and biography) will give students an opportunity in discussion sections to grapple with some of the evidence on which our narratives and interpretations are based. There will be two short papers, three map quizzes, a midterm, and a final exam. Regular attendance and participation in discussion section is required.