Ancient Empires before Alexander [TTC Video]
11 August 2015, 14:42
Course No 3150 | AVI, XviD, 722 kbps, 640x480 | MP3, 96 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 6.7GB
Ponder the term "the ancient world" for just a moment. What personalities, images, and events come to mind? For most of us, the legacy of the ancient world is symbolized by the twin pillars of Western civilization: the empires of Greece and Rome. But what about the empires that came before them?
Although realms such as Akkad, Assyria, Babylon, Hatti, and Ur dwell on the fringes of recorded history, they nevertheless represent human civilization's first experiments in empire building. Their intriguing reigns
- gave birth to the political, judicial, religious, and military systems that would influence the administration of subsequent empires;
- steered earlier societies on a course that would eventually lead to our modern world's intricate system of nations, states, and countries; and
- played key roles in episodes in ancient history, such as the Babylonian captivity, the Trojan and Peloponnesian wars, and the eventual rise of the Greek and Roman empires.
The fascinating stories behind these empires are required knowledge for you to develop a full understanding of the ancient world in its entirety.
Ancient Empires before Alexander is your opportunity to finally complete your knowledge of the ancient world with a comprehensive look at history's first empires. Professor Robert L. Dise Jr. of the University of Northern Iowa—an expert on the history of the ancient world—examines these fascinating kingdoms as their own unique subjects, ones that reflect the struggles, successes, and failures of establishing an empire. Over the course of 36 insightful lectures, follow the Egyptians, the Mycenaean Greeks, the Persians, the Carthaginians, and others as they rise to glory, create administrative and military structures, clash with one another, and eventually collapse.
How Do Empires Rise? Why Do They Fall?
Until 200 years ago, these empires were little more than names. Some had even been entirely forgotten. Recently, however, profound advances in archaeology and history have vastly improved our knowledge about the world's first empires—those that provided the foundation for future empires to follow.
As Ancient Empires before Alexander is a course on the rise and fall of history's earliest empires, you spend much of the course immersed in the political, administrative, and military details of these thrilling civilizations. While social and cultural issues are not unimportant to the rise and fall of empires, they often play secondary roles, according to Professor Dise; rather, the aim of his lectures is to place each of these empires within a larger exploration of empire building.
Employing a wealth of archaeological and archival evidence, Professor Dise brings the ancient world's diverse empires to life through an analysis of three basic questions:
- How did this particular empire emerge?
- How was it governed and defended?
- How and why did it ultimately fall?
These three seemingly simple questions, you quickly discover, raise a host of profound issues on the growth, development, and failures of vast imperial systems. Their answers also provide you with invaluable insights into the similarities and differences between the course's rich offering of empires—how one empire's success could be another's undoing, how administrative and imperial practices evolved from one realm to the next, and how the creation of new forms of rule and defense adapted to challenges from both geography and neighboring empires.
Ancient History's Greatest Empires—Revealed!
Throughout Ancient Empires before Alexander, you immerse yourself in the details of the dozen empires that flourished in the 2,000 years before the conquests of Alexander the Great paved the way for the triumphs of the Roman Empire. Grounded in a chronological approach, the lectures begin in ancient Mesopotamia and span the river valleys, deserts, and mountain ranges of the Near East. You encounter these empires and others:
- The Akkadian Empire, the first empire in human history established in the late 3rd millennium B.C. by Sargon the Great. Sargon and his successors pioneered the techniques of imperial rule and set a pattern on which later Mesopotamian empires would emulate and elaborate.
- The Empire of Hatti, which dominated Asia Minor. The emergence of this empire in the early 2nd millennium B.C. presaged the downfall of Mesopotamia's power in the ancient world. Unlike strongly centralized Mesopotamian empires, Hatti—home to the Hittites—was very loosely structured and almost feudal in nature.
- The Persian Empire, which would grow into the largest empire the ancient world had yet seen, stretching from Libya to India. This wealthy empire supported local autonomy within its imperial unity and displayed a tolerance for its bewildering diversity of peoples. Alexander the Great, however, would spell doom for this impressive civilization.
- The Carthaginian Empire, a sea empire (thalassocracy) that consisted of Phoenician settlements along the coast of the western Mediterranean and possessed far-flung trading networks. Carthage would eventually be destroyed by Rome during the Punic Wars of the 3rd century B.C.
In addition, you discover fresh new perspectives on more familiar ancient empires, including Israel, Babylon, and Egypt, as well as the interactions—both friendly and antagonistic—between these and other kingdoms.
These thrilling empires, you learn, owe much to the leaders who ruled them and the warriors who protected them. As you explore each empire, you also meet some of the ancient world's most captivating figures and place their lives and deeds in the context of their respective kingdoms. Throughout the lectures, you come across awe-inspiring individuals such as
- Hammurabi, famed for his code of laws and renowned for being a hands-on administrator of his empire;
- Solomon, who succeeded his father David as king of Israel and centralized royal power;
- Xerxes, who led a massive Persian invasion of the Greek city-states, only to leave the empire weakened and vulnerable to foreign attack; and
- Hannibal, the brilliant Carthaginian general who engineered a series of stunning defeats of the Roman army yet failed to stop Rome's rise to imperial power.
An Invaluable Guide through the Ancient World
You'll find no better guide through the palatial halls, administrative offices, war-torn battlefields, and sacred temples of these diverse empires than Professor Dise. A passionate teacher and military historian who has spent his career immersed in this historical era, he packs each lecture of Ancient Empires before Alexander with a range of rich historical sources on which our current understanding of the ancient Near East rests, including
- more than a million cuneiform tablets from imperial and municipal archives;
- colorful narratives written by Greek, Roman, and Hebrew sources; and
- archaeological remains excavated from once-lost cities and kingdoms.
With Professor Dise, you learn how to comb through these intriguing records, dodging pitfalls of misinterpretation and bias while teaching yourself how to examine historical documents and archaeological findings with a seasoned eye. You'll quickly become a more trained observer of human history and more informed about the ways the past is recorded and passed down to subsequent generations.
Spanning thousands of years of human history and encompassing regions both familiar and forgotten, Ancient Empires before Alexander is a remarkable tour through the unfamiliar reaches of the ancient world. It's an exciting way to explore the legacies of the world's earliest empires and an unforgettable opportunity to complete your grasp of the ancient world—in all its marvelous diversity.
- A Meditation on Empire
- Lands, Seas, and Sources
- Sargon and the Dawn of Empire
- The Third Dynasty of Ur
- The Empire of Hammurabi
- Mitanni and the Kassites
- The Rise of Hatti
- The Government of Hatti
- Hatti at War
- The Climax and Collapse of Hatti
- The Rise of the Egyptian Empire
- The Imperial Army and Administration
- The End of the Egyptian Empire
- The Minoan Thalassocracy
- Mycenae and the Dawn of Greece
- The Collapse of the Mycenaean World
- The Birth of Israel
- The Empire of David and Solomon
- The Dawn of Assyria
- The Rise of the Neo-Assyrian Empire
- The Government of Assyria
- Assyria at War
- The Climax and Collapse of Assyria
- The Neo-Babylonian Empire
- The Rise of the Persian Empire
- The Outbreak of the Greek Wars
- Xerxes and the Invasion of Greece
- From Plataea to the Peace of Callias
- The Persian Empire from 450 to 334
- The Government and Army of Persia
- Alexander and the Fall of Persia
- The Origins of Carthage and Its Empire
- Ruling and Defending Carthage's Empire
- The First War with Rome
- Hannibal and the Fall of Carthage
- Ancient Empires before Alexander, and After
Redefining Reality: The Intellectual Implications of Modern Science [TTC Video]
10 August 2015, 00:46
Course No 4140 | MP4, x264, 1500 kbps, 720x480 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 13.31GB
No subject is bigger than reality itself, and nothing is more challenging to understand, since what counts as reality is undergoing continual revision and has been for centuries. For example, the matter that comprises all stars, planets, and living things turns out to be just a fraction of what actually exists. Moreover, we think that we control our actions, but data gathering systems can predict, with astonishing accuracy, when we will get up in the morning, what items we will buy, and even whom we will marry.
The quest to pin down what's real and what's illusory is both philosophical and scientific. At its core, it is nothing less than the metaphysical search for ultimate reality that goes back to the ancient Greeks. And for the last 400 years, this search has been increasingly guided by scientists, who create theories and test them in order to define reality and then redefine it as new theories replace old.
In physics, biology, psychology, economics, and many other fields, defining reality is a task that needs frequent updates. Consider these once solid facts that were later thrown into doubt:
- Space and time: Nothing is more real to us than our experience of space and time, which is why one of the greatest revolutions in human thought is Einstein's discovery that these two seemingly stable features of the universe are surprisingly fluid in ways that defy common sense.
- Matter: It seems obvious that matter down to the smallest scale should have measurable properties: it's either here or there, it's spinning this way or that. But quantum mechanics shows that subatomic particles are in many places and states at the same time - until you measure them.
- Mathematics: What could be more ironclad than the truths of mathematics? Yet in the 1930s, Kurt Godel showed that the field was built on shifting sands - that no set of axioms designed to serve as the foundation of mathematics could be both self-consistent and complete.
- Life-giving sun: Plants need sunlight; animals eat plants or other animals; therefore all life on Earth ultimately depends on the sun. This seemed indisputable, until scientists discovered colonies of life in the dark ocean depths, feeding on mineral-rich hot fluids from volcanic vents.
When faced with reversals such as these, it's tempting to give up and conclude that nothing will ever be certain. But there's a more rewarding way to look at it, which is that every successful new theory is an improvement on its predecessor, drawing the net ever more tightly around reality, whose form is gradually coming into focus.
Redefining Reality: The Intellectual Implications of Modern Science gives you the thrill of this exciting quest in 36 wide-ranging lectures that touch on many aspects of the ceaseless search for reality, both scientific and philosophical. From the birth of the universe to brain science, award-winning Professor of Philosophy Steven Gimbel of Gettysburg College shows that separating the real from the illusory is an exhilarating intellectual adventure.
And since dealing with reality is an experience we all share, this course is designed for people of all backgrounds. No prior training in science or philosophy is assumed. Furthermore, the richness of Professor Gimbel's presentation assures that even those who have studied this problem in depth will find new connections and unexpected insights. Dr. Gimbel's thoroughness makes Redefining Reality an unrivaled introduction to key themes in the history of science and philosophy.
The How and Why of Reality
You begin with the contrasting views of two of the most influential philosophers who ever lived: Plato and Aristotle. According to Plato, reality resides in an abstract world of forms that can only be perceived by the mind; while for Aristotle, reality is right here in this world. It was this elevation of the material realm by Aristotle that launched what we think of as science.
Science was part of philosophy until the 16th and 17th centuries. The turning point came with Isaac Newton's laws of motion and principle of universal gravitation, which showed that the world is governed by natural laws. Newton's supremely successful mathematical theory established science as a separate mode of inquiry and provided a model for the ambitions of all future scientists. Henceforth, science was devoted to explaining how the world works. Speculation about why it works the way it does remained the province of philosophy.
A striking case of when a philosophical subject suddenly became scientific occurred in 1965, with the discovery of the fossil radio signal from the big bang, the moment when the universe can be said to have begun. Before this discovery, the notion of a beginning to time was largely theological. After, it was a scientific problem that could be quantified and explored in detail. In Redefining Reality, you examine scores of similar examples of reality in transition, including these:
- Ghost in a machine: Traditionally, doctors saw the human body as a closed system inhabited by a soul - a "ghost in a machine." The discovery of disease-causing microbes led to a new paradigm: the body as a fortress under attack. Today there's a revised view: microbes are considered crucial to human life.
- Economics: Newton's success in physics inspired the field of economics. But attempts to predict the complexities of production, consumption, and trade defied exact mathematical analysis. Recent theories have revised our view of economic reality by factoring in the human tendency for irrational economic choices.
- Artificial intelligence: Can machines think? One current view is that a machine capable of human-like responses to questions would indeed have a mind. But philosopher John Searle's famous "Chinese Room" thought experiment suggests that the imitation of outward behavior is not enough to constitute a mind.
- Free will: One outcome of today's revolution in big data is that computers can now predict what individuals will do in many situations, including who is likely to commit a crime. These techniques challenge the age-old belief that we have free will - that our actions are the result of deliberate personal choices.
The Art of Reality
Scientists and philosophers are not alone in grappling at an intellectual level with reality. Some of the most accessible interpretations are by painters, novelists, filmmakers, and other artists, whose works not only draw on the latest discoveries but also sometimes inspire them. Professor Gimbel includes examples in practically every lecture, such as the following:
- Alice in Wonderland: Written by mathematician Charles Dodgson (whose pen name was Lewis Carroll), Alice's adventures can be read as an investigation of the paradoxical worlds that are possible when logic is set loose. Wonderland represents the death of the rationalist project.
- Pointillism, cubism, and surrealism: These new modes of representation in the visual arts arose concurrently with the triumph of the atomic theory of matter and the radical new picture of reality offered by relativity and quantum mechanics.
- Reality TV: The legacy of Darwin and his successors pervades one of modern media's most popular genres: reality television. From Survivor to Top Chef, these unscripted shows illustrate such Darwinian ideas as survival of the fittest and creative adaptation.
- Hybrids and chimeras: Ancient myths spanning many cultures depict winged horses, minotaurs, mermaids, griffins, and other impossible crosses between different creatures. These stories prefigure today's real hybrids produced by genetic engineering.
A distinguished teacher, scholar, and author, Professor Gimbel has a gift for giving clear and concise explanations of concepts that can be notoriously difficult, such as special and general relativity, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, Godel's incompleteness theorem, chaos theory, and string theory. He also has a detective's instincts for connecting the dots, marshaling evidence to spotlight historical trends. One trend that you will learn about in Redefining Reality is the gradual redefinition of humans, for we have developed the power to alter our own reality in major ways - to defeat diseases, compensate for disabilities, enhance our mental well-being, and augment our intellect with computers. Where is that trend going? Take this fascinating course to find out.
- Metaphysics and the Nature of Science
- Defining Reality
- Mathematics in Crisis
- Special Relativity
- General Relativity
- Big Bang Cosmology
- The Reality of Atoms
- Quantum Mechanics
- Quantum Field Theory
- Chaos Theory
- Dark Matter and Dark Energy
- Grand Unified Theories
- Quantum Consciousness
- Defining Reality in the Life Sciences
- Genes and Identity
- The Birth of Psychology
- Jung and the Behaviorists
- The Rediscovery of the Mind
- The Caring Brain
- Brain and Self
- Evolutionary Psychology
- The Birth of Sociology
- Competition and Cooperation
- Race and Reality
- Social Progress
- The Reality of Money
- The Origin of Life
- Exoplanets and Extraterrestrial Life
- Technology and Death
- Cloning and Identity
- Genetic Engineering
- Medically Enhanced Humans
- Transhumans: Making Living Gods
- Artificial Intelligence
- The Internet and Virtual Reality
- Data Analytics
The High Middle Ages [TTC Video]
08 August 2015, 18:51
Course No 869 | MP4, MPEG4, 1761 kbps, 624x472 | AAC, 64 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 9.75 GB
As the last millennium dawned, Europe didn't amount to much. Illiteracy, starvation, and disease were the norm. In fact, Europe in the year 1000 was one of the world's more stagnant regions—an economically undeveloped, intellectually derivative, and geopolitically passive backwater. Three short centuries later, all this had changed dramatically. A newly invigorated cluster of European societies revived city life, spawned new spiritual and intellectual movements and educational institutions, and began, for reasons both sacred and profane, to expand at the expense of neighbors who traditionally had expanded at Europe's expense.
In this course you examine how and why Europeans achieved this stunning turnaround. By its conclusion, you will be able to describe and analyze the social, intellectual, religious, and political transformations that underlay this midsummer epoch of the medieval world.
But why were "the Middle Ages"—the period from 1000 to 1300—so designated?
Petrarch, writing in the 1300s, defined the period of "literary and artistic rot" in Europe after the sack of Rome in A.D. 410 as an Age of Darkness. The idea of the Middle Ages originates with Petrarch's concept, even though he did not use the term himself. The Latin term "medium aevum" (the Middle Age) first appeared in the 15th century.
Themes and Topics You'll Cover
The first eight lectures treat medieval society: the warrior aristocracy of knights, castellans, counts, and dukes; the free and unfree peasants whose work in the fields made the existence of medieval society possible; and the townspeople, the artisans and merchants who represented the newest arrivals on the medieval scene.
Lectures 9–16 examine the intellectual and religious history of high medieval Europe. You study monks and the monastic life, charismatic preachers such as Francis of Assisi, and theologians such as Thomas Aquinas. You examine the lives of those who found themselves outside the religious mainstream, especially the heretics and Jews of high medieval Europe.
The final eight lectures discuss the major political developments and events between 1000 and 1300, including the First Crusade, the Norman Conquest of England, and the granting of Magna Carta.
The key events, entities, and personalities you will learn about include:
- The demographic, climatic, and technological changes that set the stage for Europe's resurgence
- The three groups—"those who work, those who fight, and those who pray"—who formed the backbone of medieval society
- An in-depth look at the renewed world of cities, artisans, merchants, and commercial exchange that shaped the high-medieval scene in crucial ways
- The ongoing struggles between popes and emperors
- The significance of figures as diverse as William the Conqueror, Pope Gregory VII, Abelard, Emperor Frederick II, King Philip II Augustus of France, Saint Benedict, Bernard of Clairvaux and Hildegard of Bingen
- The institutions of knighthood, feudalism, the church and monasticism, the Scholastic university, and the urban guild
- The situations of marginalized groups such as peasants, urban workingfolk, women, Jews, and heretics.
Attention to Detail Makes the Difference
Professor Philip Daileader's course is filled with memorable details as he unfolds this story. For example:
Europe's population doubled between 1000 and 1300. Life expectancies were probably not much higher than age 25 around 1000, but closer to 35 by 1300. In addition to the unexplained disappearance of bubonic plague and dry, warm climatic conditions known as the "little optimum," the most important factors in this growth spurt were simple farming implements—the newly introduced heavy plow and the horse collar. This allowed a growing population to have enough to eat for the first time ever.
The aristocracy's violence, especially its private wars and robbery and treatment of peasantry, was one of the great social problems of the High Middle Ages. To tame and civilize the warrior aristocracy, medieval clergy devised various methods such as the Peace and Truce of God movements, that granted immunity from nobles' violence to certain defenseless groups. Such movements were generally ineffective because clerics had to rely on religious sanctions and, ultimately, the nobles' own consciences—pledges for good behavior were generally forgotten almost immediately.
Around the year 1000, to become a knight one merely had to secure the necessary equipment. The original tournaments for knights were nothing but huge and deadly free-for-alls held in open areas with no regard for any nearby personal property. Chivalry was invented to diminish this violence. By 1300, the European nobility was a largely hereditary class with specific legal privileges. Nobles proudly proclaimed their bloodlines through coats of arms and family names (which had not existed in 1000). Knighthood was restricted to those who had undergone a specific dubbing ceremony.
The first books for manners were called "courtesy books" and written by clergy trying to curb the nobility's revolting table manners. Unfortunately, hardly anyone the books were meant for could read, so they were a complete failure.
Professor Daileader comments on the question: "Why study medieval history?"
"This question might be, and has been, answered in many ways. Let me suggest just one:
"To understand what is truly distinctive about the world in which we live, you need to know what came before.
"The modern world is the product of the medieval world. ... It is impossible to understand the thoughts and actions of Luther, Galileo, or Voltaire, for example, without understanding that in the Middle Ages all were very conscious of medieval history, and the medieval period informed what they wrote and did.
"Likewise, in order to understand such important modern events as the French Revolution or the 19th-century unifications of Germany and Italy, one must understand the Middle Ages as well, because these events were informed by the medieval past and were attempts to deal with its legacy.
"Most importantly, I hope that by the end of this course, you will share my own desire to learn and understand more about the Middle Ages, and that you will use this course as a springboard from which to launch your own deeper investigations into medieval history."
Harold McFarland, editor of Readers Preference Reviews, writes: "In a series of 24 well-crafted lectures, Philip Daileader, a professor at the College of William and Mary, leads the listener on a fascinating trip through the facts and fables of the history of the High Middle Ages. An excellent lecturer whose knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject shows through at all times, it was a pleasure to listen to the lectures."
- Why the Middle Ages?
- Demography and the Commercial Revolution
- Those Who Fought—The Nobles
- The Chivalric Code
- Those Who Worked—The Peasants
- Those Who Worked—The Townspeople
- Women in Medieval Society
- Those Who Prayed—The Monks
- Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan Movement
- Heretics and Heresy
- The Medieval Inquisitions
- Jews and Christians
- The Origins of Scholasticism
- Aquinas and the Problem of Aristotle
- The First Universities
- The People's Crusade
- The Conquest of Jerusalem
- The Norman Conquest
- Philip II of France
- Magna Carta
- Empire versus Papacy
- Emperor Frederick II
- Looking Back, Looking Forward