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Origins of Great Ancient Civilizations by Kenneth W. Harl

Origins of Great Ancient Civilizations

by Kenneth W. Harl

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Unabridged Edition
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6 Hrs.
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The ancient civilizations of the Near East can seem remote. For many of us, locales like Mesopotamia or the Indus valley ... or peoples like the Hittites or Assyrians ... or rulers like Sargon, Hammurabi, and Darius ... are part of a long-dead antiquity, so shrouded over with dust that we might be tempted to skip over them entirely, preferring to race forward along history's timeline in search of the riches we know will be found in our studies of Greece and Rome.

That very remoteness, though—our willingness to shunt these great civilizations aside—should alone be reason enough to study them, according to Professor Kenneth W. Harl. And remoteness, he emphasizes, is far from the only reason that demands our attention to the ancient cultures visited in Origins of Great Ancient Civilizations, his latest course for The Teaching Company.

These civilizations "act as the cultural basis for many of the civilizations that will emerge on the Eurasian landmass and will dictate the destinies of many of the people living today on the globe."

"Mesopotamia," he says, citing the ancient name for Iraq, the earliest civilization we know of, "perhaps more than any other civilization we shall look at, will really set the basis for what a civilization should be; that is, it should be urban-based; it should be literate; it should be based on intensive agriculture; and it also will depend very heavily on trade—not just local and regional markets, but long-distance trade."

Another example of the contributions made by these civilizations, of course, is in the concept of a "transcendent, monotheistic God."

"How that notion comes about among the Hebrews and how it is transmitted to later generations ... is perhaps one of the most important, if not the all-important achievement—certainly for Western civilizations—coming out of these great traditions."

"Finally, I think it's important for all of us to understand the origins of these great traditions that come out of the Near East—or, as many would say today, the Middle East. They do stand behind the traditions of classical Greece. The Greeks themselves acknowledged their great debt to these older civilizations."


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  • Published: 2002
  • LearnOutLoud.com Product ID: O019130
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