- POPULAR CULTURE
- MENTAL HEALTH
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
- APPLIED SCIENCES
- PRINT & MEDIA
Ancient history is the study of the written past from the beginning of recorded human history to the fall of the Roman Empire in the West in 476 A.D. or, for other historians, the late Middle Ages: the Age of Discoveries, the Renaissance and Reformation. The span of recorded history is, then, roughly 5 thousand years with Cuneiform script, the oldest discovered form of coherent writing, from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC. This is the beginning of history, as opposed to prehistory, according to the definition used by most historians.
The term classical antiquity is often used to refer to ancient history in the Old World since the beginning of recorded Greek history in 776 BC, the First Olympiad. This roughly coincides with the traditional date of the founding of Rome in 753 BC, the beginning of the history of ancient Rome, and the beginning of the Archaic period in Ancient Greece. Although the ending date of ancient history is disputed, some Western scholars, as I say above, use the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the West in AD 476, the death of the emperor Justinian I, the coming of Islam, or the rise of Charlemagne as the end of ancient and Classical European history.
In India, the period includes the early period of the Middle Kingdoms, and, in China, the time up to the Qin Dynasty is included. But I leave this to readers with wider and more specialist reading interests in ancient history across the planet and its several civilizations. I have always found Arnold Toynbee's massive A Study of History, has provided for me an overview of ancient history from the point of view of civilizations past and present. I often return to Toynbee or, rather, find he has become a definer of a framework within which I have come to fit further and more specialist reading in the last several decades since the 1960s when first studying history seriously at university: 1963-1967.
GREECE AND PERSIA: A COMMENT
Ancient history, as defined above, is a long and complex period and no attempt is made in this sub-section of this site to "cover" the period. Rather, I take issues and subjects, topics and concerns, of interest to me. If they interest readers who come to this site, then they will naturally turn to them if they have the time. If not they won't. What follows is a link of interest to me in relation to Greece, Persia and Alexander the Great:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2008/jun/12/mad-about-the-boy/
In high school, 1958-1963, I studied classical or ancient history in five courses: Latin for four years and part of one history course. In university, 1963-1967, I took several courses that involved ancient history in one way or another. I took one course in ancient history, one in the history of education, and two of the philosophy courses. All of these courses brought me in touch with the history and philosophy of the ancients. In the next 21 years, 1967-1988 the years before I taught ancient history myself, long range historical perspectives came into many of the courses I taught, but I it would be far too complex an account to provide the details, the specifics, in which ancient history came into the teaching of the social sciences over those two decades. The names of the courses I taught during those years are found in my CV which I have posted in cyberpsace. The ways in which the content, the story of history before the middle ages came into what I taught from the late 1960s to the early 2000s is, as I say, too complex for this brief introduction.
From 1989 to 1994 I taught ancient history, Ancient Greece(478 to 404 BC) one year and Ancient Rome(133 BC to 14 AD) the next. It was a matriculation subject producing several volumes of notes for each of the programs. Teaching these subjects over this six year period brought me into my first serious and extended exposure to classical civilization since my university days in the 1960s. This exposure occurred at the time when the Mt. Carmel Project was in full swing in Haifa Israel for the international Baha'i community. In the sixteen years(1995-2011) since completing my teaching of these ancient history courses I have drawn on my many volumes of notes on ancient Greece and Rome. I have also added to them significantly. The subject of classical civilization is of great interest to me particularly since there are obviously so many parallels to my own world. Such a study also provides, I find, many helpful perspectives for understanding the Baha’i Faith, its history and future.
I studied Latin from 1959 to 1963, some ancient history in grade 11 at high school and at university as I indicated above. Ancient Greece and Rome came into my reading again and again from 1964 to 1994 when, in December of that year, my formal teaching of the subject came to an end. Now, sixteen years later(1995-2011), I have added much more reading and I possess a greater grounding in this field, although I am far from being what you could call a serious student of the history of the western classical tradition. There is just too much to consider and my academic interests are far too eclectic. With all the other subjects now striving to find a place under my academic belt, I can not expect to have more that a working knowledge for these general and eclectic interests.
I have taught many subjects in my more than thirty years of teaching and classical history, literature and philosophy did not occupy a central place in these teaching experiences except from time to time. Classical studies continues to occupy a place of interest now that I have retired and no longer teach full-time or part-time. It is a place of interest I return to occasionally with varying degrees of interest when time, the inclination and some specific writing purpose arises. Of course, this is true of all subjects. Interest and purpose are key variables. There was a core of notes and content to build on in December 1994 when I stopped teaching ancient history. I have been building on that core for the last seventeen years. I stopped teaching ancient history five years before retiring from full-time work as a professional teacher. I have been adding more and more material to this core now that ancient history has come to occupy this place, however peripheral, in my post-retirement studies. As yet I have not had to draw on these notes for the purposes of writing any journal articles for the many Baha’i Studies journals now in existence. I do write the occasional essay on the internet drawing on ancient history. I do this just for my personal pleasure. I also write the occasional prose-poem drawing on themes from the ancients.
Given the variety of my other academic interests I will remain for the most part only an interested observer of the field. Expertise, it would seem, will not be granted to me in any subject. A generalist I have been and a generalist I will remain. Given the great burgeoning in the social sciences and humanities in the last half century and given the advice ‘Abdu’l-Baha places before His readers in Secret of Divine Civilization for students to acquire a “comprehensive knowledge,” it seems only appropriate that I be a generalist.
27 June 2008
INTRODUCTION: Roman Authors
From 1989 to 1994 I taught ancient history, Greece one year(478 to 404 BC), and Rome(133 BC to 14 AD) the next. It was a matriculation subject and in the process of teaching this subject I produced for my use several volumes of notes. It was my first serious and extended exposure to classical civilization and it occurred at the time when the Mt. Carmel Project, the beautification and embellishment of the spiritual and administrative centre of the international Baha'i community, was in full swing.
In the sixteen years since completing my teaching of these courses I have drawn on these notes and added to them from time to time. I now have ten large files of notes: this one is on Roman authors. The subject of classical civilization is of great interest to me particularly since there are obviously so many parallels and ideas that provide, at least for me, helpful perspectives for understanding: (a) modern history and society since the French revolution in 1789, and (b) the Baha’i Faith, its history(1750-2010 circa) and future(2011--2211 circa). Although I was both a student and teacher of many subjects in the more than 50 years I was in classrooms, classical history, literature and philosophy did not occupy a central place in my studies. But after my retirement in 1999 they came to occupy an important, if not central, place in the many subjects that occupied my attention.
There is a core of resources in this arch-lever file on Roman Authors to build on. That is what I have been doing in the 17 years after my formal history teaching of Roman authors came to an end in November 1994. Except for my notes on the Roman writers Cicero and Sallust, virtually all the material in this file has been added in the years 1995 to 2011.
July 17 2004 to 1 July 2011.
Some of my internet posts on ancient history:
ROME AND SPACE ARCHEOLOGY
Just when you thought television had had its fill of Ancient Rome, along come two more BBC documentaries. On BBC Four, Simon Sebag Montefiore has started a three-part series exploring the central role of religion in the city. While on BBC One, Dan Snow’s Rome’s Lost Empire harnessed satellite technology to understand more about Roman military might. Snow’s adventures certainly lived up to their mainstream billing. In tandem with Dr Sarah Parcak, an archaeologist from Alabama State university who’d recently discovered thousands of sites in Egypt using satellite imagery, they set off to repeat her success with Roman remains.
They didn’t have much luck in Romania, where the thick forest meant that they had to use an aircraft firing laser beams, but the other sites yielded remarkable discoveries. Near Petra in Jordan, the satellites revealed that the now barren countryside had flourished under the Romans, the comfortable farmers happy to swap occupation for security. In Tunis, they found a frontier system which explained how Rome managed to defend its vast granary. And in Portus, once the great harbour of Rome, they discovered not only a new canal (straight, of course, like the roads), but also an amphitheatre and a lighthouse, one of the wonders of the ancient world, sought by archaeologist for centuries.
The excitement as Snow and Dr Parcak, armed only with their handheld computers, swooped on another hoary expert to share their findings was contagious – like Indiana Jones and the Last iPad. Computer imagery helped you imagine that you were looking at an ancient lighthouse, not a car scrapyard near an airport. Snow was an excellent presenter, although somewhat prone to cliché. “Arabia. Exotic. Sophisticated. A land of adventure. And opportunity,” he intoned, as if fronting an advertisement for an Airlines. There were also signs that he might have been watching too much Top Gear for he has adopted Jeremy Clarkson’s irritating pauses. “After working all night, Sarah has found… nothing,” he declared, somewhat melodramatically
The Romans were one of the most intriguing and powerful civilisations to have ever lived. Now, building on the extraordinary techniques used in Egypt: What Lies Beneath, Dr Sarah Parcak and her team re-harness space-archaeology to discover what the glory of the Roman Empire was really like. With satellite archaeology and high-tech remote-sensing tools at its heart. Rome - What Lies Beneath peels back the layers of history to literally see Rome in all its magnificence. Culminating in a visually mind-blowing series of CGI revelations, viewers will be able to walk the streets of legend and discover the history of Rome as never before. Rome - What Lies Beneath is an epic BBC history documentary which will bring Roman history to life. For more go to:http://www.bbcactivevideoforlearning.com/1/TitleDetails.aspx?TitleID=24285
SOME WRITERS DURING CLASSICAL/ANCIENT HISTORY OF INTEREST TO ME
Having been a teacher of ancient history many times over the years, I developed an interest in the period, defined as I indicated above, the years up to 476 A.D. especially in Greece and Rome. Two writers from that period were Virgil and Herodotus. For interesting articles on: (a) Virgil go to: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2008/jun/26/virgil-lives/, and on Herodotus/Thucydides go to: