HIST101: Ancient Civilizations of the World

Course Syllabus for "HIST101: Ancient Civilizations of the World"

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In this course, we will study the emergence of the major civilizations of the ancient world, beginning with the Paleolithic Era (about 2.5 million years ago) and finishing with the end of the Middle Ages in fifteenth century A.D. We will pay special attention to how societies evolved across this expanse of time—from fragmented and primitive agricultural communities to more advanced and consolidated civilizations. To do this, we will rely upon textbook readings to provide historical overviews of particular civilizations and then utilize primary-source documents to illuminate the unique features of these individual societies. By the end of the course, you will possess a thorough understanding of important overarching social, political, religious, and economic themes in the ancient world, ranging from the emergence of Confucian philosophy in Asia to the fall of imperial Rome. You will also understand how many aspects of these ancient civilizations continue to remain relevant in today’s world.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • identify and define the world’s earliest civilizations, including the Neolithic Revolution, and describe how it shaped the development of these early civilizations;
  • identify, describe, and compare/contrast the first advanced civilizations in the world - Mesopotamia and Egypt;  
  • identify and describe the emergence of the earliest civilizations in Asia: the Harappan and Aryan societies on the Indian subcontinent and the Shang and Zhou societies in China;
  • identify and describe the emergence of new philosophies - Daoism and Confucianism - during the Warring States period in China;
  • identify and describe the subsequent rise of the Qin and Han dynasties;
  • identify and describe the different periods that characterized ancient Greece - Archaic Greece (or the Greek Dark Ages), classical Greece, and the Hellenistic era;
  • identify and describe the characteristics of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic, and Imperial Rome;
  • analyze the emergence of the Mauryan and Gupta empires during the “classical age” in India;
  • identify and analyze the Buddhist and Vedic (Hindu) faiths;
  • identify and describe the rise of civilizations in the Americas, particularly in Meso and South America;
  • analyze and describe the rise of Islam in the Middle East;
  • identify and describe the emergence of the Arab caliphate, the Umayyad dynasty, and Abbasid dynasty;
  • identify and describe the rise and fall of the Byzantine Empire;
  • identify and analyze key facets of medieval society in Western Europe - the Catholic Church, feudalism, and the rise of technology and commerce; and
  • analyze and interpret primary-source documents that elucidate the exchanges and advancements made in civilizations across time and space.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:

√    Have access to a computer.

√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g., Adobe Reader or Flash).

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft Office files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).

√    Have competency in the English language.

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

Course Information

Course Designers: Professor Concepcion Saenz-Cambra, Dr. David Toye, and Christa Dierksheide, ABD.

Primary Resources: This course is composed of a wide range of free online materials. However, the following course content is most heavily relied on:

  • Dr. Steven Kreis’s “The History Guide”
  • Fordham University’s “Ancient History Sourcebook”
  • Jack E. Maxfield’s “A Comprehensive Outline of World History”
  • Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History”

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all its assigned materials.  This includes assessments within each unit as well as at the end of this course.

Time Commitment: This course should take you approximately 126 hours to complete.  Note that each unit includes a specific time advisory.

Tips/Suggestions: You may find it useful throughout the course to look up and note down terms (names, places, concepts, etc.) that are unfamiliar to you.

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.