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World Civilisations: City And State In Ancient Persia

The course will begin with a consideration of the definitions of 'civilisation,' and will then explore the origins of the city, the state, and of writing, in Persia (Iran) between c 3500 BC, and the conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great, in 331 BC. Themes to be considered will include the changing nature of city life, and of the state; the roles of religion, trade, warfare, and the emergence of literacy. Much of the course will be based on archaeological evidence, but we will also be looking at translated inscriptions, and bureaucratic texts. We will move on to look at the interactions between the Persian Empire and the ancient civilisations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece.
  • Who is it for?

    No prior knowledge is necessary, but a good understanding of English is essential.

  • What does it cover?

    We will begin by exploring the concept of 'civilisation,' as it has developed since ancient times, including a consideration of aspects of critical and post-colonial theory. We will then look at the chronological development of Persian culture and society from the Bronze Age through to the conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great. We will investigate some of the key themes of ancient Persian culture, including the nature and development of the city and the state; religion and burial practices; writing, philosophy, and literature; painting, sculpture, and material culture; trade & exchange, and warfare.

    By the end of this course, you should be able to:

    ' Explain the chronology of ancient Persian culture and society.
    ' Contribute to a discussion on the philosophical and religious ideas that underpin ancient Persian societies at various moments in their development.
    ' Define key ideas in history, literature, and art history in relation to ancient Persia.
    ' Use the knowledge gained on the course to identify aspects of ancient Persian thought that continue to influence the cultural life of the Modern World.

  • What will it be like?

    Each week there will be an informative talk using PowerPoint; readings from the key texts and related works; and group discussion of issues arising from those texts. You will be encouraged to share your thoughts and ideas in a relaxed and friendly environment. Occasionally homework reading will be provided. Although this is not an accredited course leading to a formal qualification, you will be encouraged to complete a self-assessment form in which you can monitor your progress.

  • What else do I need to buy or do?

    You are advised to bring note-taking materials to all sessions.

  • What could it lead to?

    You might consider enrolling on other history/history of art/literature/philosophy courses run by the Centre.

Available Courses

World Civilisations: City And State In Ancient Persia

The course will begin with a consideration of the definitions of 'civilisation,' and will then explore the origins of the city, the state, and of writing, in Persia (Iran) between c 3500 BC, and the conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great, in 331 BC. Themes to be considered will include the changing nature of city life, and of the state; the roles of religion, trade, warfare, and the emergence of literacy. Much of the course will be based on archaeological evidence, but we will also be looking at translated inscriptions, and bureaucratic texts. We will move on to look at the interactions between the Persian Empire and the ancient civilisations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece.

22 April 2024 – 15 July 2024
Monday, 14:00 to 16:00
Course Code:455
£133 / £47
11 Meetings
High Street, Stratford
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24 April 2024 – 10 July 2024
Wednesday, 10:30 to 13:00
Course Code:452CS
£201 / £70
12 Meetings
High Street, Stratford
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25 April 2024 – 11 July 2024
Thursday, 14:00 to 16:00
Course Code:459
£132 / £46
12 Meetings
High Street, Stratford
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The course will begin with a consideration of the definitions of 'civilisation,' and will then explore the origins of the city, the state, and of writing, in Egypt between c 3100 BC, and the conquest of the region by the Persian Achaemenid Empire in 525 BC. Themes to be considered will include the changing nature of city life, and of the state; the roles of religion, trade, and warfare; and the emergence of literacy. Much of the course will be based on archaeological evidence, but we will also be looking at translated texts, including poems, short stories, medical treatises, religious and funerary texts.

25 September 2023 – 11 December 2023
Monday, 14:00 to 16:00
Course Code:453
£145 / £51
12 Meetings
High Street, Stratford
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