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Discovering Greek & Roman Cities (Open University of the Netherlands)

Explore the most important aspects of ancient urbanism and urban archaeology. Obtain knowledge of the layout and the history of Greek and Roman cities and learn about the life of their inhabitants, from emperors to the common people. Experience the diversity and the relevance of ancient heritage for Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Near East. Learn how ancient cities form the foundation of not only how our cities look today, but also how they function.

The world of ancient Greece and Rome was a world of cities. City-states dominated Greece in the first millennium BCE, and in the Roman Empire, urban societies thrived from Britain and Spain in the West to Syria and Jordan in the East. Most of the major developments in the political, social, intellectual, and religious history of this period started in cities. Accordingly, cities are the ideal point of departure for the study of life in antiquity.

Teaser MOOC Discovering Greek & Roman Cities English

The legacy of ancient Greek and Roman cities are still keenly felt, in how we physically organize, build and live in our cities today, as well as in how we think about and define cities. The course will explore the connections between ancient cities and their impact on urban life in later periods across the globe.

In this trilingual MOOC (English, French, German), an international team of experts from six different universities will explore the many facets of Greek and Roman cities. They will discuss mega cities like Rome, centers of international commerce like the Greek city of Delos and Palmyra in the Syrian Desert, regional centres of production like Pompeii, and frontier towns like Dura Europos on the Euphrates.

Although the civilisations of Greece and Rome gradually yielded their position to the medieval world, their material and cultural heritage never really disappeared. Rediscovered in the Renaissance, the achievements of the Greeks and the Romans represent an immortal legacy to the contemporary western world. Part of the course will also be dedicated to exploring this heritage and how it reached us.

What topics will you cover?

• Module 1 Introduction. This module sets the stage. What are ancient cities, what did they look like, and why do they matter today?

• Module 2 Life in the City. This module deals with different aspects of daily life in ancient cities.

• Module 3 Religion and the City. In this module, urban religion and religious practice are discussed. Greek, Roman, and Oriental gods and their worshippers take the center stage.

• Module 4 Politics and the City. Citizenship, civic administration, and royal palaces – This module takes you to the diverse world of ancient politics.

• Module 5 Death and the City. How did ancient city dwellers deal with the dead? This module gives answers.

• Module 6 Infrastructure and the City. This module considers the layout of ancient cities, their maintenance, and the connections between cities.

• Module 7 Economy and the City. This module explores the role of cities as centers of consumption, centers of production, and the role of the agrarian hinterland.

• Module 8 Legacy of the Ancient City. The memory and the ruins of ancient cities still play a role in our world. This module sheds light on contemporary modes of engagement with past cities, from conservation to identity building and destruction, like in the case of Palmyra.