The Hellenistic World

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The First Ptolemies
Part of the Series: The History of Ancient Egypt
The Greek kings known as the Ptolemies ran Egypt like a business. Taxes were heavy; government was oppressive. There are two great Hellenistic achievements, however: the Pharos Lighthouse and the famed Library of Alexandria.
Troy: Beyond Homer and the Trojan Horse
The archaeological site of ancient Troy reveals numerous distinct historical phases. Explore the majestic remains of the different epochs of the citadel, from its beginnings in 2900 B.C. to the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Trace interconnections between the site's monuments and the lives of the historical King Priam and Alexander…
Alexander the Great Goes East
With the successful invasion of the western Persian Empire, Philip's son successfully carried out his father's plan. Alexander the Great would then create his own path, and you follow him along the route of the greatest sustained conquest the world had yet seen.
Greek Art and Architecture
Pause in your study of historical events to appreciate two of classical Greece's most important contributions to art and architecture. Learn the distinguishing characteristics of Greek sculpture and the principles that gave such extraordinary beauty to Greece's temples.
Alexander's Conquests and Hellenism
Part of the Series: The Big History of Civilizations
Although Big History looks at the macro lens, sometimes one individual truly shapes the course of human history. Alexander of Macedon is one of those people. As you'll find out in this lecture, his conquests reshaped the ancient world, leading to tremendous economic expansion, flourishing cities, and monumental advancements in…
Hunter-Gatherers and Polynesians
Although civilization almost always tends to be an urban phenomenon, there are exceptions. Examine the origins of societies that evolved sophisticated cultures but did not build cities, including hunter-gatherers like the Fenni of Scandinavia, the Aborigines of Australia, and the seafaring peoples of Polynesia.
Foraging in the Old Stone Age
Part of the Series: The Big History of Civilizations
Although it is often skimmed over in the history books, the Paleolithic Era is the longest time in human history, ranging from 200,000 to 11,000 years ago. Understanding this period is crucial for understanding the human history that follows. See how family dynamics, migration patterns, climate change, and more affected…
Unifiers of India: Chandragupta and Asoka
Alexander's death in 323 B.C caused his vast empire to fragment. You meet the father and son who created the largest Indian empire that would be seen until the establishment of the modern Indian nation in 1947.
Blood and Corn: Mayan Civilization
Delve into the achievements of the Maya, who were among the longest-lasting, most geographically extensive, and most culturally sophisticated of all Mesoamerican cultures. Grasp how we can know these things only because the Maya left behind what those other peoples did not: the records of a culture with a written…
Cultures of the Ancient Near East
The lack of geographical barriers made it difficult for even the most powerful cities to retain their power. See how a succession of empires rose and fell, leaving behind legacies ranging from the use of intimidation in warfare to seafaring, astrology, mathematics, and a systematic legal code.
The Advent of Global Commerce
Part of the Series: The Big History of Civilizations
In this lecture, Professor Benjamin surveys the "Malthusian Cycle" of expansion from 500 to 1750 C.E., when favorable climate, global population growth, expanding exchange networks, and rapid innovation all paved the way for modernity. Reflect on European mercantilism, global exploration, and the period's great scientific achievements.
Edward III and the Hundred Years' War
See how repeated trade conflicts with the French drove Edward to claim the French throne. What would become the Hundred Years War produced both stunning victories and years of stalemate and plundering that left the French countryside impoverished but made the fortunes of many English knights and soldiers.