The Era of Agrarian Civilizations

The Era of Agrarian Civilizations
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Agrarian Civilizations of Mesoamerica
The unique geography of Mesoamerica - the long isthmus that runs from the present-day Panama Canal through Mexico - has driven the region's history over the millennia. Review the geologic formations and plate tectonics that created Mesoamerica, and then turn to its many cultures, including the Olmecs, the Mayans, and…
The Big History of Civilizations
The history of human civilization is an astonishing story of migration, innovation, and social development. Over 200,000 years, humans have populated the planet, adapted to environmental challenges, experimented with systems of government, and left such a strong mark on the earth that scientists now refer to our era as the…
Early Mediterranean Civilizations
The Mediterranean Sea played a key role in the development of the ancient world. Here, explore four smaller cultures that had an enormous influence on subsequent history, particularly trade and cultural exchange: the Phoenicians, the Hebrews, the Minoans, and the Mycenaeans.
South Asian Civilizations and Beliefs
Continue your study of South Asia. Here, Professor Benjamin traces the rise of Hinduism, Buddhism, and other religious traditions during the millennium between 1500 and 500 B.C.E. He then turns to the political and social organizations of the subcontinent, from the Indo-Aryan settlements through the Mauryan Empire.
Civilizations of the Distant Future
We can envision scenarios for the year 2100, but what about 2600? Or 3100? Reflect on the possibilities, drawing from the imaginative work of futurists and science fiction writers. See where human civilization might go - and what might happen to us along the way - on this planet, or…
Cities, Civilizations, and Sources
Learn about the different kind of approach the course will take in its explorations of the ancient world and hear a story that perfectly illustrates the risks inherent in letting one's own cultural biases and limited perspective overly influence the interpretation of archaeological discoveries.
Oxus Civilization and Powerful Persia
Pastoral nomads weren't the only early settlers of Central Asia. The recently discovered Oxus civilization and the Persians reveal a number of key themes for Big History, including the role of climate and geography, intensified social complexity, innovations in warfare and farming, and more.
Civilization, the Biosphere, and Tomorrow
Historians traditionally focus solely on the past, but here you have the chance to apply what you've learned about Big History to see what might be in store for us in the near future. Will we run out of oil? How will we adapt to a changing climate? How will…
The Lost Civilization of the Indus Valley
Your exploration of a once-lost civilization introduces a key theme of the course: the enormous problems faced by modern historians and archaeologists in interpreting an ancient civilization through physical evidence alone, with no written documents to bring that evidence to life.
Civilization Dawns in China: Shang and Zhou
Witness the early development of a unique culture that viewed itself as constituting the entirety of the world and thus the site of all cultural advancement, with the latter self-image largely maintained even after China gained an awareness of the world beyond its borders.
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…
A Tale of Two Ancient Cities
Jericho and Anau are two of the world's oldest cities, and their stories have much to tell us about the scope of human history. Begin the course by examining what made these cities successful, and how they differed from each other. This starting point will introduce the concept and key…