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Superpowers of the Ancient World

I’m doing another online course on the FutureLearn platform, this one on the Ancient Near East (Egyptians, Hittites and so on) in the Late Bronze Age. It’s run by the University of Liverpool, and I chose it because it’s a subject I’m interested in and already know a bit about. I’ve found bits of it quite interesting, particularly reading the accounts of some of the ancient battles.  Unfortunately, the lecturers are not sticking strictly to the well-attested archaeological and historical sources. Instead they’re rather trendily asking the participants to draw parallels with events happening now and in the very recent past.

Syria-Palestine fragmenting and being fought over by surrounding powers? Expansionist empires in the Near East? Desperate migrants and displaced persons causing instability in the lands they settle in? It’s too easy for the Daily Mail-reading tendency to hijack the comments and dialogue that’s meant to be a large part of the course, and rant about the rather obvious (but not entirely accurate) parallels.

I really feel uncomfortable with the hypothesising, over-interpreting, and the stretching of small amounts of historical data and evidence to breaking point – and in my view well beyond it. It’s all so non-factual and downright wrong to someone with a scientific training. The course is very much at the arts and humanities end of ancient history, rather than the factual and scientific end that I much prefer. Nevertheless, I’m going to try to stick with it, and just grit my teeth and refuse to engage when I get asked to speculate wildly about something with absolutely no evidence to back it up!

{ 2 } Comments

  1. Catriona | 10 October 2015 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    As both a classisist and mathematician I sympathise. It sounds a fascinating course though.

  2. pauld | 15 October 2015 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Well at least Liverpool is one of the proper universities, probably the best in the world, where some of the best people have studied !

    Shame about the woolly jumper-ed liberal lecturers, sounds a bit stupid to me, a bit like saying we should have an appology from the French people for the Norman conquests that destroyed Anglo Saxon society and the very future of our country.