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Syllabus HIS 246

Course Info
HIS 246, section 01W
Spring 2015
Room CA-212
Tuesdays and Thursdays
9:30 – 10:45 a.m.
Mark Wilson
(718) 960-8288
     Office Hours
Room CA-292
Tuesdays and Thursdays
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Drop-in Thursdays 12–6 p.m.


Our entire lives are conditioned by concepts like civilization and society, yet we seldom stop to think about how they shape our behaviors and expectations. By traveling back to the very emergence of civilization, we can experience both the revolution in how humans related to each other and the proliferation of new kinds of societies—each with their own distinct ideas about communities and individuals, communication, trade, protection, gender, mortality, and the wild, unbounded realms of the gods. All of this forms not just the background but the substance of the modern world—how we think, and what others think of us. The everyday hubbub of ancient worlds vibrates in the bones of our own societies.


In this course we will explore the Mediterranean world, beginning with the first humans and tracing the development of civilization from Mesopotamia and Egypt to the ancient Greek city-states and the rise and fall of Rome. Our plan will be to compare the principles and practices of these societies, toward a stronger understanding of human society in general.

Specific Learning Objectives

In this course we’ll be pursuing a number of goals, including:

Course Readings

The following three books are required:

Mathisen, Ralph W.
Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations:
From Prehistory to 640 CE
, 2d Edition.
Oxford University Press, 2014.
ISBN: 978-0-199-38445-7.

Make sure you get the right edition, especially if you’re buying a used copy. The second edition is new and the page numbers will not match up with earlier editions.

George, Andrew R.
The Epic of Gilgamesh.
London: Penguin Books, 2003.
ISBN: 978-0-140-44919-8.

I strongly recommend the Andrew George edition because he translated directly from the source. It also has a useful introduction. If you get another edition, make sure it is based on the Standard Version of the epic. There is not a good version online, so you’re best off with the Penguin.

Aristophanes, and Peter Meineck.
Hackett Publishing Co., 2000.
ISBN: 978-0-872-20516-1.

The play itself is widely available, but we’ll also be working with the translator’s annotations and inter-pretations, so you’ll want to get this version if possible. Another possibility (used previously for this class) is the translation by Marie Marianetti, ISBN: 978-0-761-80588-5.

All are available from Lehman College Bookstore, either in person or online. (The website URL for the Lehman College bookstore is http://www.lehmancollege.bkstr.com.)

All three are also available from Amazon and other online retailers. (There are links on my website.) If you order online, make sure you do so enough in advance that you’ll receive the books in time for the assignments.



Your grade for the course will be determined from the following:

I do not give extra credit opportunities except to the entire class. I do not grade on a curve. I do not give incompletes unless we’ve discussed and agreed on the grounds for giving one prior to the final exam.


We’ll have short quizzes at the start of class, roughly every other class (they will not be on a regular, predictable schedule). These are to help gauge our relationship with the material in the readings.

Quizzes are based on the readings for that class in both the textbook and the two ancient readings (Gilgamesh and Clouds, when they’re assigned). If you did your reading for the class, you should be prepared for the quiz. Quizzes are always based on the readings listed on the assignment sheet, even if I am slightly behind the syllabus in the topics I discuss in class. Make sure to do the assigned readings.

Missed quizzes are not made up. If you come late to class and miss a quiz, you’ll get a zero for that quiz. Therefore, please make sure you come to class on time and prepared.

Interpretive Essays

You’ll write three interpretive essays:

  1. One on the portrayal of society or religion in The Epic of Gilgamesh;
  2. One on Clouds and its relationship with actual events in classical Athens; and
  3. A response to your choice of various nonwritten artistic depictions of the ancient world, including sculpture, painting, performance, or film, comparing the history with how it has been represented.

We’ll talk in class about what’s expected, and I’ll have a handout with the specific assignments. You can submit a draft of the paper to me up to a week before it’s due; I’ll give general feedback (but not a grade). Because I accept drafts, I do not allow students to submit revised versions of their final paper after the due date.

Midterm Exam

The midterm exam will cover the course up to that point. We’ll discuss the content and structure the previous week, and a review sheet will be provided. The exam take place during our regular class meeting on the day indicated on the schedule.

Final Exam

The final exam will cover from the midterm onward—except for the essay portion, which will be cumulative. We’ll discuss the content and structure the previous week, and a review sheet will be provided. The final exam lasts two hours and will take place on the day indicated on the schedule.

Submitting Assignments


Academic Policies

Academic Integrity

Lehman College is committed to the highest standards of academic honesty. Acts of academic dishonesty include—but are not limited to—plagiarism (in drafts, outlines, and examinations, as well as final papers), cheating, bribery, academic fraud, sabotage of research materials, the sale of academic papers, and the falsification of records. An individual who engages in these or related activities or who knowingly aids another who engages in them is acting in an academically dishonest manner and will be subject to disciplinary action. Plagiarism includes the incorporation of any material that is not original with you without attribution, whether from a book, article, web site, or fellow student, in any paper or assignment. Assignments that include any plagiarism will receive a zero and the offending student will be subject to additional action by the College. Students engaging in repeated instances of plagiarism will fail the course outright and will be remanded to the College for disciplinary action. For more information, go to http://www.lehman.edu/undergraduate-bulletin/academicintegrity.htm.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Lehman College is committed to providing access to all programs and curricula to all students. Students with disabilities who may need classroom accommodations are encouraged to register with the Office of Student Disability Services. For more information, please contact the Office of Student Disability Services, Shuster Hall, Room 238; phone number: (718) 960-8441.