HIS 246    WILSON    SPRING 2011

about this course

HIS 246: Civilizations of the Ancient World

I301 / 2690                                                     Office Hours
M,W 11:00 a.m.
12:15 p.m.                              M, W 12:301:30 p.m.
Room CA-228                                                    Room CA-293

Course Description: A survey of the Mediterranean world, beginning with the first humans and tracing the development of civilization from Mesopotamia and Egypt to ancient Greek City-States and the fall of Rome. 3 credits.

In this course well be pursuing a number of goals, including:

u     Exploration of the emergence of civilization and its implications for humanity

u     Exposure to the cultures and beliefs of a wide array of diverse Mediterranean civilizations

u     Exploration of evolutionary changes in the realms of politics, economics, military techniques, religious beliefs, social norms, writing and literature practices, artistic patterns, and science and philosophy

u     Examination of how the many interactions and transformations of ancient civilizations developed into a Western identity, part of the origin of the modern Western world

u     Development of the skills associated with the study of history, including the interpretation of primary sources and other evidence.

contact info

Mark B. Wilson

Office: Room CA-293
Phone: (718) 960-8522
            (during office hours only)

History Department

Office:     Carman Hall-202C
Phone:     (718) 960-8288
Mailbox:  I have a mailbox in the history department you
               can use to drop off assignments.

Please use me as a resource: Come to my office hours, talk to me after class, or send me emails with any questions you havewhether they relate to the requirements of the course or ideas were reading about or discussing in class.

You may email me your written assignments, but it doesnt count unless you get an email back from me saying I received it. Unless I reply back to you, I didnt receive it. If theres any question about whether Im receiving your emails, please talk to me about it in class.


Three books are required for this course.

Handmade Software, Inc. Image Alchemy v1.12

Nagle, D. Brendan.
The Ancient World: A Social and Cultural History, 7th edition.
New York: Prentice Hall, 2010.
ISBN: 978-0-205-63744-7.

Version note: This is a new edition for this year. If you buy a used copy, make sure its the 7th edition. If its an earlier version, it may not contain the same material or have the same page numbers.

George, Andrew R.
The Epic of Gilgamesh: The Babylonian Epic Poem and Other Texts in Akkadian and Sumerian. London: Penguin Books, 2003.
ISBN: 978-0-140-44919-8.

Version note: Penguin has more than one Gilgamesh. 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 trustworthy version online, so youre best off with the Penguin.

Aristophanes, and Marie C. Marianetti. The Clouds: An Annotated Translation.
Lanham, Md: University Press of America, 1997.
ISBN: 978-0-761-80588-5.

Version note: The play itself is widely available, but well also be working with Prof. Marianettis annotations and interpretations, so youll need to get this version. Its regularly assigned in her classes, so it should be available used.


u     All three books are available from Lehman College Bookstore, either on person or via their website:

u     All three are also available from Amazon and other online retailersuse the ISBNs to search. (There are links on my website.) Also available from the publishers web sites. If you order online, make sure you do so enough in advance that youll receive the books in time for the assignments.


Dont waste this opportunity! Make the most out of this class.

u     Be on time and prepared. By prepared, I mean you should come into class having done the readings for that day and thought about them. Come in ready to talk about your reactions to the readings and the questions they raised in your mind.

u     Class attendance is required. Missing classes will damage your grade. The textbook is designed to just give you the basics; its in class that we try to make sense of things and sift out whats important. Missing classes means you miss out on a key part of our trying to put things together. Plus, if you miss classes, youll miss quizzes, which will put a big crimp in your grade for the course. Religious observances that affect your class attendance should be discussed in advance.

u     Cell phones and electronics need to be silenced and stowed. A phone ringing during class is hugely disruptive. Texting during class is just as rude and insulting as talking on the phone.

u     Late assignments will be marked down. Written assignments will be marked down one letter grade per class meeting after the assignment due date, up to a maximum of 30 points. That means youre still better off turning in your paper late, and having it be marked down, than not turning it in at all, and getting a zero.

u     Make-up exams are given only in cases of documented medical emergencies.

u     Check your email. Make sure I have a good email address for you and check it, as I occasionally send information and updates by email. If you have not gotten an email from me within the first week after school begins, check your spam folders. If you cant find an email from me, email me to let me know.

u     Plagiarism will result in a zero. CUNY, like all academic institutions, does not tolerate academic dishonesty. Single instances of plagiarism will yield a zero for the assignment. Multiple instances will result in a zero for the course and disciplinary action from the College. (See below.)

u     Talk to me if youre struggling. Come to me in office hours or after class, and the sooner the better. Dont wait until its too late to turn things around.

Academic Dishonesty

Lehman College is committed to the highest standards of academic honesty. Acts of academic dishonesty includebut are not limited toplagiarism (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. For more:

Center for Student Disability Services

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; their phone number is 718-960-8441.

assignments and course grade

Your course grade will be based on the following:



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

u     Quizzes are based on the readings for that class in both the textbook and the reader. If you did your reading for the class, you should be prepared for the quiz.

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

u     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 you do the assigned readings.


Interpretive Essays

Youll write two interpretive essays, one for each of the two ancient readings (Gilgamesh and The Clouds).

u     Well talk in class about whats expected for these essays, and Ill have handouts with the specific assignments.

u     Your essay will be based on your assessment of the reading and its context in the society that produced it, both of which will be discussed in class.

u     You can submit a draft of the paper to me up to a week before its due; Ill 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 final due date.


Midterm Exam                 Wednesday, Mar. 16, regular class meeting


Final Exam                       Wednesday, May 25, 11 a.m.1 p.m.

I do not grade on a curve. Individual extra credit will not be offered (any extra credit opportunities will be offered to the whole class).

important dates

Course Dates

Mon. 3/7       Essay #1 due

Mon. 4/13     Essay #2 due

Mon. 5/18     Last class meeting

College Dates

Thu. 2/3       Last day to add a course

Thu. 2/17     Last day to drop a course

Mon. 4/11     Last day to apply for withdrawal

Wed. 2/23     Conversion Day Monday classes