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Superpowers of the Ancient World: the Near East

Experience the world’s first international age, 3,500 years ago in the ancient Near East, with this free online course.

15,508 enrolled on this course

Art from Egypt - one of the Superpowers of the Ancient Near East
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Over four weeks, this free online course explores four ancient Near-Eastern cultures and how they interacted with each other 3,500 years ago.

Tracking the Egyptian, Mitannian and Hittite superpowers

Travel, diplomacy, trade and warfare feature, as we track the ancient Egyptian, Mitannian and Hittite superpowers. We will see how they came into contact with each other in their efforts to extend their influence into the ever-contested Syria-Palestine lands.

We will examine objects from the University of Liverpool’s Garstang Museum of Archaeology - one of the most important collections of artefacts in the UK - enabling you to learn not only about the history of this period, but also how experts use artefacts to reconstruct the past.

Using the present to illuminate the past

The archaeological evidence that we will consult is often disparate and fragmentary, so in order to understand it better, we will look into current approaches to international relations and discuss modern parallels with an expert from our Department of Politics.

Accessing ancient landscapes

Our experts will familiarise you with the ancient Near-Eastern landscapes and introduce you to key objects that featured in diplomacy and warfare at this time in the distant past.

You will also consider the bigger picture, as empires prospered and floundered in the struggle to become the main superpower of the ancient Near East.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds I’m Dr. Glenn Godenho. I’m a lecturer in Egyptology, here at the Department of Archaeology, Classics, and Egyptology in the University of Liverpool. So this course is really about looking at these three great superpowers; ancient Egypt, the Mitannians, and the Hittites, and how they struggle with each other to remain in the driving seat in the ancient Near East. The period we’re focusing on is just 300 years, between 1500 BCE and 1200 BCE. What we need to do is consider why these superpowers came into contact with each other in the way they did. And to do that, we’ll look at a fourth geographical area, Syria/Palestine. Alongside a basic history, we’ll present regular weekly slots that introduce a build on various themes.

Skip to 0 minutes and 51 seconds For example, we’ll look at how each of these areas communicated. In the first week, we’ll even show you how hieroglyphs work. We’ve got the ancient Near Eastern objects from our Garstang Museum of Archaeology, and from other important collections, too. We don’t simply want to show you these objects each week. We want you to engage with the evidence to think critically about them and to question archaeological interpretations. We have an expert from our politics department on hand to offer a modern perspective on the ancient events, so we can discuss the degree to which the present can illuminate the past.

Skip to 1 minute and 25 seconds So come and join us as we make sense of how the ancient cultures struggled with each other to become the greatest superpower of the ancient Near East.

What topics will you cover?

  • The Expulsion of the Hyksos and the Dawn of Egypt’s International Age
  • Communicating with the Past: Hieroglyphs
  • Egypt in Syria-Palestine and the Battle of Megiddo
  • The Rise of the Mitannians
  • The Hittite expansion and the Battle of Kadesh

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore a number of Near Eastern cultures that existed within a set time period in the Late Bronze Age (1500 – 1200 BC), and how they interacted with each other over time
  • Investigate evidence in order to critically evaluate interpretations of the past
  • Engage with the languages and scripts of Egypt and the Near East as a foundation which they can then build on in future Ancient World courses

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone interested in archaeology and ancient history. Previous study in archaeology is not necessary, as this course serves as an introduction to the study of the history of the ancient Near East. Please join our Facebook page for more information, competitions, freebies and to meet others who will be on the course

Who will you learn with?

Egyptologist at University of Liverpool creating 'Superpowers of the Ancient World: the Near East' (release 28/9 #FLSuperpowers). For sneak peeks at progress, join 'AncientSuperpowers' Facebook Group.

Who developed the course?

University of Liverpool

The University of Liverpool is ranked in the top 1% of higher education institutions worldwide.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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