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Free online course

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.


  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, starting from when you join
  • No certificate


  • Unlimited access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Superpowers of the Ancient World: the Near East

Why join the course?

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 secondsI'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.

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

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?

Glenn Godenho

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?

Buy a personalised, digital and printed certificate and transcript

You can buy a Certificate of Achievement for this course — a personalised certificate and transcript in both digital and printed formats, to prove what you’ve learnt. A Statement of Participation is also available for this course.

Certificate of Achievement + transcript £49.00

Statement of Participation £24.00

Estimate prices in preferred currency

Charges to your account will be made in GBP. Prices in local currency are provided as a convenience and are only an estimate based on current exchange rates.