The Glory of Ancient Athens: A Six-Part Course with Aristotle Koskinas

The Glory of Ancient Athens: A Six-Part Course with Aristotle Koskinas


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A six-part course designed to explore the history, culture, and archaeology of the ancient city of Athens.

From prehistoric hamlet to Bronze Age kingdom, to classical city-state, Athens gradually evolved into a bustling commercial and cultural center. Its destiny was shaped by its coastal landscape and the riches that lay beneath it but was sealed by a people curious and restless. At its peak, it produced cultural marvels that helped shape western culture.

How, and most importantly why, did Athens give birth to democracy, a system of government the world had never known before? How did it evolve, how did it work, and how did it help make the city one of the superpowers of its time? How did it change over the centuries? What are its surviving monuments, and what is their significance?

We will delve into the defining myths, heritage, and daily lives of Athenians, to see the city that gave birth to all these wonders. We will explore its landscape, examine its cults, explore religious practices and customs. We will trace its history, seeking clues from the earliest traces unearthed by the trowel. We will follow the evolution of its democratic system, analyzing its strengths and weaknesses. We will explore what gave the city its military might and enabled it to repel twice the mighty Persian Empire. Then we will follow its fate all the way to Roman times when the city was endowed with splendid new monuments.

Led by Aristotle Koskinas, an Archaeologist and Licensed Guide who is an expert on Athens and its history, this course will present the History, Archaeology, and Culture of Ancient Athens. Designed to inform curiosity and future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of what made Athens what it was and how it contributed to the formation of the western world.

 

Lecture 1 Cities Beneath the City

This will be our introduction to the history and archeology of the city of Athens. We will examine its geography, geology & resources while defining the different periods of its history. The aim is to familiarize attendees with the city’s geography and give the frame for its history.

Lecture 2 The Olive Tree and the Trident

We will narrate the myths and legends of ancient Athens and show how these evolved and shaped Athenian identity, literature, and art. We will trace their representations on monuments and show how the Athenians used them to advance their political agenda.

Lecture 3 “By the Will of the People’s Assembly”

We will focus on the development of the political system of ancient Athens and present its evolution, functions, and quirks. The archeological sites of the Agora and the Pnyx, where most civil functions took place, will also be presented in detail.

Lecture 4 The Spear and the Oar

We will focus on the military of ancient Athens and its history. Special emphasis will be given to the city’s participation in the Persian Wars, the Peloponnesian Wars, and its confrontation with the kingdom of Macedonia. The lecture will also present the military technology of the ancient Greeks and their military practices.

Lecture 5 More Holidays Than Working Days

We will examine Athens’s religious system and its impact on the lives of its citizens. We will examine cults and practices, religious festivals, and funeral rites. The archeological sites of the Acropolis and the Kerameikos will be described as spaces for religious practices.

Lecture 6 The Splendors of Roman Athens

We will examine the history and archaeology of Athens during the Roman period. Inspired by the city’s cultural heritage, certain Roman emperors endowed the city with anything from aqueducts and baths to libraries and temples. These extensive projects changed the face of Roman Athens, and their relics have become landmarks of the modern city.

Aristotle Koskinas studied classical archaeology and specialized in the study of roof tiles. For several years he participated in various excavations conducted by the Greek Ministry of Culture. He also took part in surface survey projects conducted at the University of Thessaly and others. In 2003 he graduated from the Greek School of Tourist Guides and has since been working as a guide. He lectures on Greek history and archaeology while continuing to study and publish material from excavations of the Ministry of Culture and participates in historical reenactment events.

 

How does it work?

This is a six-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

Is there a reading list in advance?

Though the course is open to participants with no background on this topic, there are suggested readings for further investigation. You will receive this soon after course registration.

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How much is the course?

The course is $210 for six lectures.

Is a recording available?

Yes. If you need to miss a lecture, you will be sent a recording after the event.

This course is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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