Documentaria

The Persian Empire from 450 to 334
Once Athens turned its energies away from attacking Persia and toward building its own empire in Greece, Persia
was able to consolidate its position in Anatolia and the eastern Mediterranean but was unable to regain the strength it
had wielded before its disastrous invasion of Greece. The Persians realized that in order to safeguard their western
provinces from Greek attacks, it was necessary to find more effective tools to use against the Greeks than military
force. Those tools were diplomacy and the Persians’ immense wealth, which they used adeptly, beginning with the
closing years of the Peloponnesian War, when they subsidized Sparta. Afterward they shifted their resources
between the Greek cities, keeping the Greeks at each other’s throats and making the Great King the arbiter of Greek
affairs. Then, in the middle of the 4th century B.C., Persia became distracted by internal problems, and a new and
unexpected power united Greece under its banner, against Persia: Macedon.

The Government and Army of Persia
As was the case with all other Near Eastern empires, Persia was a monarchy, ruled by a king whose power was
absolute. The Persian king was the earthly regent of the one god, Ahura Mazda, and was a great warrior as well as
the guarantor of justice. The approach taken by the Persians to imperial administration was flexible, adapted to local
circumstances. Darius I seems to have been the main architect of the administrative system, which was built around
some 20 large provinces known as satrapies, in turn often subdivided into smaller administrative units. Local affairs
were left in native hands. Persian systems of revenue administration and communication were highly sophisticated.
The Persian army was as diverse as the empire’s population but was built around a core of ethnic Iranian units. Its
main combat arms were infantry and heavy cavalry; their primary weapon was the bow.

Alexander and the Fall of Persia
In the 330s B.C., the Persian empire emerged from a period of rebellion and turmoil on the throne, only to find itself
confronted by what it had so long worked to avoid: a Greece united and hostile to Persia. The agent of unification—
Philip, King of Macedon—was soon assassinated, but his son and successor, Alexander, proved to be an even more
lethal menace. At the head of a well-balanced army of seasoned veterans, he launched an invasion of Anatolia,
crushing the Persian army there and marching on to Syria, where he crushed a larger Persian force under King
Darius III’s personal command. The Levant fell to him, then Egypt. Finally, in a hard-fought battle at Arbela in the
old Assyrian homeland, he crushed the last army Persia could muster. Darius fled the field and was assassinated by a
Persian nobleman. Alexander assumed the throne as King of Kings, and the Persian empire came to an end.

Robert L. Dise Jr. has taught at the University of Northern Iowa since 1992; prior to joining its faculty, he taught at Clinch Valley College (now the University of Virginia’s College at Wise). He received his B.A. in History from the University of Virginia (at Charlottesville), concentrating on the history of the ancient world, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, specializing in the history of Rome.

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Xerxes and the Invasion of Greece
Frustrated but undeterred by defeat at Marathon, Darius determined to renew his effort to subdue Greece but was
distracted by revolts in Babylonia and Egypt. His successor, Xerxes, picked up the effort where Darius left off, and
in 480 B.C. he led the most massive military expedition in all of antiquity against the 31 city-states that had refused
his call for submission to Persian authority. Marching along the coast of the northern Aegean, Xerxes met the
Greeks at Thermopylae, where the Greeks sought to delay the Persian land advance until their fleet could defeat the
Persians at sea. In a hard-fought battle, the Spartan-led Greek force was overwhelmed, and Xerxes marched to
Athens, which he destroyed. The Athenians had retreated to the nearby island of Salamis, however, and in an epic
naval battle in the straits between Salamis and the mainland, they crushingly defeated Xerxes’ navy. Xerxes returned
to Asia but left behind a large land force to continue the fight the next year.

From Plataea to the Peace of Callias
The Persians saw the defeat of their fleet at Salamis as a reverse, but not a decisive one. When Xerxes returned to
Asia, he left behind a large force to renew the campaign to subjugate Greece. The Persian commander, Mardonius,
launched a diplomatic offensive to try to break up the anti-Persian coalition, but to no avail. In the late summer of
479 B.C., the Persians and Greeks met in battle at Plataea. Although the battle was close until the end, the Greeks
ultimately scored a crushing victory. In the wake of Plataea, an alliance of Greek city-states, led by Athens,
launched a vigorous counteroffensive aimed at driving the Persians from Europe and liberating the Greek cities of
Anatolia. The Persians were forced to abandon their satrapy in the Balkans and to surrender control over the coast of
Ionia. But after they annihilated an Athenian expedition in Egypt, the Greek counteroffensive stalled, and Athens
and Persia concluded an uneasy truce.

Robert L. Dise Jr. has taught at the University of Northern Iowa since 1992; prior to joining its faculty, he taught at Clinch Valley College (now the University of Virginia’s College at Wise). He received his B.A. in History from the University of Virginia (at Charlottesville), concentrating on the history of the ancient world, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, specializing in the history of Rome.

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The Rise of the Persian Empire
Our knowledge of Persia, the greatest of all Near Eastern empires, is deeply colored by our sources, the vast majority of
which are Greek and therefore focused on Greco-Persian relations. This leaves us ignorant of what happened
throughout much of the rest of the Persian empire and paints a picture of the Persians that reflects Greek biases. But the
Greek authors also provide a vivid narrative of those episodes in Persian history with which they were familiar. The
Persians were part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Europeans and emerged as the rulers of southwestern Iran after the
Assyrians destroyed the Elamites. The founder of Persia was Cyrus the Great, who crushed the Medes in 550 B.C.,
gained control of western Anatolia and the Greek cities of Ionia in 547 B.C., and finally destroyed the Neo-Babylonian
kingdom in 539 B.C. His son, Cambyses, rounded out Cyrus’s achievement by conquering Egypt.

The Outbreak of the Greek Wars
Darius I put the finishing touches on the empire founded by Cyrus, conquering the Indus Valley, establishing a
Persian bridgehead in the Balkans, and giving the administrative structure of the empire its definitive form. But a
botched effort to expand Persian authority into the islands of the central Aegean led to a massive rebellion among
Persia’s Anatolian Greek subjects, who received token support from their relatives in Athens. After he crushed the
Ionian revolt, Darius determined to neutralize the threat posed by the city-states of mainland Greece. His first
expedition foundered in a storm. The second, aimed at Athens, was defeated at Marathon. Thus began the epic
Persian confrontation with Greece, which continued, in one form or another, until Alexander’s destruction of the
Persian empire.

Robert L. Dise Jr. has taught at the University of Northern Iowa since 1992; prior to joining its faculty, he taught at Clinch Valley College (now the University of Virginia’s College at Wise). He received his B.A. in History from the University of Virginia (at Charlottesville), concentrating on the history of the ancient world, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, specializing in the history of Rome.

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The Neo-Babylonian Empire
The last flowering of Mesopotamian imperial power came in the late 7th and early 6th centuries B.C. It began when the
Chaldean Nabopolassar led a massive Babylonian uprising against Assyrian rule in the 620s. With Median assistance,
Nabopolassar destroyed Assyria; then he and his successor, Nebuchadrezzar, went on to conquer an empire that took in
both the northern Fertile Crescent and the Levant. Little information has been recovered that casts light on the organization and administration of the Neo-Babylonian empire or its army. It appears that in many ways the Neo-Babylonians modeled their empire on that of the Assyrians. The Neo-Babylonian empire was short-lived. For reasons that are obscure,
Nebuchadrezzar’s successor, Nabonidus, absented himself in northern Arabia for 10 years, then returned to confront
popular discontent and the attacks of a Persian conqueror, Cyrus the Great. The combination of the two led to the collapse
of the Neo-Babylonian empire and a permanent end to Mesopotamian independence.

Robert L. Dise Jr. has taught at the University of Northern Iowa since 1992; prior to joining its faculty, he taught at Clinch Valley College (now the University of Virginia’s College at Wise). He received his B.A. in History from the University of Virginia (at Charlottesville), concentrating on the history of the ancient world, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, specializing in the history of Rome.

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Assyria at War
Occupying the northern Fertile Crescent, Assyria lacked defensible frontiers and throughout its long existence had to
battle its neighbors on every front, particularly Babylonia. To survive, the Assyrians had to become masters of the
art of war, and they developed the most efficient military machine the ancient Near East had yet seen. The Assyrian
army reached the peak of its development under the monarchs of the Neo-Assyrian period and became a model
emulated by later Near Eastern imperial states, including Persia. The main combat branches of the Assyrian army
were the infantry and the mounted troops. The infantry included heavy infantry for line combat and light infantry, or
skirmishers. The mounted troops comprised both chariot units and heavy cavalry, both armed with bows. The heart
of the army was a regular standing force of professionals, many of them recruited from among deported populations.
Assyrians were a devout people, so war was very much a religious undertaking.

The Climax and Collapse of Assyria
In the late 8th and 7th centuries B.C., Assyria became the first nation ever to establish an empire that spanned the
entire Near East. Under a series of great warrior kings, beginning with Tiglath-pileser III, the Assyrians crushed the
troublesome Armenian kingdom of Urartu; conquered the Levant, exterminating the kingdom of Israel and deporting
its population; destroyed the great city of Babylon, annexing Babylonia; and finally invaded and seized control of
Egypt. By 665, no rival powers survived to challenge Assyrian supremacy. And then the mighty edifice of the
Assyrian empire suddenly collapsed: Egypt shook off Assyrian rule; then Babylonia rose in rebellion. Joined by the
Medes, an Iranian people who dwelt in the Zagros mountains east of the Assyrian homeland, the Babylonians beat
down Assyrian resistance and destroyed the Assyrian homeland. The last embers of Assyrian resistance were
snuffed out in Upper Mesopotamia in 605. The Assyrians vanished from the stage of Near Eastern history, never to
reappear.

Robert L. Dise Jr. has taught at the University of Northern Iowa since 1992; prior to joining its faculty, he taught at Clinch Valley College (now the University of Virginia’s College at Wise). He received his B.A. in History from the University of Virginia (at Charlottesville), concentrating on the history of the ancient world, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, specializing in the history of Rome.

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The Dawn of Assyria
Although their millennia-long history exceeds that of almost any other Near Eastern people, the Assyrians are
remembered mostly for their brutality. In fact, their actions differed only in degree from those of their neighbors. The
Assyrians were a diverse people bound together by a shared language and religious cult. Their origins lie in the stirrings
of urban civilization in northern Mesopotamia during the mid-3rd millennium B.C., when they were a merchant folk.
The first ruler to create an empire centered on Assyria was the Amorite Shamshi-Adad in the early 2nd millennium.
Assyrian power receded after his death but recovered under the rulers of the Middle Assyrian period in the late 2nd
millennium, who capitalized on the Hittites’ crushing of Mitanni to create an empire in the northern Fertile Crescent,
which stood on par with Hatti, Egypt, and Babylonia. But like them, the Middle Assyrian empire fell victim to the
upheavals that marked the end of the Bronze Age.

The Rise of the Neo-Assyrian Empire
Assyria entered its great era of imperial glory late in the 10th century B.C., with the dawn of the New Kingdom, or
the Neo-Assyrian empire. The era was characterized by a new aggressiveness and a new severity. Through annual
campaigning, a series of capable monarchs had established Assyria as the Near East’s preeminent power by the end
of the 9th century, ruling an empire that spanned the upper Fertile Crescent and was troubled only by weak but
independent neighbors in Babylonia, Egypt, and the Armenian mountain kingdom of Urartu. Then a massive
internal revolt halted Assyria’s expansion, and for nearly 100 years its kings had to fight Babylonia and Urartu, as
well as rebellious subjects, to keep the empire alive. In the end they were successful, and they set the stage for the
revival of Assyria’s fortunes that began in the late 8th century.

The Government of Assyria
The Assyrian king was a warrior king, protector of the land and the people. He was the earthly regent of the god
Ashur, with the sacred duty of bringing the world under Ashur’s authority, so that the forces of chaos would be
subjugated and order would prevail. At first, the territories of the Assyrian empire were divided up into a core
territory, the Assyrian heartland, comprised of provinces administered by governors, and the outlying territories,
made up of vassal states under native rulers. The later Neo-Assyrian kings converted most of these vassal states into
directly ruled Assyrian provinces. All Assyrian subjects swore oaths of loyalty on their own gods and on Ashur. The
Assyrians’ reputation for brutality actually grew out of their harsh treatment of rebels, who were oath breakers and,
consequently, enemies of the gods. The Assyrians’ deportation of defeated peoples was actually a common Near
Eastern practice and often enabled deportees to have a better life in their new homes.

Robert L. Dise Jr. has taught at the University of Northern Iowa since 1992; prior to joining its faculty, he taught at Clinch Valley College (now the University of Virginia’s College at Wise). He received his B.A. in History from the University of Virginia (at Charlottesville), concentrating on the history of the ancient world, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, specializing in the history of Rome.

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Ancient Empires Before Alexander 8 of 16, lecture 2009, The Empire of David and Solomon

The Birth of Israel
Despite its brief existence, the empire of David and Solomon had a profound impact on history because of its role in
shaping the religious history of the Abrahamic faiths. The accounts preserved in the Hebrew Bible, when used in
conjunction with archeological evidence, enable us to reconstruct the history of Israel and their realm. The roots of
the empire of Israel lie in the upheavals that brought an end to the Bronze Age in the eastern Mediterranean. The
story of the Exodus must be seen in the context of the devastating migrations at the end of the Bronze Age,
movements that destroyed the Hittite, Egyptian, and Assyrian empires and created a power vacuum that made
possible Israel’s settlement in the hill country of Canaan, as well as the emergence of David and Solomon’s empire.
But it was Saul who first consolidated Israel’s scattered tribes into a kingdom, to defend them against pressure from
the Philistines settled along the coast.

The Empire of David and Solomon
Israel’s moment of imperial glory came under David and Solomon. Our information for their reigns comes almost
entirely from the traditions contained in the Hebrew Bible: There is no archival evidence and little if any direct
archeological evidence. David began his career serving Saul, but they fell out, and David became a rebel allied with the
Philistines. After Saul was killed in battle and his son was assassinated, David was crowned king. A southerner, he won
the allegiance of the northern tribes and then added conquest, vassals, and allies until his sway extended north of
Damascus and south to the Sinai. David’s empire was diverse, held together by personal loyalty to him, but he
constructed a solid and effective army. Solomon was not the conqueror his father was. He launched expensive building
projects like the Temple and exploited the northern tribes, and by the end of his reign they were alienated. The empire’s
unity dissolved forever shortly after his death.

Robert L. Dise Jr. has taught at the University of Northern Iowa since 1992; prior to joining its faculty, he taught at Clinch Valley College (now the University of Virginia’s College at Wise). He received his B.A. in History from the University of Virginia (at Charlottesville), concentrating on the history of the ancient world, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, specializing in the history of Rome.

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The Minoan Thalassocracy
The first civilization to appear in the Mediterranean was the civilization that we call Minoan, which emerged on Crete during the 3rd millennium B.C. Because we have not deciphered the Minoans’ language, everything we know about them comes either from excavating their sites or from legends written down 15 centuries later by the Greeks.
By about the year 2000, large, complex structures had appeared; excavators call these palaces. The so-called Palatial period was the zenith of Minoan civilization and lasted until about 1450. According to Greek authors, it was during this period that the Minoans built for themselves the first thalassocracy, or sea empire. Archeology confirms a
Minoan presence on the islands of the Aegean and hints at one in southern Italy and Sicily, but we know no details, not even the names of any Minoan rulers, much less how the thalassocracy was organized. Around 1450, Minoan Crete was conquered by invaders, who we know to have been Greeks.

Mycenae and the Dawn of Greece
Early in the 2nd millennium B.C., a wave of destruction swept over the southernmost peninsula of the Balkans, heralding the arrival of a new people: the Greeks. By about 1600, their leaders had begun to build large palaces for themselves at a number of easily defended sites in southern and central Greece and burying their dead in deep shaft
graves with rich troves of grave goods. Around 1500, the palace elites began interring their dead in large, beehive shaped tholos tombs. These have mostly been plundered, but the evidence suggests that the dynasties that built them were made up of merchant princes, who derived their wealth from far-flung trade networks. There is nothing to indicate that Greece was a centralized monarchy, but some centers were especially wealthy and large. Chief of them was Mycenae.

The Collapse of the Mycenaean World
The archeological evidence shows that Mycenaean Greece reached its zenith during the century after the Greek takeover of Crete. This was the heyday of the merchant princes, and finds of Mycenaean trade goods around the Mediterranean point to the existence of a trade network as extensive as the Minoans’. Then, after 1350 B.C., trouble
appeared. Later legends remember conflicts between the palaces (such as a Peloponnesian expedition against Thebes) and political turmoil within the palaces (with numerous dynasties being replaced during the 13th century). Hittite texts speak of increasing troubles in western Anatolia associated with the Greeks and of the marauding Sea
Peoples of the Aegean beginning to trouble Egypt. Most tellingly, the palaces receive massive fortifications, becoming citadels. Then, in the late 13th and early 12th centuries, around the time of the siege of Troy, Mycenaean civilization collapsed, violently. The citadels were destroyed, sometimes more than once, and by 1150 were abandoned altogether. Greece entered a long dark age.

Robert L. Dise Jr. has taught at the University of Northern Iowa since 1992; prior to joining its faculty, he taught at Clinch Valley College (now the University of Virginia’s College at Wise). He received his B.A. in History from the University of Virginia (at Charlottesville), concentrating on the history of the ancient world, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, specializing in the history of Rome.

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The Rise of the Egyptian Empire
In the middle of the 2nd millennium B.C., Egypt emerged from the chaos of the Second Intermediate period energized as never before and entered the period of its history known as the New Kingdom (c. 1552–1069). It was under the New Kingdom that Egypt, for the first and only time in its history, expanded outside the secure geographical confines of the Nile Valley and conquered an extensive empire. The New Kingdom was the creation of the greatest of all Egyptian dynasties, Dynasty 18, an Upper Egyptian dynasty whose founder, the pharaoh Ahmose, drove the Hyksos from their strongholds in the Nile Delta and pushed them back into Canaan. Ahmose’s successors, Amenhotep I and Thutmose I, turned their attentions to the south and began the conquest of Nubia. The greatest of all Dynasty 18 pharaohs, Thutmose III, rounded out Egypt’s growing empire with the annexation of Canaan and southern Syria, defeating a coalition of native rulers at the great Battle of Megiddo.

The Imperial Army and Administration
The New Kingdom was a period of strongly centralized government, with power concentrated in the hands of a king whose warrior qualities were emphasized. The Egyptian homeland was administratively divided for the first time into Upper and Lower provinces, each under its own vizier. Egypt’s traditional administrative districts, called nomes, provided local administration under nomarchs, whose main responsibilities were financial. Egypt’s empire fell naturally into two parts: the Levant and Nubia. The way in which Egypt administered these two areas reflected their very diverse natures. Nubia was given a very close administration under a viceroy and was subdivided into two units, each under a deputy viceroy who oversaw several provinces, each in turn under a governor. The Levant had a looser administration with no viceroy, only several provinces whose governors dealt with local leaders. Led by a professional officer corps, the Egyptian army was organized into several divisions of infantry, named for the gods, but its elite force was its chariot corps.

The End of the Egyptian Empire
Egypt’s imperial fortunes began to wane following the reign of Thutmose III. After the mid-14th century B.C., Egypt faced a new and dangerous rival in the Levant in the form of Hatti, the empire of the Hittites. Botched efforts at a marriage alliance after the death of Tutankhamun resulted in the Hittites temporarily driving the Egyptians from most of the Levant. Under Dynasty 19, multiple threats gathered on Egypt’s imperial horizons. Hatti continued to challenge Egypt in the Levant, while for the first time the desert peoples who lived west of Egypt attacked the Nile Delta. Even aggressive leadership from capable pharaohs such as Sety I and the famous Ramesses II could only hold the line against Egypt’s enemies, not eliminate them. Finally, under Dynasty 20, the dam broke: Egypt was driven from the Levant and retreated from Nubia. Soon afterward, even Egypt’s internal unity dissolved, not to be restored until centuries later.

Robert L. Dise Jr. has taught at the University of Northern Iowa since 1992; prior to joining its faculty, he taught at Clinch Valley College (now the University of Virginia’s College at Wise). He received his B.A. in History from the University of Virginia (at Charlottesville), concentrating on the history of the ancient world, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, specializing in the history of Rome.

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Hatti at War
In Hatti, an empire faced by threats on all fronts, life and history were dominated by warfare to an extent unknown in most other ancient Near Eastern empires. Because of this, war was seen by the Hittites as a normal part of the human condition, and the army was second only to the Great King as an institution in the Hittite empire. The army had a
complex command structure, headed by the king and staffed by a professional and experienced officer corps. The core of the army was the royal guard: professional, full-time soldiers recruited from among ethnic Hittites. They were supplemented on campaign by provincial levies and vassal troops. All Hittite troops swore oaths of loyalty to the Great
King. The main combat branches were the chariotry and infantry, organized into units on the decimal principle. The Hittite army also had sophisticated siege warfare capability and an excellent intelligence service.

The Climax and Collapse of Hatti
The apogee of Hittite imperial power came during the last half of the 2nd millennium B.C., in the period known as the Hittite New Kingdom. One of the Club of the Great Powers that dominated the Near East during that time, Hatti jockeyed with Egypt and Mitanni for control of northern Syria and the region between the upper Tigris and
Euphrates Mesopotamia. Hatti dominated but did not control all of Anatolia and had to deal with constant challenges to its authority in western Anatolia as well as dangerous attacks from the Gasga hill tribes that lived to the north of Hattusas. The cycle of rise and decline continued, often due to attacks by these enemies. Hatti reached the pinnacle
of its imperial power under Suppiluliumas I in the mid-14th century. But its fortunes declined in the 13th century, and suddenly, at the very end of that century, Hatti disintegrated and vanished from the pages of history.

Robert L. Dise Jr. has taught at the University of Northern Iowa since 1992; prior to joining its faculty, he taught at Clinch Valley College (now the University of Virginia’s College at Wise). He received his B.A. in History from the University of Virginia (at Charlottesville), concentrating on the history of the ancient world, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, specializing in the history of Rome.

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The Rise of Hatti
Hatti, the empire of the Hittites, was the first Near Eastern empire to emerge outside of the great river valleys. Its Anatolian heartland was a high plateau of hills, woods, and grasslands, populated by an ethnically and linguistically diverse population dwelling in towns and villages rather than large cities, with a mixed pastoral and agrarian
economy. Our sources for Hittite history and life are good, thanks to the discovery of the royal archives in the capital of Hattusas. The Hittites created their first empire during the Old Hittite period in the mid-2nd millennium B.C., during the reign of Hattusilis I. The zenith of its power came with Mursilis I’s destruction of Babylon in 1595. After his assassination, though, chaos reigned on the throne of Hatti, and the Hittite empire disintegrated, beginning a pattern of rise and decline that was to characterize the rest of Hittite history.

The Government of Hatti
The structure of the Hittite empire resembled the feudalism of the subsequent Middle Ages, built around mutual obligations of loyalty between the Great King and his subjects. The king was the supreme judicial, religious, and military authority. All major criminal cases lay under the jurisdiction of his judges; he was the high priest of all the gods of Hatti (though not divine himself); and he was the commander in chief of the army, typically taking the field in person. Overseeing the empire in the king’s name were several viceroys—usually members of the royal family— as well as provincial governors and, at the local level, town mayors and village headmen, all served by an extensive bureaucracy. But most of Hatti consisted of vassal states, whose rulers were bound in loyalty to the Great King by feudal-style personal oaths.

Robert L. Dise Jr. has taught at the University of Northern Iowa since 1992; prior to joining its faculty, he taught at Clinch Valley College (now the University of Virginia’s College at Wise). He received his B.A. in History from the University of Virginia (at Charlottesville), concentrating on the history of the ancient world, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, specializing in the history of Rome.

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The Empire of Hammurabi
After the collapse of the empire of Ur III, Mesopotamia dissolved into a series of small local and regional states. Out of this confusion there arose in northern Mesopotamia the proto-Assyrian kingdom of Shamshi-Adad, which briefly restored unity. When it collapsed in turn, one of Shamshi-Adad’s vassals, Hammurabi, the ruler of the hitherto unimportant town of Babylon in central Mesopotamia, emerged to fill the void. In a brief but spectacular career of conquest, Hammurabi forged an empire that extended from southern Mesopotamia to Syria, calling himself “the king who made the four quarters of the world obedient.” A meticulous overseer, Hammurabi chose his administrators carefully and corresponded with them frequently about their duties. He undertook extensive land reclamation projects and finally, at the end of his reign, promulgated his famous code. His empire did not long survive his death, disintegrating within a generation, but Babylon remained as the center of Mesopotamian life, and Mesopotamia ever after was known as Babylonia.

Mitani and the Kassites
During much of the last half of the 2nd millennium B.C., Mesopotamia and the northern Fertile Crescent were ruled by two large empires that have been virtually lost to history: the Kassite kingdom of Babylonia and the Hurrian kingdom of Mitanni, or Hanigalbat. The problem is sheer scarcity of source material, a scarcity so severe that we barely know the names of their kings—and usually almost nothing of what they did—except through the records of their neighbors. Those records make it clear that both kingdoms were mighty in their day. Mitanni fought with the Hittites for control over eastern Anatolia and with Egypt for control over southern Syria and northern Palestine. The Kassite kingdom lasted four centuries and was an important rival to the rising imperial power of Assyria. But the Hittites and Assyrians eventually laid both Mitanni and the Kassites low, and now little of them survives but their names.

Robert L. Dise Jr. has taught at the University of Northern Iowa since 1992; prior to joining its faculty, he taught at Clinch Valley College (now the University of Virginia’s College at Wise). He received his B.A. in History from the University of Virginia (at Charlottesville), concentrating on the history of the ancient world, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, specializing in the history of Rome.

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Sargon and the Dawn of Empire
For a millennium after the dawn of civilization, Mesopotamia was a land fragmented among nearly three dozen independent city-states, each with its own king, or ensi, who typically ruled over a territory only some 20 miles across. In such conditions, warfare was a regular part of life that exhausted the city-states, leaving them vulnerable. By about 2350 B.C., a slow process of consolidation had resulted in Lugalzaggesi of Umma acquiring hegemony over lower Mesopotamia. At that point, the figure known as Sargon appeared on the scene. Of humble origins, he made himself master of Kish and then crushed Lugalzaggesi. After founding a new capital at Akkad, during his 56- year reign he created history’s first empire, encompassing all of the Fertile Crescent as far west as the Mediterranean. His grandson, Naram-Sin, pushed the empire’s frontiers down the Persian Gulf and into eastern Anatolia. Though short-lived, the Akkadian empire left a memory of imperial glory that Mesopotamian rulers would long seek to emulate.

The Third Dynasty of Ur
After the collapse of the Akkadian empire, the Third Dynasty of Ur rose to power. Emerging at the end of the 3rd millennium B.C., it was the only imperial dynasty ever to arise in Sumeria. While the details of life in Ur III are abundantly documented, thanks to the recovery of hundreds of thousands of cuneiform texts, its historical narrative is less than clear. Its founder appears to have been Ur-Nammu, who, together with his son and successor, Shulgi, created an empire that was more compact than the Akkadian empire had been, comprising central and lower Mesopotamia. But it was far more centralized, with most aspects of economic activity planned and run by the state and managed by an
elaborate bureaucracy. Imperial administration was also centralized, with the empire divided into provinces run by royal governors. Intense centralization made the system fragile, though, and in the face of economic shocks, it collapsed after barely a century.

Robert L. Dise Jr. has taught at the University of Northern Iowa since 1992; prior to joining its faculty, he taught at Clinch Valley College (now the University of Virginia’s College at Wise). He received his B.A. in History from the University of Virginia (at Charlottesville), concentrating on the history of the ancient world, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, specializing in the history of Rome.

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A Meditation on Empire
The first empires in human history were created in the Near East in the late 3rd millennium B.C., and by the time the Carthaginian empire died, on the field of Zama in 201 B.C., more than a dozen Near Eastern empires had come and gone—some in glory, some in obscurity. The place to begin our study of these, the earliest empires, is by asking
what makes a state an empire. Is an empire a form of government, like monarchy or democracy? Or is it a form of rule that one state exercises over the peoples and places that it brings under its sway? How do empires rise? How are they ruled, and how are they defended? And finally, why do they fall?

Lands, Seas and Sources

The empires of the ancient Near East played out their dramatic history on a stage 5,000 miles wide, stretching from the Pillars of Hercules to the western frontier of India and from the Ukraine to the Sudan, a stage whose complex scenery of seas and mountains, plains and deserts was shaped by immense tectonic forces and the shifting climates
of the post–Ice Age world. An understanding of that scenery is crucial to understanding the history that unfolded on that stage, and so also is an understanding of the nature of the sources from which we draw that history. As complex and diverse as the geography of the Near East, those sources both reveal and obscure the world they record, and they
challenge anyone who would study its history to be both a detective and a historian.

Robert L. Dise Jr. has taught at the University of Northern Iowa since 1992; prior to joining its faculty, he taught at Clinch Valley College (now the University of Virginia’s College at Wise). He received his B.A. in History from the University of Virginia (at Charlottesville), concentrating on the history of the ancient world, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, specializing in the history of Rome.

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By 1690, Japan is a nation completely isolated from the western world, and a time of cultural flowering and intellectual pursuit ensues. Shogun Tsunayoshi introduces his Laws of Compassion protecting the poor and preventing the abuse of animals. By the 18th century, Edo has become the largest and one of the liveliest cities in the world, attracting samurai, geisha, courtesans, merchants, writers and actors. The classes begin to mix, and culture and commerce flourish.

However, conflicts simmer beneath the surface of Edo society. As ruling daimyo warlords and their samurai armies grow restless, interest in Western science increases, complicating the policy of isolation.

In 1853, Commodore Mathew C. Perry and his squadron of black ships sail into Edo Bay, and demand that Japan negotiate and trade with the United States. Japan is in a precarious position and the government faces the difficult choice of war or negotiation. Realizing they are powerless to repel American might, the Japanese negotiate treaties with the West. Ten years later, the samurai class is disbanded and the Tokugawa Shogunate ends. The modern era of Japan has begun.

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With Ieyasu in control, peace settles over Japan, and a new society based on the samurai ethics of obedience and loyalty is established. In 1600, William Adams becomes the first Englishman to set foot in Japan. Impressed by European trading vessels, Ieyasu asks Adams to help him build his own fleet. Aware that the English have no interest in converting the Japanese to Christianity, Ieyasu decides to expel the Portugese and Spanish who often combine missionary work with trade.

As Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu has united the daimyo warlords. When he dies at 72, his vision of a strictly controlled class system based on the rule of the samurai is a reality. But his grandson, Iemitsu, will rule more harshly. With no wars to fight, Iemitsu tightens control over the power of the daimyo and their restless samurai armies.

Foreign missionaries have been expelled from Japan, but still Iemitsu fears the influence of Christianity. Impoverished peasants and persecuted Christians explode in anger. The Shimabara Rebellion in 1637 results in the deaths of thousands. In order to prevent further dissention resulting from foreign influence, Iemitsu closes Japan to the western world. It will be more than 200 years before the nation will open its doors again.

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In the early 16th century, Japan is a warlike society ruled by samurai and their daimyo warlords. When Portuguese merchants arrive in 1543, they are the first Europeans to set foot in Japan. Missionaries quickly set out to convert the nation to Christianity. In the same year, a samurai boy named Tokugawa Ieyasu is born to a low ranking daimyo family.

To prove his family's loyalty to their ruling warlord, Ieyasu is given as a hostage where he remains for most of his childhood. When he is finally freed, he reclaims his family's domain and allies himself with the most powerful rulers in Japan: Oda Nobunaga, and his successor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi awards him a small fishing village named Edo, later to be known as Tokyo, and provides him with a vast area to rule. But Hideyoshi and Ieyasu are uneasy allies.

On his deathbed, Hideyoshi, places Ieyasu in command until Hideyoshi's true heir—his young son, Hideyori—will rule. When daimyo rebels challenge Ieyasu's control, Tokugawa Ieyasu's samurai armies defeat them at the Battle of Sekigahara. The victory brings to Ieyasu the title of shogun. Ieyasu's only remaining obstacle for total control of Japan is Hideyori. In 1614, Ieyasu renounces his allegiance to Hideyori and attacks Osaka Castle, slaughtering more than 100,000. It is the beginning of a dynasty that will endure for more than 250 years.

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A profile of the legendary maverick producer and song writer Joe Meek, composer of the massive hit Telstar who recorded most of his hits in a home studio using innovative recording methods in Holloway Road. Meek was obsessed with the occult and suffered from depression and paranoia, and in 1963 had been charged with 'importuning for immoral purposes'. In 1967 after becoming paranoid he'd be framed for a murder of someone he knew, he killed himself and his landlady.

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25) The End of Dynasty XVIII
26) Mumification: How We Know What We Know
27) What Mummies Tell Us

Robert Brier (born December 13, 1943) is an American Egyptologist specializing in paleopathology. A Senior Research Fellow at Long Island University/LIU Post, he has researched and published on mummies and the mummification process and has appeared in many Discovery Civilization, TLC Network, and National Geographic documentaries, primarily on ancient Egypt.

In 1994, Brier and a colleague, Ronald Wade, director of the State Anatomy Board of Maryland, mummified a human cadaver using ancient Egyptian techniques which they noted was the first known effort in 2,000 years. This research earned Brier the affectionate nickname "Mr. Mummy" and was also the subject of the National Geographic television special of the same name, which made him a household name. He is also the host of several television programs for the TLC Network including The Great Egyptians, Pyramids, Mummies and Tombs, and Mummy Detective. His research has been featured in Archaeology Magazine, The New York Times, CNN, 60 Minutes and 20/20.

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Mrs. Miniver is a 1942 American romantic war drama film directed by William Wyler, and starring Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon. Inspired by the 1940 novel Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther, the film shows how the life of an unassuming British housewife in rural England is touched by World War II.

Mrs. Miniver won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (William Wyler), Best Actress (Greer Garson), and Best Supporting Actress (Teresa Wright). It was the first film with a plot line centered on World War II to win an Oscar for Best Picture.[citation needed] In 1950, a film sequel, The Miniver Story, was made with Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon reprising their roles.

In 2006, the film was ranked number 40 on the American Film Institute's list celebrating the most inspirational films of all time. In 2009, the film was named to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically" significant.

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The Best Years of Our Lives (aka Glory for Me and Home Again) is a 1946 American drama film directed by William Wyler, and starring Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, and Harold Russell. The film is about three United States servicemen re-adjusting to civilian life after coming home from World War II. Samuel Goldwyn was inspired to produce a film about veterans after reading an August 7, 1944, article in Time about the difficulties experienced by men returning to civilian life. Goldwyn hired former war correspondent MacKinlay Kantor to write a screenplay. His work was first published as a novella, Glory for Me, which Kantor wrote in blank verse. Robert E. Sherwood then adapted the novella as a screenplay.

The Best Years of Our Lives won seven Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director (William Wyler), Best Actor (Fredric March), Best Supporting Actor (Harold Russell), Best Film Editing (Daniel Mandell), Best Adapted Screenplay (Robert E. Sherwood), and Best Original Score (Hugo Friedhofer). In addition to its critical success, the film quickly became a great commercial success upon release. It became the highest-grossing film in both the United States and UK since the release of Gone with the Wind. It remains the sixth most-attended film of all time in the UK, with over 20 million tickets sold.

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46) Cleopatra's Family
47) Cleopatra: The Last Ptolemy
48) The Grand Finale

Robert Brier (born December 13, 1943) is an American Egyptologist specializing in paleopathology. A Senior Research Fellow at Long Island University/LIU Post, he has researched and published on mummies and the mummification process and has appeared in many Discovery Civilization, TLC Network, and National Geographic documentaries, primarily on ancient Egypt.

In 1994, Brier and a colleague, Ronald Wade, director of the State Anatomy Board of Maryland, mummified a human cadaver using ancient Egyptian techniques which they noted was the first known effort in 2,000 years. This research earned Brier the affectionate nickname "Mr. Mummy" and was also the subject of the National Geographic television special of the same name, which made him a household name. He is also the host of several television programs for the TLC Network including The Great Egyptians, Pyramids, Mummies and Tombs, and Mummy Detective. His research has been featured in Archaeology Magazine, The New York Times, CNN, 60 Minutes and 20/20.

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43) The First Ptolemies
44) The Middle Ptolemies: The Decline
45) Animal Mummies

Robert Brier (born December 13, 1943) is an American Egyptologist specializing in paleopathology. A Senior Research Fellow at Long Island University/LIU Post, he has researched and published on mummies and the mummification process and has appeared in many Discovery Civilization, TLC Network, and National Geographic documentaries, primarily on ancient Egypt.

In 1994, Brier and a colleague, Ronald Wade, director of the State Anatomy Board of Maryland, mummified a human cadaver using ancient Egyptian techniques which they noted was the first known effort in 2,000 years. This research earned Brier the affectionate nickname "Mr. Mummy" and was also the subject of the National Geographic television special of the same name, which made him a household name. He is also the host of several television programs for the TLC Network including The Great Egyptians, Pyramids, Mummies and Tombs, and Mummy Detective. His research has been featured in Archaeology Magazine, The New York Times, CNN, 60 Minutes and 20/20.

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40) Dynasty XXVII (525 - 359 BC): The Persians
41) Dynasties XXVIII - XXXI: The Beginning of the End
42) Alexander the Great (332 - 323 BC)

Robert Brier (born December 13, 1943) is an American Egyptologist specializing in paleopathology. A Senior Research Fellow at Long Island University/LIU Post, he has researched and published on mummies and the mummification process and has appeared in many Discovery Civilization, TLC Network, and National Geographic documentaries, primarily on ancient Egypt.

In 1994, Brier and a colleague, Ronald Wade, director of the State Anatomy Board of Maryland, mummified a human cadaver using ancient Egyptian techniques which they noted was the first known effort in 2,000 years. This research earned Brier the affectionate nickname "Mr. Mummy" and was also the subject of the National Geographic television special of the same name, which made him a household name. He is also the host of several television programs for the TLC Network including The Great Egyptians, Pyramids, Mummies and Tombs, and Mummy Detective. His research has been featured in Archaeology Magazine, The New York Times, CNN, 60 Minutes and 20/20.

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37) Dynasty XXII: Egypt United
38) Dynasties XXIV and XXV (747 - 656 BC): The Nubians Have Their Day
39) Dynasty XXVI (664 - 525 BC): The Saite Period

Robert Brier (born December 13, 1943) is an American Egyptologist specializing in paleopathology. A Senior Research Fellow at Long Island University/LIU Post, he has researched and published on mummies and the mummification process and has appeared in many Discovery Civilization, TLC Network, and National Geographic documentaries, primarily on ancient Egypt.

In 1994, Brier and a colleague, Ronald Wade, director of the State Anatomy Board of Maryland, mummified a human cadaver using ancient Egyptian techniques which they noted was the first known effort in 2,000 years. This research earned Brier the affectionate nickname "Mr. Mummy" and was also the subject of the National Geographic television special of the same name, which made him a household name. He is also the host of several television programs for the TLC Network including The Great Egyptians, Pyramids, Mummies and Tombs, and Mummy Detective. His research has been featured in Archaeology Magazine, The New York Times, CNN, 60 Minutes and 20/20.

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This channel is dedicated to preserving and making available to the widest public the very best of classic documentary and historical films which would otherwise fade into obscurity if not worse. The emphasis is on historical subjects, but is not limited to them. Broaden your horizons by seeing the world through the lens of generations which preceded us.

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