Ancient House and Garden


Fall 2013


5th Floor Classroom


Elizabeth Simpson

This seminar will explore the ancient world in terms of its people and the circumstances in which they lived—by examining their civic and domestic architecture, the land they cultivated and enjoyed, and the kinds of objects they found useful and beautiful.  Excavations at the Neolithic sites of Göbekli Tepe, Çayönü, Çatalhöyük, and Hacılar have revealed evidence of early architecture, interiors, furniture, metalwork, and pottery, as well as the beginnings of agriculture, advanced technology, and the “genealogical patterns” that form the basis for much of the design and pattern that would persist for millennia. Bronze Age cities and cemeteries of the Near East, Egypt, and the Aegean provide a fuller picture, with excavations at sites such as Ur, Troy, Amarna, Knossos, and Mycenae yielding a wealth of information. The first millennium BCE saw the rise of the Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian empires, the kingdom of Phrygia, and the Scythian tribes, with their cities, temples, and tombs providing detailed insight into early Iron Age life. Finally, the Greeks and then the Romans extended their territories to the east and west, through war and colonization, leaving material remains that reveal much about their art and culture. Excavations in the region of Mt. Vesuvius have uncovered complete houses, gardens with plant remains intact, furnishings, and items of adornment from the late Republic and early Roman Empire. The class will visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art to study ancient objects and a New York botanical garden, to see the kinds of plants grown and used in antiquity. 3 credits. Satisfies non-Western or pre-1800 requirement