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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful


Saturday, August 14, 2021 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET

The famous breaking of the Mayan code in the late 20th century revolutionized the study of these peoples and of ancient America. Humanities scholar George Scheper examines how interdisciplinary study of the Maya extends beyond the traditional archaeological focus to comprise political and social history, art, comparative religion, and ecology.

Thursday, September 9, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

The National Archaeology Museum in Naples is one of the most spectacular showcases of antiquities in the world, with treasures from Pompeii, Herculaneum, and their sister towns and villas. Join art historian and tour guide Laura R. Weinstein live from Rome as she highlights some of the most fascinating collections of this visit-worthy cultural gem in Naples. (World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit)

Tuesday, September 14, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

Situated on top of an isolated rock plateau, Masada is an ancient fortress overlooking the Dead Sea. Historian Ralph Nurnberger explores the myths and realities of this famous settlement and site of Jewish resistance against Roman troops in 73 A.D. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

When Hernando Cortés and his company of conquistadores landed near present-day Veracruz, Mexico, in April of 1519, he kept hearing “Motecuhzoma, Motecuhzoma, Motecuhzoma.” This was Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin, king of the Mexica and emperor of the powerful Aztec empire. Anthropologist Frances F. Berdan examines some of the most interesting (and often misunderstood) aspects of Aztec life.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

The Sumerians are famous as a people who created the world’s earliest civilization. Living on the fertile plains of what is today southern Iraq (ancient Sumer), they developed a flourishing culture between about 3500 and 2000 B.C. Paul Collins, a curator at Oxford University’s Ashmolean Museum and author of The Sumerians: Lost Civilizations, tells the story of how a Sumerian people came to be “discovered” and how things are not always as they seem.

Monday, November 15, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. ET

The distinctive rock-cut architecture of Ajanta, Ellora, Elephanta, Badami, and other temple sites has captured the imaginations of India’s visitors and devotees for centuries. Art historian Robert DeCaroli examines what we know about their histories, how they were made, and what was required to maintain them in antiquity—as well as how they are being protected from threats today. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Tuesday, November 16, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

We often think of the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome as discrete incubators of Western culture. However, Greece and Rome did not develop in isolation. The lands to the north of the Greek and Roman peninsulas were inhabited by non-literate communities that stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ural Mountains. Archaeologist Peter Bogucki reveals the development of these nearly forgotten people from the Stone Age through the collapse of the Roman Empire in the west.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

For centuries no one had been aware of the ancient Indus civilization. Today we know it was as ancient and extensive as those of Egypt and Mesopotamia. Historian and science writer Andrew Robinson introduces this tantalizing ‘lost’ civilization that uniquely combined artistic excellence, technological sophistication, and economic vigor with social egalitarianism, political freedom, and religious moderation.