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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful


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.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

The ancient city of Ephesus in southwestern Turkey offers a sense of timelessness. Structures from the ancient world found there today include the Temple of Artemis—one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient Word—the Library of Celsus, theaters, and Hadrian’s Temple. Author, filmmaker, and tour guide Serif Yenen highlights the rich history and archaeological wonders of Ephesus.

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.

Thursday, December 16, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. ET

Art historian Robert DeCaroli examines the sites and structures that made up the urban landscape of the Khmer Empire and traces the historical shifts, royal decisions, religious beliefs, and cultural processes that led to its development. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)