Understanding Greek and Roman Technology

Greek and Roman Technology coverUnderstanding Greek and Roman Technology
Stephen Ressler, PhD
United States Military Academy, West Point
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or stream the course with a Wondrium subscription

One advantage of having a Wondrium subscription is that I don’t have to weigh whether I think it’s worth the investment to buy a course. I can simply start watching and if I don’t like the course I can remove it from my watch list and move on to something else.

So when I finished my previous course I turned to Understanding Greek and Roman Technology, not sure what to expect, especially since the instructor is from West Point. I need not have been concerned. Despite his affiliation, Professor Ressler does not at all give off a military aura. He is very pleasant and low key in his presentation.

Even though I was a classics major at Pitzer College, studying the Greek and Latin languages and Greek and Roman history and culture, I learned a lot from this course. Dr. Ressler covers the breadth of Greek and Roman technology. He discusses architecture, urban planning, water supply systems, roads and bridges, transportation, construction, military technology, and shipbuilding. He goes into detail about construction techniques and shows how sophisticated planners and builders in the ancient world were in the process of design and execution.

This is perhaps the most ambitious Great Courses lecture series that I have watched. Ressler does not just lecture: he demonstrates with models that he has built. He shows how ancient technology works with models of buildings, roads, military apparatus such as catapults and battering rams, water supply systems, and ships. Ressler pours concrete, runs water, demonstrates road building with dirt and stones, and uses bricks for a variety of demonstrations. He even shoots an arrow and ejects a ping-pong ball with a model of a catapult. I don’t suppose that the Great Courses studio has taken such a beating before or since.

This is an interesting and entertaining course. And never before have I seen outtakes during the credits after the final lecture of a Great Courses series. Excellent stuff.

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