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Traveling The Roman Empire

Discover ancient Roman culture hiding in plain sight.
Traveling the Roman Empire is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 36.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Much better than expected "What--review the Roman Empire in eight lectures?" That was my first thought. And I went on to another course. Besides, there was no Guidebook, usually a dealbreaker. Well, it nagged at me for a couple of months--then a couple more. So, back I went, telling myself just to view it, as mentioned by another reviewer, as a Rick Steves travelogue. And in some ways it was--lovely scenery, having a meal here and there, talking to some interesting folks. But what I found was more--much more! The history was there but not dry, boring tidbits thrown in for good measure; it was surprisingly in-depth given the time constraints. As mentioned by other reviewers, the episode on Petra was excellent. And I was happy that it included Little Petra, which is usually excluded from films and land tours. Such a shame--as you will see, it is every bit as lovely as "Big" Petra. Throughout the course, Dr. Arya's time spent on camera with HISTORY, National Geographic, PBS and Discovery served him well. His ease on camera was evident, making the many scene changes seamless. There were some complaints about the background music. Usually, I would be in agreement but in this case, dead air would serve no other purpose than to make the episodes seem disjointed. One reviewer complained about his tight jeans--no comment! This course can easily be watched in one day if you're so inclined. And after you have enjoyed this journey, visit the American Institute for Roman Culture's website where Dr. Arya is the CEO.
Date published: 2023-05-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from More a travelogue than course As someone very interested in Rome I was enthused to watch this course. Overall I enjoyed it, though it wasn't really what I expected. It was kind of a Rick Steves goes where the Romans were, which was informative, but not really at a college course level. There was minimal coverage of Rome itself, and minimal effort to help us to imagine what the sites visited looked like in the origin, but it did a very good job of demonstrating the diverse ruins left by the Romans over many different areas. Spain and the Balkans were especially interesting. The scenes of Petra also were wonderful, though non-Roman. It was fun but not challenging.
Date published: 2023-02-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Too close Spoiled by too many close-ups of Mr. Arya's face and tight trousers. The whole course lacked cause and effect judgement, and who wants to see the narrator rock climbing or jumping off cliffs in attempting to effervesce
Date published: 2023-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from First rate education So many things done well: Darius is a smooth, clear speaker; the focus is on visuals, not on him; some modern culture but the bulk of the time we are in Roman times. I particularly like that he explored Croatia and Serbia! Who thinks of those frontier areas when thinking of Roman history! So many Emperors were born or died here. Very important. Petra was magnificent and an entire episode so we got to learn about the Nabateans. This scientist is respectful of cultures and - hooray! - uses the secular, modern CE and BCE dating in place of the outdated, religion-based BC and AD dating. Bravo, sir! The archaeologist is narrating and is present in many of the shots, but it is the archaeology that is the focus, closeups and panoramas giving you a feel for the place. Really, really 1st class.
Date published: 2023-02-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very good indeed Documentaries rather than lectures - really well presented, full of fascinating insights into the Roman world, in (for us) unfamiliar locations. More please like this!
Date published: 2023-01-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Touring the Ancient Roman Empire This Great Course is a tour de force of the ancient Roman Empire! Each lecture opens with a brief introduction to the content of the lesson/lecture and tour that follows. Following this brief introduction, Professor Darius Arya opens each lesson/lecture and tour with the following words: "I'm an archaeologist, Darius Arya, and together, we'll explore the expanse of the Roman Empire over three continents, meeting oversized personalities, seeing incredible monuments and urbanization, and also, how Rome co-opted and organized the provinces and their resources Rome left an indelible mark on diverse cultures that we can still explore today for insights into the import and legacy of the Roman empire and how we connect to that rich past. Its an adventure, with endless new perspectives to discover." Professor Arya lives up to these opening comments with each of the eight lessons/lectures and tours that follow. In brief, for this review, he explores Rome, Spain, Morocco, Jordan, Petra (this one is truly captivating), Croatia, Serbia and more. You will witness and hear about an Empire that extended over two million miles at its peak that covered three continents of the then known ancient world. Professor Arya explores in depth The Roman Forum, Spain, Diocletian's Palace, Judah and much more. All of this in eight segments In some ways, the course reminded me of archaeologist and Professor Jodi Magness' two great Great Courses on the Holy Land and the historical Jesus as reveled through her archaeologist field discoveries. Needless to say, I recommend these courses as well.
Date published: 2023-01-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Video This is great in that it's all on-location video - what we have come to expect of much of our educational material in the twenty-first century. What took me by surprise is that evidently Wondrium courses are different from the usual Great Courses. I've been purchasing and watching Great Courses for several years and have become accustomed to the courses of usually 18 or 24 or 48 "classes", an accompanying guidebook, and an available course transcript. This has no accompanying guidebook, which I didn't realize appears to be normal until the DVD arrived in the mail. The same box included a second Wondrium course, and that, too, had no guidebook. I watched most of this course before the DVD arrived in the mail, and there were times I wished to have a textual inset to display unfamiliar names. When I considered looking in the guidebook, I realized there wasn't one. I was also in disbelief that it ended after the 8th episode. This is all my responsibility - I am so accustomed to the normal Great Courses courses that if it appears to be of great interest and has very good reviews, I don't always look at what the course includes. It's my fault for having the wrong expectations by not looking at the course information in detail. I won't fault the course for my own misguided expectations. I would have liked to see more. More locations. More information. Unfamiliar (or familiar) names of people displayed on the video, as was done for the city names. At times, the camera could have lingered longer on a mosaic or other item of particular interest in order to allow the viewer to get a better look without having to pause the video; this may have been due to editing that clipped interesting bits rather short. Although I purchased the DVD, I watched it entirely streaming online. There were points at which the video hung. If I hit the back 10 seconds a few times, then hit play again, it continued to hang at the same spot. I had to select the forward 10 seconds to get past the place that the video repeatedly stopped. I don't know the cause, but it seemed to me that if it were an issue with my wifi, it wouldn't have repeatedly stopped playing at the same location. Overall, this reminds me of something I might watch on the History Channel. I enjoyed it very much - the locations, the architecture and ruins, the information presented, the presenter and his manner of presentation. Nicely done!
Date published: 2022-12-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unusual places, great photography Beginning in Rome itself, Darius Arya takes us to Spain, Morocco, Jordan including Petra, Croatia, and Serbia. He is constantly in motion--rowing the Tiber, climbing walls, diving from a cliff into the Adriatic, and walking, walking, walking. The camera, often on a drone, follows him to give us a sense of each site he visits as he explains its role in the Roman empire. There are no studio shots; everything is on location as we learn how these far-flung cities replicated features of Rome itself. Episodes generally also give some attention to Roman cultural or culinary traces in modern life. Dr. Arya is excellent, so are the visuals, which surpass anything I've seen in other courses.
Date published: 2022-12-17
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Two thousand years ago, Rome conquered the known world. The empire itself extended across a region comparable to the continental United States. Focusing only on Rome is like ignoring everything outside of Washington, DC. Join world-renowned archaeologist Darius Arya in Traveling the Roman Empire. You will tour the remains of this remarkable empire through well-preserved and stunning ancient sites in Rome, Spain, Morocco, the Balkans, and more. Whether you are an armchair traveler or a literal one, this course will open your eyes to a truly imperial adventure.


Darius Arya

Rome left an indelible mark on diverse cultures that we can still explore today.


American Institute for Roman Culture

Darius Arya is the Director of the American Institute for Roman Culture. He has led excavations, including at the Roman site of Ostia Antica, and taught university programs in Italy. He is also a Fulbright Scholar, a fellow of the American Academy in Rome, and a guest scholar of the Getty Conservation Institute. He has appeared on HISTORY, National Geographic, and Discovery as well as BBC Radio 4 and CNN, and he hosted the PBS series Ancient Invisible Cities.

By This Expert

Traveling The Roman Empire
Traveling The Roman Empire


Rome: Heart of an Empire

01: Rome: Heart of an Empire

Begin the series on the outskirts of Rome, taking the Via Appia into the city. View the impressive tombs and aqueducts that line the road, testifying to the importance of the ancient capital. Within, visit major sites that include the extensive ruins of different forum spaces and temples. Also, explore subterranean Rome, and sample the market and café scene, as lively today as two millennia ago.

42 min
Spain: Augustus’s Golden Province

02: Spain: Augustus’s Golden Province

Riding an Iberian horse, Darius opens his tour of Spain, one of Rome’s richest provinces. Rome benefitted from the region’s mineral and agricultural wealth. The grand Roman structures still standing include the massive arched bridge and theater complex at Mérida—both remarkably well-preserved. Also, visit Roman monuments in Segovia, including its renowned aqueduct, and descend into an ancient gypsum mine.

37 min
Spain: From Imperial Apex to Arab Kingdom

03: Spain: From Imperial Apex to Arab Kingdom

Focus on Spain as the birthplace of powerful Roman emperors, including Trajan and Hadrian. Survey the imperial grandeur that still survives from their reigns, notably in the ruined city of Italica and the thriving urban centers of Cordoba and Seville. Trace the influences of the Islamic culture that ruled Spain for seven centuries after the Romans. Also, go olive oil tasting!

32 min
Morocco: Traces of Rome in North Africa

04: Morocco: Traces of Rome in North Africa

Rome once ruled North Africa, cementing its control over the entire Mediterranean basin. Investigate Morocco, where Roman influences mixed with the indigenous Berbers to produce a unique culture. Visit the ruins of Volubilis, an ancient international hub, called the most beautiful Roman city in North Africa. Also, tour the thriving old quarter of Marrakesh.

35 min
Jordan: Rome’s Eastern Frontier

05: Jordan: Rome’s Eastern Frontier

Explore the original Philadelphia, the ancient name for present-day Amman, Jordan, which came under Roman rule in the 1st century BC. Then, visit nearby Jerash, lauded as the “Pompeii of the East” for its remarkable state of preservation. Tour a Roman desert fort, a Crusader-era castle, and finish in the otherworldly landscape of Wadi Rum, the spectacular location for Dune and other movies.

39 min
Petra: Rome and the Rose City

06: Petra: Rome and the Rose City

Visit the star of Rome’s Middle Eastern domain, Petra in modern Jordan, known as the Rose City for its construction in rose-red local stone. Settled by Nabataean Bedouins, the city grew rich from the caravan trade, leading to the building of impressive temples, tombs, and other structures, many of which survive due to the arid climate and the abandonment of the site for many centuries.

34 min
Croatia: A Kingdom of Salt and Sea

07: Croatia: A Kingdom of Salt and Sea

Across the Adriatic from Italy, the Dalmatian Coast was strategically vital to Rome, which conquered it starting in the 2nd century BC. Investigate the Roman legacy, including ancient Salona and Ragusa. Near Salona is Diocletian’s Palace, a sprawling fortress built by the Dalmatia-born Emperor Diocletian around 300 CE. Also, probe the historic maritime economy of the region, which still flourishes.

34 min
Serbia: Crucible of Warriors

08: Serbia: Crucible of Warriors

Continue your exploration of the Roman Balkans, heading inland to modern Serbia, which was repeatedly threatened by hostile kingdoms in antiquity. The Danube River plays a prominent role in this story, as do a litany of Roman emperors and their public and private works in three ancient cities. As Darius shows throughout the series, ancient Rome lives on through its enduring monuments and culture.

37 min