The Ancient Empires

Jan 2020

Professor D'Altroy clearly knows a lot to the point where it's somehow simultaneously his biggest advantage and weakness. Obviously it's nice having a professor who is passionate about the stuff he is teaching, but he gets sidetrack really easily talking about minuscule details just because he knows them and he's excited to share as much information as he can with his students. This class is interesting in theory, but I wouldn't recommend it if you're just looking to fill the Global Core requirement (like me) unless you're really motivated. The entire history of five major ancient civilizations is a lot of history to cover and a lot to cram into your head prior to the midterm and the final. However, this is also coming from someone who only does the bare minimum in the classes not related to my major. I went to less than 10 lectures the entire semester, only did 10% of the required readings, and almost failed the midterm, but I ended up with a B+ which is a win in my books. I probably wouldn't have been as stressed about the class around exam time and in turn would view it in a better light if it wasn't for my own procrastination so take my view with a grain of salt. On the bright side, the exams are really broad in terms of the essay questions and he gives you practice ones beforehand that are practically the same as the ones you see on the exam. This means if you don't heed my warning and take this class anyways knowing you're a procrastinator like me then you can still pull off a decent grade by reviewing a couple of the readings really in-depth and writing outlines to the practice questions given a day before the exam. There's also a required discussion section for undergraduates, but the difficulty of that depends on the TA you get. Shoutout to Daniel because he was the best!

Dec 2011

If you are interested in the subject, do not hesitate and take this class. It's a great way to learn a lot of the details of several ancient empires and the themes that repeat or make them distinct. The key for this class are the readings: there's a lot of it to do but if you're into that sort of stuff, it's a breeze. Needless to say, I found them extremely interesting. Chad himself is a great guy, very knowledgeable and approachable, and he covers the material in a laid back way; look for when he gets to the Incas, as he has experience doing actual archaeological field work. Very interesting and entertaining at times. On the other hand, there's no discussion in class, it's just him talking with close to no pauses and no interaction. Might be a problem for you if you need hand-holding. And here's a joke I came up with: What was Ramesses II's favorite TV show? Dynasty!