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Archaeology and Ancient Engineering

Monday, January 12, 2015 to Friday, February 20, 2015
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Many of the world’s most famous, monumental, and staggering engineering projects or inventions are in fact ancient, some even prehistoric. Stonehenge and related megaliths date back thousands of years. Found off Greece in a shipwreck, the enigmatic Antikythera bronze is an astonishing invention dating before the Roman empire. Even if Hero of Alexandria’s 1st century ce steam engines were only theoretical, they deserve mention alongside his pneumatics and mechanics innovations. Some of the most remarkable achievements in antiquity include Roman roads and bridges, and the advent of concrete and hydrological technology such as aqueducts. Add to this the qanat canals and irrigation system of Persia, the pyramids of Egypt, the stone cities and road networks of the Incas and their ancestors in South America, and the urban and sculptural stoneworking of the Aztecs in Central America. All of these feats of engineering, occurring long before the Industrial Revolution, will be the subject of this course.

Thanks to the flexibility of the online format, this course can be taken anywhere, anytime—a plus for students who lead busy lives or for whom regular travel to the Stanford campus is not possible. While necessarily structured differently from an on-campus classroom course, this course maintains a similar level of instructor engagement through videos, interactive exercises, and discussion with fellow students, as well as optional online video conferencing sessions.

Tuition Applies.


Patrick Hunt

Former Director, Stanford Alpine Archaeology Project; Research Associate in Archeoethnobotany, Institute for EthnoMedicine

Patrick Hunt has taught at Stanford since 1993 and is also an associate at the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. He is the author of fourteen books, including Ten Discoveries That Rewrote History, Myth and Art in Ekphrasis, and Critical Insights: The Inferno. Hunt was the director of the National Geographic Society Hannibal Expedition. He received a PhD from the Institute of Archaeology, UCL. - See more at:

Archaeology and Ancient Engineering

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