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The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World

Take this chance to get beyond the abstract dates and figures, kings and queens, and battles and wars that make up so many historical accounts in The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World. In 48 richly detailed lectures, Professor Robert Garland of Colgate University covers the breadth and depth of human history from the perspective of the so-called ordinary people, from its earliest beginnings through the Middle Ages. The past truly comes alive in this ambitious course, as Professor Garland takes a series of imaginative leaps to put you inside the world of history’s anonymous citizens, providing you with a fuller understanding of the distant past.
Average Customer Rating:
4.409 out of 5
4.4
 out of 
5
(66 Reviews) 63
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Rating Snapshot (66 reviews)
5 stars
46
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"57 of 66(86%)reviewers would recommend the course to a friend."
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Customer Reviews for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
Review 1 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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5 out of 5
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3 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:East TN
Good stuff
Date:April 14, 2014
"I own quite a few of the Great Courses and really enjoyed listening to this one. I have a long commute and so this is just what the doctor ordered. The only thing that some people might find off-putting is that the professor tends. to. separate. his. words. like. this. And on several occasions he says "wreck havoc" rather than "wreak havoc". Other than that it was brilliant!"
+1point
1out of 1found this review helpful.
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Review 2 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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Location:Phoenix, Az
Amazing
Date:April 4, 2014
"I love history and though I have a foundational knowledge this took my understanding to another level. The presentation is engaging and Mr. Garland is a wonderful story teller. I highly recommend this series to anyone interested in history."
0points
0out of 0found this review helpful.
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Review 3 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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4 out of 5
4 out of 5
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4 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Location:Washington, DC
Why wasn't history this interesting in school?
Date:March 30, 2014
"I probably would have paid more attention in my history classes if I had a lecturer like Professor Garland. This was a very unique history course that looked at the events of time but through the eyes of the average citizen. In 48 lectures the listener travels from the Paleolithic period to medieval times. I particularly enjoyed the five lectures dedicated to Egyptian history and was enraged during the lectures on the many plights that women had to endure. They says that history is told by the conquerors but to see it through the eyes of the average person made it more impactful and memorable. Professor Garland’s passion for the topic was very evident and I’m embarrassed to say that I actually had watery eyes during the last lecture. I recommend this course to those who want to take a mini mental vacation through history."
+3points
3out of 3found this review helpful.
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Review 4 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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Professor Presentation
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:New York Area
Everyday life in several ancient cultures
Date:March 29, 2014
"It took me a little bit of time to become accustomed to Prof. Garland's style, but after a while, the fascinating content drew me in. Eventually I came to appreciate Prof. Garland's presentation, including his somewhat quirky sense of humor. I recommend this course to anyone who wants an overview of the fabric of ancient societies."
+2points
2out of 2found this review helpful.
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Review 5 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
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4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Professor Presentation
4 out of 5
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Course Value
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Location:Vermont
Women deserve better
Date:March 24, 2014
"I really commend Prof. Garland for his interest in ordinary people. I never liked history in school when it was mostly about kings, presidents and wars, but since getting out of school I have tried to learn it on my own, and this course was very helpful. I just have two criticisms: one is that although Garland makes an effort to deplore the poor treatment of women, he could have done more to illuminate their situation. He fails to mention some instances where they had some power and equality but it was taken away - as in Greece and Ireland. I would have liked to hear more about women's roles as herbal healers -- roles later associated with witchcraft as male physicians took over medicine. Garland does the philosopher Hypatia a disservice, mentioning that she was "hot," but not that she was dismembered and burned. He could have said more about Theodora's work to pass laws protecting women and actors instead of emphasizing, in 2 different lectures, the profane performances of her early life. I'm sure these #wink-wink# references get a laugh out of his students in the classroom, but I don't need them.
My second criticism is about the very end of the last lecture, a quote from Faulkner, who said, "The past is never dead; it's not even past." Garland said "The past is never past. It's not even dead." Who let this get by? Can't you redo the last minute of the DVD?"
+1point
2out of 3found this review helpful.
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Review 6 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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Best Course
Date:March 2, 2014
"I have now experienced something like 15 of your courses and this may well be my favorite. Professor Garland's teaching style and presentation skills, along with the excellent content combine to make this course an exciting learning experience. My study group and I are looking forward to seeing his course on Rome and Greece as well. Thank you, Professor Garland!"
+4points
5out of 6found this review helpful.
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Review 7 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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The Other Side of History
Date:February 25, 2014
"My wife and I have been frequent customers of The Great Courses for many, many years, and have ordered everything from Art to Zoology. This, however, is, without a doubt, the very best course we've ever purchased. We can truly say: "If you could purchase only one course from The Learning Company, this should be it." Outstanding!"
+9points
9out of 9found this review helpful.
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Review 8 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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Location:Port Ludlow, WA
A Wonderfully Engaging Course
Date:February 15, 2014
"This 48 lesson course brought to our attention a historical perspective that one normally doesn't find. The instructor is engaging, the material most interesting and was well worth our time in every respect."
+5points
5out of 5found this review helpful.
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Review 9 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
Geat course material and professor
Date:December 18, 2013
"My wife gave this to me on my birthday. It has been entertaining and enlightening. Professor Garland does an excellent job of presenting the material. I'd recommend this course to anyone interested in history or who just wants to have something to enjoy and to learn from."
+16points
20out of 24found this review helpful.
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Review 10 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Boulder, CO
Interesting and Well Presented History
Date:December 5, 2013
"When traveling in areas that are historically significant, many times I look at an old ruin where a house used to be and wonder what is was like to actually live in that house. What was an ordinary day like for someone like me? This course attempts to answer that question over different cultures and time periods and does a very good job, considering the evidence is pretty spotty in some areas.
Makes me appreciate a good dentist!"
+13points
15out of 17found this review helpful.
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Review 11 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Portland, OR
The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancie
Date:November 29, 2013
"Thorough. Engrossing. Compelling. Authentic. An absolute must have for any true history lover!"
+9points
11out of 13found this review helpful.
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Review 12 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
Location:Boston
Superb and enlightening
Date:November 2, 2013
"What a pleasure to listen to such a knowledgeable and passionate scholar.
Professor Garland delivers an exquisite course on what he calls " The other side of History" , the ordinary people who made history. I was always curious about why so much attention and glory is reserved for presidents , generals, etc.. And so little for the people who really fought those wars or made immense sacrifices and went unnoticed. Mr Garland corrects this bias and gives you a much broader perspective on history with lots of passion and as others mentioned an excellent sense of humor.
In sum, both mind opening and entertaining.
Thanks a lot Professor Garland!!
"
+16points
25out of 34found this review helpful.
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Review 13 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Cleveland, OH
Entertaining, Informative, Educational
Date:September 21, 2013
"This course was very entertaining and informative; it brings history down to a personal level.
I was surprised by professor Garland’s statement: "people in antiquity never developed a social conscience" and then "social conscience was a 19th century endeavor". I cannot say that I disagree entirely, but it would be interesting to hear professor Garland's opinion about populists like the Gracchus brothers, in 163 BC - 162 BC Rome. At any rate, I am giving the course five stars. The presentation is excellent, and the contents enticing and educational. Good course all around. I got the audio versión.
"
+19points
20out of 21found this review helpful.
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Review 14 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Nanaimo, BC, Canada
A Non-traditional Perspective on History
Date:September 20, 2013
"Most history I had learned formerly was mostly based on what powerful individuals or persons of leisure had recorded for posterity. I was skeptical that Professor Garland was going to be able to deliver on his promise to reveal what life long ago must have been like for the poor, the weak, the marginalized, and the very ordinary members of societies. Deliver he did, however, and gave me, convincingly, a fascinating and non-traditional perspective on the human past."
+16points
21out of 26found this review helpful.
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Review 15 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Course Content
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Professor Presentation
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Course Value
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Location:Pittsburgh, PA
So-So, Could Have Been Better
Date:September 12, 2013
"Those who trash the course as terrible or praise it to the skies as the best course ever are both off the mark. There are both strengths and weaknesses. I'll start with the weaknesses.
1. Despite the course's promise to treat us to daily life, Professor Garland sometimes veers into narrative history, which I love in other contexts, but not here. He tends to do this the most in the last quarter of the series, on life in medieval Britain. That is no surprise because that last quarter is the weakest, probably because he is outside his area of expertise. The device of referencing Chaucer's Canterbury Tales with its varied characters is somewhat entertaining, but unnecessary given the vast and growing historical literature on medieval life. We hear about being the Viking raids, the Norman Conquest and the Crusades instead of topics better suited to this course, like being a medieval Jew, a town craftsman, or a merchant. There is some discussion about being a peasant or a monk/nun, but each deserved a lecture of his/her own. There wasn't much about the medieval household and how it would have differed from life in Rome or even Roman Britain. I also don't think he discussed village or town life.
2. I would really like to have seen more images and discussion of everyday household objects, which were especially lacking in the last quarter. Didn't the medieval English have cosmetics, tools, and toys? Surely he could have shared such things with us rather than ask us to imagine it all in our heads.
3. Lectures 2 Being Paleolithic and 3 Living in Mesopotamia, and 21 Being Persian didn't do much for the course and could have been omitted.
On the positive side, Garland knows his stuff about classical Greece and Rome, so his discussion of daily life there is strong enough to make the course worth buying, fit to set alongside his Integrated History of Greece and Rome. He is quite clear, for example, about the differing treatment of slaves and women in those two civilizations, and about the terrible living conditions and fine amenities in the city of Rome. His five lectures on Egypt aren't as thorough, but they're not bad. So if you buy this course, you're getting a so-so 48-lecture course instead of what would have been an excellent 30-lecture course."
+59points
63out of 67found this review helpful.
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Review 16 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
Overall Rating
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
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3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Professor Presentation
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Course Value
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Location:falmouth, maine
could have been covered in one disc
Date:September 3, 2013
"really, basically he could have said "they were primitive, they had to scramble to survive, the rich and powerful were ruthless and oppressive, there was constant war and famine, women were second rate, mortality was high, disease was rampant, life expectancy was short".
End.
It's pretty redundant. A good, not great presentation, an English accent makes anything sound sophisticate but in reality he spoke in a lot of cliches. Still pretty listenable. He's also got some sort of apologetic hangup about the role of women for the past, oh, say....10,000 years. Look. Suffrage only occurred a few decades ago. This is a new world for women. Yea. I like women. I've worked for and with women. My wife is a career woman who is brighter than me. OK. I don't like Islam because of how it treats women. But that's the way it was for millenia. Move along now. We get it. Barefoot and pregnant. Their life wasn't that much better than their hapless peasant husbands. No reason to apologetically browbeat us from the time of the HIttites to the Celts. I actually only learned one thing from this, and that was the value of Christianity - i'm not kidding here; i'm not a Christian, but that was when religion started to plant the seeds that the poor, the meek, the hapless, shouldn't necessarily suffer at the hands of the powerful. Without that, we'd still be serfs.
"
+16points
33out of 50found this review helpful.
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Comments (1)
Comments (1)
Customer Avatar
sasha
fairfax, va
Disappointed
Posted October 15, 2013
I am very disappointed in this course. It is presented in an extremely simplistic manner, treats events or occurrences that may have taken place one or two times, usually incidents that we would consider to be barbaric or savage, and presents them as if they were the norm. It almost insults the intelligence of anyone who has any knowledge of history. All in all, this is hardly a University level course, more like something you would get as a sophomore in high school. To be honest, it compares unfavorably to a series of books titled a "History of Everyday Things (in Greece, Rome, Medieval England, etc.) written in the 1930's by a husband and wife team named, I believe, Quennell. These were children's books, hardly intended as university or even high school level, and are , in my opinion, far superior to this course.
+7points
14out of 21found this comment helpful.
Comments (1)
Comments (1)
Review 17 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
Overall Rating
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Course Content
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Professor Presentation
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Course Value
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Location:Boston, MA
Politically Correct, and Meandering
Date:August 28, 2013
"I generally enjoy the Teaching Company history courses, but this one was the exception for me. The two things I didn't like about this course were the grating political correctness in the presentation (e.g., look how barbarically the Spartans treated their women...") which some might not notice or be bothered by, and the lack of an historical narrative, which in retrospect, is not the fault of the professor here but is rather probably an inevitable aspect of the course subject matter. Still, one is left with a very long series of "the Egyptians did this, the Egyptians did that" sprinkled occasionally with an anecdote regarding something that actually happened or that someone did or wrote, but no coherent story or account of what happened over time. I ultimately found this unengaging and tiresome. I made it about two-thirds of the way through the course, then finally gave up. This is the first time I can recall that I didn't finish the course and wish there was more."
+9points
27out of 45found this review helpful.
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Review 18 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Professor Presentation
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:San Francisco Bay Area
Loved This Course!
Date:August 17, 2013
"This is a terrific course. I listened on my way to and from work, and it was hard to get out of the car and stop the lectures when I reached my destination. The Professor has a great voice, and delivers the material in a way that always kept my interest. I found the details of daily life fascinating, and enjoyed learning about how the people really lived, and what their lives were like. Great course and I recommend it to others without reservation."
+10points
16out of 22found this review helpful.
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Review 19 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
Overall Rating
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
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1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Professor Presentation
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Course Value
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Location:Montréal, Québec
Very Disappointing!
Date:August 11, 2013
"In this very long series of lectures, Professor Robert Garland endeavours to speak of the life of ordinary people at various locales and periods of history. These include Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Celtic Britain and the Crusades. Sadly, the result is a hodgepodge of poorly presented miscellaneous information based on questionable sources.
Professor Garland never explains his choice of locales and one may only surmise that they are of particular interest to him for personal reasons. A wiser approach may have been to move through time for a given location or to discuss the dominant culture for a number of specific time periods.
There are countless inconsistencies in Professor Garland’s assertions. These include:
• that humans share 98 % of their DNA with chimps and, a few lectures later, 4 % with Neanderthals _ are we more related to the former than the latter ?
• the total absence of link made between an infant mortality rate quoted as 25 % and a life expectancy of 40 years at birth;
• referring to the Beatles (!) saying something ‘long ago’ when discussing the volcanic eruption on Santorini in 1600 B.C.
Professor Garland seems to exercise little judgement with respect to his sources. They include Bill Bryson, T. S. Eliot and Herodotus. He would benefit from Elizabeth Vandiver’s Teach12 course on the latter!
The lectures’ presentation is marred by Professor Garland’s voice which is anything but melodious. He throws in a considerable number of colloquialisms, qualifying for instance the Norman invasion of England as a ‘jolly good thing’. Speaking with a British accent, he claims to be American but refers to 'the' Queen as if there were only one on the planet.
Ridiculously and annoyingly, he provides a wealth of pointless personal information:
• his birthday is September 25th;
• he made a fool of himself having Sunday lunch with his grandmother when he was 6;
• a turning point in his life came from watching ‘Vikings’, a 1958 movie with Kirk Douglas;
• he lives in Hamilton _ an upstate New York town where the weather is ‘dreadful’.
Presumably to stimulate the listeners’ interest, he asks them to impersonate various specific characters from one lecture to the next. Definitely, the low point of the whole series comes in lecture 20 when the listener is distastefully asked to pretend to be a dying Greek!
There is no reason to recommend this series to anyone."
-36points
33out of 102found this review helpful.
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Comments (2)
Comments (2)
Customer Avatar
Philvish
Denver, Colorado
Top 100 Contributor
Correcting my comment
Posted September 16, 2013
I said that the 4% figure refers to the genes that non-African homo sapiens inherited from neanderthal. That was sloppy. I should have said that the 4% figure refers to gene VARIANTS that we inherited from Neanderthal. All homo sapiens and neanderthals (whether neanderthals are actually a subset of homo sapiens is a topic of debate) shared these genes, but neanderthal contributed variants that would not otherwise have been present. (E.g., red hair: we all have the gene for hair pigmentation, but the red variant is believed to have come from Neanderthal.)
+12points
13out of 14found this comment helpful.
Customer Avatar
Philvish
Denver, Colorado
Top 100 Contributor
Jeez! Tell us how you REALLY feel....
Posted September 13, 2013
The one star rating seems a little harsh, given that your criticisms are all quite specific.
But I really wanted to respond to the "inconsistencies" you list.
Humans do share 98% of their DNA with chimps. (Other studies apparently have it at as low as 94%.) Humans share 99.7% of their DNA with Neanderthal. The 4% figure refers to the percentage of non-African human GENES that are believed to have derived from interbreeding with Neanderthals (the gene for red hair, for instance). But these genes are examples of human variation within the genome. The genes in question are a subset of the 99.7% of DNA that is shared between the two.
The relationship between infant mortality and life expectancy is again comparing apples and oranges. An infant mortality rate of 25% and a life expectancy of 40 years means that if you didn't die in infancy, your life expectancy was about 53 years. (If you did die in infancy, as 25% of the population did, then your life expectancy was <1....)
Not sure how to respond to the third inconsistency. I guess I agree that the Beatles and the Santorini volcano are pretty inconsistent.... though they were both "explosive"...? :)
+26points
27out of 28found this comment helpful.
Comments (2)
Comments (2)
Review 20 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Professor Presentation
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Savannah, GA
Awesome
Date:August 8, 2013
"Awesome course; exactly as described. I've listened to it several times over."
+3points
12out of 21found this review helpful.
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