Anthropology (ANTH) 320

Ancient Cities & Civilizations (Revision 2)

ANTH 320

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: ANTH 272 or ANTH 277 or permission of the course coordinator.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

ANTH 320 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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Anthropology 320: Ancient Civilizations is designed to provide you with an understanding of the early cities, states, kingdoms, and empires that developed in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas beginning about 5,000 years ago.

After completing this course, you should be able to achieve the following course learning outcomes.

  1. Understand the processes involved in the rise of the first cities and ancient civilizations.
  2. Comprehend the different trajectories these civilizations took as their complexity increased.
  3. Outline and explain the factors involved in the decline and eventual collapse of early civilizations.
  4. Share the lessons found in the past and suggest ways that they may apply to present and future human civilizations.
  5. Think and write critically regarding archaeological evidence and interpretation.


  • Unit 1: Studying Ancient Cities & Civilizations
  • Unit 2: The First Cities & Civilizations
  • Unit 3: Great Powers of the Near East
  • Unit 4: The Mediterranean World
  • Unit 5: Northeast Africa and Asia
  • Unit 6: Early States of the Americas
  • Unit 7: Epilogue—Prospect and Retrospect


You must complete Quiz #1 and Quiz #2, Assignment 1 and Assignment 2A and 2B, plus the mid-term and final exams to receive credit for Anthropology 320. In addition, to receive credit for ANTH 320, you must achieve a minimum grade of D (50 percent) on both the mid-term and final examinations and a minimum overall grade of D (50 percent) for the entire course. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Activity Weighting
Quiz #1 5%
Assignment 1: Three Short Essays 15%
Mid-Term Exam 20%
Assignment 2A: Research Paper Outline 10%
Quiz #2 5%
Assignment 2B: Research Paper 25%
Final Exam 20%
Total 100%

The midterm and final examinations for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Scarre, Christopher, and Brian M. Fagan. Ancient Civilizations. 4th ed. New York: Routledge, 2016.

Marcus, Joyce, and Jeremy A. Sabloff, eds. The Ancient City: New Perspectives on Urbanism in the Old and New World. Santa Fe, NM: School for Advanced Research Press, 2008.

Other Materials

All other materials needed for this course can be accessed online.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course.

Full information about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the ANTH 320 challenge registration, you must complete a short essay assignment, a research paper assignment, a mid-term exam, and a final exam and receive at least a D (50 percent) on each of the exams and an overall course grade of D (50 percent). The weightings of each activity are listed below:

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1 (3 Short Essays) 20%
Assignment 2 (Research Paper) 30%
Mid-term Exam 25%
Final Exam 25%
Total 100%

The mid-term and final exams are each 3 hours long and written at an Invigilation Centre.

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 2, December 22, 2017.

View previous syllabus