This course is meant to familiarize you with several of the ancient civilizations that contributed to the formation of the Western and Middle Eastern worlds. We will focus primarily on the societies that developed around the Mediterranean Sea, including the Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman. Throughout the course, our concern will be with the rise and fall of major empires and their social hierarchies; the emergence and decline of religious cultures; and the ways in which political, cultural, and social phenomena of the ancient world still affect our lives today. To study the latter case, we will examine some ancient writings and their use in modern times, but also discuss representations of the ancient world nowadays in popular culture, from advertising to film.