Here’s a heads up for all you archaeology groupies: the archaeology museum at the University of Pennsylvania has an excellent lecture series on iTunes U, Great Sites of the Ancient World (iTunes).
Leading off the series, archaeologist and curator Richard Zettler tells the fascinating tale of Ur of the Chaldees (iTunes), the hometown of the biblical patriarch Abraham. Not only will you learn about the life and history of ancient Ur, you’ll hear about the romance of early 20th century archaeology.
In the 1920s and 1930s the lead excavator at Ur was Leonard Woolley, a talented raconteur who made headlines with his spectacular finds from the royal tombs at Ur. And writer Agatha Christie, who married Woolley’s assistant Max Mallowan, gave the site even more cachet by making it the setting for her novel Murder in Mesopotamia.
One drawback of this otherwise great lecture is that it is audio-only. To get an idea of what you’re missing, you can check out the museum’s virtual exhibition, Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Ur. The museum also has a YouTube video, Royal Tombs of Ur .
Happily, the second lecture, The Trojan War – Myth or Fact: Recent Excavations at Troy (iTunes), presented by archaeologist C. Brian Rose, is in glorious video, as is the final lecture, Built of Memory and Hope: The Sacred City of Abydos, Egypt (iTunes).
(Technical note: to create a video version that will play on an iPod or iPhone, first download the video with the iTunes software, then right -click on the video title in iTunes, and choose “create iPod or iPhone version.”)