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Free Archaeology & Ancient History Online Courses for 2017

Expand your horizons by taking a free online course on history or archaeology this year!

If you’ve always wanted to study archaeology or ancient history but have had to set aside those dreams due to a lack of finances, time, or suitable classes in your area, web-based MOOCs, or massive open online courses, may be just the thing for you.

MOOCs have helped transform education in recent years, making it easier (and cheaper) for people across the world to enroll on a wide range of academic or professional courses offered by some the world’s leading universities and E-learning companies, and granting them the freedom to schedule their studies around their jobs, families, and other commitments.

For many of these courses, the only requirements are a PC or mobile device, access to the internet, and a thirst for knowledge. Nevertheless, please check each course’s requirements before signing up as not all courses are suitable for beginners and some may require access to additional resources.

Lara Croft's desk

Lara Croft’s desk (Image credit: Crystal Dynamics)

While a few of these courses are self-paced and available on demand, the majority of them have official start (and end) dates. But don’t let this deter you from signing up! Many courses will allow you to register even after the session has started and there is no penalty for dropping out of a course mid-session. Some courses may even allow you to access their content well after the official class session has ended, so it’s worth enrolling on any courses that interest you, even if you can’t commit to completing the required reading or assignments within the allotted time frame.

Most of the courses listed below offer verified certificates or statements of participation, albeit for an additional fee. Please note that the fees and conditions of eligibility vary between course providers and that very few providers are in a position to offer full degree programmes or award course credits.

If you’d prefer to work towards a Bachelor or Masters degree, visit The Open University website or click here to learn more about the distance-learning degree programmes offered by the University of Leicester.

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Below you will find an alphabetical list of the archaeology and ancient history courses that are being offered in 2017. New courses may be added to the list as they become available.

Please note that all information was correct at the time of publication and that courses can be cancelled or rescheduled at the providers’ discretion.

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Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours

  • Starts: January 12, 2017
  • Duration: 17 weeks
  • Description: This introductory course by Harvard University explores what it means to be human today by studying what it meant to be a hero in ancient Greek times.
  • Certificates Available?: Yes
  • Provider: EdX

Ancient Greeks

  • Starts: December 26, 2016
  • Duration: 7 weeks
  • Description: This course by Wesleyan University explores the political and cultural values of the ancient Greeks, from prehistoric times all the way through to the military campaigns of Alexander the Great.
  • Certificates Available?: Yes
  • Provider: Coursera

Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime

  • Starts: February 6, 2017
  • Duration: 3 weeks
  • Description: This course courtesy of the University of Glasgow sheds light on the criminal networks that engage in antiquity trafficking and art crime, the harmful effects these have on local communities, and the measures that can be taken to protect cultural heritage.
  • Certificates Available?: Yes
  • Provider: FutureLearn

Archaeoastronomy

  • Starts: January 16, 2017
  • Duration: Unknown
  • Description: This fascinating course by the Politecnico di Milano explores the relationship between ancient monuments and the sky in order to gain a better understanding of ancient cultures’ religious beliefs and sacred architecture.
  • Certificates Available?: Yes
  • Provider: Coursera

Archaeology: From Dig to Lab and Beyond

  • Starts: TBA
  • Duration: 2 weeks
  • Description: This short course courtesy of the University of Reading will chart the progress of an archaeological excavation from dig to lab (and beyond).
  • Certificates Available?: Yes
  • Provider: FutureLearn

Archaeology of Portus: Exploring the Lost Harbour of Ancient Rome

  • Starts: January 30, 2017
  • Duration: 6 weeks
  • Description: This course by the University of Southampton explores how ancient artefacts, historical texts, excavations, and digital technologies have helped archaeologists learn more about this ancient Roman harbour.
  • Certificates Available?: Yes
  • Provider: FutureLearn

China: Civilization and Empire

  • Starts: Any time
  • Duration: Self-paced
  • Description: This 5-part program by Harvard University explores the development of Chinese civilization and culture from the Neolithic to the Ming Dynasty.
  • Certificates Available?: Yes
  • Provider: EdX

China and the Modern World

  • Starts: Any time
  • Duration: Self-paced
  • Description: This 5-part program by Harvard University continues on from its China: Civilization and Empire program and explores the building of modern China from the Qing Dynasty up to the politic developments of the 21st century.
  • Certificates Available?: Yes
  • Provider: EdX

Early Middle Ages, 284-1000

  • Starts: Any time
  • Duration: Self-paced
  • Description: This self-paced course offered by Yale University delves into the major political, social, and religious history of Western Europe from the early Christian period to the Viking invasions of the 8th to 11th centuries.
  • Certificates Available?: No
  • Provider: Open Yale Courses

Greek & Roman Mythology

  • Starts: December 26, 2016
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Description: This course by the University of Pennsylvania uses examples from classical literature to explore the nature and function of myth in ancient Greek and Roman society.
  • Certificates Available?: Yes
  • Provider: Coursera

Health and Wellbeing in the Ancient World

  • Starts: February 6, 2017
  • Duration: 6 weeks
  • Description: This course from The Open University takes a look at healthcare in Ancient Greece and the Roman world and challenges modern-day concepts of “wellbeing”.
  • Certificates Available?: Yes
  • Provider: FutureLearn

Heritage Under Threat

  • Starts: December 19, 2016
  • Duration: 6 weeks
  • Description: This course by Leiden University aims to get students thinking about the definition of heritage, the ownership of heritage, and what measures can be taken to protect cultural heritage for future generations.
  • Certificates Available?: Yes
  • Provider: Coursera

Introduction to Ancient Egypt and Its Civilization

  • Starts: December 26, 2016
  • Duration: 6 weeks
  • Description: This introductory course by the University of Pennsylvania uses Egyptian artefacts and art to teach students about the history, culture, and religion of the ancient Egyptians.
  • Certificates Available?: Yes
  • Provider: Coursera

Introduction to Ancient Greek History

  • Starts: Any time
  • Duration: Self-paced
  • Description: This self-paced course courtesy of Yale University traces the development of ancient Greek civilization from the Bronze Age through to the end of the classical period.
  • Certificates Available?: No
  • Provider: Open Yale Courses

Journey of Writing and Scripts in Egypt

  • Starts: January 9, 2017
  • Duration: 4 weeks
  • Description: This course from Bibliotheca Alexandrina looks at the diversity and multilingualism that existed in Egypt, and how it had a bearing on the history of the country and its people.
  • Certificates Available?: Yes
  • Provider: EdX

Osteoarchaeology: The Truth in Our Bones

  • Starts: January 13, 2017
  • Duration: 5 weeks
  • Description: This course by Leiden University aims to teach students about what archaeologists can learn from examining the human skeleton, and how skeletal remains can provide unique insights into the past and present.
  • Certificates Available?: Yes
  • Provider: Coursera

Roman Architecture

  • Starts: Any time
  • Duration: Self-paced
  • Description: This self-paced course from Yale University offers a introduction to the architecture and engineering marvels of the Roman Empire.
  • Certificates Available?: No
  • Provider: Open Yale Courses

Roman Art & Archaeology

  • Starts: December 26, 2016
  • Duration: 6 weeks
  • Description: This course by the University of Arizona explores the material culture of ancient Rome, from 1000 BCE to the fall of the Roman empire.
  • Certificates Available?: Yes
  • Provider: Coursera

Rome: A Virtual Tour of the Ancient City

  • Starts: March 13, 2017
  • Duration: 5 weeks
  • Description: This course from the University of Reading offers students the chance to take a virtual tour through ancient Rome and learn more about this city’s architecture, socio-political history, and topography.
  • Certificates Available?: Yes
  • Provider: FutureLearn

Shipwrecks and Submerged Worlds: Maritime Archaeology

  • Starts: January 30, 2017
  • Duration: 4 weeks
  • Description: This course by the University of Southampton delves into the fascinating field of maritime archaeology and mankind’s changing relationship with the seas and oceans from prehistoric times to the present day.
  • Certificates Available?: Yes
  • Provider: FutureLearn

Sino-Japanese Interactions through Rare Books

  • Starts: March 6, 2017
  • Duration: 3 weeks
  • Description: This course by Keio University examines how classical Chinese texts influenced Japanese culture and religion.
  • Certificates Available?: Yes
  • Provider: FutureLearn

Superpowers of the Ancient World: The Near East

  • Starts: March 20, 2017
  • Duration: 4 weeks
  • Description: This course courtesy of the University of Liverpool explores four ancient Near Eastern cultures and their diplomatic relations.
  • Certificates Available?: Yes
  • Provider: FutureLearn

Western Civilization: Ancient and Medieval Europe

  • Starts: March 13, 2017
  • Duration: 8 weeks
  • Description: This course by Arizona State University provides a general outline of European history and culture from ancient times through to 1500 AD.
  • Certificates Available?: Yes
  • Provider: Coursera

 

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If you’re looking for some bite-sized courses to keep your brain cells buzzing, check out the wealth of free online resources on offer on the Open University’s Open Learn website.

You can also find some older open-access material on ancient history and art history over on Saylor.Org, including courses on the art of Ancient Egypt and the Near East, early Christian and Byzantine art, and Roman architecture.

Still not satisfied? Then check out our archive of online resources for learning ancient languages.

Alternatively, if you’d rather just read a book or two on the subject, you can find a great selection of books over at The Archaeology of Tomb Raider’s US and UK stores.

Last updated on January 16, 2017


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About Kelly M (396 Articles)
A Gibraltarian-born blogger, gamer, and archaeology enthusiast with a passion for languages and wildlife conservation. Tweets under the username @TombRaiderArch and runs the official fansite, The Archaeology of Tomb Raider.

1 Comment on Free Archaeology & Ancient History Online Courses for 2017

  1. pfeffernusshexe // January 7, 2017 at 21:15 // Reply

    Since you mentioned these courses last year, I’ve been taking a couple of them. They are a great addition to my regular courses in archaeology. From my personal experience, I can highly recommend FutureLearn. This year, I’ll also try Coursera. Thank you so much for this valuable post, Kelly!

    Like

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