Patrick Hunt, PhD
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Current and Recent Courses

Patrick's course topics include archaeology, history, ancient technology, the arts and literature.

Classes frequently fill up quickly, so early enrollment ensures your participation. Check back regularly as additions and updates are common.


Stanford Continuing Studies

Upcoming courses:

Next Continuing Ed courses begin the week of June 25
Registration opens May 29, 2018


HannibalRome vs. Carthage: The Punic Wars - ARC 46

The dramatic conflict between Rome and Carthage lasted from before the Punic Wars (264–146 BCE) and lingered after Punic Carthage was destroyed and resettled as a Roman city. The bitter enmity between these two competing states is best epitomized by none other than the brilliantly tragic persona of Hannibal. His shadow looms large in history and even over such poetic epics as Virgil’s Aeneid, which meditates on the question of why these two peoples fought so fiercely over the Mediterranean world.
The intense rivalry was inexorable. Rome, an agrarian society, depended on increasing farm territory with its burgeoning population, while Carthage, a mercantilist trading empire, was accustomed to plying the Mediterranean. The First Punic War was fought over Sicily. The Second Punic War highlights Hannibal’s incredible invasion of Italy and its dramatic aftermath when Scipio turned the tables by invading Africa. The Third Punic War culminates with Rome’s destruction of the city of Carthage and the end of the Punic trade empire. This course will provide a richly illustrated survey of the Punic Wars and how they changed the trajectory of ancient history. We will see how Rome’s mandate to destroy Carthage unfolded as Rome outgrew Italy, why Carthage never saw its demise coming, how Scipio learned tactics from Hannibal and improved on them, and why Cato never stopped repeating his mantra that “Carthage must be destroyed.”

Spring Quarter 2018 - Stanford


MonrealeByzantine Art - ARTH 17

The very word “Byzantium” evokes golden domes, stunning mosaics, the incense of censers in monasteries, candlelight on icons and vellum manuscripts, and the sound of chanting floating over deserts and cliffs. While such romantic images are not untrue, they must be balanced by a clear-eyed appreciation of the historical and cultural accomplishments of Byzantine civilization, beginning with Constantine’s reordering of Roman culture and the creative fusion of classical and Christian traditions.

Spring Quarter 2018 - Stanford




Sicily is the largest and loveliest island in the Mediterranean as well as the most culturally rich. It sits at the crossroads of many cultures that colonized it throughout the millennia, from the Phoenicians onward. Sicily's inimitable art and architecture, not surprisingly, include the best surviving Roman mosaics, the most complete Greek temples, the most detailed Byzantine mosaic narratives, the most decorated medieval basilicas, and the most ornate and fantastic Baroque architecture. It is also no wonder that Greek poets earlier saw Sicily as the beautiful fertile Isle of Persephone, and Homer even included it in his Odyssey as a mythic island. Remarkable Caravaggio and Antonello da Messina paintings also call Sicily home, along with great medieval paintings like that of the Anonymous Master of Death. Sicily's riches are relatively unknown, and greater familiarity with its cultural and archaeological treasures is overdue. Some of the world's finest archaeological museums are found in Palermo, Siracusa, and Agrigento. This course treats Sicily chronologically over four millennia through the cultures that have left indelible reminders of their past along its beautiful coastlines, fertile valleys, and famous mountains, most notably, of course, Mount Etna.

Spring Quarter 2017 - Stanford



In this course, we will revel in Egypt’s remarkable past, examining the history of such places as Hierakonpolis, Memphis, Giza, and Thebes (Waset), and the mysteries of rulers including Khufu and Menkaure, Senusret III, Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Akhenaten and his Amarna Period, Tutankhamun, and some of the Ramesside dynasties. We will also reflect on the archaeologists who pioneered Egyptology, including Champollion, Flinders Petrie, and others. We will also focus on the Rosetta Stone as a key artifact that unlocks Egyptian history and language.

Winter Quarter 2017 - Stanford


Egyptian Fresco


Each week we will encounter treasures well known to archaeologists and art historians but unfamiliar to most well educated Westerners. Course highlights will include the fabulous Oxus Treasure hoard, discovered in the 19th century with its gold griffins, silver simurghs, and other fabulous animals, as well as some of the oldest metallurgical treasures in the world from Proto- Elamites dating to 3100 BCE, before the Bronze Age. We will explore Sassanian silk and the story of deciphering cuneiform with the Behistun Rock. We will read Herodotus on Cyrus the Great and literary masterpieces such as the medieval epic Shahnameh (Book of Kings) in which Rustam is a beguiling Persian hero. Such poignant tales, illustrated by incredible Safavid miniature paintings, predate the legendary stories of the beautiful Persian heroine Sheherazade.

Autumn Quarter 2016 - Stanford


In this course we will explore the history of writing from prehistory on, as writing and language developed to accommodate trade and the exchange of ideas within and between cultures. We will look at questions such as: What does prehistory tells us about the history of writing? How closely related are Mediterranean alphabets around 800 BCE? How did expanding land and sea transportation propel the development of languages in new directions? We'll explore ancient systems such as Egyptian hieroglyphs; Mesopotamian cuneiform; Ugaritic-Phoenician-Hebrew relatives; classical Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Latin; and Runic writing. We'll also highlight principles of language evolution, as well as exciting moments in the history of decoding ancient languages, including the discovery and deciphering of the Rosetta Stone, the Behistun Stone, and tablets from the Royal Assyrian library at Nineveh.

Spring Quarter 2016 - Stanford



Why are some ancient battles more important than others? History has often pivoted on single battles or the perceptions that result from them. These clashes of empires from Bronze Age Egypt through Babylonians, Assyrians, Greeks, Persians and to the Romans include decisive or memorable battles from Qadesh (1274 BCE), Nineveh (612 BCE), Thermopylae (480 BCE ), Marathon (490 BCE), Issus (333 BCE), Cannae (316 BCE), Cartagena (209 BCE), Alesia (52 BCE), Actium (31 BCE ) to Masada (73 CE). Sometimes the myths that developed from these battlesdrove cultural memory unto the modern era. Placed in the larger contexts of surrounding wars in which they took place, these ten battles are also significant for strategy, tactics and often brilliant military command that exploited enemy weakness, brashness or overambitious perceptions to great advantage.

Winter Quarter 2016 - Stanford




Large-scale and small-scale engineering in the ancient world offer fascinating parallels to modern technology. How were the pyramids of ancient Egypt constructed? How did the Romans create a hydrology system with extensive aqueducts, and over 50,000 miles of roads in Europe alone with many surviving bridges? What is the evolution of ancient optics from Egypt to the Renaissance and then Galileo? What are the qanats of ancient Persia and how did they irrigate Near Eastern deserts? How did the ancient Chinese measure earthquakes and make discoveries in metallurgy? What was the great hydrology system of ancient Peru where the Moche watered coastal deserts with Andean water? These are some of the topics covered in this course, demonstrating that human ingenuity has innovated great technological changes through independent discovery and diffusion.

Stanford Online Course - Winter 2016




Walk across any European city and you will encounter descendants of these earlier peoples.

In this course, we will begin by studying the Celts, the oldest of the three cultures with origins tracing as far back as 800 BCE in Austria. Even Classical historians like Diodorus Siculus and Tacitus noted the Celts’ never-before-seen customs of wearing mustaches and plaid clothing. The Franks, originating east of Germany, put their stamp on history after the fall of the Roman Empire around 800 CE largely through the administrative genius of Charlemagne and his children, who unified Europe and revived literacy in what became known as the Carolingian Renaissance. The Vikings came from Scandinavia and the Baltic at around the same time and changed the face of northern Europe through seafaring, shrewd trade, and conquest, leaving such Norman descendants as William the Conqueror. This is a ten week course.

Spring Quarter, 2015 Stanford



Minoan fresco



When the Greeks tell their own history, they look back to older cultures that were mostly gone but not forgotten. Mythology is the clearest example of this: the stories from Homer onward often take place in a past Aegean world that includes Minoan Crete. Greek heroes also trace back to Minoan and Mycenaean epics of the Bronze Age. Greek religion, architecture and language also retain these traces. Similarly, the Romans absorbed much from the Etruscans before them, again including language, architecture and a whole system of divination and omens, among many other cultural hallmarks that are more Etruscan than the Romans might have wanted to admit. This is a new course of nine lectures and a museum visit.

Winter Quarter, 2015 Stanford


Mesopotamian Sculpture



This new course explores the earlier background of the Ancient Near East and examines the mother cultures from which others grew. Between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and Anatolia, three early cultures emerged from different environments to shape the Ancient Near East. One of the first of these cornerstone cultures - the Sumerians - developed in Mesopotamia around the late 4th millennium BCE. The Elamites began in the Zagros highlands of what is now Iran circa 3000 BCE. The Hittites emerged in Anatolia as a formative Bronze Age (2000–1300 BCE) and then first millennium Iron Age culture that ruled what is now Turkey. This is a ten week course.

Fall Quarter, 2014 Stanford


Previously offered courses: