Step back to a time when the mysteries of the universe could seem overwhelming. Cycles of nature kept predictable time with the sun, the moon, and the stars, yet crops failed, disease struck, storms ravaged, and empires fell without warning. In the region surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, people responded to such tumult with a rich variety of religious beliefs. From these beliefs, we get some of Western civilization's most powerful texts: the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh , the Hebrew Bible, the Greek epics of Homer, Ovid's Metamorphoses , and the New Testament, among many others. Composed largely of stories of human interaction with the divine, these narratives gave ordinary people a window into the unfathomable realm of the sacred. Archaeological remains show that ancient peoples also responded with a complex array of religious rituals, and their temples, cultic statues, funerary goods, and household devotional items are among the world's greatest cultural treasures. Using such textual and archaeological evidence, these 48 marvelous lectures explore the religious cultures of the ancient Mediterranean world, from the earliest indications of human religious practices during prehistoric times to the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity in the 4th century of the Common Era. You'll discover the religious traditions of a wide range of civilizations, including the ancient kingdom of Egypt; ancient Mesopotamia; ancient Syria-Palestine, including Israel and Judah; Minoan civilization on the island of Crete and the successive civilizations of the Greek mainland; and the city of Rome, whose empire dominated the entire Mediterranean world at the end of the ancient era.