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Learner Reviews & Feedback for The Changing Landscape of Ancient Rome. Archaeology and History of the Palatine Hill by Sapienza University of Rome

290 ratings

About the Course

Studying ancient - as well as medieval or modern - cities basically means telling local urban stories based on the reconstruction of changing landscapes through the centuries. Given the fragmentary nature of archaeological evidence, it is necessary to create new images that would give back the physical aspect of the urban landscape and that would bring it to life again. We are not just content with analyzing the many elements still visible of the ancient city. The connections between objects and architectures, visible and non visible buildings, which have been broken through time have to be rejoined, to acknowledge the elements that compose the urban landscape. Landscape and its content are a very relevant and still vital part of any national cultural heritage. The course will introduce students to the way we have been reflecting on over the last twenty years and still are engaged with the study of the past of our cities, beginning from the most complex case in the ancient Mediterranean World: the core of Italy and of Roman Empire. On the other hand, knowledge means also preservation and defense of material remains and cultural memory. “The Changing Landscape of Ancient Rome. Archeology and History of the Palatine Hill” presents to a large public the topographical lay-out of the most relevant part of the city (according the Greek and Roman Historians Rome was founded on the Palatine). Research developed on the Palatine since the end of last century by the team of Sapienza Classical Archaeologists opened a new phase in the urban archaeological investigation and in the scientific debate about the relation between archaeological features and literary tradition as well as the “correct use“ of both kind of evidence, key issues of wide archaeological and historical significance....

Top reviews


Mar 21, 2018

I’m now living in Siena so visiting Roma and it’s wonderful ancient architecture especially the Roman forum and the palatine hill has new excitement and knowledge for me.


May 1, 2018

I appreciate the opportunity to learn the history of Rome and how it became the marvel city it is today . I will enjoy a lot more my next trip to Rome. Thank you .

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1 - 25 of 118 Reviews for The Changing Landscape of Ancient Rome. Archaeology and History of the Palatine Hill


Jun 1, 2018

Though I have been to Palatine Hill twice, understand some basic Latin, have some knowledge of Roman history and interest in the subject I found this course pretty difficult and honestly in need of improvement for clarity. Some lectures have subtitles/transcript; some do not. The Professor is very knowledgeable of course and pleasant to listen to, but sometimes it is difficult to catch what he said due to accent or him speaking rather quietly in parts. The quiz questions sometimes were not covered in the lecture, he uses the English word in the lecture but Latin in the quiz, and most maddening the maps on the slides are not oriented the same way (i.e. North at the top), even within the same lecture. Many of the questions ask where something is on the hill (Northeast, South, etc.); and there is no way to remember what the cardinal directions were on the specific slide that shows it. Also the slides are extremely busy with loads of text and notes that you cannot read during the lecture. I would suggest opening the slide show in another tab or downloading it. At least you can complete the whole course free unlike many on Coursera. Good luck, I'm rather glad to be done with it to be honest.

By Imanuel d

Mar 3, 2019

Bad subtitles, bad audio quality, bad editing. There's a 2 minute introduction to using autocad in which the teacher instructs us to google for something rather than providing the direct link. It all feels very unprofessional but this is what I've come to expect from Sapienza.

By Tony a E L

May 22, 2020

This is a fascinating course. Dr. Carafa does a great job with the videos of the changing history of the Palatine, and with his explanation of the changes over the centuries. I enjoyed the course very much, as well as his presentation.

By James S

May 25, 2020

The Professor was outstanding--he was very engaging, very in depth explaining and was well versed....He really made the class much more outstanding.

By Ambar V

Apr 9, 2019

Complete, concise and precise. Very easy to understand and the professor is clear and suited for the position of teaching this course.

By Jorge A A E

May 25, 2018

Excellent course material. Very Interesting and easy to follow. Why we have to download AutoCAD if it was not used?

By Margo M

Dec 6, 2017

Could be more organized, but thrilled with top notch content. More please!

By Arno v B

Dec 8, 2018

I would like to thank Prof. Paolo Carafa for giving me an insight in the archeology and history of the Palatine Hill in such great detail. I was always fascinated by ancient Rome and this course has inspired me to continue discovering Roman arts, architecture and culture. At the beginning of the course I had some difficulties with orientation and finding the locations of places on the Palatine. Also, the quiz questions sometimes were not covered in the lecture. Fortunately, I could use google search and the maps provided in the slides to further investigate. I really enjoyed this very interesting course and hope more courses like these one will follow.

By Schola C

Feb 10, 2019

Highly interesting! For me as a Latin teacher, this filled important gaps in my knowledge. I only don't give 5 stars, because I find the power point material not structured enough, I quickly loose orientation in it. Apart from that: excellent.

By Dami O

Jul 1, 2018

Great course, learned a lot. The course would greatly benefit from a complete transcription, though. Had to use Google to help with some translations and a couple questions aren't even covered within the videos or the powerpoint presentations.

By bishwaksen b

Mar 25, 2018

Two areas of concern - The audio transcript is not present everywhere, and a lot of the building plans and maps are in Latin. Rest all good.

By James H

Apr 5, 2020

Questions don't always relate to what is discussed and translation differences are a big issue.

By Emily M

Jun 26, 2017

The information is very interesting and I learned a lot. However, the quizzes cover information that was just slightly was mentioned, and further, the professor doesn't give any real written information about the archaeology. He also jumbles the time periods a lot, which makes it hard to follow. I don't recommend this course until it's cleaned up a bit. Also, some of the quiz answers are wrong, which is just really annoying.

By Bradford K

Jul 18, 2017

This course covers a lot of detailed information about the archaeology of the Palatine Hill. Unfortunately, there is no framework provided to help you put this information in perspective and determine what is important. There is a lot of repetition, and too much detail without developing an understanding of the major developments in the history of this area.

By Jay K J

Feb 2, 2019

The poor nature of the presentation is demonstrated by the low average initial scores of several of the quizzes.

By Jan K

Aug 2, 2017

Talk about a messed up course. Don't even know where to begin. Transcripts for only a few lectures: 6.1, 6.2, 8.1, 8.2. Be sure to download the image files; this helps some. But...

The graphic images jump around from Palatine to other locations with no reference titles or dates. Could definitely benefit from a logical presentation for each image noting

a. Time frame

b. Aerial view of actual location on the Palatine (why NOT Google Earth View?). And an occasional photo from a logical point of view (e.g. from Temple of Vestal Virgins, looking west) to help with orientation.

c. Map View of Palatine with the same N-S orientation or pop-up showing the location on a smaller "map"

d. Area within Palatine to be discussed.

e. Sections within that area, showing temples, houses, etc. clearly labelled, etc.

f. And a consistent geographic orientation to give students a real frame of reference.

Lesson 1 1° Tutorial 2° Tutorial - Auto Desk Auto Cad 3° Tutorial- How to Use Map Points to Draw an Archaelogical Map, and I thought, cool, we will always come back to the same line map of the Palatine, then show a new layer with this week's structures, since the landscape won't change much (esp. since we don't talk about Trajan digging up a hill). But no, Autocad is never mentioned again.

It would be nice if each image/slide had a label, a number, date or era, and a clear title, since sometimes we are looking at line drawing then a room that may or may not be from that same drawing.

How about a bibliography and a glossary?

Some words are only found on tests, and while I wasn't willing to watch one lecture a second time, I'm pretty sure that the answer to one quiz is not even mentioned until the lecture that comes after the quiz! Some of the quizzes use words that aren't in the lectures and not even Google can find. Is it English, Latin, Italian, or mispronounced?

And there are several other smaller quibbles (e.g. categorically wrong answers on quizzes) that really make this course a disappointment.

I really wanted to enjoy this work. If I knew the name of the primary source of the slides shown, I'd get that book, and learn a great deal more than I did from this course.

By Asha T

Apr 7, 2020

I found this very confusingly presented. The lecturer goes into a great deal of detail on some things without actually explaining them properly, while the quizzes have little to do with any of the lectures. When I found that I got 100% in the Week 3 quiz from my prior knowledge rather than what I had learned in this course I stopped, to spend my time on something more engaging.

I’m disappointed, because the subject is fascinating and this could have been so good.

By Francine

Aug 28, 2017

There are no transcripts of the videos, and the staff states that they have no intention of doing so.

By michael w o

Aug 24, 2020

The continuity of Roman ideology from the early Bronze Age through the end of the empire is well illustrated in this course by concentrating on the Palatine archeological record, where the foundation myths are brought to life by the successive description of buildings and monuments. Place confers legitimacy and continuity with the origins of Power. The demonstration of Roman obssesion with connecting present legitimacy to the past via location and naming of buildings is a useful insight into the foundational myths of the Paletine. The maps and schemas could be presented in a collection of pdf documents as they are far too detailed to grasp in the quick presentations in the course. More simplified maps (i.e. many fewer archeological details) with clear directional indications (N,S,E,W) would be helpful, as would presenting the maps in the same orientation each time. This would help immensely in the quiz sections. A bibliography from classical literature and more modern archeological sources would be helpful including Aicher's Rome Alive Vol I which gives the main literary sources for Roman archeological sites. Coarelli's Rome and Environs (UC Press, 2007) is a very useful text book to use as well.

By Helaina B

Jan 2, 2022

Some of the test questions were very difficult as they weren't verbally mentioned or in the transcript. Rather, you'd have to look at the details of the maps exactly to note the locations of certain places. That did make it a lot harder. That, and they may not use the Latin/Greek names in the course, but they will on the test. Ah, and the transcript often may mess up on words! It often puts Larry's instead of Lares. That is something to be careful of. Regardless, I did enjoy the course. It was interesting! I hoped to study this a bit to help determine if I'd like to study it further in university. I'm still not the most sure, but it was worth it, I think.

By Lynne B

Oct 22, 2020

This course is a fascinating and richly illustrated overview of how archaeological remains on the Palatine Hill relate to the history of Rome. The profusion of maps, beautiful architectural plans and cross sections are intriguing and provide much information and should be studied in detail (which is great fun if you enjoy maps and site plans). Excavation photographs offer a glimpse of how on-site work adds to what is known. Professor Carafa clearly has extensive knowledge of the subject and has simplified the complexity of centuries of superimposed information, making it understandable. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment.

By Jack V

Jul 23, 2017

Great course. I'm so grateful to Prof. Carafa and his team for presenting all this wonderful material on Septimontium and Rome from the Bronze Age down to the early Christian era, including so much interesting information, so many interesting facts and artifacts uncovered since my study and visit there in 1969. The course put a lot of what I knew already in a broader, more up-to-date mix of perspectives and added a lot of valuable knowledge and ideas based on archaeological investigations to date and current scholarship. The PDFs also are invaluable for building a timeline. Thank you, Professor and your team!

By John D W S

Nov 14, 2017

I would have appreciated transcripts of all modules, in US English or at least instructions in changing the selection to British English. THe instructor was excellent, unfortunately due to language/cultural differences some things took a while to figure out. Please do not mistake this for a fault in the instructor, it is the fault of Coursera. This instructor was fantastic and I will take more classes presented by him.

By Pamela B M

Mar 14, 2021

I absolutely enjoyed this course - I took this course with two other courses about Ancient Rome! I want to visit Italy in the future and wanted to prepare with these courses before I arrive there and stand in awe! I will have a great foundation from what was presented! Thank you!!!

PS: The quizzes are VERY hard - hint study lots of maps and directions!!!!!

By carlo

Oct 9, 2017

I enjoyed the course very much. Thank you for sharing it with us. Prof. Carafa made a difficult and "multi storey" topic, such as the Palatine hill, easy to understand. I higthly raccomend this course to each one interested on the Palatine's history. (better to know a bit of Roman History before to take the course).