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Self-Study Course on Jaynesian Theory

After reading Jaynes's The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, people are often very interested in learning more but are not sure what to study next. In addition, individuals often limit their additional research to their primary area of interest or expertise (for example, psychology or philosophy), neglecting other important areas.

To that end, the Julian Jaynes Society has put together this self-study course as a guide for those wishing to gain a comprehensive understanding of Julian Jaynes's theory of the origin of consciousness and the bicameral mind. Carefully constructed by Marcel Kuijsten after many years of research, this course combines the most relevant recent publications with reading assignments from Julian Jaynes's own Princeton University course on consciousness.

Most of the books listed below are available for purchase new or used through online book stores. Out of print books can be found at your local library (or ordered via interlibrary loan if they don't have a copy) or try Amazon.com and Abebooks.com to locate used copies. Journal articles have been avoided as many people will not have access to a university library.

After completing the 12-month course, you will have a well-rounded understanding of the evidence relevant to Jaynes's theory. Additional reading suggestions are provided in each section for those interested in delving deeper into specific subjects.

The timeline is designed for someone taking the course part-time. The full-time student should be able to complete the course in half the time or less.

Section 1: Jaynesian Theory 101 (Weeks 1–4)

  1. Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, 1976/2000.
        [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  2. Marcel Kuijsten (ed.), The Julian Jaynes Collection, 2012, especially Parts III & IV: Interviews & Discussion.
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  3. William Woodward & June Tower, "Julian Jaynes: Introducing His Life and Thought." In Marcel Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited, 2007, Chapter 1.
        [JJS] [WORLDCAT]

Section 2: Consciousness & Language (Weeks 5–8)

  1. John Limber, "Language and Consciousness." In Marcel Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited, 2007, Chapter 6.
        [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  2. Scott Greer, "A Knowing Noos and A Slippery Psyche: Jaynes's Recipe for an Unnatural Theory of Consciousness." In Marcel Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited, 2007, Chapter 8.
        [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  3. Tor Nørretranders, "Part III: Consciousness." In Nørretranders, The User Illusion: Cutting Consciousness Down to Size, 1988, Chapters 9-12.
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  4. L.S. Vygotsky, "The Genetic Roots of Thought and Speech." In Vygotsky, Thought and Language, 1962, Ch. 4.
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  5. Daniel Dennett, Kinds of Minds: Towards an Understanding of Consciousness, 1997.
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Further Reading:
  1. Jose Luis Bermudez, "The Limits of Thinking without Words." In Bermudez, Thinking without Words, 2003, Ch. 9.
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  2. William James, "The Stream of Thought." In James, The Principles of Psychology, 1890, Chapter 9.
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  3. William James, "The Consciousness of Self." In James, The Principles of Psychology, 1890, Chapter 10.
        [FULL TEXT] [WORLDCAT]
  4. Francis Galton, "Antechamber of Consciousness." In Galton, Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development, 1883.
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  5. I.A. Richards, The Philosophy of Rhetoric, 1965.
        [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]

Section 3: Auditory Hallucinations & Schizophrenia (Weeks 9–12)

  1. Julian Jaynes, "The Ghost of a Flea: Visions of William Blake." In Marcel Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited, 2007, Chapter 2.
        [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  2. Julian Jaynes, "Verbal Hallucinations and Preconscious Mentality." In Marcel Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited, 2007, Chapter 3.
        [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  3. Marcel Kuijsten, "Consciousness, Hallucinations, and the Bicameral Mind: Three Decades of New Research" (pgs. 100–106). In Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited, 2007, Chapter 4.
        [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  4. John Hamilton, "Auditory Hallucinations in Nonverbal Quadriplegics." In Marcel Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited, 2007, Chapter 5.
       [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  5. Daniel B. Smith, Muses, Madmen, and Prophets: Rethinking the History, Science, and Meaning of Auditory Hallucination, 2007.
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  6. G. Lynn Stephens & George Graham, When Self-Consciousness Breaks: Alien Voices and Inserted Thoughts, 2000.
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Further Reading:
  1. John Watkins Hearing Voices: A Common Human Experience, 2008.
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  2. Russell T. Hurlbert, "A Schizophrenic Woman Who Heard Voices of the Gods," in Sampling Normal and Schizophrenic Inner Experience, 1990.
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  3. Iris E.C. Sommer & Rene S. Kahn (eds.), Language Lateralization and Psychosis, 2009.
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  4. Mary Boyle, Schizophrenia: A Scientific Delusion?, 2002.
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  5. Richard P. Bentall, Madness Explained, 2005, Chapters 1 – 6.
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  6. Lori Schiller & Amanda Bennett, The Quiet Room: A Journey Out of the Torment of Madness, 1996.
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  7. Alexandre-Jacques-Francois Brierre de Boismont, Hallucinations: The Rational History of Apparitions, Visions, Dreams, Ecstasy, Magnetism, and Somnambulism. 1853/1976.
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  8. Marius Romme, Making Sense of Voices: The Mental Health Professional's Guide to Working with Voice-Hearers, 2000.

Section 4: The Early Greeks (Weeks 13–16)

  1. Jan Sleutels, "Greek Zombies: On the Alleged Absurdity of Substantially Unconscious Greek Minds." In Marcel Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited, 2007, Chapter 11.
        [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  2. E.R. Dodds, The Greeks and the Irrational, 1951, Chapters 1–3, 5, Appendix II.
        [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  3. Richard Stoneman, The Ancient Oracles: Making the Gods Speak, 2011
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  4. Bruno Snell, The Discovery of the Mind In Greek Philosophy and Literature, 1953/1982, Chapters 1–3, 5–7.
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  5. Chester Starr, The Awakening of the Greek Historical Spirit, 1968.
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  6. Ruth Padel, "Madness in Fifth-Century (B.C.) Athenian Tragedy." In A. Lock and P. Heelas, Indigenous Psychologies: The Anthropology of the Self, 1981.
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Further Reading:
  1. Ruth Padel, In and Out of the Mind: Greek Images of the Tragic Self, 1994.
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  2. R.B. Onians, The Origins of European Thought: About the Body, the Mind, the Soul, the World, Time and Fate, 1988.
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Section 5: The Dual Brain (Weeks 17–20)

  1. Marcel Kuijsten, "Consciousness, Hallucinations, and the Bicameral Mind: Three Decades of New Research" (pgs. 116–120). In Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited, 2007, Chapter 4.
        [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  2. Marcel Kuijsten, "Introduction" in M. Kuijsten (ed.), The Julian Jaynes Collection, 2012.
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  3. Michael Gazzaniga, "The Split Brain in Man." In Robert Ornstein (ed.), The Nature of Human Consciousness: A Book of Readings, 1973, Chapter 7.
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  4. Joseph E. Bogen, "The Other Side of the Brain: An Appositional Mind." In Robert Ornstein (ed.), The Nature of Human Consciousness: A Book of Readings, 1973, Chapter 8.
        [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  5. Roger W. Sperry, "Consciousness, Personal Identity, and the Divided Brain." In D. Frank Benson, The Dual Brain: Hemispheric Specialization in Humans, 1985.
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  6. Joseph E. Bogen, "The Dual Brain: Some Historical and Methodological Aspects." In D. Frank Benson, The Dual Brain: Hemispheric Specialization in Humans, 1985.
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  7. Eran Zaidel, "Language in the Right Hemisphere." In D. Frank Benson, The Dual Brain: Hemispheric Specialization in Humans, 1985.
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  8. Charles E. Marks, Commissurotomy, Consciousness, and Unity of Mind, 1981.
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Further Reading:
  1. Stuart Dimond, The Double Brain, 1972.
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  2. Antonio M. Battro, Half a Brain is Enough: The Story of Nico, 2002.
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  3. Anne Harrington, Mind, Medicine, and the Double Brain: A Study in Nineteenth-Century Thought, 1989.
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  4. A.L. Wigan, A New View Of Insanity: The Duality of The Mind Proved by the Structure, Functions And Diseases of The Brain (with new Foreword by Joseph Bogen), 1844/1985.
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Section 6: Ancient Civilizations: China, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Mesoamerica
            (Weeks 21–24)

  1. Julian Jaynes, "The Meaning of King Tut." In Marcel Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited, 2007, Chapter 10.
        [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  2. Julian Jaynes, "Dragons of the Shang Dynasty: The Hidden Faces." In Marcel Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited, 2007, Chapter 12.
        [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  3. Michael Carr, "The Shi 'Corpse/Personator' Ceremony in Early China." In Marcel Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited, 2007, Chapter 13.
        [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  4. Siegfried Morenz, "Divine Commandments, Guidance, and Inspiration: The Functions of the Gods." In Morenz, Egyptian Religion, 1973, Chapter 4.
        [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  5. Henri Frankfort, Chapters 5, 19, 21. In Frankfort, Kingship and the Gods: A Study of Ancient Near Eastern Religion as the Integration of Society and Nature, 1948, 1978.
        [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  6. Leo Oppenheim, Chapter 4 (pgs. 171–227). In Oppenheim, Ancient Mesopotamia: Portrait of a Dead Civilization, 1964.
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Further Reading:
  1. J. Eric Thompson, Maya History and Religion, 1990.
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  2. H.W.F. Saggs, The Greatness that was Babylon: A Sketch of the Ancient Civilization of the Tigris-Euphrates Valley, 1962.
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  3. S.H. Hooke, Babylonian and Assyrian Religion, 1963.

Section 7: The Mentality of of Pre-Literate and Pre-Modern Peoples (Weeks 25–29)

  1. Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, Primitive Mentality, 1923, 1975, Chapters 1, 2, 4–7, 12.
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  2. Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, How Natives Think, 1926, 1985, Chapters 8 and 9.
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  3. A. Lock and P. Heelas, Indigenous Psychologies: The Anthropology of the Self, 1981.
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  4. Daniel L. Everett, Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle, 2009.
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Further Reading:
  1. Maurice Leenhardt, Do Kamo: Person and Myth in the Melanesian World, 1947, 1979.
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  2. E.E. Evans-Pritchard, "Levy-Bruhl." In Evans-Pritchard, Theories of Primitive Religion, 1965, Chapter 4.

Section 8: Neurotheology & the Origin of Religion (Weeks 30–34)

  1. Marcel Kuijsten, "Consciousness, Hallucinations, and the Bicameral Mind: Three Decades of New Research" (pgs. 120–126). In Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited, 2007, Chapter 4.
        [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  2. David C. Stove, "The Oracles and Their Cessation: A Tribute to Julian Jaynes." In Marcel Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited, 2007, Chapter 9.
        [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  3. V.S. Ramachandran & Sandra Blakeslee, "God and the Limbic System." In Ramachandran & Blakeslee, Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind, 1999, Chapter 9.
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  4. Robert M. Salpolsky, "Circling the Blanket for God." In Salpolsky, The Trouble with Testosterone and Other Essays on the Biology of the Human Predicament, 1997, Chapter 17.
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Further Reading:
  1. Michael Persinger, Neuropsychological Bases of God Beliefs, 1987.
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Section 9: Hypnosis, Possession, and Trance States (Weeks 35-39)

  1. Brian McVeigh, "The Self as Interiorized Social Relations: Applying a Jaynesian Approach to Problems of Agency and Volition." In Marcel Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited, 2007, Chapter 7.
        [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  2. Ernest Hilgard, Divided Consciousness: Multiple Controls in Human Thought and Action, 1986.
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  3. T.K. Oesterreich, Possession: Demoniacal and Other, 1930, 2003.
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Further Reading:
  1. Alan Gauld, A History of Hypnotism, 1995.
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  2. Charles Baudouin, Suggestion and Autosuggestion: A Psychological and Pedagogical Study Based Upon the Investigations of the New Nancy School, 1920.
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  3. Emma Cohen, The Mind Possessed: The Cognition of Spirit Possession in an Afro-Brazilian Religious Tradition, 2007     [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]

Section 10: Dreams (Bicameral Dreams vs. Conscious Dreams) (Weeks 40-42)

  1. Julian Jaynes, "The Dream of Agamemnon," in Marcel Kuijsten (ed.), The Julian Jaynes Collection, 2012.
        [JJS]
  2. E.R. Dodds, "Dream-Pattern and Culture-Pattern." In Dodds, The Greeks and the Irrational, 1951, Chapter 4.
        [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  3. Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, "Dreams." In Lévy-Bruhl, Primitive Mentality, 1923, 1975, Chapter 3.
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  4. Sigmund Freud, "The Scientific Literature Dealing with the Problems of Dreams." In Freud, The Intepretation of Dreams, 1911, Chapter 1.
        [FULL TEXT] [WORLDCAT]
  5. William Vernon Harris, Dreams and Experience in Classical Antiquity, 2009
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  6. David Foulkes, Children's Dreaming and the Development of Consciousness, 1999
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Further Reading:
  1. Robert L. Van De Castle, Our Dreaming Mind, 1994, Parts 1 & 2.
        [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]

Section 11: Consciousness & Hallucinations in Children (Weeks 43-46)

  1. Dorothy G. Singer and Jerome L. Singer, "Imaginary Playmates and Imaginary Worlds." In Singer & Singer, The House of Make-Believe: Childrens Play and the Developing Imagination, 1992. Ch. 5. See also pgs. 123–127, 278.
        [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  2. L.S. Vygotsky, "Piaget's Theory of the Child's Speech and Thought." In Vygotsky, Thought and Language, 1962, Chapter 2.
        [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  3. Marjorie Taylor, Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them, 1999.
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  4. Daniel Pilowsky & William Chambers (eds.), Hallucinations in Children, 1986.
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Further Reading:
  1. Nathan A. Harvey, Imaginary Playmates and other Mental Phenomena of Children, 1918.

Section 12: Literature & The Gods (Weeks 47-52)

  1. Judith Weissman, "Introdution" & "Homer: Old Fathers and Absent Kings." In Weissman, Of Two Minds: Poets Who Hear Voices, 1993, Chapter 1.
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  2. James Cohn, Minds of the Bible: Speculations on the Cultural Evolution of Human Consciousness, 2007.
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  3. Andrew Lang, Walter Leaf, Ernest Myers (translators), The Iliad of Homer, 1900.
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  4. Giulia Sissa & Marcel Detienne, The Daily Life of the Greek Gods, 2000.
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Further Reading:
  1. Jon D. Mikalson, Honor Thy Gods: Popular Religion in Greek Tragedy, 1992.
        [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  2. Judith Weissman, "William Blake: Harsh Instruments of Sound and Witches with Knives." In Weissman, Of Two Minds: Poets Who Hear Voices, 1993, Chapter 6.
        [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]

Optional Section: Consciousness & Modern Life

  1. Nathaniel Branden, The Art of Living Consciously: The Power of Awareness to Transform Everyday Life, 1999.
        [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]

Further Reading:
  1. Albert Ellis & Robert A. Harper, A Guide to Rational Living, 1975.
        [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]

Supplemental Material: Documentaries & Audio Courses

  1. FRONTLINE: The Released, PBS, 2009. [WATCH ONLINE]
    This year, hundreds of thousands of prisoners with serious mental illnesses will be released into communities across America, the largest exodus in the nation's history. Within 18 months, nearly two-thirds are re-arrested. In this follow-up to the groundbreaking film "The New Asylums," FRONTLINE examines what happens to the mentally ill when they leave prison and why they return at such alarming rates.
  2. Sinking Atlantis (Secrets of the Dead Series), PBS Home Video, 2008. [WATCH ONLINE]
    Five thousand years ago the Minoans, Europe's first great civilization, flourished on the island of Crete. Yet in their heyday, they mysteriously disappeared. Sinking Atlantis digs deep into the Minoan soil and history, following archaeologists who are finding evidence of a massive tsunami that devastated the Minoans – and may have spawned the myth of Atlantis.
  3. How Art Made the World: How Humans Made Art and Art Made Us Human, BBC Warner, 2006.
    Encompassing everything from cave paintings to ceramics and pyramids to palaces, How Art Made the World probes the global trend for unrealistic depictions of the human body; the secret powers of the feature film; how politicians manage to manipulate people so easily; visions of death and the afterlife; and crucially why we use imagery at all.
  4. From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians, PBS Home Video, 2004.
    Good background material on the time after the breakdown of the bicameral mind and the transition from polytheism to monotheism.
  5. Archaeology and the Iliad: The Trojan War in Homer and History, Professor Eric H. Cline, The Modern Scholar, 2006.
    A series of audio lectures covering many related topics such as Homer, the Iliad, the Mycenaean Greeks, the Hittites, etc.

Updated August 20, 2014