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The Early History of the Ancient Near East, 9000-2000 B.C. [Paperback]

Nissen
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 21.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 May 1990
Hans J. Nissen here provides a much-needed overview of 7000 years of development in the ancient Near East from the beginning of settled life to the formation of the first regional states. His approach to the study of Mesopotamian civilization differs markedly from conventional orientations, which impose a sharp division between prehistoric and historic, literate, periods. Nissen argues that this approach is too rigid to explain the actual development of that civilization. He deemphasizes the invention of writing as a turning point, viewing it as simply one more phase in the evolution of social complexity and as the result of specific social, economic, and political factors. With a unique combination of material culture analysis written data, Nissan traces the emergence of the earliest isolated settlements, the growth of a network of towns, the emergence of city states, and finally the appearance of territorial states. From his synthesis of the prehistoric and literate periods comes a unified picture of the development of Mesopotamian economy, society, and culture. Lavishly illustrated, The Early History of the Ancient Near East, 9000-2000 B.C. is an authoritative work by one of the most insightful observers of the evolution and character of Mesopotamian civilization.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 2nd edition (1 May 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226586588
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226586588
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.2 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,297,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This book, on one of the most seminal eras in human history, is an unforgivably poor read. Not only does it harp on obscure archeological controversies to the detriment of the big picture, but it is so badly written/translated that it is often impossible to understand or even remember what the author is referring to - I had to read innumerable paragraphs over and over to catch the gist.

I did get a good idea of the outlines of what was going on, after much struggle and needless effort with the awful text. The story begins with the neolithic era, when agriculture and animal husbandry are re-creating human possibility. For the first time, humans are becoming sedentary, developing ceramics for cooking and trade, and beginning to specialize in terms of occupation and political hierarchy. Once communities were established, they begin to spread into larger less inhabitable areas, with denser populations and entirely new ambitions of power. This is the time of city states and eventually proto-nation states, where administrative structures and systems had to be created to cope with water management issues, defense, and food stock management. The first writing systems were born, war became a science as did farming, and large-scale architecture was invented. This is extraordinary.

Nonetheless, though this is the time of the rise of Babylon and similar political entities, the reader gets very little flavor for what life was like and what issues people faced. Indeed, from the vaste amount of time covered, it seems astonishing to me: a social hierarchy arose with rigid caste roles that lasted 700 years in Susiana, for example. Unfortunately, we get little more than facts like that.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read 23 April 2007
By Commentor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
You don't have to be in an Archeology class (like me) to appreciate this book. It is a quick-reader full of well flowing information. Its not too technical though, so its great for those with minor understandings of the period, or the field of study in general. So many people focus on Ancient Egypt or Babylon, but what about BEFORE then. Its an increadibley important time period, and what sorts of things happened may surprise you!!
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Birth of Civilization made dull, often incomprehensible 22 Jan 2009
By Robert J. Crawford - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book, on one of the most seminal eras in human history, is an unforgivably poor read. Not only does it harp on obscure archeological controversies to the detriment of the big picture, but it is so badly written/translated that it is often impossible to understand or even remember what the author is referring to - I had to read innumerable paragraphs over and over to catch the gist.

I did get a good idea of the outlines of what was going on, after much struggle and needless effort with the awful text. The story begins with the neolithic era, when agriculture and animal husbandry are re-creating human possibility. For the first time, humans are becoming sedentary, developing ceramics for cooking and trade, and beginning to specialize in terms of occupation and political hierarchy. Once communities were established, they begin to spread into larger less inhabitable areas, with denser populations and entirely new ambitions of power. This is the time of city states and eventually proto-nation states, where administrative structures and systems had to be created to cope with water management issues, defense, and food stock management. The first writing systems were born, war became a science as did farming, and large-scale architecture was invented. This is extraordinary.

Nonetheless, though this is the time of the rise of Babylon and similar political entities, the reader gets very little flavor for what life was like and what issues people faced. Indeed, from the vaste amount of time covered, it seems astonishing to me: a social hierarchy arose with rigid caste roles that lasted 700 years in Susiana, for example. Unfortunately, we get little more than facts like that. While the author explains why we can't say much more from the archeological record even when written sources exist, it goes on and on and recounts which academic believes what, etc. While scientifically rigorous, it is a boring plod, demanding not because of any difficult reasoning, but merely because it is so poorly presented.

Furthermore, practically nothing is said about languages from the period, little regional overview is offered (i.e. what was given to and taken from ancient Egypt?), and the significance of what was invented in never put into context. These gaps - in a book already 20 years old, so surely out of date already - frustrated me on every page.

Not recommended. I am sure there are better books elsewhere. This is a book for undergraduate students, not the general reader.
3.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent story, poorly written 4 Mar 2013
By Charles Marlin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I share the frustration of Mr. Crawford, another reviewer, in several respects. On the one hand, the story to be told is important, fascinating, even summoning: how people developed from roving hunter-gatherers to city-dwellers. On the other hand, the text seems needlessly difficult to follow. I have read plenty of texts that were difficult because the subject was difficult; but this book is simply poorly written (or translated). It's beyond "poor"; it's sadistic. What fiend would visit such prose on the public! It desperately needs a firm editor (or co-author) who is willing to revise, clarify, even paraphrase in order to reduce long paragraphs of repetitive half-thoughts to a few crisp, informative sentences.
One also hopes that the state of archeological investigation has made progress during the 20 plus years since this book was published. A generation of scholars has had time to examine the artifacts and their interpretations.
And still, I am willing to jack-hammer my way through. I am in the middle of my second reading. But I would like to find a better book. Is there a more coherent and straightforward telling of the same story out there?
0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History between Atlantis and Egypt. 8 Feb 2009
By Jimmy Porter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I expected a little more of this book than what I got. Much of the archeological material leans on pot sherd findings and interpretations, something I am not too familiar with. I would think a people who possibly came from a more enlightened source would leave material that was further advanced in information than pottery shreds. It was very scientific with a few personal observations scattered through the rather brief book that was presented. It does help, even if in a small way, in defining this time line of life of late Atlantans and early Egyptians. I would like to know more about this time era from other sources. Can anyone point me in the proper direction wherein further material will pull my hair out??
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