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The Ancient Near East: c.3000-330 BC (2 volumes) (The Routledge History of the Ancient World) [Paperback]

Amélie Kuhrt
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

22 May 1997 The Routledge History of the Ancient World

The Ancient Near East embraces a vast geographical area, from the borders of Iran and Afghanistan in the east to the Levant and Anatolia, and from the Black Sea in the north to Egypt in the south. It was a region of enormous cultural, political and linguistic diversity.

In this authoritative new study, Amélie Kuhrt examines its history from the earliest written documents to the conquest of Alexander the Great, c.3000-330 BC. This work dispels many of the misapprehensions which have surrounded the study of the region. It provides a lucid, up-to-date narrative which takes into account the latest archaeological and textual discoveries and deals with the complex problems of interpretation and methodology.

The Ancient Near East is an essential text for all students of history of this region and a valuable introduction for students and scholars working in related subjects.

Winner of the AHO's 1997 James Henry Breasted Award.

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The Ancient Near East: c.3000-330 BC (2 volumes) (The Routledge History of the Ancient World) + A History of the Ancient Near East: Ca. 3000-323 BC (Blackwell History of the Ancient World)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 840 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (22 May 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415167620
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415167628
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.5 x 5.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 672,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


'Simply brilliant, a credit to publisher and author alike. Beautifully produced, it proves that scholarship of a high order on a subject of considerable complexity, with massive accompanying bibliography and footnotes, is yet compatible with solid readability. These are two magisterial volumes, unmatched by anything available today in coverage, scholarship and judgement.' - Literary Review

'A very comprehensive synthesis.' - Antiquity

'These beautifully written and lavishly produced volumes contain a comprehensive and up-to-date survey of the history of the ancient Near East from the earliest documentary evidence to the conquest of Alexander the Great.' - Orientalia

'A magnificent handbook to a vast sweep of history, from 3000BC to Alexander the Great.' - Mary Beard, BBC History Magazine

About the Author

Amelie Kuhrt is a Reader in Ancient History at University College London. She was co-organiser of the Achaemenid History Workshops (1983-1990). She has published a number of books on the ancient Near east, and is co-editor of Images of Women in Antiquity (Routledge 1993).

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Amelie Kuhrt's work will stand as a modern classic in the field.
A modern and balanced synthesis of the history of the region taking into account both the strengths and weaknesses of the sources before presenting them in a way that is intelligable to the first timer and accurate enough for even university lecturers.
The work (in two volumes) is divided into several sections including:
- The Levant - home to the ancint tribes of Isreal - presented through contemporary writings and from the first recorded inhabitants until the coming of Alexander the great;
- Mesopotamia - the birthplace of civilisation and writing - from the earilest writing (about 3,000 B.C.) through to the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires and beyond;
- The Egyptians from before the pyramid builders until after the time of Herodetus;
- The Persians including accounts of the careers of such legendary figures as Xerxes and Darius.
- There are also sections on the physical backgroung of the region placing these historical accounts in their geographic, cultural, and environmental context.
If I were to criticise the book I would point to its concentration on "princes and battles" to the exclusion of seeing how the individuals actually existed; or how the events and people mentioned impacted on how common people lived, both possibly approached through the available archaeology.
This is, however, a petty criticism of what is a marvelous work. Utterly indispensible for anyone who wants to look into this region - from interested amatures ot undergraduates all the way to postgraduates and professors.
Worthy of any bookshelf.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent historical overview 20 Nov 2003
By achates
This is one of the best history books I have read for a long time. Ms Kuhrt provides an intelligent discussion of the sources and archaeological evidence without losing the the narrative thread that ties them together. Usually you get one or the other. She also quotes generously from the primary sources themselves. This book is an excellent introduction to the subject.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
50 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a book for everyone 15 April 2002
By Dr. Thomas Carl - Published on Amazon.com
This comprehensive, 2-volume book about the Ancient Near East clearly has some outstanding points in its favor, but sadly also several serious drawbacks.
On the upside, there is not too much more you would want to know about the history of Anatolia or Mesopotamia in the timeframe covered, unless you are upper division college student in history or archeology. The book gives a painstaking account of all major sources, has an outstanding bibliography, and the author certainly went to great lengths to portray pro's and con's of various interpretations to points of contentions regarding the interpretation of historic evidence in general, and in particular while discussing specific sites, possible historical outlines of a region etc.
Be advised though, that the coverage of areas like Egypt, Eastern Iran or Afghanistan, to name a few, is by far not as substantial as that of the other two.
If, on the other hand, you are not a student in aforementioned subjects, or at least a very interested layperson with a previous solid foundation in the science, and simply want an overview of the regional history, this is not your book.
Among several things that will be unsatisfying for you are her endless enumeration of sources (incredibly boring, unless you actually have access to those), a constant jumping from region to region, which makes sense on the one hand, but is not exactly enhancing the readability for the casual reader.
Another very unsatisfying aspect, and maybe even one of the worst parts of the book, while having the general reader in mind at this point, but also to some extend to the more informed reader, are the maps. While there are quite a number of them, their quality is, to put it mildly, pitiful. Many don't name the real points of interest (as for example it would be nice to have the maps actually show the sites she discusses in the text that refers to them), they never show any regional boundaries, as to make clear for example where, when, who was in charge of what territory. Also don't hope for anything like a timeline, or other features that will help the lay reader to follow more easily the course of her presentation.
To sum it up, a book with good use for the serious student of the subject, while only of limited, if any, interest for the layperson.
If you have any further questions regarding this review or the subject in general, feel free to contact me.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great teaching resource 8 Sep 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Kuhrt's 2-volume work is an excellent source for teachers of ancient Near Eastern and/or world history. I have used it extensively for teaching the Near Eastern part of my course in ancient world history at Brigham Young University. Kuhrt gives good background information to paint the larger picture of the Near East and gives very helpful and insightful detail on specific periods of rule. He also includes important information on historical sources on the Near East and discusses their strengths and weaknesses. The maps, and the tables of dynasties, etc., are also very helpful. For those interested specifically in the ancient Israelites, Kuhrt gives a well-informed and substantially-detailed overview. But don't only read the Israelite section! A full reading gives the broader picture needed to see the full context of Israelite developments. I would recommend these books for upper-division (and where appropriate graduate) college/university courses and, perhaps, for advanced high school history courses.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great author, terrible publisher 23 Feb 2009
By Suppiluliuma I - Published on Amazon.com
For a work that approaches the $100 mark, this 2-vol. set is a bit of a disappointment for the serious student of the Ancient Near East. On the one hand, Amelie Kuhrt's scholarship is absolutely outstanding. In my hours spent on the Internet searching for ANE textbooks, nothing out there rivals Kuhrt's comprehensive scholarship, particularly her attention to primary sources. She is honest about what her discipline knows, but also about what it doesn't know (by the way, Van de Mieroop's survey of the ANE makes a nice companion volume to Kuhrt in its offering of alternatives to some of her views). On the other hand, however, the publisher has done a great disservice to Kuhrt's fine scholarship in its latest printing of the book. The copy I bought on Amazon was actually missing whole sections of pages (pp. 12-16 and 28-29, to be exact), not to not mention a regularly recurring host of typographical errors throughout. Shame on Routledge for so carelessly printing a scholar's work that, in this case, certainly has no readily identifiable peers.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good overview with some drawbacks 26 Dec 2008
By J. L. Harper - Published on Amazon.com
This is one of the best "comprehensive" introductions to the Ancient Near East (ANE), which attempts to cover all the major civilizations from Egypt through the fertile crescent to ancient Persia. Given the breadth of the subject matter, she does a fine job. As earlier reviewers point out certain subjects (especially Egypt, which you can supplement with Grimal A History of Ancient Egypt, for instance) are somewhat skimpy, while others receive a reasonably good treatment. Kuhrt is especially good at interacting with the textual sources, which she always treats with scholarly detachment.

There are, however, two major flaws with this 2-volume work. The maps are absolutely ATROCIOUS. A number of them are so poorly reprinted (from whichever sources they were originally taken) that they are nearly illegible; moreover, they rarely point out the places or geographical regions under discussion. I would have expected the publisher either to locate better maps or to draw up a new set of maps. Much cheaper books have managed to do so.

The other flaw, in my estimation, is the actual publishing. The binding of this paperback is not nearly strong enough. Every copy I have ever seen of it (and it was a textbook in one of my classes) has developed a serious spine crack--even under the gentlest of use. Moreover, the paper used is the heavy, shiny, plastic-like paper often used for photographic plates. If the book were full color, I might understand the use of such paper, but since it is black-and-white I personally do not understand the choice of the publisher. Not only is the book disproportionately heavy, but one has to be extremely careful of lighting conditions when reading it in order to avoid glare on the text.

If your interest in the ANE is merely a passing curiosity, I agree with a former reviewer that this book is not for you. Nevertheless, it is a very useful introduction for those who are seriously contemplating scholarship in the ANE.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good overview but a boring read 5 April 2002
By Blah - Published on Amazon.com
This work is a basic overview of the Near East spanning the massive time frame between 3000BC to 330BC. The book touches on all major points of interest in the time period. However, it contains many things which will bog down the average reader. For example, it contains lengthy descriptions of what must be almost every pot fragment found in Anatolia. For those of you who don't care about every student's notepad found in Sumeria, you can obviously skip these parts. Still it tends to decrease the readability of the text as a whole.
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