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The Ancient Near East: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 26 Dec 2013

4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA (26 Dec. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195377990
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195377996
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 1.3 x 10.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 94,070 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

The book is a short, comprehensive and accessible way to first get in touch with a new subject. (Bibliotheca Orientalis)

About the Author

Amanda H. Podany is Professor and Chair of History at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She is the author of the award-winning book Brotherhood of Kings: How International Relations Shaped the Ancient Near East as well as a number of other books and articles on topics in ancient Near Eastern history.


Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
At first I was really pleased with the title of this book. The term "Near East" has unfortunately fallen in disuse, and has been replaced with "Middle East," which is traditionally a very different geographical area. However, the way term "Near East" is used in this book is not quite the way it's been colloquially used either. The book basically covers the ancient Mesopotamia and its related cultures, and not, as I had expected, ancient Egypt, Persia and Israel. Apparently the way that archeologists and historians use this term is much narrower than what I had expected. I don't have a problem with this per se, but this may cause confusion with many readers.

Having the issues of nomenclature out of the way, let me just say that this is a very fascinating book, especially if you are a fan of history. My understanding of this region and its ancient civilizations has been rather cursory, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover how rich and sophisticated this period of history was. It seems that of all the ancient civilizations this is the last one to be fully explored and understood, and was more or less completely unknown for thousands of years. However, thanks to the nature of its written records - cuneiform tablets - the written records of these civilizations that have been unearthed over the past century or so are extremely extensive and help us get a very detailed picture of this region in ancient times.

The book is written in chronological order, starting in about fourth millennium BC. It covers several major consecutive civilizations and periods that had arisen and fallen over the course of about three millennia. The final end of all of these civilizations and the cultures that sustained them came in sixth century BC with the Persian conquest by Cyrus the Great.
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Slightly underpowered overview for the interested layman. It could have been denser, repeating instead and bemoaning the lack of more sources and evidence -thanks, we know that already! -but since the number of pages in this good series is what it is: feed us more interesting information. Therefore, it's worth considering van de Mieroop's (pricier) history. On the topic of religion/cultural contacts, the author could have mentioned the -very telling- extant 'God lists' where lists of names of 'foreign' Gods were translated into the target language, saying which wind-god name refers to which etc (and isn't it very, very likely that good old YHWH started as a wind god?) If further proof were needed for how cross-tribal/cross-cultural 'God talk' is shaped by extra-religious transformations (politics, attempts cultural and religious 'engineering', trade, migration, opportunism, pragmatism) here it is. One can easily imagine two late stone age dudes having a chat: What do your people call that one? Mine works wonders...and so God (name')s got adopted/fell in and out of favour -which leaves religion where it always was then and today: people talking about something they cannot possibly have a clue of from the perspective of their own cultural subjectivity.
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A good book to learn from, and a great step into ancient history. Delivered on time.
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Very Interesting and informative, will use this in conjunction with Classical History.
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An excellent introduction. It helped me to look at what I wanted to know more about.
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