The Ancient World: a Complete Guide to History's Great Civilizations from Egypt to the Roman Republic Hardcover – 28 Oct 2010
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From the Inside Flap
The great civilizations of the distant past never cease to impress us with their spectacular achievements. Ideas, myths, works of art, architecture and literature speak to us across the millennia with an amazing freshness and immediacy. This book presents a vivid and comprehensive portrait of these achievements, set within their historical context, and tells the captivating stories of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, India, China and Pre-Columbian America. The Ancient World is a wide-ranging guide to the spiritual, cultural, technological, and artistic innovation that was the hallmark of these complex and fascinating societies. Organized thematically, the text makes use of the latest research and evidence about the ancient world. Detailed coverage is given to symbols, sacred texts, religious ceremonies, gods and goddesses, visions of the cosmos, and sacred sites - from the glories of the Pyramids and the Parthenon to the towering majesty of Machu Picchu; from the establishment of Rome to the foundation of modern China; and from the earliest stirrings of civilized life in Sumeria in 3500 BC to the bloody demise of the Incas and the Aztecs in the 16th and 17th centuries. The ten chapters in the book are devoted to the most illustrious and influential civilizations of world history, complete with maps, timelines, dynastic lists and fascinating discussions on everything from ancient tomb robbers to hieroglyphic writings. Packed with information, The Ancient World is an authoritative and accessible overview of 5,000 years of world history.
From the Back Cover
An indispensable and comprehensive account of every major ancient civilization. Sumer, 3500-2004 BC. Ancient Egypt, 3100-1070 BC. Ancient India, 2600-185 BC. Minoans and Mycenaeans, 2000-1200 BC. Ancient China, 1766-208 BC. Persian Empire, 700-329 BC. Classical Greece, 800-338 BC. Roman Republic, 509-27 BC. The Maya, 600 BC-AD 1697. The Inca, AD 1000-1533.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
1. Sumer 3500-2004 BC
2. Ancient Egypt 3100-1070 BC
3. Ancient India 2600-185 BC
4. Minoans and Mycenaeans 2000-1200 BC
5. Ancient China 1766-208 BC
6. Persian Empire 700-329 BC
7. Classical Greece 800-338 BC
8. Roman Republic 509-27 BC
9. The Maya 600 BC-AD 1697
10. The Inca AD 1000-1533
By reading this you will get at the very least a basic grounding in the above civilisations, it may whet your appetite to pursue more detailed and challenging historical texts or it may altogether quench your thirst. In my opinion this would make an excellent addition to a second level students history library. So, it's basic yet informative but dont expect to be sweating while you read it!!
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Each chapter opens with a vibrant, two-page colour photograph of a visually startling scene that is relevant to the chapter. Each chapter includes a variety of photos, ranging from important people to artefacts to monuments, and each one is explained. A timeline of key dates is included at the beginning of each chapter. And when the civilization leaves the ancient world, no more is heard of them.
I detected no spelling errors in the text, although there were a number of misplaced "only"s in certain parts. Haywood should really leave his feelings about religion out of the text, as he refers to the Great Flood as having a prototype "for the later Biblical story of Noah's flood." (pg. 17) Another one, and this is one that may put off other readers, occurs on pg. 27: "Later Biblical writers would appropriate this legend [of King Sargon of Kish] for the story of Moses." Instead of drawing a parallel and noting similiarity, he risks turning off his readers by implying that the biblical story is a fictional account. Personally I wasn't bothered much by it, but others might be. Thankfully, these are the only two occurences I found in the book.
The biggest surprises of the book come in the chapters regarding India, China and Mesoamerica. What most people know about ancient history comes to them from Egypt or Greece, but little is widely known about the others. This book fills in that grey area with details and intrigue, and does it very well. One thing I must stress that the text is never an overkill - Haywood gives just the right amount of information, doesn't draw bold conclusions (or any for that matter), and leaves the reader to decide for themselves how it applies to today's world.
All in all, it is an enjoyable book, and would make a fine conversation piece if placed on a coffee table. But who would want to converse about it when you can pick it up and read something so engrossing silently? A good book but a little overpriced. (Thank goodness for bargain bins!)
This book is broken down into sections: Sumer, Ancient Egypt, Ancient India, Minoans and Myceneans, Ancient China, Persian Empire, Classical Greece, the Roman Republic, the Maya, and the Incas. At the risk of being a spoiler, Classical Greece (and their Mycenaen and Minoan forerunners), pretty well set the standard for achievements that the others are compared to. I know they made a calendar, but I am not sure why the Maya and Inca were put in the same book as Ancient Greece.
The photos in the book are very good quality. The amazing architecture, artifacts, and the geographical area surrounding these ruins is well done. With two minor exceptions, the statues and artwork featured here is G rated -for those wishing to share this book with their children.
I really have only two criticisms of this book.
First, is that Haywood seems to view the Bible the same as the mythologies of ancient pagan civilizations. As such, he assumes a very old earth age and gives no credence to a world wide flood.
Second, is that he goes out of his way to embrace multiculturalism. He even claims that it was Rome’s strength was “mixed origins” on page 158!? No, that was the beginning of their downfall. He also mocks the “Aryan myth” regarding ancient whites on page 61. Well, this book was published by Metro Books of (((New York City))).
I find it interesting that the major Persian deity was a winged creature named Ahura Mazda. I wonder if the speedy little Asian cars are named after him? Was an executive in Japan studying ancient Persian mythology?
I also found one very interesting statement made on pages 194-5. Regarding the decline of the Maya, Haywood states the following:
“Studies of sediments drilled from lake beds reveal that the Maya had become the victims of an ecological crisis brought on by their success. The late Classic was a time of massive deforestation, soil erosion and soil exhaustion. Over-exploitation of fragile rainforest soils brought about the collapse of agriculture. Starvation followed with political disintegration not far behind”.
Man has followed this trail before. We in the west are currently destroying our soil, and are poisoning our land with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Societies can collapse form their own greed.
Overall, this was a descent book with some very nice photographs.