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Ancient Iraq: Third Edition (Penguin History) Paperback – March 1, 1993

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin History
  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 3 Sub edition (March 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014012523X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140125238
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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127 of 129 people found the following review helpful By Timothy A. Curry on September 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
No one was more surprised than Georges Roux himself when people worldwide began demanding reprints from his articles in the now-defunct "Iraq Petroleum" magazine. But he shouldn't have been - the literature surrounding ancient Mesopotamia tends either to scholastic obscurity (and textbook expense) or to such a broad scope that oversimplification is necessary just to keep the story within two covers.
Not so Roux's wonderful overview. After his retirement from a leading British pharmaceutical company he found the necessary leisure, and access to Parisian university libraries, to compile this volume of history. The first edition was written in the 60's, the second in the 80's after some remarkable finds greatly expanded the continuity of the original, and the third, this volume, in the early 90's. In this, he states that the English version has actually leapfrogged the original version in his native French.
The book traces the civilizations of ancient Mesopotamia from the Paleolithic period through Sumer and Akkad, the Assyrian empire, Babylon, the glory of the Old Testament period, and to the final takeover by the Hellenistic Greeks. This sweep of history comprising some six-plus millennia cannot, of course, be dealt with comprehensively within the bounds of a single volume; nevertheless, Roux has managed to spotlight the extant periods without losing the story's overall continuity, a considerable achievement.
This is, in this reviewer's opinion, the best single-volume introduction to ancient Mesopotamian history on the market today.
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68 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Ray Farmer on August 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
Georges Roux stated that his goal in writing "Ancient Iraq" was to provide the layman reader with a cohesive introduction to the history of ancient Mesopotamia, incorporating archaeological and historical finds up to 1992. In this regard, I think Roux succeeded splendidly, and he did so by pointing out and explaining general patterns in Mesopotamian history. This book really breathes life into the ancients and allows the reader to see beyond the cold and lifeless sculptures and tablets.

Although the book is full of interesting topics, what really struck me was how long the Sumerian culture managed to exist in some form or another despite the successive waves of foreign invaders. To survive 3000 years in such unstable conditions really demonstrates how sophisticated and influential Sumero-Akkadian culture was at that time.

As the title suggests, "Ancient Iraq" deals primarily with ancient civilizations that resided within the confines of modern-day Iraq. As a result, the Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians ae given center stage, while other cultures in the Near East, such as the Egyptians, Hittites, and Persians are only briefly reviewed, despite their interaction with the Mesopotamians.

Pictures, maps, and various timelines are also included in the book. Unfortunately, pictures of artifacts are either B&W photos or simple line drawings, and I felt this presentation really failed to bring forth the beauty inherent in such objects. Many of the same photos are presented in color in another book ("The Cultural Atlas of Mesopotamia"), and the difference is like night and day. Nevertheless, I should say that Roux's narrative does not suffer at all from this slight shortcoming, and most readers probably will not care about the visual aids.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Tim G. on November 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
Roux is the rarest of scholars and academes, he is one who can write. Ancient Iraq is extremely erudite and written clearly and lucidly. Reading it and getting involved in the text is not difficult. Ancient Iraq covers the full spectrum of Iraqi ancient history and prehistory, from the Paleolithic through the Neolithic, the Sumerian civilization, and on to the Assyrian and Persian empires. Despite the wide scope of this book, Roux manages to keep the narrative tightly contained and compact, avoiding digressions and wandering. Highly readable, this book deserves to be owned by anyone with an interest in the region. It is poorly illustrated, but this is a relatively minor flaw. This is a true classic of archaeological literature.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Peter Uys HALL OF FAME on October 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
Now in its 3rd edition, Ancient Iraq remains the most complete and readable overview of the history of this cradle of civilization. Interestingly, the word Iraq comes from the name of the Sumerian city state Uruk. There is now a village called Warka near the ruins of the ancient city.

The introductory chapters explore the geographical setting, archaeological research and the paleo-, meso- and neolithic periods. Following on, the author discusses the Hassuna, Samarra, Halat, Ubaid, Uruk and Jemdat timeframes, and the ancient trade routes.

Next up is the Sumerian civilization, with a study of its origin, religion, history and mythology. The story of Gilgamesh is covered here. There was a Semitic interlude and a final Sumerian renaissance before the torch of history passed to the Semites in the form of the Akkadians and later the Assyrians and Babylonians. The statesman and lawgiver Hammurabbi is thoroughly dealt with.

But other peoples played a part too, like the Hurrians, Mitannians and Kassites. Insofar as they impacted upon the history of the area, empires like the Hittite and the Egyptian are also considered. There are detailed narratives on the Assyrian empire, the Chaldean kings and the fall of Nineveh and later of Babylon. After this event, Mesopotamia ceased to be a seat of empire and passed from the Persians to the Greeks, the Parthians, the Sassanids and ultimately to the Arabs.

In the Epilogue, we learn of the heritage of this civilization, such as enduring religious symbols like the Maltese cross, the tree of life an the crescent. Some words have come down to us, like "alcohol" (guhlu in Akkadian), "myrrh" (murru) and "naphta" (naptu), "abyss" (abzu in Sumerian).
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