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A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000 - 323 BC, 2nd Edition Paperback – October 6, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-1405149112 ISBN-10: 1405149116 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 341 pages
  • Publisher: Blackwell Publishing; 2nd edition (October 6, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405149116
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405149112
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"There is no longer any possible excuse for any undergraduate curriculum in ancient history not to offer a course of Ancient Near Eastern history under the pretext that there would be no adequate, accessible, and affordable textbook." (Scholia Reviews)

Praise for second edition:

“The additions to this volume have only added to its immense worth as both a textbook and a scholarly volume.” Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Praise for the first edition:

"Marc Van De Mieroop's introduction to the history of Iraq and the Asiatic Near East is suited to first-year undergraduates in ancient history, the archaeology of Western Asia and ancient Near Eastern studies generally, and to all others who need an up-to-date summary of what happened before the Greeks." Times Higher Education Supplement

"I do not know of any other handbook of similar size that can compete with Van de Mieroop's book in philological competence, in historiographic method, and in expository clearness." Mario Liverani, in Orientalia

“This text deserves a place on the shelves of ancient historians and archaeologists, and it will certainly have pride of place in reading lists for courses in Mesopotamian history.” Norman Yoffee, University of Michigan

“As a textbook on Mesopotamian history, particularly the period from c.3000 BC to 612 BC, this book has no English-language equivalent … This should be standard reading, therefore, for all students and scholars in the field.” Bryn Mawr Classical Review

From the Back Cover

This revised edition of A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000–323 BC integrates new research from the rapidly developing field of ancient Near Eastern history and greatly expands the guide to further reading from the first edition. The book presents a clear, concise history of the extraordinary multicultural civilizations of the ancient Near East, their political and military events, and their cultures and societies. Beginning with the emergence of writing around 3000 BC, the narrative ranges from the origins of the first cities in Mesopotamia, through the growth of the Babylonian and Hittite kingdoms, to the Assyrian and Persian empires. It ends with the transformation of the ancient Near East by the conquests of Alexander the Great.

This accessible text is accompanied by numerous maps and illustrations, and contains a rich selection of Near Eastern texts in translation. Each chapter also includes key research questions or additional text references, such as passages on the use of the Bible as a historical source, excerpts from the Epic of Gilgamesh, or the Assyrian royal annals, intended to add an additional element of comprehension to the text.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 28 customer reviews
I got this book for my husband.
The writing itself is easily to follow, and the author carefully discusses historical sources.
Ryan Mease
This book is very much like a textbook.
George Wood

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 69 people found the following review helpful By George Wood on September 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
Unlike many other books, this volume covers the history of the entire Near East, from Iran to Anatolia, and not just Mesopotamia or the Hittites. This gives it an unusual breadth, as parts of the entire region influence each other. And in ranging from the dawn of historic cultures around the year 3000 BC up to Alexander the Great, it includes all of the independent ancient civilizations that subsequently disappeared.

This book is very much like a textbook. It is more difficult than popular history, but certainly not an academic treatise. Importantly, there are many maps, and extensive lists of kings of the various states.

Egypt only comes into the story when involved with the peoples of the Near East. Interestingly, the periods of Egyptian history known as the Intermediate periods, when the central power fell apart and conditions seemed more chaotic, correspond very closely to what are described as Dark Ages in the Near East. This book does not pursue those parallels, but they are interesting.
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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful By J. B. Marques on March 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
This work is certainly a very solid, readable and up-to-date textbook, as mentioned in the editorial reviews above. The author is a leading specialist on the field and provides us with a history of the Near East that includes very recent discoveries and approaches - an obvious must when it comes to a textbook (I haven't seen the first edition for a comparison, though).

The maps are numerous and clear, there are many illustrations and boxes with precious information on particulars (such as, for instance, "the use of pottery in archaeological research", "the eponym dating system", and a critical assessment on the use of the Bible and Herodotus as sources), and also many useful and interesting primary sources. There is a king list at the end, presented in a clear layout, and a helpful guide on further reading, mostly in English (well, it's a textbook - though many works in French and German are mandatory for the subject).

I rated this book with four stars because, although being a superb textbook, it almost completely lacks discussion on previous theories and approaches on Near Eastern Studies. In my opinion, no book for university level, even a textbook for first-year students, should miss some treatment of previous interpretations and views, which in some ways are still influential, and to which current approaches are inevitably a response - e.g., "Oriental Studies" as a XIXth-century construction, see Saïd; or even a criticism on Wittfogel's "hydraulic hypothesis", still present in some popular works.
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68 of 72 people found the following review helpful By John O. Freed on January 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
This volume is a good introduction to the history of the Ancient Near East. The author surveys the history of Sumeria, Babylonia, Assyria, Persia and the Hittite Empire in a highly readable style. Quotes from numerous important texts are included in each chapter and the author does a good job of not only telling us what happened, but also why it happened.

The book is well illustrated with black and white photos and numerous, highly useful, maps. At the end of the book is an excellent bibliography that will point the interested reader to other good articles and books on the topic.

This book was published in 2004 and incorporates the latest scholarship in the field. The author has done a great job of making ancient history come alive!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Listo on January 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a very solid presentation of almost 3,000 years of history in 360 pages. Don't expect anything authoritative-- the author says that early on. So much of the information historians have to work with is archaeological, which means our field of knowledge and understanding of this period is subject to change. Furthermore, the incredible length of time covered means somethings have to be left out in order to make a coherent and readable book. Very nice maps and graphics. Clearly written for the most part. The sheer number of names, of people or groups, can be hard to keep straight at times, but again that's more a reflection of the history the author deals with than the writing itself. You can tell the author's frustration with some of the archaeological work that's been done-- too much focus on palaces and forts and not enough on the vast majority of the people. It would be nice to have a history that showcased these varied societies and their economic structures and social organization. For all we know, our history of the period over-emphasizes the role of militarism and kings and under-emphasizes the role of peasants in maintaining the cultural patterns that changed only very gradually over the 3,000 year time frame.
I definitely recommend this book. It seems to be the latest scholarship, well written, and thoughtfully educates the reader on the issues facing the study of the period. It is important, afterall, to know how we know things. A great companion back good would be Wolfram Von Soden's The Ancient Orient: An Introduction to the Study of the Ancient Near East, which has a thematic rather than chronological lay-out.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By doc peterson VINE VOICE on December 27, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Van De Mieroop does an exemplary job of showing the cultural and political interrealationships of Mesopotamia. The history of the region is complex: there isn't as clear a political narrative as say, Egypt during the same time period, its decentralized organization creating a sort of "ebb and flow" of various groups. What Van De Mieroop does (and does well) is to show the social and economic interrelationships between peoples and the common cultural heritage of the Fertile Crescent. For example, the circular and reciprocal trade of luxury goods between Egypt (gold), Anatolia (bronze) and the Levant (timber) among the elite highlights not only the economic interrelationships between these different regions, but also underscores the common values, attitudes and political connections between states.

Van De Mieroop is at his strongest discussing the Babylonians and Assyrians - his sections on their political and economic ascention is among the best I've read. I was less enthused in his treatment of the Hittites and the lesser states in the Levant (the Elamites and Phoenicians for example.) That said, the book is a great general text on Mesopotamia between 3000 BCE and Alexander the Great.
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