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A History of the Ancient Near East: ca. 3000-323 BC (Blackwell History of the Ancient World) Paperback – June 9, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0631225522 ISBN-10: 0631225528 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“This extremely readable account will provide an historical and political framework for the student and the general reader who wish to get to grips with this vast and significant area of human history. Assuming no prior knowledge of the region, it moves swiftly to a detailed engagement with the material. Its two special strengths are the strong forward thrust of the historical narrative, and the emphasis on the range of sources available for the reconstruction of that narrative.” Jeremy Black, University of Oxford


“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

"An excellent introduction for general readers and students at all levels. Highly recommended." R.P. Wright, New York University

"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

"At a time when authors have created sweeping positivist histories and dubious claims built on questionable connections ... the book demonstrates the potential for responsible and critical historical analysis. Van De Mieroop's aim, of 'inviting [readers] to explore further', is more than amply met by this book." Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research

"The treatment of the subject is based on sound philological competence, an up-to-date knowledge of sources and of related debates, in the framework of a very advanced historiographic approach... 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

“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

Book Description

This book presents a clear, concise history of the extraordinarily multicultural civilizations of the ancient Near East. 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. Incorporating the most recent discoveries and scholarship, the book provides both an account of political and military events and a survey of the cultures and societies of the ancient Near East. The straightforward, accessible text is accompanied by plentiful maps and illustrations, and contains a selection of Near Eastern texts in translation. Each chapter includes a key research question or text, such as the use of the Bible as a historical source, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Assyrian royal annals. It is essential reading for anyone interested in this crucial period in world history.
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Product Details

  • Series: Blackwell History of the Ancient World (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 313 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (June 9, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631225528
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631225522
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,164,332 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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In summary, this is an indispensable book for the ancient Near East aficionado which I whole-heartedly recommend.
ed
The author here manages to write a chronological account from the dawn of civilization in Mesopotamia to the coming of Alexander the Great without getting boring.
Rob
I was impressed by the very good quality of the information given and the effectiveness of short and well-articulated chapters.
Fausto Labruto

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By ed on November 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
Marc Van De Mieroop, Professor in the Departments of History and Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University, New York guides you through a substantial era in the ancient Near East, 3000 to ca. 323 B.C. Van De Mieroop speaks in a grandfatherly tone--authoritative, familiar, stern--and yet with a twinkle in his eye and the precision of a surgeon's scalpel which keeps you leaning forward on the edge of your seat.

Granted, the book reads as a college textbook, and indeed is the compilation of xeroxed notes used for an introductory undergraduate class on the ancient history of Mesopotamia and Asia Minor. Nonetheless, Van De Mieroop is a spectacular lecturer. He presents the reader with textual and archaelogical data, and how these contribute to our understanding of the history, but he does NOT bore the reader to death with an analyis of every single shard found at every obscure excavation site. Still, Van De Mieroop doesn't rush things--he is an authoritative expert in his field and, even if this is only an introductory textbook, he still offers the readers dazzling pearls of information.

This book's main strengths are two-fold: 1)It reads not like a history book; that is, a book of King A who was replaced by King B who was assassinated by King X, etc--but, like a novel. The suspense builds, and you have to keep yourself in check and not flip over to Chapter 13: Assyria's World Domination until you get to that part and 2)Van De Mieroop emphasizes the "big picture" before looking at the details. To Van De Mieroop, the drama in the Near East involved many actors with many different parts to play, and you can be assured that he will describe what those parts were to the best of his ability.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Fausto Labruto on May 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a very good introduction to mesopotamian studies. I was impressed by the very good quality of the information given and the effectiveness of short and well-articulated chapters. The book does not assume that the reader is familiar with ancient history and explains step by step the history as well as the culture and social development of the ancient near east. I did not give five stars to this very good book because I thought it did not dwell enough on the linguistic aspects of the matter. Otherwise all is very well explained, without needless lengthy digressions. Pictures are kind of limited, but still enough to follow the descriptions. The inserts are particularly interesting featuring mainly translations of ancient text, as for example passages taken from the Amarna letters. The list of kings at the end of the book is particularly interesting. I recommend this book to all who are interested in having a basic knowledge of ancient near east history and even to those who are already introduced to the subject, because this can be considered a good quick-reference book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Crawford on June 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a freshman-college level survey of a seminal period of history: with Bronze Age technologies and refined agriculture, the first empires arose to establish patterns of urban civilization and king-centered governance that would last more or less to the industrial revolution. It is absolutely essential stuff and very fun to know.

In the beginning, there were innumerable competing city states in Mesopotamia, who jockeyed for advantage and tiny slices of territory. Each city state had an urban elite with the beginnings of written records (in syllabic cuneiform) to cover both administrative arrangements and early narrative literature and poetry. Much was recorded on Steles, in the form of propaganda regarding some leader's exploits. In time, the organization extended to larger regions that thrived on trade and a specialized work force, enabling elaborate religions with temples to arise as well as monumental architecture, particularly with ziggurats in Babylon. The king was often also the head priest, as in Egypt, but the functions were increasingly separated. Finally, empires (e.g. Assyrian and Persian) arose over huge territories that involved vast displacements of entire populations for purposes of slave labor and mercenary uses. This order ended only with the conquest by Alexander and his heirs, who divided his empire and were more or less absorbed into the local cultures. These peoples were predominantly semitic, at the time when Jews, Arabs, and others were forming into distinctive cultures. But there were also Indo-Europeans in the Hittites and then the Persians, both of whom established formidable empires.

There were several crucial turning points that are covered in outline.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Rob on January 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
The author here manages to write a chronological account from the dawn of civilization in Mesopotamia to the coming of Alexander the Great without getting boring. While it is pretty detailed, it could use a bit more fleshing out in my opinion. In terms of history and political developments, the author obviously knows what he's talking about, although I do think his statement about the spread of Indo-European languages from the Eurasian steppes being an "outdated nineteenth century concept" is a bit ignorant as to the state of that field. Other than that, the book is well-written and makes ample use of primary sources.
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