- 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 (55 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #153,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ancient Iraq: Third Edition (Penguin History) 3 Sub Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A a Relative Layperson on this Topic, I Have Purchased Several Books on the Topic Looking at Ancient History and Societies in General. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Bay0Wulf
This book is one of the best written accounts of ancient Iraq, for I have always been interested in Assysia. This book has material to keep me busy for a while.Published 13 months ago by William Martinez
Highly readable and comprehensive survey of Mesopotamian history. For anyone interested in the cultural surroundings of the Old Testament this will be a pleasant surprise. Read morePublished 15 months ago by MMWGA
I’ve read this book at one of the many sad times for that part of the world now known as Iraq, particularly sad given the recent destruction by the IS vandals of ancient... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Harry