- Paperback: 445 pages
- Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; Revised edition (September 15, 1977)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0226631877
- ISBN-13: 978-0226631875
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.2 x 7.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #554,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ancient Mesopotamia: Portrait of a Dead Civilization Revised Edition
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But this review is less about Oppenheim's work and more about the University of Chicago's revised 2nd edition (1977). Buyers and sellers beware that a number of these books have significant errors in publishing that make the text impossible to read. After page 48, in the middle of chapter one, the text begins again from page 17 (the introduction). All of the introduction is reprinted as well as all of chapter one up to page 48. Then the text jumps to page 81 and all of pages 49-80 are completely missing.
It was quite frustrating to realize this only after reading the first 48 pages then having to purchase a new copy and throw this edition in the recycling bin.
The book is also badly out of date. It was written in 1964 and a revised edition was published in 1977 from notes completed before the author's death by Erica Reiner. Still, even 1977 was a long time ago (it is now 2011) so 30 plus years is bound to bring new facts to the fore and new ideas about the ancient past into the discussion.
The best thing about the book is the fact that Oppenheim stresses the lack of information we actually have about the ancient past. This lack of information leads to a lot of guesswork, and he is up front about this problem. Few others are. In fact many authors guess about the meaning of the past off of known facts. They go far into the realm of speculation in talking about the past. I have read books discussing the cave paintings of 30,000 years ago and the authors told us that the paintings were religious paintings with tribal significance; however, they can't know that. Oppenheim avoids this type of error and openly discusses how little we actually know about the past, even when we have written text to work off of.
Unfortunately the book could not hold my attention. It is just too hard to read.