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Early Civilizations of the Old World: The Formative Histories of Egypt, The Levant, Mesopotamia, India and China Hardcover – April 16, 1999

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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'Very few people have the necessary scholarship, courage and clarity of thought to range over such a dispersed and diverse ground as is covered in this book ... The author's ideas merit careful study' - British Archaeology
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (April 16, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415109752
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415109758
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,107,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
I don't know much about Dr/Prof? Maisels except that he's an academic at Bristol. However, this is a man who clearly knows his stuff. What this book appears to be is a set of lecture notes, put together in book form, aimed at students and intended to answer whether Gordon Childe's criteria for defining civilisation are right.

Luckily, Maisels is an extremely clear writer who has a lot of good ideas. The book allows you to see inside the head of someone who has studied the development of near eastern civilisation for some years. He has a good grasp of varied topics, including geology and basic economics, and this helps his analysis. What he aims to do in the book is to go back to the very earliest farming communities and then trace forward, through details of key archaeological sites, to the beginnings of civilisation for Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and China (the classic 'Old World' civilisations).

What the book won't do is really answer what, ultimately, were the causes of civilisation. In fact, the book has a stream of consciousness feel about it as if he is writing on autopilot, getting everything down that he hasn't explicitly said in earlier works of his and dealing piecemeal with individual agreements and disagreements with other archaeologists. This is frustrating as it doesn't end up feeling like an argument - rather as a man having an argument.

But perhaps my major criticism is that this is a man who likes his words too much. He uses them to describe things at length when a series of carefully put together diagrams and drawings would have done better. The illustrations in the book appear largely to have been cribbed from other works and are not always edited to suit the text.
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Format: Paperback
I feel attracted by the comparative scope of this book. After reading it, I come to the conclusion that it was written by a scholar for other scholars, because of two features: i) excellent content, showing the state of the art, and offering its own very interesting synthesis on the matter, combined with; ii) extremely arid form, which full and deadly boring detail of archeological sites. Both thing are truth, therefore I have rated the book as 3 , because its content deserves 5 starts but because if its dryness only 1. Therefore, if you are extremely interested in the subject, buy for your illustration, not to enjoy the reading.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Really boring read, but great information on the civilizations covered. His whole book is based off of V. Gordon Child's work.
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