- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (July 7, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195183649
- ISBN-13: 978-0195183641
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.9 x 7.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #989,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a service we offer sellers that lets them store their products in Amazon's fulfillment centers, and we directly pack, ship, and provide customer service for these products. Something we hope you'll especially enjoy: FBA items qualify for FREE Shipping and Amazon Prime.
If you're a seller, Fulfillment by Amazon can help you increase your sales. We invite you to learn more about Fulfillment by Amazon .
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Bertman, professor emeritus of classics at the University of Windsor, has made a useful contribution to Facts On File's Handbook to Life series. Covering the lives of Assyrians, Babylonians, and Sumerians from around 3500 to 500 B.C.E., the book is arranged topically, with chapters on geography, archaeology, government, religion, language and literature, arts, and daily life, among other subjects. Each chapter has citations to the extensive bibliography. Most of the works in the larger bibliography are technical and specialized, but a "Note to the Reader" lists several popular works that could be found in a larger public library. Bertman's writing is formal but accessible, with touches of dry humor.
Subsections within the chapters deal with more specific topics. In the chapter on government, there are capsule biographies of political leaders, mostly kings. The chapter on archaeology provides a list of archaeologists who have made major discoveries in the region. Gods and goddesses are described in the chapter on religion. There is an interesting concluding chapter about the legacy of Mesopotamia and how it endures. A brief section on Aramaic-speaking Chaldeans who migrated from an ancient village in Iraq to Detroit in the twentieth century suggests that the legacy is more alive than we realize. Bertman notes, too, how many archaeological sites have been put at risk by recent political and military actions in the region.
The book is illustrated with black-and-white photographs and line drawings, which should copy well. Appendixes include a chronological table and a list of museums with major Mesopotamian collections. A useful purchase for medium-sized to large public libraries and academic libraries with undergraduate Middle Eastern ancient history classes.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"Bertman, professor emeritus of classics at the University of Windsor, has made a useful contribution to the Handbook to Life series. Covering the lives of Assyrians, Babylonians, and Sumerians from around 3500 to 500 B.C.E., the book is arranged topically, with chapters on geography, archaeology, government, religion, language and literature, arts, and daily life, among other subjects. Bertman's writing is formal but accessible, with touches of dry humor. The book is illustrated with black-and-white photographs and line drawings, which should copy well. Appendixes include a chronological table and a list of museums with major Mesopotamian collections."--Booklist
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
In describing life in Mesopotamia, Bertman's book is very good. It left me with a feeling of understanding of the people who lived there at that time, at least as far as I can from a textbook. They are people, not dry facts.
On the other hand, as another reviewer has said, it is rather stuffed full of lists. Further, it does specifically focus on Mesopotamia, dealing only peripherally with the surrounding civilizations (Egypt, Mittani, Hatti, the Levant, across the mountains in modern Iran). As a result, the impression of the chronology is pretty linear. Sumeria, Babylonia, and Assyria seem to be pearls on a temporal string rather than a group of cultures that interacted constantly with their surrounding cultures.
My other complaint is that Bertman occasionally goes off the rails: after discussing the rather harsh punishments of Mesopotamian, especially Assyrian, justice, he writes, "It would be a facile and self-serving exercise for us who are spectators at our own permissive culture's decline to mock the efforts of ancients, however excessive, to stave off civilization's fall."
But, limiting my review to what the book is rather than what I might like it to be, I'll give it five stars. It does exactly what the title claims, very well.
But presentation docks them one. They layout and typography is really dated, I feel like I'm reading something laid out in the 80s before modern typesetting. Kind of annoying.
Plus, I'm not really a fan of the Alphabetical entries. There are a ton of concise entries on more ancient cities, ancient kings, and ancient gods, but they're just listed like a dictionary with little historical or chronological context.
So a good reference guide if you already have knowledge of Mesopotamia and just need to remember who the heck a particular king was. Also good if you're reading other (better) sources on the history of ancient Mesopotamia and are having trouble keeping track of who is who.
If you're familiar with the phrase "to keep track of it all you'd need a score card"; this book is your score card. But it isn't actually a good starting place.
There are a few quirks in the layout—the first half of the book is very heavy on lists. If you’re a teacher, this can be helpful for helping your students assimilate a lot of facts very quickly. However, it also takes everything out of chronological order and makes it difficult to put anything into a chronological context. Again, if you’re a teacher, you can correct for this in your lectures, but if you’re approaching it as a layman or for independent study, you may have trouble keeping it straight whether the Akkadians or the Assyrians came first. In some cases, like the list of various gods, it is the most appropriate way to cover the information, but I do wonder if making the first two chapters a gazetteer and list of archaeologists was the best choice—indeed, I kind of feel like the archaeologists were included to take up space—they don’t appear to be mentioned again and, while relevant, would be more appropriate in an appendix than at the beginning of the book. Indeed, the chapter on archaeology really made me wonder who the audience for this book is—perhaps it’s my background in art history, but I kind of feel like if you’re taking a course on Mesopotamia, you’ve already covered carbon-14 dating in a survey class. The only reason I can see for including that would be if it were for laymen (which it’s obviously not) or if it were written for a high school class (in which case I kinda feel like I should’ve been warned that it was a high school textbook, not a college level one).
Still, these are fairly minor complaints. The biggest issue I had with this book is there is a very obvious bias present. I’m not sure if this was the author’s bias, or if it was included for the audience, but there is a strong Judeo-Christian bias throughout the book. Now, I’m not saying the bible is irrelevant to this time period (much of the Old Testament takes place in this time and region), but the manner in which it is referenced is distracting and, frankly, questionable. You’ll be going along, and then there will suddenly be a biblical quote or reference. For example, in the section on archaeology, he opens up the subsection “Digging For History” as follows: “The greatest biblical mandate for archaeologists is found in the book of Job (12:8): ‘Speak to the earth and it shall teach thee.’” This is completely inappropriate, jarring, and not the only time he does it—another example can be found in the everyday life section, when he quotes Ecclesiastes in regards to the ruined tells of the region. You can find this immediately before the subsection in that chapter on clothing, which is even worse. Indeed, the section on clothing starts out like something from a bad homeschool text. He actually starts it as follows: “According to the bible, the founders of the fashion industry were Adam and Eve.” While that’s not necessarily false (it is our earliest record of humans wearing clothes, assuming you believe the bible to be a factual historical account), it’s hardly necessary to reference Adam and Eve when discussing textile production in ancient Mesopotamia. These are just some of the more glaring examples—the book is littered with biblical references and quite clearly assumes that the audience is Judeo-Christian. Indeed, the section on religion and myth includes a passage about how the pious Christian, Jew, or Muslim might be shocked by Mesopotamian polytheism. Really? Who in the western world is going to be encountering Mesopotamia as their first polytheistic experience, when references to the Greek and Roman gods are everywhere—there’s even a Disney movie about them!
The biblical quotes and references that assume a Judeo-Christian audience are bad enough, but then I got to the section, “Mesopotamia and Sacred Scripture.” Given the subject of the book, I assumed that this would be about Mesopotamian Sacred Scripture (it seems odd that one wouldn’t cover that with religion, but it’s not unreasonable). It was not. This section covers the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Koran. Again, I’m not saying the bible is completely irrelevant, but this is a handbook to life in ancient Mesopotamia. The New Testament and the Koran were written hundreds years after the time periods covered in this text. They have nothing to do with the subject matter at hand. The Old Testament at least contains events that occurred in the same chronological era, and the author does at least attempt to make connections to Mesopotamian culture and literature, but the focus is much heavier on the biblical books mentioned. While it is somewhat relevant, this is a subject that would be much better suited for a book of its own than for inclusion in a general overview of the region.
In short, while Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia does act as a general overview and is very readable, the obvious bias is distracting, and not appropriate to all audiences. I would not recommend this book for anyone looking for an unbiased history of Mesopotamia.
It's very anthropological: It covers a very broad range of topics in Sumerian life. There was food, worship, travel, language, and other things.
Aside from their language and its writing system, this is the kind of information that I WANT in a book about a culture, a civilization. King Lists and Mythologies are fine (excellent in the original language) but give me the culmination of 150 years of digging and writing -I want to know what the run-of-the-mill man's work-a-day life was like, too.
This book is jam-packed with facts. If you can spare the money and you want to know how Sumerians lived their life, this is it.