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Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195183641
ISBN-10: 0195183649
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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.

RBB
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"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
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Product Details

  • 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: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #618,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I just spent about 10 minutes with this book in a store. I know the genre of "Travel Books to Ancient Lands", however, and I'd say that this book is worth its weight in gold! It's chock full of interesting tidbits on how the Sumerians lived in a very readable format. Academics should take notes -books like this will fly off the shelves!

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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is THE book for those who want to know more about this topic. You can turn to it with much appreciation. It is well-written, presented in a easy way , gives a time-line of history in the back, divides sections into logical areas ( like history, archetecture etc). Just a complete book. Goes well with Roux's book "Ancient Iraq".5 stars.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'll give this five stars, but I'm a bit conflicted about it.

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.
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