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The Sumerians (Norton Library (Paperback)) Paperback – September 17, 1965
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This book is a look inside his mind, how he viewed the people whose past he was uncovering. Sure, he got some things wrong. He did not have the benefit of the research of countless others who came after him. In particular, he appears convinced that there was something he calls "Sumerian nationalism" which was in conflict with rise of Semitic speakers in Mesopotamia. There is no evidence that the ancient Mesopotamians had a concept of an ethnic group or that this concept was a source of conflict.
Woolley was also writing during an era when it was considered scientific to view history in terms of what he called "race," so he returns regularly to contrast his view of the racial stock of the Sumerians with that of the Semites in Mesopotamia.
Yes, this book is a period piece, but I learned a lot from it, and I am a beginner. Indeed, this is the first history of the Sumerians I have ever read from cover to cover. The listing of the Sumerian King's List early in the book is particularly valuable. I find myself returning to it from time to time. What city was Gilgamesh king of? Oh yes, Erech.
If these are the kinds of questions and ideas that occupy your mind rather than lifes' mundane--if you are curious and inquisitive re the immensely profound questions of mankind thus far gone unanswered then you, no doubt, have already at least a sketchy knowledge of the Sumerian civilization and those that both preceded and followed it.
The Sumerians provided us with our first written records of early man, and the creation and flood stories--3000 years before Christ and the Bible. They speak of Gods and Kings who ruled for hundreds, even thousands, of years and incredible events that bewilder and stagger the imagination.
Was it all true? did it actually happen? That was the subject of a lifetime of research and study by the preeminent archaeologist Charles Wooley who authored this book. There are shortcomings in this book to be sure--somewhat disjointed, lacking in footnotes and documentation, not enough tie-ins to the Biblical Old Testament, slightly outdated, and a shortage of tables, graphs and timelines (It covers some 32,000 years of time, dozens of Dynasties and hundreds of Kings.
It,therefore, needs to be supplemented with other texts but it is nevertheless jam-packed with pieces to the puzzle and consequently, is an indispensible part of your toolbox for deciphering the past.
DH Koester--"And There I Was" And There I Was Volume VIII: A Backpacking Adventure in Ethiopia
I. The beginnings II. The early history of sumer III. The Period of civil wars IV. Sumerian Society V. The Third Dynasty of Ur VI. Isin and Larsa VII. The claim of Sumer
The first and second chapters are thrilling, introducing the reader to the history, peoples, and ideas of Sumeria. The last chapter summarizes the contributions Sumerian society has made to Egyptian, Greek, and Western Civilization, and I found this particularly fascinating as well. In between, however, I found the text dry, the writing style obtuse, many of the details too cumbersome for the lay reader (but perhaps of interest to the archeologist), and, as a reader below pointed out, the lack of citations disturbing.
One of Woolley's goals in writing this books was to debunk the myth that the Egyptians were the most advanced ancient civilization. In this respect, he has succeeded admirably. His discussion of the development of law was similarly fascinating. However, unless you are particularly interested in law or are an avid reader and collecter of books on Sumeria, I would recommend checking this book out from the library rather than buying it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wooley was great for his time; however he was somewhat naive regarding the entire prehistory context. Moreover the paperback edition I received probably had coffee spilled on it.Published 18 months ago by carol avrin
Total read is about 10 pages of conjecture and UFO posturing, not a waste of money but a true theft of my $6.95. Read morePublished on February 12, 2014 by Jfrodigh
Bought it for my adult son. He loves it and uses it for reference all the time. Excellent service. I recommend.Published on December 16, 2013 by J. Dingess
A good quality edition of this classic of the field. It is a no-brainer acquisition. Readers should be advised though that this book should be accompanied by a contemporary book,... Read morePublished on January 2, 2013 by Benjamin Davies
The book sent was a cheap substitute, with different ISBN number, to the one ordered. It was a modern reprint, by Barnes and Noble with very poor quality paper. Hence 1 star! Read morePublished on September 22, 2010 by Paul B
ARTIFACTS, UPDATES ON ARCHEOLOGY FINDS AT DIGS IN IRAQ, INCLUDING THE UNCOVERING OF THE GREAT WALLS OF URECH.Published on July 21, 2006 by Thomas E. Estrella