- Capa comum: 148 páginas
- Editora: Oxford University Press, USA (18 de novembro de 2013)
- Idioma: Inglês
- ISBN-10: 0195377990
- ISBN-13: 978-0195377996
- Dimensões do produto: 17 x 1,3 x 10,9 cm
- Peso do produto: 141 g
- Lista de mais vendidos da Amazon: no. 84,138 em Livros (Conheça o Top 100 na categoria Livros)
The Ancient Near East (Inglês) Capa Comum – 17 nov 2013
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I need my maps! And Podany provides two very good ones. I noted the criticism of the maps in other reviews… which are now a year or so old. That criticism may have been valid at the time; and if it was, the issue is now fixed, which is one of the beauties of the Kindle publishing process. Each of the two maps can be expanded many fold, thereby ensuring the readability of all the script.
Podany commences by stating: “For thousands of years before the first cities were constructed, people lived and prospered in Mesopotamia.” The first real city she identifies is Uruk, with about 25,000 people, and a perimeter city wall ten kilometers long, which was built around 3100 BCE. There were distinct social and economic advantages to city life, as many of us know, which overcame the downside: noises, smells, and diseases. The city was on the Euphrates River, in southern modern-day Iraq. Their god was “Inanna,” and their writing, on clay tablets, is called “proto-cuneiform.” Most of these tablets served prosaic economic purposes, such as tabulating the number of sheep delivered to the temple.
From these beginnings, societal structure evolved in terms of complexity, the population numbers grew, and the centers of power shifted up and down the Euphrates and Tigris River valley. The concept of hereditary kingship developed around 2900. Two city states developed substantial rivalries: Umma and Lagash. Trade in basic commodities became more common, and extended as far as India and Afghanistan. A fellow Amazon reviewer recently introduced me to Akkad, and its language, which his son briefly study. Their leader, Sargon, established the world’s first real empire, which stretched from the Mediterranean to the Persian (Arabian) Gulf. After that empire’s collapse, the city of Ur, in the far south of present-day Iraq, became the dominant power. Over 120,000 clay tablets have been discovered from Ur. Podany describes the substantial long-term trade arrangements between Kanesh, in central Turkey, and Assur, in northern Mesopotamia, which were 1,200 km. apart (It was six week journey by mule caravan).
In the old Babylonian Empire, Hammurabi became famous for the rule of law he created (and that empire would become infamous due to its Biblical notoriety of enslaving the Jews.) In the second half of the second millennium (1595-1155) both Egypt and the Hittite Empire (of central Turkey) were brought into the world system via the cuneiform writing system. Much of this grand system was devastated around 1200 by “the Sea People” of which little is known as to their origins. A new Assyrian empire arose, with its capital at Nineveh. The author’s account ends with the ascendency in the region of Persian power, led by Cyrus, in 559 BCE.
How do we know all this? Podany describes some of the work of archeologists, and how today’s knowledge has been hampered by inexperienced excavators, looters, and, of course, wars. It was a good read, and will serve as a convenient reference for the future. She provides an ample list of references for further reading. Overall, another 5-star read.
“The Ancient Near East: A very short Introduction” is an excellent primer on the ancient Near East, or better, the Cuneiform world from 35000 - 539 BDE. This is exactly as the title indicates, a short (app 150 pages) overview of the Eastern Mediterranean into ancient Iraq. Mrs. Podany gives us short sketches of several of the important cities and cultures of the area and era. These are well done, and give a good taste of what the period was like, at least for the ruling classes. The intrigue, diplomacy and interactions of the peoples is well demonstrated.
One is advised to go to such books as “1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed” for more detail in a readable form. But the collage of cultures, peoples, languages, religions over that and region is vast and seldom taught or understood as a unit. This little book gives the uninformed reader an insight into what can be discovered in further research. It is an invaluable aid in understanding the people and cultures.
This book is not for the seasoned historian of the period. It is for the masses of us who want a taste of the era to see if we want to explore further. It does this very well.
The book is very readable. Technical terms are either well explained or absent. The maps and pictures well illustrate what is known.
A well done short introduction well worth the time to read.
Along the way, the author shares insight into cultural and technological developments including the development of writing and the institutions of kingship and empire. Language moves from eastern Sumerian to central Sumerian (Akkadian) to western Sumerian. (Amorite) as new people emerged and/or the locus of power shifted. The author touches on the literature of Sumeria, including Gilgamesh, the flood story of Utnapishtim, and Enlil's "Tablet of Destiny." I want to share the last because it is interesting and was touched on in Mark S. Smith's "The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel's Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts:
//Order was maintained in the universe because the king of the gods possessed an object called the "Tablet of Destinies" on which were inscribed the me (pronounced "may"). These me were never written down on any earthly tablet, as far as we know, for human edification. But they encompassed all that kept chaos at bay. Humans were not significant enough, in the Mesopotamian view, to have any major role in cosmic events. It was neither here nor there to the gods what humans actually believed about them. They simply were. And just as the gods needed a king, so too did the humans. This was part of the cosmic order.
Podany, Amanda H. (2013-10-21). The Ancient Near East: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Kindle Locations 521-526). Oxford University Press, USA. Kindle Edition.
Insofar as that was the case, one can see the "anti-pagan polemic" in the Old Testament's claim that humans were created in the image and likeness of God (albeit the Sumerians believed that men were created in the same shape as their gods, albeit that was a fact without significance.)
Clearly, the author's interest is directed to Mesopotamia. Egypt gets some mentions, such as its involvement in the cooperative era of the Late Bronze Age, when Egypt was willing to use cuneiform and clay tablets to communicate with her international allies. But the area outside of Mesopotamia is largely off-camera.
There is some overlap here with Eric Cline's 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed (Turning Points in Ancient History), for those with an interest in the mystery of the collapse of Late Bronze Age civilization.
The writing is clear and direct. I listened to this book mostly as an audiobook (as part of Kindle's "whispersync" program.) I found the writing and the subject to be sufficiently interesting to keep my attention as I was driving. Although the book tends to fall on the academic side, the "very short" format keeps the work focused and direct. I think that someone with an interest in "ancient" history would find this to be a worthy addition to their library.