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Old 04-20-2012, 02:56 PM
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Recommend Books on Early Fertile Crescent Civilizations?


I'm interested in the early civilizations of the Fertile Crescent / Mesopotamia...particularly the very early ones, Sumer, Akkad, Assyria, the rise of writing, priest-kings, and so forth. For now, I am somewhat less interested in later-era, better-known stuff like the Alexandrian conquest and Roman periods.

I recently went to the library and browsed through the stacks on this topic and the selection was pretty disappointing -- mostly older-looking, stodgy-looking, didactic stuff. Some of it looked like dusty tomes from the 1940s-1960s and even earlier. Even the newer stuff looked kind of pedestrian when I flipped a few pages.

I know that there's less known about, and less written about, this period than some others -- I guess the unknowns are part of what make it interesting. But there's probably some newer/better stuff out there.

I'm also interested in timelines. Browsing Wikipedia and the Web, I often see confusing or apparently conflicting times in the same article and I've never had a clear picture of the sequence and duration of the various cultures and empires of the period (maybe because they're often treated separately.)

Can anyone recommend the latest books on these subjects? Preferably things you found well-written or interesting -- I know history has a dull rep, but there's definitely good writing and bad writing in the field. If there's "new thinking" or research that would be good too. As long as it's not "ancient aliens" kind of new thinking.

Thanks for sharing your expertise.
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Old 04-20-2012, 09:20 PM
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I found History Begins at Sumer to be a very easy, interesting read. My favorite chapter was "The First Juvenile Delinquents" which includes a letter written by a Sumerian father who bemoans the lack of respect among kids today.
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Old 04-21-2012, 12:26 AM
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I'm also interested in this period, nice one, Amazon.co.jp carries it, ordered!
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Old 04-21-2012, 01:53 AM
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The Human Past is an excellent introduction to early civilization - it covers the period from the rise of the earliest hominids to the rise of the early major civilizations all over the globe, from the Fertile Crescent to South America and China. I enjoyed it immensely - it's a great book to just have lying around for a bit of interesting reading once in a while.
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Old 04-21-2012, 06:20 AM
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It's fiction, but based on your OP, you might enjoy Michener's historical novel The Source.
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Old 04-21-2012, 07:08 AM
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Another good work of historical fiction set in the period is Gilgamesh the King by Robert Silverberg.
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Old 04-21-2012, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartAlecCat View Post
It's fiction, but based on your OP, you might enjoy Michener's historical novel The Source.
The Source was written in 1965. I would estimate that 90% of everything factual we know about the period has been set down in the 50 years since. Research based on anything older may be worse than useless since you'll get so much now known to be wrong.
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Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
Another good work of historical fiction set in the period is Gilgamesh the King by Robert Silverberg.
A 24 page children's book? I revere Silverberg, but seriously?

When I wrote an article about Babylonian astronomy, I used Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia by Karen Rhea Nemet-Nejat and Babylonians by H. W. F. Saggs, both good general introductions.
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Old 04-21-2012, 05:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post

A 24 page children's book? I revere Silverberg, but seriously?
Umm... sorry, wrong link. Here.
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Old 04-22-2012, 08:42 PM
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From a linguistic perspective you can't go past Nicolas Ostler's Empires of the Word, simply brilliant and riveting stuff.
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