For many centuries it was accepted that civilization began with the Greeks and Romans. During the last two hundred years, however, archaeological discoveries in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Crete, Syria, Anatolia, Iran, and the Indus Valley have revealed that rich cultures existed in these regions some two thousand years before the Greco-Roman era. In this fascinating work, H.W.F SFor many centuries it was accepted that civilization began with the Greeks and Romans. During the last two hundred years, however, archaeological discoveries in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Crete, Syria, Anatolia, Iran, and the Indus Valley have revealed that rich cultures existed in these regions some two thousand years before the Greco-Roman era. In this fascinating work, H.W.F Saggs presents a wide-ranging survey of the more notable achievements of these societies, showing how much the ancient peoples of the Near and Middle East have influenced the patterns of our daily lives. Saggs discusses the invention of writing, tracing it from the earliest pictograms (designed for account-keeping) to the Phoenician alphabet, the source of the Greek and all European alphabets. He investigates teh curricula, teaching methods, and values of the schools from which scribes graduated. Analyzing the provisions of some of the law codes, he illustrates the operation of international law and the international trade that it made possible. Saggs highlights the creative ways that these ancient peoples used their natural resources, describing the vast works in stone created by the Egyptians, the development of technology in bronze and iron, and the introduction of useful plants into regions outside their natural habitat. In chapters on mathematics, astronomy, and medicine, he offers interesting explanations about how modern calculations of time derive from the ancient world, how the Egyptians practiced scientific surgery, and how the Babylonians used algebra. The book concludes with a discussion of ancient religion, showing its evolution from the most primitive forms toward monotheism....
|Title||:||Civilization before Greece and Rome|
|Number of Pages||:||352 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Civilization before Greece and Rome Reviews
An informative and lively tome about ancient civilization, especially Egypt, Israel and Babylonia, but with some bits on the Phoenicians, Crete and the Indus Valley. Since it’s set up by general topic --- trade, law, religion --- and not area or chronology, there is a lot of repetition. Overlooking that, the information is fascinating; Saggs presents a world in which surgery, higher math, literacy, class awareness, and other “modern” forces are already in place.Saggs seems to know every ancient language ever spoken in the mideast, so he paints a very vivid picture. Thousands of years ago, rulers sent ambassadors, workers went on strike (!), citizens filed lawsuits, merchants traded with and cheated one another, children attended established schools, slaves married free citizens, scribes investigated detailed math systems... Perhaps most interesting, Saggs uses the Bible as a source in an interesting way. He admits that it is divinely inspired even as he points out its obvious genesis in primitive human thought. An interesting example is Hiram, who built Saul's temple. In 2 Kings he is described as a worker in brass or bronze. But in 2 Chronicles, which recounts the same events from the perspective of much later, Hiram is described as a worker in brass and iron, among other things. This, Saggs says, is because the later peoples who wrote 2 Chronicles assumed a builder would be able to work iron, so added the "fact" in; whereas the people who wrote 2 Kings, who did not know iron, didn't mention it. There are lots of great tidbits like this, such as why smith gods were always portrayed as lame (arsenic poisoning crippled ancient smiths); Jacob’s wrestling with an “angel” was originally a tale of a demonic figure who will not let trespassers over his bridge; Cain and Abel represent settled people, farmers, taking over hunters’ domains; and so on. In all, a really first-rate introduction to the subject.
Readability 5. Rating 6. Not the easiest book in the world to read, but useful. Saggs is not the most engaging writer, and he didn’t waste any imagination organizing or presenting his material - first let’s talk about law, then about medicine, then about religion... That being said, he does cover a lot of interesting ground, and comes across as a very competent conveyor of fact as well as presenter of convincing interpretations. I also enjoyed the way he brought me very close to the primary materials without leaving me to fend for myself, as well as his clear delineation between what he perceived as relatively indisputable material and that to which much less certainty can be attached. Finally, he gave me a glimpse of the richness of the archaeological record, and the effort that has gone into understanding it. All in all, not fabulous, but worthwhile.
This book provides a very general overview of civilizations which existed in the ancient near East prior to the beginning of the Hellenic Age. Cultures covered include Egypt, Sumeria, Babylonia, Assyria, Phoenicia, Israel, Minoan Crete, and others. As is common with books that attempt to survey a very broad topic, this volume is able to provide only the most general discussion of the vast number of topics it addresses.
Very informative, but a little dry. Good use of ancient texts and related scholarship to make his points; I would definitely refer students doing a research project or paper to this book as a good place to start their research. I have to confess that after the midway point I began to lose interest and started skimming through the latter chapters... there are simply too many other books to read on my list. He deserves credit though for a thoughtful summation of his topic.
This is an introductory overview of ancient near eastern civilizations, arranged topically. It talks more about their ways of life than their history. Most of the information is about Mesopotamians and Egyptians, although the Hittites, Israelites, and others are mentioned. If you have read other books about these civilizations, you might not find much new material here. But it seems like an excellent *first* book to read.
The historiography seemed a bit dated. Not as critical as it could have been, especially with respect to class, gender, etc. (all the interesting stuff)... As a broad strokes introduction, though, it served its purpose.
Enlightening. The amount of documentary evidence profitably referenced is enough, on its own, to make the read worthwhile.