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Newly revised and containing information from recent excavations and discovered artifacts, Ancient Iraq covers the political, cultural, and socio-economic history from Mesopotamia days of prehistory to the Christian era


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Newly revised and containing information from recent excavations and discovered artifacts, Ancient Iraq covers the political, cultural, and socio-economic history from Mesopotamia days of prehistory to the Christian era

30 review for Ancient Iraq

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Aaron

    This is one of the most important books any historian interested in the ancient Middle East should read. It is a comprehensive and easily understood volume which touches upon the most significant historical events dating from the Paleolithic to ancient Greece. This book is a one-stop encyclopedia for both the novice seeking to see the bigger historical picture, to the seasoned scholar who can always find something to refresh their memories. I have two worn copies, the first lovingly held togethe This is one of the most important books any historian interested in the ancient Middle East should read. It is a comprehensive and easily understood volume which touches upon the most significant historical events dating from the Paleolithic to ancient Greece. This book is a one-stop encyclopedia for both the novice seeking to see the bigger historical picture, to the seasoned scholar who can always find something to refresh their memories. I have two worn copies, the first lovingly held together with a large rubber band. Now I have the e-book which has the added word-search feature which is invaluable to the historical researcher. This is a book that can never be finished for it remains a valuable resource which all good historians return to for both knowledge and inspiration.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bryn Hammond

    ... and then there are history books that don't age. A lifetime's passion, humanist scholarship, a flair for writing: I don't care if this one's dated. You don't even miss pictures with such an evocative hand at the pen. ... and then there are history books that don't age. A lifetime's passion, humanist scholarship, a flair for writing: I don't care if this one's dated. You don't even miss pictures with such an evocative hand at the pen.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Shawn

    Great general history of early Mesopotamia. Why is it that French historians always write the most insightful books on pre-bronze age cultures? Whether it is Egypt, Kush or Mesopotamia. This book follows the land between the Tigris and Euphrates from stone-age Ur and Sumer into the peoples known today as the Assyrians, Chaldeans, Hittites, Semites and Babylonians. The book includes lengthy notes and possibly the most clearly drawn and comprehensible series of maps I have seen in black and white. Great general history of early Mesopotamia. Why is it that French historians always write the most insightful books on pre-bronze age cultures? Whether it is Egypt, Kush or Mesopotamia. This book follows the land between the Tigris and Euphrates from stone-age Ur and Sumer into the peoples known today as the Assyrians, Chaldeans, Hittites, Semites and Babylonians. The book includes lengthy notes and possibly the most clearly drawn and comprehensible series of maps I have seen in black and white. That is amazing and necessary for the reader to follow the chronological events occurring over 15 centuries and involving at least six different cultures. The author views many works, such as the Bible and the Epic of Gilgamesh, as legitimate, although flawed, historical documents. He relates much of what we know with events in Palestine, Egypt, Asia Minor, Crete, Iran and India. I highly recommend this book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Albert

    First published in 1964, it is naturally outdated. But ancient histories will long date themselves as long as archaeologists continue to work. It is otherwise a thorough look at the complex history of the area Roux dubs “ancient Iraq.”

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kaśyap

    Perhaps a bit outdated but is still a very well written introduction to the history of ancient Mesopotamia. Starting with a geographical overview of ancient Mesopotamia, the author gives a broad historical picture right from the paleolithic age when neanderthals still inhabited the caves in Kurdistan, through the various prehistoric hunter-gatherer, part-sedentary pastoral, and sedentary agricultural periods, and to the rise of the first Sumerian city-states and their rise and fall through vario Perhaps a bit outdated but is still a very well written introduction to the history of ancient Mesopotamia. Starting with a geographical overview of ancient Mesopotamia, the author gives a broad historical picture right from the paleolithic age when neanderthals still inhabited the caves in Kurdistan, through the various prehistoric hunter-gatherer, part-sedentary pastoral, and sedentary agricultural periods, and to the rise of the first Sumerian city-states and their rise and fall through various civilisations and empires until the Sassanian period. Even though it is essentially a history of the rise and fall of kingdoms and empires, the author does a good job in providing an overview of the social organisation and the life of the citizens, and the economic basis of the society, and how they changed over the time. On the whole a balanced, comprehensive and readable history of ancient Mesopotamia with a good sketching of the various prehistoric archaeological cultures, and the Mesopotamian mythology.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Joshua

    Excellent, excellent writing for a book I was expecting to be somewhat tedious. If you are interested in ancient Iraq and the culture that grew there this would be your book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tim Martin

    _Ancient Iraq_ by Georges Roux is a book covering the entire history and culture of Mesopotamian civilization, all three thousand years of it from its prehistory to the final demise of Mesopotamian civilization in the first century A.D. The term "Mesopotamia" originated with the Greeks and it means "the land between the rivers" and does not include all of Iraq and all of what we have come to think of as Mesopotamia. Surprisingly the ancient inhabitants had no name covering the totality of the cou _Ancient Iraq_ by Georges Roux is a book covering the entire history and culture of Mesopotamian civilization, all three thousand years of it from its prehistory to the final demise of Mesopotamian civilization in the first century A.D. The term "Mesopotamia" originated with the Greeks and it means "the land between the rivers" and does not include all of Iraq and all of what we have come to think of as Mesopotamia. Surprisingly the ancient inhabitants had no name covering the totality of the country in which they lived. Though in many ways the inventors of civilization often little remains for the visitor to see of this once great civilization; "[t]he dissolving rain, the sand-bearing winds, the earth-splitting sun conspired to obliterate all remains" and these desolate ruins "offer perhaps the best lesson in modesty that we shall ever receive from history." Part of the reason for the lack of remains is the nature of the Iraqi environment, as the meandering Tigris and Euphrates rivers occasionally change course, isolating once riverside sites as "forlorn ruin-mounds in a desert of silt, several miles from modern waterways." Also these ancient towns were built of nothing but mud as stone was rare. At first made of piled-up mud (pisé) or adobe, as early as the ninth millennium B.C. clay was mixed with straw, gravel, or potsherds and made into sun-dried or kiln-baked bricks. The very nature of the rivers had a lot to do with the origins of Mesopotamian civilization. As the combined flood periods of the two rivers do not occur when it is best for agriculture, fields must be irrigated. To create these canals and maintain them against silting-up require colossal, unending labor of many people, something that sowed both the seeds of local strife and political unity. The effort to maintain canals and to insure an equitable distribution of water reinforced the authority of the original town chiefs, the high priests, and along with the scarcity of fertile land lead to the concentration of power and wealth in a few hands in a few places, to the creation of cities where further technical and artistic achievements could be made, and the invention of writing to record transactions. In many ways the book can be read as the rise, spread, and then the decline and fall of Mesopotamian civilization. It was amazing just how small Sumeria really was; it was a mere 30,000 square kilometers, a bit smaller than Belgium, a narrow strip of land around the Euphrates from about the latitude of Baghdad stretching to the Gulf, with the average city-state less than 3000 square kilometers and at most 35,000 people. Sargon and his Akkadian successors subdued the fractious Sumerian city-states and also conquered the entire Tigris-Euphrates basin and built the first great Mesopotamian kingdom. Though the Akkadian empire only lasted 200 years, collapsing from the pressure of mountain tribes and internal rebellion, it set an important example, as to reconstruct Mesopotamian unity, to reach what we could call its natural limits "became the dream of all subsequent monarchs, and from the middle of the third millennium until the fall of Babylon in 539 B.C. the history of ancient Iraq consists of their attempts, their successes and their failures to achieve this aim." The Akkadians greatly enlarged the geographical horizon of Sumer and Sumero-Akkadian culture, supported by cuneiform writing, was adopted by the people outside of Sumeria. In addition the Akkadians forever blended the two historical populations of Iraq (the non-Semitic Sumerians and the Semites), ringed the death knell for city-states, heralded the advent of large, centralized kingdoms, and eroded the power of the temples. Later as a result of the migration of a very large ethno-linguist group, the "Indo-Europeans," young energetic nations emerged in and around Mesopotamia. That, plus the involvement of Egypt in Near Eastern politics from 1600 BC onwards meant that history in ancient Iraq was raised to a truly international scale, with Mesopotamian political fortunes as well as its culture and science influencing (and influenced by) foreign powers from then on. The Assyrians played a huge role, though they don't come off well, as Roux wrote of the greed and ambition of Assyrian kings, of "their typical oriental desire to cover themselves with glory, to pose as invincible demigods in front of their subjects," that a combination of religious views and greed lead to "brigandry and occasional massacres" in their attempts to create an empire, which was an "act of gangsterism but also a crusade." Though they did preserve Sumero-Akkadian-Babylonian culture, they left the Near East as a whole impoverished as they took much, gave little, cared little for the advancement of their subjects, and as a result of their wars the rich land of Egypt was forever lost and the Phoenicians lost their rich maritime and colonial empire to the Greeks. After a last flowering under Nebuchadrezzar II and a brilliant but short-lived "Neo-Babylonian" period Babylon fell without resistance to the Persian conqueror Cyrus. The Persians however did not destroy Babylon or other cities, and there are monuments and inscriptions dating from the Achaemenian, Hellenistic, and Parthian periods testifying to a partial survival of Mesopotamian civilization down to the 1st century AD. Why the slow decline and ultimately vanishing of this civilization? The three main reasons were the absence of any real national Mesopotamian government, the foundation by Alexander and his successors of new cities competing with and eventually superseding the older cities, and more than anything the massive linguistic, ethnic, religious, and cultural changes introduced by waves of Persian, Greek, Aramaean, and pre-Islamic Arab invaders, peoples who could neither be kept at bay nor assimilated. While previous invading peoples such as the Amorites and the Kassites found a young, vigorous culture superior to the own, one which they eventually adopted, later invaders felt that Mesopotamia offered relatively little, that it was a fossilized culture largely perpetuated by a few priests in a few temples; basically, it had died of old age.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Elentarri

    Easy to read overview of ancient Mesopotamia, but probably vastly outdated by now.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk

    I don't want to dwell too long on this book. I was looking for a good introduction to the ancient civilisations of Mesopotamia and this came out on top. Initially it came across as a mixture of dry, informed yet also sprinkled with jewels of information that would keep one hooked but as it went on, I don't know, perhaps I grew used to the slightly dated academic style. In small doses (a chapter at a time) it was thoroughly approachable, and certainly very informative. This isn't an easy topic to I don't want to dwell too long on this book. I was looking for a good introduction to the ancient civilisations of Mesopotamia and this came out on top. Initially it came across as a mixture of dry, informed yet also sprinkled with jewels of information that would keep one hooked but as it went on, I don't know, perhaps I grew used to the slightly dated academic style. In small doses (a chapter at a time) it was thoroughly approachable, and certainly very informative. This isn't an easy topic to write about and it always amazes me how archeologists are able to piece together a history of times that are so old... we're talking at least 5000 years ago when we start! The great kings are stuff of legend. They're all here; Gilgamesh, Sargon, Hammurabi, Sennacherib, Ashurbanipal and Nebuchadnezzar. The great cities of antiquity; Ur, Akkad, Nimrud and Babylon. Dynasties rise and fall, some even rise again as waves of conquest, achievement and decline flow though this ancient and not too gentle land. And always, somehow running parallel, are the ghosts of more recent wars and destruction. I finished this book very aware of what has been lost, what might still be there lying in the dust and sand awaiting discovery but also what has been wantonly destroyed by war and religious fanaticism... "What shall I do now? All my hardships/ have been for nothing.../was it for this that my hands have laboured,/ was it for this that I gave my heart's blood?" ("Gilgamesh" trans Stephen Mitchell).

  10. 5 out of 5

    Iset

    This is reminiscent of a few other older books that I've read on ancient Mesopotamia lately, and the pros and cons are pretty much the same. On the plus side, it provides an easy-to-read overview of the subject, which provides a decent introduction to further reading. On the down side, written in 1964, and even updated in 1992, it is rather outdated and it has to be kept in mind that plenty has been overturned by intervening discoveries. This is reminiscent of a few other older books that I've read on ancient Mesopotamia lately, and the pros and cons are pretty much the same. On the plus side, it provides an easy-to-read overview of the subject, which provides a decent introduction to further reading. On the down side, written in 1964, and even updated in 1992, it is rather outdated and it has to be kept in mind that plenty has been overturned by intervening discoveries.

  11. 5 out of 5

    H. Tarakmeh

    Perhaps a bit outdated, but still an excellent and readable introduction to Ancient Mesopotamia.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Neil

    The author is decent, overall, in terms of his ability to generate and hold the reader’s interest. The book does move at a good pace; the narrative keeps the reader engaged. The ‘biggest weakness’ is that the author keeps ‘skipping around’ as he writes. He will be writing about a specific time period and then suddenly start referencing some future event that may not happen for another hundred or more years. It gets a little confusing, because of how his sudden “time jumps” disrupt the flow and t The author is decent, overall, in terms of his ability to generate and hold the reader’s interest. The book does move at a good pace; the narrative keeps the reader engaged. The ‘biggest weakness’ is that the author keeps ‘skipping around’ as he writes. He will be writing about a specific time period and then suddenly start referencing some future event that may not happen for another hundred or more years. It gets a little confusing, because of how his sudden “time jumps” disrupt the flow and the reader’s attention in the process. Or, he will stop where he is in his narrative and then create a ‘new section’ in which he backtracks a couple of hundred years or so to lay the groundwork for his next topic of conversation (usually the encroachment of some new people-group and how this group’s power/strength was built up to the point where it posed a threat to various Mesopotamian empires/kingdoms). It is interesting, as he does not consider the Assyrians as forming an empire until 911 BC or so, which is when other scholars consider to the advent of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. He considers any earlier ‘empires’ to be ‘merely’ Assyrian kingdoms and not empires in their own right. I cannot decide if he is correct or not in this assessment of his; it is more his opinion, anyway, in that regard. I think he does make some reasonable postulations and theories as to why some events happened the way they did (such as how the Egyptians and Hittites, formerly the bitterest of enemies, became close friends and allies because of how the Assyrian “kingdom” was gaining in power and might, having taken advantage of the conflict between these two nations to expand its own influence at the expense of the former foes). I read just over half of this book, using it as a source for a paper I was writing. I enjoyed his writing style enough, overall, I could see myself going back and finishing it at some point in time. He is engaging, interesting, and put forth some interesting ideas and interpretations I had not heard of or read about before in terms of the Assyrians. I think, after having read a good chunk of this book, why he considers the “Old Period” and “Middle Period” to be “just kingdoms” and not “empires” (it seemed like it had more to do with the size of the “kingdom” and how much influence it exerted over its neighbors; I think the ability to communicate and “rapid transportation”, an improved infrastructure, had something to do with it as well). Overall, it was an interesting book and I enjoyed reading it and learning a bit more about the Assyrians.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    A great overview of Ancient Mesopotamia. Very heavily biased towards the military history, but understandable since this is how most evidence comes down to us. Despite this, valiant efforts to reconstruct economic and social life. Does a wonderful job placing the subject in its geographical, historical, and even Biblical context. I'm left wanting to dig deeper into the subject, specifically to understand exactly why and how the several empires collapsed: perpetual war on the frontiers is evident A great overview of Ancient Mesopotamia. Very heavily biased towards the military history, but understandable since this is how most evidence comes down to us. Despite this, valiant efforts to reconstruct economic and social life. Does a wonderful job placing the subject in its geographical, historical, and even Biblical context. I'm left wanting to dig deeper into the subject, specifically to understand exactly why and how the several empires collapsed: perpetual war on the frontiers is evidently part of the answer, but not the whole of it. Roux is an excellent writer, and it's obvious to see why this book is considered a classic.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    It's important to realize what this book is - it is a synthesis of a lot of history and archaeology. While the ostensible audience is the layman rather than the specialist, it is not nearly so much a work of popular history as might be implied. Still, I enjoyed the tracing of Mesopotamian culture from pre-historic times up through the fall of Babylon and decline of Mesopotamian culture. The book gives a lot of information about the epistemology of the whole thing, the inscriptions and artifacts It's important to realize what this book is - it is a synthesis of a lot of history and archaeology. While the ostensible audience is the layman rather than the specialist, it is not nearly so much a work of popular history as might be implied. Still, I enjoyed the tracing of Mesopotamian culture from pre-historic times up through the fall of Babylon and decline of Mesopotamian culture. The book gives a lot of information about the epistemology of the whole thing, the inscriptions and artifacts that inform the story the author is telling. I find it refreshing, but it does make the work a bit denser than some may be looking for.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Raskil

    I found this an excellent review and analysis of the history of Mesopotamia from the its earliest beginnings to its final days. It was gripping and well told. Moreover, it's perfectly accessible to the non-specialist. I found it superior on every level to the previous book on Mesopotamia that I read (and also rated here in goodreads). I found this an excellent review and analysis of the history of Mesopotamia from the its earliest beginnings to its final days. It was gripping and well told. Moreover, it's perfectly accessible to the non-specialist. I found it superior on every level to the previous book on Mesopotamia that I read (and also rated here in goodreads).

  16. 5 out of 5

    Pushon Bhattacharya

    Ancient Iraq is a fascinating, well-paced and accessible introduction to Assyriology. The book succeeds not only in its depiction of the glitz and glamour of the Ancient Mesopotamian palaces and temples, but also in its depiction of the mundane, day-to-day lives of the slaves, artisans and farmers of the day. The only drawback is the slightly odd translation job.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Marian

    Loved, loved, loved this book! I'm incredibly grateful to my professor for assigning this book. We were only meant to read two chapters, but before I knew it, I was immersed in it and did not want to put it down. To anyone interested in history, especially ancient one, I'd recommend this book 100%. Loved, loved, loved this book! I'm incredibly grateful to my professor for assigning this book. We were only meant to read two chapters, but before I knew it, I was immersed in it and did not want to put it down. To anyone interested in history, especially ancient one, I'd recommend this book 100%.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Morgane

    very dry with too many unnecessary detours; not the most compelling book i’ve read about sumerian culture etc. but it is certainly thorough.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rob Markley

    This really is an excellent survey of the entire scope of ancient history at its most important nucleus. It starts with the very beginnings of civilisation (that is to say it does not really look into paleolithic times, but rather begins with settlement and village life transitioning into the first cities of the Ubaid civilisation - Hassuna the first archaeological period - dated here c5800BC..). Finally it commences an extended wrap up when things begin to transition away from Mesopotamian indi This really is an excellent survey of the entire scope of ancient history at its most important nucleus. It starts with the very beginnings of civilisation (that is to say it does not really look into paleolithic times, but rather begins with settlement and village life transitioning into the first cities of the Ubaid civilisation - Hassuna the first archaeological period - dated here c5800BC..). Finally it commences an extended wrap up when things begin to transition away from Mesopotamian indigenous cultural development with the conquest by Alexander. Clearly Roux is an admirer of both Assyria and Babylon in all their diverse elements and sees them as the high point of this vast history, while I personally would take the opposite view, that both represent the ultimate corruption and decadence (in the sense that things are taken beyond excess) of the earlier great flowering of civilisation. I personally look to Sumer as the pinnacle. Nevertheless this is the best, in fact the only book I have discovered to actually deliver a complete survey. It gives the historic narrative as well as tracing the cultural and ethnic changes very well. Despite being from 1963 (this edition 1979) it is not in any way outdated nor superseded. Rather later research suffers from the academic malady of over-specialisation and competitive snobbery - in other words the inability to see the wood for the trees; such that no one more recently would attempt or dare a full survey. This is the great malaise of modern history that 'story' is no longer told, the generalist is dead. Notwithstanding this above praise for the book, there are criticisms to be leveled. Naturally enough given the massive scope of the work, Roux, even at 400 pages cannot argue his case. Rather he presents changes and developments, even more so dates; with a certainty that cannot exist given the antiquity of sources and their disparate origins (albeit the immense quality of material available). It would have been good, all the same to qualify more of his own assertions or interpretations that they are suppositions, whereby he occasionally comments that he himself has leaned towards one of competing explanations offered by others. Overall Roux presents a conventional or consensus viewpoint, so at least he isn't pushing any particular personal agenda (another malaise of modern history!) However all this is not helped by Roux's writing style. One problem is the vast number of unfamiliar personal and place names - often interchangeable that are integral to the story, such that it is difficult follow what is going on. This is not at all helped by Roux's difficult paragraph and sometimes sentence structure, that does not introduce to the reader what immediately follows. Also he fails to ever summarise or conclude things such that the reader can never tie things together purely from the narrative. All this is far more than an editing issue, rather a style issue - perhaps due to transposition from native French into English? That is probably being generous - really Roux needed to work on his writing before putting this together. However these problems are mitigated or at least compensated for, by some very good maps and timelines at the end.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Charles Garard

    ANCIENT IRAQ by George Roux is not only an essential read because of political and violent upheaval in the world today but because it throws light on ancient cultures, races, and belief structures that help us to understand how civilization evolved over centuries. This is the third edition which has undergone some changes and additions due to recent (and continuing) research by field archaeologists, linguists, historians, etc. Due to continuing discoveries and updates, there is little doubt that ANCIENT IRAQ by George Roux is not only an essential read because of political and violent upheaval in the world today but because it throws light on ancient cultures, races, and belief structures that help us to understand how civilization evolved over centuries. This is the third edition which has undergone some changes and additions due to recent (and continuing) research by field archaeologists, linguists, historians, etc. Due to continuing discoveries and updates, there is little doubt that future editions will continue to grow as an ever-fattening storehouse of knowledge. Written for laymen and students, Roux says, he has walked (by this own admission) a fine line between being pedantic and trivial. If at times his compendium of data does lean toward the pedantic, this is understood considering the immensity of the cataloging of information beginning circa 4000 BC (or BCE). Therefore, this door-stopper tome becomes a cavalcade of names, places, events, and dates -- not all of which, he admits, can be certified to be 100% accurate because of texts and artifacts (cliche alert) lost to the ravages of time. This attention to finite details is not a requirement for the enjoyment of the glimpse of the daily lives of peoples who are so far removed from us as to be, merely because of the epochs that have passed, thought to be prehistoric. I came to this book and topic through the backdoor by way of studying and teaching mythology and early world literature. My dentist gave this book to me after he discovered my interest in THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH as well as many of the gods, including Marduk, Ea, Enlil, Ishtar, and Anu. Because northern Iraq is his country of origin, he was pleased to learn that I had taught the introduction of writing as a method of record-keeping, and this included inventing such tools as the seal stamp, the cylinder seal, bullae (hollow clay balls which held tokens that represented one's personal property), and the personal identity mark (or brand) called the wasm. Most of these are mentioned in Roux's book. If you are looking for a quick entertaining read, this may not be your cup of tea. However, if you like your tea spiked with facts about empires, rebellions, early laws (the Code of Hammurabi), early medicine, Sumerian cosmology, wars and enemies (e.g. the Hittites), this works belongs in your life. If you are a writer and/or an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction that deals with lost worlds (in my case, Atlantis), this work deserves a prominent position on your reference shelf. Couple this with one or more of the astounding books about the Sumerians by Zecharia Sitchin and you'll find your own current world enriched indeed.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Joe Banks

    Georges Roux's book Ancient Iraq tells the stories of Sumer, Akkad, Babylon and Assyria, the four civilisations which successively existed between the third and first millennia BC in the area which is covered by the modern state of Iraq. The written history of Iraq extends further back than that of any other country, apart from possibly that of Egypt, because the people of Sumer were the amongst the first to develop a system of writing, making wedge shaped impressions with a stylus onto tablets Georges Roux's book Ancient Iraq tells the stories of Sumer, Akkad, Babylon and Assyria, the four civilisations which successively existed between the third and first millennia BC in the area which is covered by the modern state of Iraq. The written history of Iraq extends further back than that of any other country, apart from possibly that of Egypt, because the people of Sumer were the amongst the first to develop a system of writing, making wedge shaped impressions with a stylus onto tablets of clay. The book is written with a studied balance and a desire to support any claim, no matter how small, with the evidence of the written and archaeological record, however interesting, however tedious. The focus of the book is on the social, cultural and political life of these civilisations. The chapters on the political history of the region are rather easy to get lost in, with numerous Assurbanipals, Assurnasipals, Assurdans, Tiglathpilesars variously invading or being invaded by their neighbours. On the cultural and social side the book is rather more successful. Here the incredible learning and detail of the author really works, with fascinating discussions of, for instance, the layout of the city of Babylon, the Assyrian Calendar (13 28-day lunar months to a year with leap years in seven of every nineteen years if you’re interested) and the surprisingly stable pantheon of gods which the four successive civilisations all worshipped. Another highlight is the chapter on the geography of the region which discusses the problems such as drought, lack of timber and soil salinisation which affected the the area between the Tigris and Euphrates, heartland of the civilisations of ancient Iraq. To some extent the common idea that this area gave rise to the first civilisations because it was incredibly fertile seems to be myth. Although the author does not speculate on this, perhaps it was overcoming the barriers to successful agriculture which led the people of Sumer to develop writing and a bureaucracy. It is easy to see that once farming had reached a certain scale such tools would have been vital to maintaining communal systems of irrigation, managing labourers and also codifying customs of land ownership. The book is rather heavy-going in places, partly because of the level of detail in the research and eagerness to discuss every possible nuance of a point, once raised. The book is, however, still very readable and the subject merits this combination of balanced analysis backed by comprehensive research.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Gavin White

    Even though this was written back in the 1960s I think it is still the best general history of the Ancient Near East in print. Rather than rattle out a succession of names,facts and dates, the author pulls together his information and creates a series of engaging narratives that I have found makes me retain much more information than I would have obtained by reading a dry history of the region. Don't get me wrong, it didn't bring any personage to life as you might find in a good novel but it did Even though this was written back in the 1960s I think it is still the best general history of the Ancient Near East in print. Rather than rattle out a succession of names,facts and dates, the author pulls together his information and creates a series of engaging narratives that I have found makes me retain much more information than I would have obtained by reading a dry history of the region. Don't get me wrong, it didn't bring any personage to life as you might find in a good novel but it did impart a distinct character and a very human cast of mind to so many of the major players that shaped the course of the earliest known civilisations.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rob Roy

    For the past twenty years or more, Iraq has been the center of our headlines. This book is a survey of ancient Iraq covering 2,500 years or more. Roux puts those historical notes of various nations and peoples, into a context, and a chronology. I realized while reading, that while I have read numerous books on aspects covered here, the last survey I read was in my freshman year World History course. If you have an interest in what went before, I recommend this book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Silverleaf

    Very informative and generally accessibly-written. I didn't expect to read it cover to cover, and I didn't. It's just too dense. Instead, I poked around through it, identifying and reading the topics and eras that interested me. It's a library book so I have to return it but if ever I bought a copy, it would be the type of book I'd keep nearby and go back to again and again to pour over bits and pieces. Very informative and generally accessibly-written. I didn't expect to read it cover to cover, and I didn't. It's just too dense. Instead, I poked around through it, identifying and reading the topics and eras that interested me. It's a library book so I have to return it but if ever I bought a copy, it would be the type of book I'd keep nearby and go back to again and again to pour over bits and pieces.

  25. 5 out of 5

    David

    I casually picked this book up in a used book shop in about 1983 and it sparked my interest in the whole subject. I think I was still under the influence of Indiana Jones at the time, and it all just came together in a heady brew that intoxicated me, to the music of Saint-Saens Bacchanale in Samsun & Delilah.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    A wide ranging popular-press survey, lucidly written with a good eye for an illuminating and/or delightful detail. This comes highly recommended as an introduction to ancient Mesopotamia for someone with some other history under his or her belt, although it may be a little dense for a neophyte to historical writing in general.

  27. 4 out of 5

    David

    Showing its age in terms of style and language compared to more recent historical overviews. Follows a largely narrative approach rather than than comparative and as a result can be tough going at times (lists of kings, cities, political dynasties and wars) without necessarily much insight or many hypotheses as to why things happened. However, still a good, detailed overview

  28. 5 out of 5

    R. Fox

    Thankfully a leading French scholar revised this classic in 1991. Before that (and the original revision in 1980), this work was a classic but definitely outdated. But, it's been revised and updated, and a thorough revision in 1991 hardly means its out of date. It's essential to its area of study. Thankfully a leading French scholar revised this classic in 1991. Before that (and the original revision in 1980), this work was a classic but definitely outdated. But, it's been revised and updated, and a thorough revision in 1991 hardly means its out of date. It's essential to its area of study.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    The go to book for Ancient Iraq. An easy to read yet very informative book. Mr. Roux outlines all the major events of the time up to the fall of Babylon to the Persians and offers brief outlines of the various periods following the fall. It is an enjoyable book, and it definitely enhanced my understanding of the history of Ancient Mesopotamia.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Miriam Day

    Although dated in some respects, Georges Roux' book provides a scholarly overview of the development and history of early societies in Ancient Iraq. Academic, thorough, a dense read at times, it nonetheless succeeds in bringing to life the rise and fall of successive cultures from pre-history to the arrival of Alexander the Great in Babylon. Although dated in some respects, Georges Roux' book provides a scholarly overview of the development and history of early societies in Ancient Iraq. Academic, thorough, a dense read at times, it nonetheless succeeds in bringing to life the rise and fall of successive cultures from pre-history to the arrival of Alexander the Great in Babylon.

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