Monday, September 24, 2007

Book Review: A History of the Ancient Near East

Scholia Reviews ns 16 (2007) 38.
(Review by Jan P. Stronk, Ancient History, University of Amsterdam.)

M. Van De Mieroop, A History of the Ancient Near East, ca 3000-323 BC. Malden, Oxford, Carlton: Blackwell, 2007[2]. Blackwell History of the Ancient World. Pp. xxii + 341, incl. 34 figures, 3 charts, and 21 maps.

Van De Mieroop discusses various aspects of the civilizations present at different times in the Ancient Near East, based upon sound research. Perhaps hard to notice is the inclusion in this edition of further research, compared to the first edition, occasionally leading to new insights. If the first edition was already by far the best choice for a relatively simple introduction to the history of the Ancient Near East for the English-speaking world -- certainly for the period until the rise of the Achaemenid Empire -- this certainly is the case for this edition. . . . Each chapter is, moreover, written by (a) specialist author(s), who provide(s) every chapter with a generally succinct, sometimes (as in the case of the El Amarna letters) a somewhat more elaborate introduction into the period and its main events and/or the nature of the texts. . . .

Another feature that strikes the eye is the fact that, although the Amarna-archive of Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV / Akhenaten provides some (excellently translated!) texts for this volume, further Egyptian texts are absent. That the Egyptian texts were written in a different writing system is true, but the same goes for the texts in Aramaic or Hebrew which are treated in this volume. That Egyptology is a discipline in its own right is true, but so is, for example, Hittitology.

See the above page for the complete review

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