Ancient Near East - Resource Bibliography

Publications - Ancient Near East

The Sumerians

By Samuel Noah Kramer
University of Chicago (1971)
386 pages

The Sumerians, the pragmatic and gifted people who preceded the Semites in the land first known as Sumer and later as Babylonia, created what was probably the first high civilization in the history of man, spanning the fifth to the second millenniums B.C.

 

This book is an unparalleled compendium of what is known about them.

Remains the best publication on the Sumerians!

A History of the Ancient Near East

By Marc Van De Mieroop
Blackwell Publishing (2006)
341 pages

Beginning with the emergence of writing around 3000 BC, the narrative ranges from the origins of the first cities in Mesopotamia, through the growth of the Babylonian and Hittite kingdoms, to the Assyrian and Persian empires. It ends with the transformation of the ancient Near East by the conquests of Alexander the Great.


This accessible text is accompanied by numerous maps and illustrations, and contains a rich selection of Near Eastern texts in translation. 

The best and most complete book on the Ancient Near East!

The Epic of Gilgamesh

Penguin Classics 
304 pages

Miraculously preserved on clay tablets dating back as much as four thousand years, the poem of Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, is the world’s oldest epic, predating Homer by many centuries.

 

The story tells of Gilgamesh’s adventures with the wild man Enkidu, and of his arduous journey to the ends of the earth in quest of the Babylonian Noah and the secret of immortality. Alongside its themes of family, friendship and the duties of kings, the Epic of Gilgamesh is, above all, about mankind’s eternal struggle with the fear of death.

The World's Oldest Story!

Sargon

By M. Eileen Eisemann

Xlibris Corp (2003)
388 pages

This publication, Sargon: Son of the Waters, has won critical acclaim from judges as an epic work of fiction and from scholars and educators for its historical accuracy and attention to detail.

 

Ms. Eisemann does an excellent job recreating the early life of Sargon as he creates the world's first empire!

 

You won't find historical fiction recommended on this site. This book is the exception!

Babylon

By  Joan Oates

Thames & Hudson (1986)
316 pages

In a highly acclaimed account, now brought up to date for the revised edition, Dr. Oates describes the rise of Babylon from Sargon of Agade to Hammurapi, the great law-giver under whom in the 18th century BC the city first attained pre-eminence.

 

She charts its progress under his successors, its greatest period of empire during the reigns of Nebuchadrezzar and Nabonidus in the 6th century BC, and its decay and final abandonment as Persians and Greeks turned Mesopotamia into a battleground.

A leading college textbook for years!

Gateway of the Gods - The Rise & Fall of Babylon

By Anton Gill

Quercus (2010)
192 pages

Beginning with a survey of the early Mesopotamian dynasties, Anton Gill then chronicles the city's rise under the Amorite king Hammurabi who unified Mesopotamia under the hegemony of Babylon, its troubled fortunes in the centuries that followed, its golden age under a dynasty of Chaldean kings in the seventh and sixth centuries BC, and the life of its last great king Nebuchadrezzar II. 

Gill not only describes the political and military triumphs of Nebuchadrezzar's reign but also explores its many achievements in the cultural sphere—from art to mathematics, from economics to legal matters, and from astronomy to writing—as well as features of everyday life. This is a beautifully Illustrated book that contains everything you need to know about Babylon!

If you own only one book on Ancient Babylon, then this should be it!

King Hammurabi

By Marc Van De Mieroop

Blackwell Publishing (2004)
184 pages

This work presents a well-rounded view of this ancient Mesopotamian king's accomplishments, by drawing on the extensive writings of his time, including those by Hammurabi himself. Numerous letters and reports by ambassadors to his court and others are presented in translation.

 

Marc Van De Mieroop traces Hammurabi's career as a diplomat and conqueror, describing how he dealt with powerful rivals and extended his kingdom to create the large state of Babylon. He explores the administration of the kingdom and looks at the legacies of Hammurabi's rule, especially his legal code, the earliest complete body of legal instructions in world history.

 

The first biography of Hammurabi in English!

The Hittites

By J. G. MacQueen

Thames & Hudson (1996)
176 pages

Although dated, this work remains a solid history on the ancient Hittites. J.G. Macqueen takes us through the succession of kings Suppiluliuma, Murseilus, and Muwatalli,  who fought the Battle of Qadash against Ramses II in 1280 BC. The Hittites held their own until succumbing to the invasions of the Sea Peoples.

The single best source on the Hittites!

The Sea Peoples

By N. K. Sandars

Thames & Hudson (1978)
224 pages

Although dated, this work is a must-have for any fan of the Late Bronze Age. At the time of this book, it was still somewhat speculative to identify the Philistines with the Sea People's tribe called the "Peleset" by Ancient Egyptian sources. It is pretty well accepted these days as fact. 

This work remains a classic introduction to the topic of the Sea Peoples.

 

This book introduced the Sea Peoples to the world!

The Phoenicians

By Donald Harden

Penguin Books (1972)
320 pages

The Phoenicians is not a book for those wishing a novel for entertainment. With that said, this work still remains the best on the market in regards to content and is loved by scholars who have made this book a classic!

 

A serious, concise history of the world's best traders!

 

The Great Courses - Ancient Near East

 

Documentaries - Ancient Near East

The Kings: From Babylon to Baghdad

2004 – History Channel

The Kings: From Babylon To Baghdad tells the story of Iraq through the history of its rulers, from Sargon the Great to Saddam Hussein. This feature-length documentary explores the connections and relevance between ancient and modern Iraq and between Iraq and the rest of the planet.

The Lost Warrior Kingdom – Hittites

2008 – Nat Geo

More than 3,000 years ago a mysterious and ruthless civilization rose from nothing, created a brutal and unstoppable army and built an empire that rivaled Egypt and Babylon. Yet, just as it was at the height of its powers, the great empire suddenly vanished from history.

Civilizations – The Gardens of Babel

2001 – Time Life

The Babylonians have left behind an archaeological heritage of inestimable value. How did they flourish in such a hostile environment? Where did their wealth come from? And how did this perfectly structured civilization finally fade and disappear forever?

The Hittites

2003 – Calik

This is the glorious story of the Hittites - the most powerful people in the Near East of their time. Narrated by Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons, "The Hittites" brings the fascinating history of this mighty empire to life with expert interviews, stunning cinematography, dramatic reenactments, and visual effects. 

Lost Ships of the Mediterranean

2005 – Nat Geo

This program deals chronologically with the engineering achievements of ancient Egypt from the Archaic Period to the 19th Dynasty of the New Kingdom.

Secrets of Archaeology

2005 – History Channel

Take a virtual reality tour of history's most intriguing ancient civilizations. Uncover the secrets of the Hittite Empire and the Phoenicians. We visit Hatti, the ancient ports of Byblos, Rhodes, Tharros, Motya, and the famous Roman naval base at Carthage. SECRETS OF ARCHAEOLOGY makes history come alive!

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