Interspersing fact-filled essays with fictional eyewitness accounts, Roy Burrell makes the ancient world a real place inhabited by real people going about their everyday business of work and family life. A fascinating essay about the history of the region of Mesopotamia is followed by "interviews" with an early settler who extols the virtues of the date palm, with a 12-year-old boy who is studying to be a scribe, and with a soldier. A section on the Greek theater is personalized with a conversation with Cimon, the mask maker. An 80-year-old man tells us how Rome has expanded and changed from the days of Nero through Hadrian's reign. History is no longer a boring list of dates, but an exciting time peopled with characters as real as our closest friends.
The dramatic narrative prose is accompanied by maps, photographs, paintings, cutaway drawings, and cross-sections by a number of artists, including the remarkable Peter Connolly. Meticulous detail and accuracy are his trademarks, and his illustrations and those of the other artists bring to life tribal life at the mouth of a cave in the Stone Age, the city of Rome at the height of its glory, the sprawling palace at Knossos, the first Olympic games, and more.
The Oxford First Ancient History gives it readers an understanding of the forces at work in the development of early civilizations and the techniques historians and archaeologists use to interpret their significance. The emphasis is upon everyday life and the reader is encouraged to compare and contrast present day techniques and attitudes with those of the past. This is fascinating and powerful history that brings the ancient world to life.
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