Archaeology and the Ancient World

History Today, November 2004 | Go to article overview
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Archaeology and the Ancient World

Religions of the Ancient World: A Guide, edited by Sarah Iles Johnston (Harvard UP, 32.95 [pounds sterling]) is an illustrated guide to the beliefs, cults, gods and ritual practises in the Mediterranean world 3000-300 BC, with contributions from 140 leading scholars. This volume avoids the encyclopaedic format in favour of a comparative one, conveniently presenting materials from ten cultures and traditions side by side.

Warfare in Ancient Egypt by Bridget McDermott (Sutton, 20 [pounds sterling]) is a concise overview of all aspects of Egyptian warfare, the first such title to be published for forty years.

With a foreword by Eugene N. Borza, Alexander: The Conqueror by Laura Foreman (Perseus Books Group, 19.99 [pounds sterling]) offers a lively and insightful account of Alexander's life of conquest and intrigue. Featuring landscape photography, numerous images of ancient art and artefacts, as well as beautifully crafted maps, this book explores the many facets of, and mysteries surrounding, Alexander's life.

In an alternative approach to the same questions, Peter S. Touras's Alexander: Invincible King of Macedonia (Bressey, 13.50 [pounds sterling]) offers a military profile, with especial focus on his motivation and goals, as well as his generalship and relationship to the Macedonian army.

Nigel Bagnall's The Peloponnesian War: Athens, Sparta and the Struggle for Greece (Pimlico, 12.99 [pounds sterling]) is a military history by a distinguished former soldier and Chief of the General Staff, of one of the most significant wars of the ancient world, but one that gives an unusual amount of attention to the historical context of the war.

The highly illustrated Sunken Egypt, by Franck Goddio and numismatist Andre Bernand (Periplus, 25 [pounds sterling]) reconstructs the layout of ancient Alexandria, written by the men who led a recent ten-year underwater archaeology project which involved 12,000 hours of diving.

Among the greatest artistic achievements of the Roman Empire are portrait sculptures. Derived from an ancient tradition of making funerary effigies, these portraits are astonishing in their realism and expressive power, and their stern humanity speaks to us across the millennia with undiminished force and directness. Roman Portraits by Ludwig Goldscheider and Ilse Schneider-Lengyel (Phaidon Press, 12.95 [pounds sterling]) includes 120 full-page plates of the powerfully realistic marble portraits for which the Romans were renowned.

The Cosmopolitan World of Jesus: New Light from Archaeology, by Carston Peter Thiede (SPCK, 9.99 [pounds sterling]) portrays the cultural, economic and religious life of people in the real world that Jesus inhabited, and shows that Palestine was not the provincial backwater as often thought.

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