History of the Ancient and Medieval World - Vol. 3

History of the Ancient and Medieval World - Vol. 3

History of the Ancient and Medieval World - Vol. 3

History of the Ancient and Medieval World - Vol. 3

Synopsis

Beginning with prehistory and continuing to the brink of the European Renaissance, this reference set offers readers comprehensive coverage of a diversity of ancient and medieval civilizations and cultures. In addition to the Greeks and Romans, it introduces readers to the Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Phoenicians, Jews, Hittites, among many others.

Excerpt

The eastern and southern regions of the ancient world are as diverse as they are complex and distant, and yet they have been influenced by each other throughout history.

Ancient Near Eastern cultures of the second and the first millennum bc include states known for their political power, such as the Hittites of Anatolia in the second millennium. Their empire extended into Syria and were significant rivals of New Kingdom Egypt. Smaller kingdoms emphasizing international sea trade were established along the eastern Mediterranean coast by the Philistines in Canaan, the biblical enemy of the Israelites.

The Phoenicians to the north were also maritime explorers who established colonies in the western Mediterranean of the first millennium.

Among the most important of the empires to expand in the first millennium was that of the Achaemenid Persians based in southwestern Iran in the fifth and fourth centuries bc. Their control ranged to Anatolia and Egypt, only to be halted by Alexander the Great's conquest. the history of the Persians is bound up with that of the Indo-Europeans in Central Asia, to whom they are linguistically related. Migrations of the Indo-European peoples included Persians moving into Iran and Aryans into India, birthplace of the caste system and the Hindu religion. Both the ancient Persians and Greeks conquered parts of this region, allowing political and cultural interchange.

The ancient Israelites of the Old Testament lived in the biblical world of international power politics and struggles-from the age of the patriarch Abraham, to Moses of the Ten Commandments, to the united and divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah and the exile to Babylon.

Farther east, in China, the development of agriculture (c.7000 BC) and urbanization (c.1600 BC) began later than in the ancient Near East. a succession of dynasties ruled in different parts of a vast terrain that was organized into feudal states, where prominent philosophers, including Confucius, would come to have long-term worldwide influence.

To the south, in the Pacific Ocean, large island masses are home to a diverse group of cultures that arrived in a series of migrations beginning in 25,000 bc. Often differing racially and linguistically, they sometimes share cultural traits as well. Studies of the islands', modern native peoples have often led to conclusions about the lives of their early ancestors.

The rich continent of Africa, with its varied geography and climates, is where evidence of earliest man—homo sapiens—was found, dating to around 200.000 years ago. By 10.000 bc. three thousand ethnic groups had evolved, including four large language families with their multiplicity of cultures and geographical locations. Many other cultures connected profitably with the ancient Mediterranean, including the great Egyptian civilization that sprung up in the Nile Valley and the adventurous sea-faring Phoenicians.

Suzanne Heim, Ph.D., Ancient Near East and Classical Art and Archaeology . . .

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