The Face of the Ancient Orient: A Panorama of Near Eastern Civilizations in Pre-Classical Times

The Face of the Ancient Orient: A Panorama of Near Eastern Civilizations in Pre-Classical Times

The Face of the Ancient Orient: A Panorama of Near Eastern Civilizations in Pre-Classical Times

The Face of the Ancient Orient: A Panorama of Near Eastern Civilizations in Pre-Classical Times

Excerpt

This book had its genesis in 1955. Of late years the extensive archaeological discoveries made in the Near East had acquired an importance that extended far beyond specialist circles, in my country as elsewhere. Historians, men of letters, philosophers, and people of education generally had all come to realize the need for more direct and up-to-date acquaintance with this cultural sphere, because of the contributions it could offer to their own culture. The organizers of the Scientific Programme of the Italian Radio sought to meet this need by asking me to give a course of lectures aiming at the presentation of a complete, although summary, account of the civilizations of the ancient Orient.

The planning of this course called for a great deal of thought. Needless to say, one could have confined it to a summary of the outstanding events of political and cultural history; but this would have taken more time than had been allotted to the series. Nor was there much point in such an approach, since a number of books on the subject already existed. Moreover, I have never been greatly interested in exposition as such, whereas I am strongly attracted by the tasks involved in assessing a cultural epoch as a whole. For this reason I chose a more difficult and more risky approach, one not previously tried: namely, of attempting a comparative study of the essential and characteristic features of the ancient Oriental civilizations.

How was such a project to be carried through? To begin with, it was necessary to define the spatial and temporal limits of the subject. Then its outstanding historical personages had to be . . .

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