Ancient Semitic Civilizations

Ancient Semitic Civilizations

Ancient Semitic Civilizations

Ancient Semitic Civilizations

Excerpt

The story of this book begins ten years ago. While teaching Semitic archaeology in the University of Rome, I found myself faced by the fact that whereas there were various general works on Semitic languages taken as a group, there was no such work about the peoples who spoke those languages.

Yet these peoples are united by many bonds of social conditions, religious conceptions, and artistic forms. It seemed to follow that a book setting forth the essential outline of their forms of civilization and of their distinctive common traits not only could but should be written.

The book appeared in Italian in 1949; a German edition followed in 1953, a French one in 1955, and another German one in the same year. An English edition was still lacking; and it is with especial pleasure that I now offer it to the public of Great Britain and of America, to whom I am bound by so many cherished memories. May my colleagues who invited me to lecture in those countries, and the students who followed my lectures with such intelligent interest, and all the friends who showed me such kindness, each see in this book a token of my grateful remembrance of them.

I must also crave their indulgence. In a brief synopsis such as this, no more can be given than a sketch of the salient features of the ancient Semitic civilizations. There would have been no point in loading the text with names and numbers; better to restrict oneself to the outstanding elements, to the more characteristic aspects of the life and thought of the peoples described.

There was also the question of chronological limits. I have here restricted myself to the ancient, or what may be called "classical . . ."

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