“Dictionary of the Ancient Near East


  Edited by Piotr Bienkowski and Alan Millard
352 pages, 350 black and white illustrations, $45 cloth

The earliest farms, cities, governments, legal codes and alphabets were developed in the ancient Near East. Four major religions — Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam — began in the region. Ideas, inventions and institutions spread to all parts of the globe from the urban centers of the ancient Egyptians, Syrians, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians and other peoples of the biblical world. No wonder the ancient Near East is often called “the cradle of civilization.”

Now, a major new dictionary that embraces the whole of the ancient Near East is available from the University of Pennsylvania Press. The project was compiled under the auspices of the British Museum and combines scholarship from more than a dozen contributors worldwide.

This important reference work — the only single-volume edition available — covers Anatolia, Mesopotamia, the Levant and the Arabian peninsula from the earliest times through the Old Testament period to the fall of Babylon to the Persians in 539 B.C. In 500 concise, cross-referenced and comprehensively indexed entries, ranging from “Achaemenids” to “ziggurat,” the Dictionary of the Ancient Near East describes and explains the major ideas, institutions, places, peoples and personalities that shaped the earliest development of Western civilization.

Architecture, literature, economics, labor, religion, society and many other subjects are all extensively treated. Each entry, written by a scholar of international standing, includes up-to-date bibliographic references. The book is richly illustrated with photographs, maps and plans of major sites. Choice, the review magazine of academic libraries, highly recommends the book to general readers, students and scholars, praising the volume’s “easy-to-follow format, scholarly but very readable content, and affordable price.”

—University of Pennsylvania Press



Originally published on September 14, 2000