Cover image for Dictionary of the ancient Near East
Dictionary of the ancient Near East
Bienkowski, Piotr.
Publication Information:
Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
x, 342 pages : illustrations, maps ; 27 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS56 .D5 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



The earliest farms, cities, governments, legal codes, and alphabets 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. For good reason is the ancient Near East known as the cradle of civilization. The only single-volume dictionary to embrace the whole of the ancient Near East, this major reference work covers Anatolia, Mesopotamia, the Levant, and the Arabian peninsula from the earliest times, through the Old Testament period, until the fall of Babylon to the Persians in 539 B.C. From "Achaemenids" to "Ziwiye," "administration" to "ziggurat," in 500 concise, cross-referenced, and comprehensively indexed entries, 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, and society are all extensively treated, as are such subjects as crime, dreams, drunkenness, shipwrecks, and sexual behavior (and misbehavior). 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. Contributors: Douglas Baird (Lecturer in Near Eastern Archaeology, University of Liverpool), Jeremy Black (University Lecturer in Akkadian, Oriental Institute, Oxford University), Paul T. Collins (freelance lecturer in the Ancient Near East, London), Stephanie Dalley (Shillito Fellow in Assyriology, Oriental Institute, Oxford University), Anthony Green (Lecturer in Near Eastern Archaeology, Free University of Berlin), Gwendolyn Leick (Lecturer in Anthropology, the American International University, London), Michael Macdonald (Research Fellow, Oriental Institute, Oxford University), Roger Matthews (Director, British Institute for Archaeology, Ankara), Gerald L. Mattingly (Lecturer, Johnson Bible College, Knoxville, Tennessee), Graham Philip (Lecturer in Archaeology, University of Durham), Geoffrey Summers (Lecturer in Archaeology, Middle East Technical University, Ankara).

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The preface says that the purpose of this book, first published by the British Museum, is "to provide a handy one-volume reference work accessible to anyone with an interest in the ancient Near East, as well as students and specialists in different areas who require a wider view." The editors have done what they set out to do. The time period covered is from the Lower Paleolithic (around 1.5 million years ago) to the fall of Babylon to Cyrus the Great in 539 B.C. The geographic scope encompasses Mesopotamia, Iran, Anatolia, the Caucasus, the Levant, and Arabia. There are some entries on major archaeologists and explorers from modern times as well as on ancient cultures, historic and legendary figures, concepts, aspects of daily life, and individual archaeological sites. The 500 articles range from brief paragraphs to a few columns on double-columned pages, and almost all have short bibliographies, generally citing academic studies, not all of which are in English. There are many articles covering general themes like family, women, writing, and royal courts. Within articles, topics covered separately are identified with an asterisk at the first mention. There is an index for main topics and topics covered in several entries as well as for captions to illustrations. The illustrations are generally photographs of artifacts or simplified line drawings of archaeological sites or maps. The print is extremely small. The book's price makes it suitable for most academic and medium-sized to large public libraries that need a one-volume survey of the ancient Near East.

Choice Review

In this excellent subject encyclopedia, scholars of the ancient Near East bring together major aspects of its history, language, and culture from the earliest times to the Persian subjection of Babylon in 539 BCE. People, places, institutions, major geographical areas, chronological periods, and a rich variety of subjects, such as architecture, the economy, religion, and poetry, are all covered in 500 concisely written, generously illustrated entries, each including major bibliographic references. The book includes a map of the ancient Near East, a chronological chart, a king list of the main dynasties and their dates, and a very good index. The volume's easy-to-follow format, scholarly but very readable content, and affordable price assure its use by interested general readers, students, and scholars as a stand-alone source or in conjunction with a text or course. Other recent reference works on this topic tend to be more limited geographically or topically (e.g., Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, ed. by Kathryn A. Bard, CH, Mar'00, or The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Ancient Near East, ed. by Eric M. Meyers, 5v., CH, May'97). Highly recommended for all libraries and interested individuals. ; Smithsonian Institution Libraries