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review 2018-10-02 08:06
The Indus by Andrew Robinson
The Indus: Lost Civilizations (Reaktion Books - Lost Civilizations) - Andrew Robinson

TITLE:  The Indus:  Lost Civilizations

 

AUTHOR:  Andrew Robinson

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2015

 

FORMAT:  Hardcover

 

ISBN-13:  9781780235028

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DESCRIPTION

When Alexander the Great invaded the Indus Valley in the fourth century BCE, he was completely unaware that it had once been the center of a civilization that could have challenged ancient Egypt and neighboring Mesopotamia in size and sophistication. In this accessible introduction, Andrew Robinson tells the story—so far as we know it—of this enigmatic people, who lay forgotten for around 4,000 years.

 

Going back to 2600 BCE, Robinson investigates a civilization that flourished over half a millennium, until 1900 BCE, when it mysteriously declined and eventually vanished. Only in the 1920s, did British and Indian archaeologists in search of Alexander stumble upon the ruins of a civilization in what is now northwest India and eastern Pakistan. Robinson surveys a network of settlements—more than 1,000—that covered over 800,000 square kilometers. He examines the technically advanced features of some of the civilization’s ancient cities, such as Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, where archaeologists have found finely crafted gemstone jewelry, an exquisite part-pictographic writing system (still requiring decipherment), apparently Hindu symbolism, plumbing systems that would not be bettered until the Roman empire, and street planning worthy of our modern world. He also notes what is missing: any evidence of warfare, notwithstanding an adventurous maritime trade between the Indus cities and Mesopotamia via the Persian Gulf. 

 

A fascinating look at a tantalizingly “lost” civilization, this book is a testament to its artistic excellence, technological progress, economic vigor, and social tolerance, not to mention the Indus legacy to modern South Asia and the wider world. “

 

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This is a short, nicely written, but scholarly summary of what is known about the Indus Civilization, which covered a large area in present day Pakistan and India from approximately 2600 to 1900 B.C.  Robinson briefly describes the discovery of this lost civilization, the problematic archaeology of the sites, the arts, crafts, agriculture, trade, possible social structure, religion, decline and disappearance.  The Indus script is also discussed in much detail.  Since little is known about this civilization despite the artefacts, a great deal of this book is speculative, but the author differentiates with what was found in terms of archaeology and the natural environmental, and what is more probably or less likely.  The general consensus is that more archaeological finds are necessary and that the script needs to be deciphered before any more definitive information about the Lost Indus Civilization can be revealed.  I found this book interesting and to be a good introduction to the subject.  The numerous photographs, maps and other illustrations were helpful.

 

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review 2018-09-15 14:41
The Library of Greek Mythology by Apollodorus
The Library of Greek Mythology (Oxford World's Classics) - Robin Hard,Apollodorus

TITLE:  The Library of Greek Mythology

 

AUTHOR:  Apollodorus

 

TRANSLATOR:  Robin Hard

 

PUBLICATION:  Oxford's World Classics

 

FORMAT:  Paperback

 

ISBN-13:  9780199536320

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DESCRIPTION:

"The only work of its kind to survive from classical antiquity, the Library of Apollodorus is a unique guide to Greek mythology, from the origins of the universe to the Trojan War.

Apollodorus' Library has been used as a source book by classicists from the time of its compilation in the 1st-2nd century BC to the present, influencing writers from antiquity to Robert Graves. It provides a complete history of Greek myth, telling the story of each of the great families of heroic mythology, and the various adventures associated with the main heroes and heroines, from Jason and Perseus to Heracles and Helen of Troy. As a primary source for Greek myth, as a reference work, and as an indication of how the Greeks themselves viewed their mythical traditions, the Library is indispensable to anyone who has an interest in classical mythology.

Robin Hard's accessible and fluent translation is supplemented by comprehensive notes, a map and full genealogical tables. The introduction gives a detailed account of the Library's sources and situates it within the fascinating narrative traditions of Greek mythology.
"

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It's a bit difficult to review such an ancient text.  It is what it is - an encylopedic summary of Greek mythology, with a lot of "so-and-so begot so-an-so" and so-and-so killed so-and-so".  Sometimes there are variations of the myths and these are included.  The Library by Apollodorus would make an informative read for anyone obsessed with Greek Mythology.

 

Regarding the translation and publication - the translation is easy to read, the notes usefull and the introduction interesting.

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url 2018-09-13 14:23
Was Ancient Egyptian Sacred Land of Punt Malta?
Conscious Parenting: Mindful Living Course for Parents - Nataša Pantović Nuit
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Was Punt Malta?

Eti Queen & Maltese GoddessSpiritualityPower of MindArticlesAlchemy of LoveSymbols and Signs

 

Could it be that the Land of Punt was Ancient Malta?

Eti Queen & Ancient Egypt Earliest ever Recorded Sea Voyage to the Sacred Land of Punt

Check also Was Malta the Island of Atlantis by Nuit

Egyptian spelling of Punt

Have you heard of the land of Punt (Pwenet), Land of Ancient ,  and , God's Land, where the Egyptian Pharaohs used to send traveling expeditions 5,000 years ago? The Making of Egypt (1939) states that the Land of Punt was "sacred to the Egyptians as the source of their race." Could it be that the civilization that has created Maltese temples and the Pyramids share the same roots? 

Source: www.artof4elements.com/entry/224/was-punt-malta
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-09-03 16:12
A History of Disease in Ancient Times: More Lethal Than War by Philip Norrie
A History of Disease in Ancient Times: More Lethal than War - Philip Norrie

TITLE:  A History of Disease in Ancient Times: More Lethal Than War

 

AUTHOR:  Philip Norrie

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2016

 

FORMAT:  Hardcover

 

ISBN-13:  9783319289366

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DESCRIPTION:


"This book shows how bubonic plague and smallpox helped end the Hittite Empire, the Bronze Age in the Near East and later the Carthaginian Empire. The book will examine all the possible infectious diseases present in ancient times and show that life was a daily struggle for survival either avoiding or fighting against these infectious disease epidemics. The book will argue that infectious disease epidemics are a critical link in the chain of causation for the demise of most civilizations in the ancient world and that ancient historians should no longer ignore them, as is currently the case."

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REVIEW:

 

Dr. Philip Norrie has produced a delectable book that explores the way in which infectious diseases affected the course of ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern history.  I get the impression this book is the result of the author’s doctoral thesis rewritten into a book.  A wealth of interesting and new (to me) information was provided, without personal asides or irrelevant commentary.  The author presents evidence for epidemic impacts from a variety of sources – historic, archaeologic, linguistic, medical, social, anthropological and economic.  Author makes use of the available evidence to prove his hypothesis.  Speculation is kept to a minimum and clearly explained when necessary. 

 

The general hypothesis is that most major changes in the Ancient world were precipitated by infectious disease epidemics.  Dr Norrie also succeeded in illustrating that disease can have a significant impact on major historic events.  The author makes use of several examples such as the end of the Hittite Empire, the end of the Near Eastern Bronze Age in c.1200 B.C., the end of Carthage; and interesting anomalies in Ancient Egypt during the reign of Amenhotep III.   The type of infectious disease causing the epidemic is also examined.  Dr Norrie shows the reader that disease, in the form of several infectious disease epidemics, fits the medical model to explain three factors about the end of the Bronze Age:  (1) the short time frame of the Catastrophe; (2) the mass migrations of the general population but also the “Sea Peoples”; and (3) the abandonment of cities during the Catastrophe.  This book offers new perspectives, possibilities and insights into the role that epidemics played in ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean history.  I find Dr Norrie’s arguments convincing and logical.

 

Dr Norrie is also at pains to emphasise the lack of attention that ancient historians have given to the effect of epidemics.  In the author’s own words, he hopes that,

in future, ancient historians consider the potential role of infectious disease in the histories they research and subsequently write.  If disease is not considered and is ignored, as is the current situation, then the resultant history may be incomplete and thus flawed; because you cannot administer or feed let alone defend your empire if your citizens are dying en-masse due to an infectious disease epidemic”.

 

This isn’t just a dry thesis on ancient epidemics, but a text full of interesting information, causes, effects, and the occassional personal history (where possible).  Who knew that Ramses V had smallpox, or there are Egyptian wall murals showing polio sufferers with leg braces?  Or that the Hittites used tularemia (rabbit fever) infected sheep as the first form of germ warfare 3200 years ago.  Or that the bubonic plague might have been carried to Egypt from India via a trade vessel? Or that Amenhotep III moved his capital from the plague infested river side to the middle of the desert?  Or that Carthage would have conquered the Mediterranean except for all the diseases that decimated the Carthagian army in Sicily. 

 

This book has a juicy selection of references and a variety of notes, as well as a section on the heart-rending Plague Prayers of the Hittite King Mursili II pleading with the gods to save his people from the pestilence afflicting them and ruining his kingdom. 

 

Dr. Norrie has published an interesting, clearly-written, perfectly understandable, concise piece of research.  I look forward to whatever he publishes on his current research topic - the role of disease in the demise of the Sumerian and Indus Valley Civilizations.

 

FYI (because I've never heard of it before):  Tularemia info

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review 2018-07-20 08:13
The Portable Cosmos by Alexander Jones
A Portable Cosmos: Revealing the Antikythera Mechanism, Scientific Wonder of the Ancient World - Alexander Jones

TITLE:  The Portable Cosmos:  Revealing the Antikythera Mechanism, Scientific Wonder of the Ancient World

 

AUTHOR:  Alexander Jones

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2017

 

FORMAT:  Hardcover

 

ISBN-13:  9780199739349

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Book Description:

 

"From the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Terracotta Army, ancient artifacts have long fascinated the modern world. However, the importance of some discoveries is not always immediately understood. This was the case in 1901 when sponge divers retrieved a lump of corroded bronze from a shipwreck at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea near the Greek island of Antikythera. Little did the divers know they had found the oldest known analog computer in the world, an astonishing device that once simulated the motions of the stars and planets as they were understood by ancient Greek astronomers. Its remains now consist of 82 fragments, many of them containing gears and plates engraved with Greek words, that scientists and scholars have pieced back together through painstaking inspection and deduction, aided by radiographic tools and surface imaging. More than a century after its discovery, many of the secrets locked in this mysterious device can now be revealed.

In addition to chronicling the unlikely discovery of the Antikythera Mechanism, author Alexander Jones takes readers through a discussion of how the device worked, how and for what purpose it was created, and why it was on a ship that wrecked off the Greek coast around 60 BC. What the Mechanism has uncovered about Greco-Roman astronomy and scientific technology, and their place in Greek society, is truly amazing. The mechanical know-how that it embodied was more advanced than anything the Greeks were previously thought capable of, but the most recent research has revealed that its displays were designed so that an educated layman could understand the behavior of astronomical phenomena, and how intertwined they were with one's natural and social environment. It was at once a masterpiece of machinery as well as one of the first portable teaching devices. Written by a world-renowned expert on the Mechanism, A Portable Cosmos will fascinate all readers interested in ancient history, archaeology, and the history of science.
"

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The conglomerate of corroded and broken bronze pieces, eventually known as the  Antikythera Mechanism, were salvaged from a shipwreck in the early 1900s.  Initially, the fragments were studied without any certainty of what they were. By the end of that century it was confirmed that the metal device with its gears and advanced clockwork mecahnism was some kind of analog computer.  It was eventually determined that the mechanism predicted phases of the moon, planetary positions and even eclipses with great precision.

A Portable Cosmos provides a description of the discovery of the Antikythera mechanism, an extensive  desciption of the device itself and how it worked, as well as the ancient astronomy behind it.   Jones explores the mystery of the Antikythera mechanism in a no nonsense fashion and includes relevant diagrams and photographs where necessary.  The author does a thorough job of presenting numerous related topics such as the history of astronomy and astrology, calendrics and the mechanics of eclipses, as well as any ancient records of such a mechanism.  Cicero wrote about a planetarium that Archimedes used as a teaching tool, which may have been similar to the Antikythera mechanism.  The book is devided into thematic chapters, so if the technical aspects are too detailed, the reader can skip these chapters without missing out too much.  This book is scholarly and rather technical, but is none the less absorbing and very interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

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