New PDF release: Ancient Iraq: Third Edition

By Georges Roux

Newly revised and containing info from contemporary excavations and came upon artifacts, Ancient Iraq covers the political, cultural, and socio-economic historical past from Mesopotamia days of prehistory to the Christian period.

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These factors exert upon him a profound influence: they mark the paths of his trade and of his military ventures, incline him to settle as a farmer or condemn him to the wandering life of a nomad, contribute to his physical and moral qualities and, to some extent, command his thoughts and religious beliefs. The history of any Near Eastern country must therefore begin with a study of the map, and the antique land of Iraq is no exception to the rule. 1 While in some parts of the country the rivers do not follow exactly the same course as they did in the past, and while regions which were once fertile are now sterile and vice versa, the general pattern of mountains, plains and valleys remains obviously unchanged, and a comparison between ancient and modern faunae and florae,2 as well as the evidence obtained from geological and meteorological studies,3 indicate that climatic fluctuations over the last five thousand years have been so slight as to be practically negligible.

Whatever man achieved in ancient Iraq, he did it at the price of a constant struggle against nature and against other men, and this struggle forms the very thread of history in that part of the world. Before going farther, however, we must first examine the sources from which historians draw their raw material. CHAPTER 2 IN SEARCH OF THE PAST In order to reconstruct the past, historians make use of two kinds of documents: texts and objects, the word ‘object’ here meaning literally any artefact, from the most elaborate building to the humblest kitchen utensil.

From an archaeological point of view, the Iraqi marshes are still largely terra incognita. Reports from travellers suggest that traces of ancient settlements are exceedingly rare, probably because they consisted of reed-hut villages similar to those of today, which have completely disappeared or lie buried beneath several feet of mud and water. It is hoped, however, that modern methods – such as the use of helicopters – will eventually open to exploration a region which is by no means lacking in historical interest.

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