This is a concise introduction to the history of the ancient Near East during the last millennium bc: Phoenicia, Palestine, the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian empires, the Persian Achaemenid empire, the empire of Alexander, and the vast Persian Seleucid empire founded by Seleucus around 300 bc and defeated by Pompey for Rome in 64 bc. The book focuses on political history, on the sources and shifts of power and the individuals who wielded it. It also introduces the student to the principal aspects of the religious, social and economic history of the region. The narrative is succinct, backed up by summary tables and maps, and enlivened by lengthy quotations from contemporary documents. The latter are frequently used to illustrate specific case studies. The book ends with a chronology and glossary, as well as an adapted further reading list.
Francis Joannes is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Paris VIII.
Introduction; 1 The world of the peoples of Mesopotamia; Places and peoples; The rediscovery of the 'Assyrians'; The evolution of Mesopotamian historiography; 2 Political history of the Assyrian empire (934-610 BC); The first expansion (934-827); Crisis and refoundation (823-727); The Sargonid empire (721-610); Document; One of Ashurnasirpal's campaigns in the east of Anatolia in 865; 3 Control of the imperial territory; Military organisation; At the hub of the empire; The provinces; Document; Extract from the Census of Harran; 4 The centre of Assyrian government; The king of Assyria; The exercise of royal power; Where the power lay; Documents; The king of Assyria and his servitors: letter from the exorcist Adad-in the neo-Babylonian period; Social and economic strata; Economic activities; Management of the large organisations; Documents; The life of Babylonian notables: Lurindu's marriage; Land management: leasing contract; 7 Religion and culture in Babylonia in the first millennium BC; The pantheon and religious concepts; How religion was organised; Babylon, cultural capital; Document; An extract from the IVth tablet of the Epic of Erra; 8 Achaemenid Babylonia (539-331 BC); A central province of the Persian empire; A reserve of soldiers; Tribute and intermediaries; Document; Financial activities in the Achaemenid era: leasing a royal tax; 9 From the Seleucids to the Parthians (331 BC - AD 75); The evolution of the satrapy of Babylonia; Socio-economic realities; The slow end of a civilisation; Document; Religious activities in the Seleucid period: renting a prebend; Conclusion; Political chronology; Glossary; Bibliography; Sources of texts quoted; Index.