What Makes Civilization?: The Ancient Near East and the Future of the West

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9780192805805: What Makes Civilization?: The Ancient Near East and the Future of the West

Our attachment to ancient Mesopotamia (Iraq) and Egypt as the 'birthplace of civilization', where the foundations of our own societies were laid, is as strong today as it has ever been. When the Iraq Museum in Baghdad was looted in 2003, our newspapers proclaimed 'the death of history'. Yet the ancient Near East also remains a source of mystery: a space of the imagination where we explore the discontents of modern civilization.

In What Makes Civilization? archaeologist David Wengrow investigates the origins of farming, writing, and cities in Egypt and Mesopotamia, and the connections between them. This is the story of how people first created kingdoms and monuments to the gods - and, just as importantly, how they adopted everyday practices that we might now take for granted, such as familiar ways of cooking food and keeping the house and body clean.

Why, he asks, have these ancient cultures, where so many features of modern life originated, come to symbolize the remote and the exotic? What challenge do they pose to our assumptions about power, progress, and civilization in human history? And are the sacrifices we now make in the name of 'our' civilization really so different from those once made by the peoples of Mesopotamia and Egypt on the altars of the gods?

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About the Author:


Dr. David Wengrow is Reader in Comparative Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. He trained in archaeology and anthropology at the University of Oxford, and has conducted fieldwork in both Africa and the Middle East. His research explores early cultural transformations across the boundaries of Asia, Africa, and Europe, including the emergence of the first farming societies, states, and systems of writing. He has also written on the history of archaeological thought and the role of the remote past in shaping modern political identities. His past appointments include Junior Research Fellow at Christ Church, Oxford, and Frankfort Fellow in Near Eastern Art and Archaeology at the Warburg Institute, London.

Review:


"Convincingly concludes that the parallel development of Mesopotamia and Egypt demonstrates the deep attachment of human societies to the concepts they live by, and the inequalities they are prepared to endure in order to preserve those guiding principles."
- Nature


"This book promises a lot and delivers even more ... It guides readers into the heart of the sources of civilization ... following the footsteps of Henri Frankfort, and offering a comparative perspective on Egypt and Mesopotamia missing since 1951. Finally, a rare feat for an archaeologist, Wengrow rounds up the discussion by suggesting reasons for the lasting significance of Near Eastern civilization for the contemporary West. ... this short but dense and still entertaining book ... should be read by all who do not forget about the 'broad questions'."
- Professor Arpad Szakolczai University College Cork, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute


"What Makes Civilization? is well written for a student or educated-layperson audience ... when the past is being employed to understand the present or predict the future of human societies, archaeologists must be part of the discussion."
- Prof. Jason Ur, Harvard University, Current Anthropology


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Wengrow, David
Editorial: Oxford University Press
ISBN 10: 0192805800 ISBN 13: 9780192805805
Nuevos Tapa dura Cantidad: 1
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Cloud 9 Books
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Descripción Oxford University Press. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. 0192805800 New Condition. Nº de ref. de la librería NEW6.1052105

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Wengrow, David
Editorial: Oxford University Press (2010)
ISBN 10: 0192805800 ISBN 13: 9780192805805
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Descripción Oxford University Press, 2010. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. Nº de ref. de la librería P110192805800

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