Offering comprehensive coverage of the ancient world, this four volume encyclopedia begins with an introduction that outlines the key milestones in the development of human society.
This work “provides an overview of the means by which people lived in the past” and covers prehistory through the beginning of the Christian era. Sixty-nine broad topics, from “Adornment” to “Writing,” are covered in sections broken down by region. Each section has a brief introduction. Articles are all signed. The work is very ambitious, and some essays are cursory even for a general survey. In the article on “Warfare,” the Celts and Germans get three double-column pages, where all of Asia and the Pacific, including the great military powers of India and China, get just over four pages. The work’s attempt to include all areas of human settlement is its greatest weakness, as the historical evidence for many regions is so scanty. There are errors that should never have seen print. In the section on “Food and Diet: Africa,” the potato is listed as a prehistoric African food; however, the potato is native to the Americas and would probably not have arrived in Africa before it was introduced in Europe, around 1700. There are also grammatical and spelling errors that should have been corrected. For example, at one point, Babylonian astronomical texts are called astronomical “dairies,” which probably should have been diaries. The work has redeeming features, including selections from primary source documents in translation in many sections. At the end of each section are liberal see also references and suggestions for further reading, sometimes including URLs of useful Web sites. There are good maps, black-and-white photographs that should copy well, a glossary, time lines, and an index at the end of the fourth volume. Recommended for larger public libraries or for school libraries that need a survey encyclopedia to support world history classes. –Kathleen Stipek
- Series: Encyclopedia of Society & Culture in the Ancient World
- Hardcover: 1600 pages
- Publisher: Facts on File, Inc.; 1 edition (November 1, 2007)
- Language: English