Author Snell, David
Title Life in the Ancient Near East
3100-322 BCE
Lishtar's Review

Snell states in the introduction that while many people's interest in the Ancient Near East is because of the religious heritage of the west, he became interested in it because of growing up poor. This perspective lends a certain poignancy then, when Snell speaks of slavery and "unfree labor", or of "dedicated ones", widows with their children who were no longer able to support their families being turned over to state or temple textile workrooms, where they undoubtedly led miserable lives.

Yet the book should not only be seen in this light. It encompasses a broad survey, beginning, despite the title, about 5,000 BCE and ending with the question of what constitutes Hellenization. At the close of each chapter, he briefly compares what was going on in other parts of the world, Egypt--which he includes with the Near East--China, India, Mesoamerica, Europe and Africa outside of Egypt all make an appearance. He discusses an alternate framework for the history of Mesopotamia, based not (as it is now) on political or dynastic lines, but is not able to offer a satisfactory and complete outline. Such broad material cannot be covered in too great a depth. He does acknowledge learning from at least three recent books, one of which is J.N. Postgate's book "Early Mesopotamia". Nevertheless, there is enough material to give a clear picture of what's going on, and effort to trace continuity throughout the time period.

Available here: Routledge, New York, London. ISBN 041-5198-119

Back To The Booklist