Ancient Civilizations  book cover
5th Edition

Ancient Civilizations

ISBN 9780367708658
Published April 8, 2021 by Routledge
726 Pages 240 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Ancient Civilizations offers a comprehensive and straightforward account of the world’s first civilizations and how they were discovered, drawing on many avenues of inquiry including archaeological excavations, surveys, laboratory work, highly specialized scientific investigations, and both historical and ethnohistorical records.

This book covers the earliest civilizations in Eurasia and the Americas, from Egypt and the Sumerians to the Indus Valley, Shang China, and the Maya. It also addresses subsequent developments in Southwest Asia, moving on to the first Aegean civilizations, Greece and Rome, the first states of sub-Saharan Africa, divine kings and empires in East and Southeast Asia, and the Aztec and Inka empires of Mesoamerica and the Andes. It includes a number of features to support student learning: a wealth of images, including several new illustrations; feature boxes which expand on key sites, finds, and written sources; and an extensive guide to further reading. With new perceptions of the origin and collapse of states, including a review of the issue of sustainability, this fifth edition has been extensively updated in the light of spectacular new discoveries and the latest theoretical advances.

Examining the world’s pre-industrial civilizations from a multidisciplinary perspective and offering a comparative analysis of the field which explores the connections between all civilizations around the world, this volume provides a unique introduction to pre-industrial civilizations in all their brilliant diversity. It will prove invaluable to students of Archaeology.

Table of Contents

PART I  Background

1 The Study of Civilization

What is a "Civilization"?

Comparing Civilizations

Civilizations and Their Neighbors

"Primary" and "Secondary" Civilizations

The Rediscovery of Ancient Civilizations

The Threat to Ancient Civilizations


2 Theories of States

Historical and Anthropological Perspectives

Four Classic Theories for the Emergence of State Societies

Coercive Power versus Collective Action

Cultural Systems and Civilization

Ecological Theories

Social Theories

Cycling Chiefdoms: Processes and Agents

The Collapse of Civilizations

Civilization and Sustainability

Western and Indigenous Science


PART II The First Civilizations

Prelude to Civilization: First Villages in the Fertile Crescent

3 Mesopotamia: The First Cities (3500–2000 B.C.)

The Setting

Irrigation and Alluvium: Hassuna, Samarra, Halaf, and Ubaid (6500–4200 B.C.)

The Uruk Revolution (4200–3100 B.C.)

The Early Dynastic Period (2900–2350 B.C.)

The Akkadian Empire (2334–2190 B.C.)

Imperial Ur (2112–2004 B.C.)

Wider Horizons (2500–2000 B.C.)


4 Egyptian Civilization

Kmt: "The Black Land"

Origins (5000–3100 B.C.)

The Archaic Period (3100–2680 B.C.): Kingship, Writing, and Bureaucracy

The Old Kingdom (c. 2680–2134 B.C.): Territorial and Divine Kingship

The First Intermediate Period (2134–2040 B.C.)

The Middle Kingdom (2040–1640 B.C.): The Organized Oasis

The Second Intermediate Period (1640–1550 B.C.)

The New Kingdom (1550–1070 B.C.): Imperial Kings

The Transformation of Egypt (after 1100 B.C.)


5 South Asia: The Indus Civilization

The Origins of Village Life

Early Harappan (4000–2600 B.C.)

Mature Harappan: The Indus Civilization (2600–1900 B.C.)

Farming Villages of the Indus and Ganges (2000–600 B.C.)

Early Historic Cities (600–150 B.C.)


6 The First Chinese Civilizations


Millet and Rice (c. 7000–3500 B.C.)

Liangzhu (c. 3300–2300 B.C.)

Ritual and Pilgrimage: The Niuheliang Temple (c. 3500 B.C.)

Elite Traditions in the Longshan Phase (2800–1800 B.C.)

Shimao and the Northern Zone (c. 2300–1800 B.C.)

Three Dynasties: Xia, Shang, and Zhou (c. 1800–1046 B.C.)

Beyond the Shang: Bronze Age Traditions in Other Regions of China

The Western Zhou Period (1046–771 B.C.)


PART III Great Powers in Southwest Asia

7 Mesopotamia and the Levant (2000–1200 B.C.)

Bronze Age Cities in Anatolia (2000–1700 B.C.)

The Struggle for Mesopotamia (2000–1800 B.C.)

The World of the Mari Letters (1810–1750 B.C.)

The Emergence of Babylon and the Old Babylonian Period (2004–1595 B.C.)

The Rise of the Hittites (1650–1400 B.C.)

Egypt and Mitanni: War in the Levant (1550–1400 B.C.)

The Hittites in the Levant (1400–1200 B.C.)

The Hittites in Anatolia (1400–1200 B.C.)

Mesopotamia and Iran (1400–1200 B.C.)


8 Southwest Asia in the First Millennium B.C.

A Reordered World (1200–1000 B.C.)

The Mediterranean Coastlands (1000–700 B.C.)

The Archaeology of Empire

Assyria Resurgent (911–680 B.C.)

The Mountain Kingdom of Urartu (c. 830–600 B.C.)

The Assyrian Apogee (680–612 B.C.)

The Neo-Babylonian Empire (612–539 B.C.)

Phrygians and Lydians (750–500 B.C.)

The Rise of the Persians (614–490 B.C.)


PART IV The Mediterranean World

9 The First Aegean Civilizations

The Aegean Early Bronze Age (3200–2100 B.C.)

Mainland Greece and the Cycladic Islands

Minoan Civilization: The Palace Period (2100–1450 B.C.)

Crete and Its Neighbors

Mycenaean Greece (1600–1050 B.C.)

After the Palaces: Postpalatial Greece (1200–1050 B.C.)


10 The Mediterranean World in the First Millennium (1000–30 B.C.)

The Recovery of Greece (1000–750 B.C.)

Phoenicians and Carthaginians (1000–750 B.C.)

The Greek Colonies (800–600 B.C.)

Etruscan Italy (900–400 B.C.)

Archaic Greece (750–480 B.C.)

Three Greek Cities: Athens, Corinth, Sparta

Classical Greece (480–323 B.C.)

Sequel: The Hellenistic World


11 Imperial Rome

The Roman Republic (510–31 B.C.)

The Early Roman Empire (31 B.C.–A.D. 235)

The Culture of Empire

The Military Establishment

Arteries of Empire: Roads and Sea-Lanes


The End of the Ancient World


PART V Northeast Africa and Asia

The Erythraean Sea

12 Northeast Africa: Kush, Meroe, and Aksum

Nubia and the Middle Nile

Camels and Monsoons

Meroe (c. 300 B.C.–A.D. 300)

Aksum (A.D. 100–1100)


13 Sub-Saharan Africa

Jenné-jeno Third Century B.C. to Early First Millennium A.D.)

Sahel states: Ghana, Mali, and Songhay

The East African Coast: Monsoons and Stone Towns

The Far Interior: Interlacustrine Kingdoms

South Central Africa: Gold and Ivory

West African Forest Kingdoms


14 Divine Kings in Southeast Asia

The Rise of States in Southeast Asia (c. 2000 B.C.–A.D. 150)

The Angkor State (A.D. 802–1430)



15 Kingdoms and Empires in East Asia (770 B.C.A.D. 700)

Society Transformed: The Eastern Zhou Period (770–221 B.C.)

The First Chinese Empire (221–206 B.C.)

The Han Empire (206 B.C.–A.D. 220)

Secondary States: Korea and Japan


PART VI Early States in the Americas

16 Lowland Mesoamerica


Village Farmers (c. 7000–2000 B.C.)

The Formative Period: The Olmec (1500–500 B.C.)

Preclassic Maya Civilization (before 1100 B.C–A.D. 200)

Classic Maya Civilization (A.D. 200–900)

The Ninth-Century Collapse

Postclassic Lowland Maya Civilization (A.D. 900–1517): Chichen Itzá and Mayapan


17 Highland Mesoamerica

The Rise of Highland Civilization (2000–500 B.C.)

Monte Albán (500 B.C.–A.D. 750)

Teotihuacán (200 B.C.–A.D. 600)

The Toltecs (c. A.D. 800–1150)

The Rise of Aztec Civilization (A.D. 1200–1519)

Tenochtitlán (A.D. 1487–1519)

The Spanish Conquest (A.D. 1517–1521)


18 The Foundations of Andean Civilization

The Andean World: Poles of Civilization

The Preceramic Period (3000–1800/1200 B.C.)

The "Maritime Foundations" Hypothesis

The Initial Period (1800–800 B.C.)


19 Andean States (200 B.C.–A.D. 1534)

The Early Intermediate Period (200 B.C.–A.D. 600)

North Coast: Moche Civilization (A.D. 100–700)

Southern Pole: Nasca (A.D. 100–c. A.D. 700)

The Middle Horizon: The First Highland States (A.D. 600–1000)

The Late Intermediate Period (A.D. 1000–1400)

The Late Horizon: The Inka Empire (A.D. 1476–1534)


20 Epilogue

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Chris Scarre is an archaeologist specializing in the prehistory of Europe, with a particular interest in the archaeology of Atlantic facade. He has participated in fieldwork projects in Britain, France, Greece, and India, and has directed and co-directed excavations at Neolithic sites in France, Portugal, and the Channel Islands. He is Professor of Archaeology at Durham University, UK, and editor of the textbook on world prehistory The Human Past.

Brian M. Fagan is one of the world’s leading archaeological writers and an internationally recognized authority on world prehistory. He is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and has written several best-selling textbooks: Ancient Lives: An Introduction to Archaeology and Prehistory; Archaeology: A Brief Introduction; Archaeology and You; In the Beginning: An Introduction to Archaeology; A Brief History of Archaeology: Classical Times to the Twenty-First Century; People of the Earth; and World Prehistory: A Brief Introduction.

Charles Golden is a Mesoamerican archaeologist, whose research has focused on the borders between ancient Maya kingdoms in Mexico and Central America, and the economic, social, and ritual ties that bound rural villages into larger political communities. He is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, and editor of Continuities and Changes in Maya Archaeology: Perspectives at the Millennium, as well as Maya Archaeology, Vols. 1–3.