Ancient Near Eastern History and Culture  book cover
3rd Edition

Ancient Near Eastern History and Culture

ISBN 9781138686410
Published September 1, 2017 by Routledge
486 Pages

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Book Description

Organized by the periods, kingdoms, and empires generally used in ancient Near Eastern political history, Ancient Near Eastern History and Culture interlaces social and cultural history with a political narrative. Charts, figures, maps, and historical documents introduce the reader to the material world of the ancient Near East, including Egypt. The emphasis on historical debates and areas of uncertainty helps students understand how historians use evidence to create interpretations and that several different interpretations of history are possible.

New features in this edition include:

  • Reorganization of the chapters on the early periods, with discussions incorporating the latest archaeological finds.
  • New "Debating the Evidence" sections discussing current controversial issues in Near Eastern history. These sections make it easy for students and teachers to find and use the portions of the text devoted to scholarly arguments about various aspects of ancient Near Eastern history.
  • A new chapter, "Ancient Israel and Judah," has been added to cover more completely the crucial issues of ancient Israelite history and religion.
  • More emphasis has been placed on the role and contributions of women in the ancient Near East.

The most important change is the addition of co-author Susan N. Helft, a specialist in the art and archaeology of the ancient Near East, who has applied her considerable knowledge, insight, research, and editing skills throughout the book. This new edition of Ancient Near Eastern History and Culture will remain a crucial text for students beginning to learn about the fascinating civilizations of the Near East.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Studying the Ancient Near East

A Note on Chronological Terminology

What Is the "Near East"?

Near Eastern Geography and Environment

Antiquity’s "Clues"

Creating a Chronology for the Ancient Near East

Chapter 1: Near Eastern Prehistory

Southwest Asia in the Late Paleolithic, Neolithic and Chalcolithic Periods

The Nile Valley in Late Prehistory

Major Changes in Lifestyle during the Neolithic and Chalcolithic Periods

Chapter 2: The Dawn of Civilization in Western Asia

The Emergence of Mesopotamian and Iranian Civilization (c. 4000-3000 BCE)

The Mesopotamian Early Dynastic Period (c. 2900–2330 BCE)

Mesopotamian Culture during the Early Dynastic Era

Chapter 3: The First Mesopotamian Empires

The Akkadian Empire (c. 2334-2193 BCE)

The Third Dynasty of Ur (c. 2112-2004 BCE)

Chapter 4: The Development of Civilization in the Wider Near East

Early Urbanization in the Levant and Anatolia

Persian Gulf and Central Asian Civilizations

Chapter 5: Egypt to the End of the Old Kingdom

Prelude to Civilization

The Formation of the Egyptian State (c. 3050-2593 BCE)

Some Basic Elements of Egyptian Belief

The Old Kingdom (Dynasties 3-6, c. 2592-2150 BCE)

Society and Culture

Chapter 6: The Old Babylonian Period and Its Aftermath

The "Interregnum" After the Fall of Ur (c. 2000-1800 BCE)

The Era of Hammurabi and His Dynasty (c. 1800-1595 BCE)

Old Babylonian Cultural Developments

The Hittite Old Kingdom

The Emergence of Other New Peoples

Chapter 7: The Rise and Fall of the Egyptian Middle Kingdom

The First Intermediate Period: Dynasties 8- Early 11 (c. 2180-1980 BCE)

The Middle Kingdom: Dynasties Late 11-Early 13 (c. 1980-1725 BCE)

The Second Intermediate Period: Dynasties Late 13-17 (c. 1725-1540 BCE)

Chapter 8: Egypt’s Powerful Eighteenth Dynasty

The Beginning of the Egyptian New Kingdom (c. 1539-1480 BCE)

Hatshepsut and Thutmose III (c. 1479-1425 BCE)

The Egyptian Empire at Its Height (c. 1425-1350 BCE)

Akhenaton and the Amarna Period (c. 1353-1336)

The End of the Eighteenth Dynasty (c. 1335-1292 BCE)

Chapter 9: The End of the Bronze Age

The Zenith of Hittite Power (c. 1344-1180 BCE)

Hittite Culture

The Twilight of the Egyptian Empire (c. 1292-1150 BCE)

The Collapse of Bronze Age Societies in the Eastern Mediterranean

Chapter 10: Recovery and Transformation (c. 1100-745 BCE)

Mesopotamia and Egypt



Small States of the Southern Levant

Chapter 11: Mesopotamian Supremacy

Assyrian Domination

Neo-Assyrian Society and Culture

The Neo-Babylonian (or Chaldean) Empire (627-560 BCE)

Neo-Babylonian Culture

Chapter 12: The Achaemenid Persian Empire

The Origins and Growth of the Persian Empire

The Achaemenid Empire at Its Height

Persian Culture

The Latter Part of the Achaemenid Persian Empire

Epilogue: The Near East after the Achaemenid Empire

Chapter 13: Ancient Israel and Judah

Early Israel

The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah (c. 931-721 BCE

The Emergence of Biblical Monotheism

Post-Exilic Judah

Afterword: The Legacy of the Ancient Near East



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William H. Stiebing Jr. is Seraphia Leyda Professor of History, Emeritus, at the University of New Orleans, USA.

Susan N. Helft is an adjunct lecturer at Rutgers University Newark and Bryn Mawr College, USA.

Featured Author Profiles

Author - William Henry Stiebing, Jr.

William Henry Stiebing, Jr.

Seraphia D. Leyda Teaching Professor of History Emeritus, University of New Orleans
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, United States of America

Learn more about William Henry Stiebing, Jr. »


"This book is an impressive, comprehensive, up-to-date review of the ancient Near Eastern world from its prehistoric origins to Alexander’s conquest of the Persian empire. Highly reliable as a work of scholarship, it will also have great appeal to the non-specialist reader, in its down-to-earth language and its detective-like approach in addressing many of the unsolved problems of Near Eastern scholarship. Based on extensive use of both written and archaeological sources, it presents a lively and vigorous treatment of the ancient Near East, of great value to students, and of considerable appeal to readers with a general interest in the peoples of the ancient world."

- Trevor Bryce, University of Queensland, Australia


"[This] text is a comprehensive introduction into the history of both the Ancient Near East and Ancient Egypt from the end of the Last Ice Age (ca. 12,500 BCE) until the conquests of Alexander the Great (333-323 BCE) ... the authors can be applauded for creating a holistic account of developments in the Ancient Near East by taking into account cultures and civilizations often neglected, or only mentioned in passing, in other textbooks ... The coverage in the book ranges from earlier cultures only known from archaeological sources, like those of the Indus and Oxus, to later kingdoms and peoples such as Urartu, the Phoenicians, Phrygians, and Lydians. In the same vein, the separate chapter on the history of ancient Israel and Judah is a welcome addition, also because it doubles as an introduction to the usefulness of the Bible for historical research. The section on prehistory is well informed and up-to-date and together with the chapters on the first millennium it belongs to the best parts of the book. Finally, each chapter has relevant and interesting 'Debating the Evidence' sections where the authors touch on controversial or highly debated issues, such as the Indus script or the Late Bronze Age collapse."

- Rients de Boer, Free University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2018