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Amanda H. Podany


Subtitle: Life in the Cradle of Civilization, The Teaching Company, Chantilly, VA. 2018, 524 pgs., illustrations, bibliography -also DVD of lectures -


Reviewer comments
This is one of the best lectures in the Great Courses catalog by an outstanding professor and practical archeologist. The author makes it fun to read or watch, with many humorous examples of typical human foibles. It comprises 24 lectures and the 24 chapter transcript. It is based on the most current results of expanding knowledge about ancient Mesopotamia gleaned from many thousands of cuneiform tablets and physical evidence from numerous sites, plus related information from Ancient Egypt. The content includes all aspects of personal, individual, family, and public life. Of special interest is the description of economic activity, trade, gift giving, credit money, financing enterprises and trade for many centuries before the invention of coinage.
However, the author only briefly mentions science, astronomy, medicine, and mathematics. The listener (reader) realizes that in 24 short lectures the professor can only discuss some of the more significant examples of the huge body of knowledge already obtained from the cuneiform records and physical evidence at sites. Among the recurrent themes is the endemic warfare (either between small cities over adjacent farm land or massive campaigns to establish wide empires. But also Dr. Podany describes elaborate, organized, structured diplomacy conducted by professional diplomats.
Human action is based on decisions and decisions are based on beliefs. Thus to understand the origins and motivations for the actions one sees in the historical record one needs to understand the underlying beliefs. The key topics that Dr. Podany presents focus on the people's beliefs. Two among them are extremely significant. First, the people faced a chaotic natural world, full of disasters such as climate change, floods, insects, droghts. They believed the world was created by and basically governed by their gods. They believed the gods created mankind to be servants. Hence efforts to influence the gods were vital, which resulted in the temple (the physical home of the city god) becoming the major land owner and center of economic activity. Second, they believed the social conditions in their communities also would be chaos unless supervised and controlled by a human leader. Early communities addressed their leaders as governors, but later the rulers had the roles we would designate for kings. A central responsibility of the king was to intercede with the god. The Mesopotamians had no word for a concept of religion - gods simply were. And they had no belief that society could function successfully without a king - the political issue was only about who would be the king.
Below, I list several references - either more comprehensive or more special individual memoirs. Included are several works on ancient warfare, a relatively little known aspect in its details despite it being well known as a near endemic activity. And I have added a list of some important characters and subjects with links to Wikipedia articles.


Chapter 1 - Uncovering Near Eastern Civilization

In this introductory chapter Dr. Podany discuses enjoyment in the study of Mesopotamia. She describes the cuneiform {short description of image}writing and how it was discovered and translated by teams of experts. There are an amazing number of these clay tablets already found - many thousands, and no doubt many more thousands still buried in ancient towns. Some important ancient cities will never be explored because they lie directly underneath major modern cities. She specifically notes some of the key experts including Henry Rawlinson and Edward Hincks. The cuneiform tablets were inscribed in the several languages spoken in the region and eventually Akkadian became the standard language for written cuneiform even by peoples who spoke their own languages - similar to medieval Europeans writing in Latin while speaking Italian, French, German and English. But Sumerian {short description of image}was written for literature and religious texts also long after it ceased to be spoken. But lerning to write in cuneiform, let along in a language foreign to the scribe, requited years of study, conducted for special students in special schools. One result was that the majority of the kings and officials from whom 'letters and treaties' were produced and to whom they were addressed could not read these texts. They were routinely read to them. However, it is obvious from the mass of commercial records, marriage documents, mortgages, personal letters and poems that literacy was wider than that.


Chapter 2 - Natufian Villagers and Early Settlements {short description of image}

The author here goes back to 14,000 years ago, before the development of civilization, (and writing - history) to inform the audience about the societies prior to the development of agriculture, which was the essential change that made settled civilizations possible. She discusses the various theories scholars have to explain the processes. One of the important archeological sites is called Gobekli Tepe, now in Turkey. It was inhabited already 12,000 years ago, long before organized agriculture was developed.


Chapter 3 - Neolithic Farming, Trade, and Pottery

In this lecture and chapter Dr. Podany continues explaining the process that took place in these Natufian villages as they gradually shifted from 'hunter- gatherer' communities into agricultural ones during the period generally from 9000 to 5000 BC. Our understanding of these peoples is based on the physical remains found in their (now buried) homes and other buildings. This means mostly objects that do not decay over time, particularly pottery and stone tools, and remains of seeds and bones and the like. During this 4000 years several distinct cultures developed following each other. Several were the Sumerian and the Halaf cultures.


Chapter 4 - Eridu and Other Towns in the Ubaid Period {short description of image}

These towns were located in the southern part of modern Iraq along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers close to the northern end of the Persian Gulf. Dr. Podany describes the major changes that took place there from about 6000 to 3800 BC .


Chapter 5 - Uruk, the World's Biggest City {short description of image}and {short description of image}

Up to this time the human settlements could only be described as small villages at best. But Dr. Podany tells us we now are witnessing the creation of a real city which by 3500 BC was the largest in the world with a population of about 25,000 people. The society had technological inventions such as the wheel, improved bronze casting, plows and other agricultural innovations. The city had two major temples. They had invented writing and a central government. Both were necessary to organize building and social activities on such a scale. With the system of writing they could keep detailed ledgers of production, distribution and consumption, taxes, credit, tribute, and money of account. Scholars now consider that recording all this information with symbols inscribed into clay most have required highly skilled scribes who had years of training. The scribes naturally spoke the language of their city or tribe, but they eventually wrote in Akkadian or Sumerian since those were the languages of 'international' usage, like Latin in medieval Europe.


Chapter 6 - Mesopotamia's First Kings and the Military

Organization requires leadership and administration - the more the scale increases the more elaborate the structure. Dr. Podany tells us it was at this time, 3800 to 3100 BC that we find the first written records of social leaders described in terms we would know as kings - in both Mesopotamia and Egypt. And with the development of societies in towns or cities in close proximity to each other comes competition over control of agricultural land and water. That means warfare, which means leaders and leadership - that is, rulers more developed than leaders of simple war bands. Dr. Podany tells us that such leadership in warfare was an important duty of the king. And that no one doubted the social necessity of having a king as leader. The alternative to such a king was chaos, in their belief. But of course the question of 'who' would be the individual recognized as the legitimate king was frequently in dispute. She describes the process very well. And she identifies several specific individuals whose records have been preserved so we can know they were indeed kings. One such figure was Ur-Nanshe, {short description of image}who ruled Lagash {short description of image}around 2500 BC. And his record indicates he was leading Lagash in repeated skirmishes and wars against Umma and UR. Moreover, he and his heirs were so successful that his dynasty remained as kings for 9 generations over 200 years. But all was not warfare, the relationships between these small cities developed a well structured diplomacy with its own rules and protocols.


Chapter 7 - Early Dynastic Workers and Worshipers

Dr. Podany discusses the social desire for established rules and regulations in all other aspects of civil order besides diplomacy. Life was so much 'on edge' with unexpected disasters and pervasive chaos that developing some form of regulated civil society was essential. In this chapter she begins extensive discussion of the role of what we term ' religion' although belief in gods and goddesses and their control over humans was so deeply ingrained in the people's thought that they didn't think of 'religion' as some kind of separate conception (abstract concept). She also describes the essence of daily life - namely work, mostly to provide food. With the organization of 'urban' society with each city having one or more specific gods or goddesses - each with their major temple, these temples came to occupy and control economic life. They owned land and had workshops. Agricultural workers and skilled artisans worked for the temple, or the ruler's palace. Production, distribution and consumption were meticulously accounted for on the thousands of cuneiform tables. In other words in a money that was an accounting and valuation standard - not a medium of exchange. Warfare required soldiers which also meant keeping records. The soldiers were part time troops (farmers mostly) who could conduct campaigns during the periods outside the planting and harvesting seasons.


Chapter 8 -Lugalzagesi {short description of image}of Umma{short description of image} and Sargon of Akkad {short description of image}

In this chapter Dr. Podany focuses on two famous rulers, especially the well-known Sargon. As she noted earlier, the rulers of Lagash had dominated for 200 or so years. Lugal-zage-si reversed the domination abruptly. His exploits of destruction in Lagash were duly inscribed and credit was given to the king's favor from the 13 gods who supported him. But Lagash was not the extent of his conquest. He proceeded to attempt to conquer and unite as many other cities he he could.
But Lugal-zage-si was a minor ruler in comparison with Sargon, king of Agade. Unfortunately, his capital near the Tigris and Euphrates north of Sumer has never been found. He spoke Akkadian and the region was Akkad {short description of image}with a language different from Sumerian. He claimed support from 3 gods. He was the first real empire builder, as he managed to conquer and control a entire crescent from the Persian Gulf up the two rivers and then across northern Syria below the Turkish mountains and clear to the Mediterranian. Dr. Podany describes his domain as the first real 'empire' because it was composed of many different ethnic groups speaking different languages. And they all considered themselves citizens of their specific city, not of some unified whole. Whereas ancient Egypt, although extensive and wealthy was always one people speaking and writing in one language.


Chapter 9 - Akkadian Empire Arts and Gods

Dr. Podany times this period to 2350 - 2150 BC and considers it a period of significant innovation in social life, art, and religion. The period takes its name from the capital city - Agade, described in later texts as immensely wealthy including international trade from as far away as Dilumn (modern Bahrain) and even Magan (modern Oman). Increased contacts with people from distant places brought diversity of thought, ideas, fashions, and languages.
One interesting aspect she describes is the practical view of worship of 'gods'. {short description of image}Actually, she notes, such worship was so much a fundamental personal belief that the Mesopotamians had no separate term for a concept of religion. And they believed that the people they met. wherever. all worshiped as a matter of course their own equally valid gods. For instance, she notes, there is but one sun, different people had different words in their languages for this god, but it was obviously the same god. Another topic is art and another is creation of objects using metals such as copper, tin, silver and gold, none of which was found inside Mesopotamia, but imported from distant locations.


Chapter 10 - The Fall of Akkad and Gudea{short description of image} of Lagash

Dr. Podany discusses the public awareness now of the Akkadian empire related to our knowledge of the famous kings, Sargon and Naram-Sin. She describes contemporary records and literature about these leaders.


Chapter 11 - Ur III Households, Accounts, and Ziggurats

In this lecture Dr. Podany turns to the city of Ur, dated about 2112 - 2004 BC. For this period she notes that the volume of cuneiform records increased greatly. This enables scholars today to reconstruct details of the people's daily lives as well as that of the kings, merchants, diplomats and common citizens.


Chapter 12 - Migrants and Old Assyrian Merchants

This lecture is about several quite different subjects. One is the interesting existence of Assyrian merchants maintaining a trade colony far away, in Anatolia. Another is the mix in the population of the small region along and between the Tigris and Euphrates of so many different people's speaking different languages but all using cuneiform. Of course most people could not read, There were special schools at which selected students were taught the difficult skill of writing.


Chapter 13 - Royalty and Palace Intrigue at Mari {short description of image}

Mari was located in northern Mesopotamia and made wealthy from its critical location on major trade routes. Dr. Podany focuses as the example of its king, Shamshi-Adad I, {short description of image}who expanded his domain into an empire (empire because it was over lord of many other towns inhabited by different peoples). He was continually at war, but still had time to devote to extensive correspondence. The key to his significance to historians is not his relatively short reign but from its disastrous ending. When the later king, Zimri-Lim,{short description of image} was deposed by Hammurabi {short description of image}and Mari was destroyed, the palace collapsed in fire, thus preserving tens of thousands of cuneiform tablets and much artifacts in the buried ruin. The place was only discovered and excavated beginning in 1933. It became a 'gold mine' of a different sort.


Chapter 14 - War and Society, in Hammurabi's Time

Thus we come to Hammurabi of Babylon, another ancient leader made famous through archeology - namely the stone stelas (columns) on which he had a set of "laws', actually basic rules, inscribed of which one is in the Louvre in Paris. But he was a conqueror in grand style and recreated an empire . Dr. Podany focuses on domestic affairs descriptive of Babylonians life.


Chapter 15 - Justice in the Old Babylonia Period

From this Dr. Podany focuses on legal institutions and procedures.

Amazing is the elaborate official court systems and developed jurisprudence. And more amazing is how much we now know about this and Babylonian's life. It is also clear that European authors, political theorists and learned philosophers in the 18th century who espoused theories about the subject didn't know anything about it. (Not unusual of course) Like Adam Smith, for instance.


Chapter 16 - The Hana Kingdom and Clues to a Dark Age

Dr. Podany jumps on to circa 1500 BC and the era of great turmoil and chaos. She turns to the Kassites {short description of image}and Hittites {short description of image}and Hurrians.{short description of image} There are many books, theories by scholars, about what happened and what caused the chaos and by whom. Among other epochal events was the Hittite invasion (actually raid) from central Anatolia clear down the Euphrates to destroy Babylon. But the Hittites didn't remain there, they took their booty home. A new kingdom was founded between Babylon and Anatolia again in northern Mesopotamia around 1500 BC and we name it Mittani.{short description of image} By this time there were four 'great powers' in conflict - Mittanians, Hittites, Egyptians, and Kassite Babylonians. Diplomacy was conducted according to well established protocols with much gift-giving between kings, She devoted her entire book, Brotherhood of Kings, to this fascinating subject.


Chapter 17 - Princess Tadu-Hepa, Diplomacy, and Marriage -

The chapter is fascinating not only for its subject content but also as an example of the remarkable ability we have now to learn of that content via the thousands of cuneiform tablets, in other words archeological methods. To do this Dr. Podany will devote a lengthy, detailed discussion to a single example necessary for the reader to savor its full meaning. Dr. Podany uses specific examples for which extensive cuneiform documents exist that she can quote extensively, one of these is the case of Princess Tadu-Hepa of Mittani. And 'international' diplomacy conducted at the summit level frequently involved a ruler sending his daughters or sisters to be a bride of a desirable, hoped for ally - thus we have in the title diplomacy and marriage joined. And all of this is revealed to us by the incredible volume of personal letters transmitted by couriers over thousands of miles between correspondents who would never see each other.
Dr. Podany devotes a lengthy description in her book - Brotherhood -to the negociations for her marriage to Amenhotep III
I can believe that 'feminists' today base much outrage from the world-wide fact that girls and young women were treated as objects of diplomatic and other exchange and exploitation from the earliest Neolithic eras and continuing with primitive tribal groups today and on to the highest 'sophisticated' , 'cultured' royalties into the 20th century. We cannot say that the practice 'began' in Mesopotamia, it was already operating in full swing as the 'natural' thing to do. Even so, the letters reveal that these women did exert themselves significantly. They were much more significant individuals than 'objects' of diplomacy.

The Egyptian pharaohs were the only monarchs of the time able to exert their total supremacy by simply refusing to send a daughter to be a foreign queen while graciously accepting multiple girls from many allies into their bed chambers. Dr. Podany gives us a fascinating detailed account of the negotiations over such a diplomatic marriage between king Tushratta {short description of image}of Mittani and Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep III over the delayed dispatch of king Tushratta's daughter, Tadu-Hepa, to Egypt. And Amenhotep III was already married to one of Tushratta's sisters. (Amenhotep's obsession was in expanding his harem with princesses from every place he could as evidence of his power). A further remarkable aspect of this is that the diplomatic letters are written in cuneiform in Akkadian, which neither Tushratta nor Amenhotep spoke or read, and found in the Egyptian archives. Actually few rulers or even high officials could read Akkadian, they dictated their messages to trained scribes. European diplomacy in the 19th century (or before) could not top this . Yes, in due course the princess went to Egypt and wealth measured in billions of dollars in today's currency was also transferred.

Dr. Podany gives the listener (reader) another choice incident. It seems that one of the Mesopotamia kings inquired of Pharaoh Amenhotep III about the condition and status of his daughter in Memphis. The pharaoh was unable to give information. He condensended to display all the wives in a group for the inspection of the Babylonian envoy, who could not identify one from another (apparently they were not allowed to speak). Finally the pharaoh blamed the king for not sending an envoy who knew the girl personally so as to identify her among the harem.

No further comment needed.

Other letters discuss political issues and diplomatic negotiations.
Others show that gold was so valuable for the prestige its display gave to its owners (kings) that it was not used as 'money' in the common sense but sought after avidly in the role of gift exchange between rulers. And gifts were really gifts, not commercial trade, but were jealously evaluated by the monarch givers and receivers as indications of one brother's love' of the other.


Chapter 18 - Land Grants and Royal Favor in Mittani

This kingdom thrived around 1450 to 1350 BC in northern present day Syria - Iraq. In this chapter Dr. Podany switches from domestic affairs to diplomacy and political intrigue. She contrasts social conditions in towns in which there was a major political power - evidenced by a sizable palace - and towns without such. With the latter showing a much more egalitarian social community. In many cities the king professed to own all the land in the name of the city god but would then grant its use to favorites, royal officials and soldiers. Some times these grants were extensive, including whole towns. All these transactions were meticulously recorded on clay of which many have survived for our exploitation. They were elaborate official contracts evidence in themselves of concepts of law, property, hierarchy, tradition, propriety and other ideas. The volume of legal contracts is amazing.

For evidence of this level of public affairs Dr. Podany refers again to the extensive correspondence between King Tushratta and Egypt and many other equal or subordinate kingdoms. The correspondence between Tushrattta and Egyptian pharaohs turned out poorly from his point of view. Unfortunately Amenhotep III died only 2 years after marrying Tadu-Hepa who then married his successor (the infamous) Akhenaten. As we know from Egypt, Akhenaten was rather unusual. Among many other transgressions he failed to send Tushratta the several gold statues contracted for by Amenhotep. Tushratta's correspondence depicts his outrage (more than disappointment.) The concern was not only about some gold statues, although they were to be public evidence of the power of Tushratta and of Egyptian favor. At the time the Hittites had their sights trained on Mittaini so Tushratta needed all the allies he could find.


Chapter 19 - The Late Bronze Age and the End of Peace

In this chapter Dr. Podany turns to marine archeology with the study of a shipwreck found off the Turkish coast. It contained a remarkable heterogenous mixture of artifacts originating in many places - a mix of the crew's own possessions, the merchant trade goods (such as 10 tons of copper from Cypress) and apparent gifts belonging to several ambassadors bound on diplomatic missions. She notes the context. At the time very large shipments of gold, copper, and luxury goods were exchanged as gifts between royal rulers and over great distances.
Again she notes that 'international' correspondence was in Akkadian despite it not being the native language of the writers or readers.
And she notes that Ugarit, {short description of image}a seaport on the Levantine coast, was a major entreport for this exchange. She lists some of the major products and their origins: Glass and copper from Cypress, Horses and chariots from Mittani, Textiles from Babylonia, Olive oil and perfume from Greece, Ivory and ebony from Africa, Incense from Arabia, Gold from Egypt. But conditions were about to change, and for the worse. The Hittites became increasingly aggressive and destroyed some Mittatian cities. Mittatni was divided west to east between Hatti and Assyria. Hittite aggression turned against Egypt so in 1274 BC they clashed at the famous battle of Qadesh (Kadesh {short description of image}). This one Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II claimed as a great victory, but the Hittite archives show that they also claimed victory. The two rulers signed peace. But conditions soon changed with the wide spread devastation from Mycenaean Greece to Assyria. The Hittite kingdom collapsed and many towns, (including Ugarit), especially near the coast were destroyed.

This 'end of the Bronze Age' is described by several references listed below- especially by Drews. The general scholarly opinion is that it was due to attacks by a "Sea Peoples' coming from across the Mediterranean. Only Egypt was able to withstand this, and that barely with significant fighting. Dr. Podany wonders at the causation and proposes some conclusions, but for some reason does not mention the basic name by which the era is given "the end of the Bronze Age' - which relates to the development then by which iron replaced bronze as the metal for weapons. But she well describes the results: break up of empires, decline of commerce, destitution of populations, (dark age in Greece) and more.


Chapter 20 - Assyria Ascending {short description of image}

Dr. Podany notes that already in the last 200 years or so we have known much more about Assyria than any other of the Mesopotamian societies thanks to mention in the Bible and in Greek and Roman literature while the cuneiform tablets were unknown. In a previous lecture she discusses the recent discovery of the early existence of the Assyrian merchant community in Anatolia that existed around 1974 - 1807 BC. This was centuries before the Assyrians became a significant and then dominant political force. For centuries it was a part of the Mittani kingdom and then when the Hittite empire took western Mittani by 1330 BC Assyria regained independence. In this chapter she focuses on this latter period in which Assyria created an empire that became a 'model' for later Persian and Roman empires. The original capital was Assur. It was moved to a new city of Kalhu and finally a huge and wealthy new city was built - Nineveh. The original core of Assyria lay in the open plain of the two rivers with no natural boundaries. Defense meant conquest of adjacent territory, continually expanding. She places the height of Assyrian glory in its Middle Kingdom - 1365 - 1076 BC. But the famous Assyrian empire - Neo-Assyrian era was 911 - 610 BC at the end of which Assyria was wiped out by the Medes and Babylonians and then supplanted by Persians.
With warfare and conquest so prominent an activity, Professor Podany describes their army and strategy in more detail. Assyria suffered along with the other kingdoms during the collapse from 1200 to 1100 BC. She devotes more attention, then, to the Neo-Assyrian kingdom and mentions several of the most important kings: beginning with Adad-nirari II, then Ashurnasirpal II, who built a magnificent new capital, Kalhu. She provides a vivid description of the city and palace and more. The decorations and inscriptions depicting warfare give us information on this. It was during this period that the Israelites suffered from Assyrian expansion.


Chapter 21 - Ashurbanipal's {short description of image}Library and Gilgamesh

In this chapter Dr. Podany moves on to 668 BC and discusses one of the most famous Assyrian kings of all - Ashurbanipal - but not so much for his political and military power but rather about his amazing 'library' or archive. She describes this trove of tablets on many topics we would not believe were Assyrian topics without seeing this evidence. She notes that the library was not discovered until 1850 and then caused a sensation. The thousands of texts have not yet been completely translated. She also mentions several archeologists and translators responsible for retrieving this knowledge.
Then she describes in detail one of the most sensational discoveries in the library - a text of the epic poem - Gilgamesh - and an account of a great flood in the poem.


Chapter 22 - Neo-Assyrian Empire, Warfare, and Collapse

Dr. Podany moves on to near final days of Assyria when it had expanded beyond its capacity under the reign of another famous warrior king - Tiglath-Pileser III. A century after him, during the reign of another well known ruler, Sennacherib (704 - 681), the empire began to collapse. Probably his major error was to conquer Babylon, the neighboring power to the south. This was biting more than he could chew. Plus, he devoted much resources to expanding Nineveh. His son, Esarhaddon, suffered the consequences. He gained the throne by a civil war which depleted Assyrian resources. But he took on an even greater project - conquering Egypt in 761 BC. He died on the way back and was succeeded by a son, Ashurbanipal, another well known figure to the ancients - the creator of the library. He again warred against the Elamites but disturbed the Babylonians in the process by another civil was in which he regained the city in 630 BC. But not for long. In 612 BC the end came when the Babylonians allied with the Medes and destroyed Assyria.


Chapter 23 - Babylon and the New Year's Festival

The scene shifts to Babylon- the home of the powerful god - Marduk {short description of image}. Dr. Podany uses the example of the god's relationship to the king to provide a detailed description of Mesopotamian relations between a local god and king. Her description of the annual Akitu festival in which the king renewed his worship of Marduk is fascinating. Assyrian conqueror, Sennacherib, took Marduk (he lived in his statue) to Assyria (causing great consternation) and 12 years later Ashurbanipal returned him. But, nevertheless, the Babylonians never forgot the previous outrage and credited Marduk with the revenge. Dr. Podany also tells us about two other famous (Biblical) Babylonians - Nabopolassar and Nebuchadnezzar II. They expanded and created a new Neo-Babylonian empire that included and expanded the Assyrian territory. And Babylon city became even more glorious than Nineveh. Among the many excellent illustrations in the book (and lecture) is one of the famous Ishtar Gate.


Chapter 24 - End of the Neo_Babylonian Empire

And thus we come to the end of Babylon as the center of Mesopotamian culture as it is absorbed into the even greater and extensive Persian Empire. By then it was a very large multiethnic and multi-religious empire, a model for Persia, Greece and Rome. Dr. Podany ends her narrative and analysis with the reign of Cyrus the Great and a summary of the contributions of Mesopotamia to subsequent civilization clear to our own today.


Some of the leading characters and subjects, the author mentions many more:
Mesopotamian deities {short description of image}plus many more google entries
Enlil, king of the Mesopotamian gods;{short description of image}
Inanna/Ishtar, Mesopotamian goddess of love; {short description of image}
Marduk, Mesopotamian god of Babylon; {short description of image}
Shamash, Mesopotamian sun god;
Teshup, Hurrian storm god;
Ahmose, king of Egypt 1550 - 1525 BC;
Akhenaten, king of Egypt 1425-1336 BC; {short description of image}
Amenhotep III, king of Egypt 1391 - 1353 BC; {short description of image}
Artatama I, king of Mittani 1400 - 1382 BC; {short description of image}
Burna-buriash II, king of Babylonia 1359 -1333 BC;
Hammurabi, king of Babylon 1792-1750 BC; {short description of image}
Hatshepsut, female king of Egypt 1479 - 1458 BC;
Hattusili I, king of Hatti 1650 - 1620 BC;
Keliya, ambassador from Mittani 14th century BC;
Kilu-Hepa, princess of Mittani wife of Amenhotep III, 14th century BC;
Naram-Sin, king of Akkad 2254 - 2218 BC; {short description of image}
Ramsses II, king of Egypt 1279 - 1213 BC;{short description of image}
Sargon, king of Akkad 2334 - 2279 BC; {short description of image}
Suppilulimua, king of Hatti 1344 - 1322 BC; {short description of image}
Tadu-Hepa, princess of Mittani, wife of Amenhotep III and king Akhenaten 14th century BC;
Thutmose III king of Egypt 1479 - 1425 BC; {short description of image}
Tushratta, king of Mittani 1372 - 1326 BC.{short description of image}


Further reading

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Podany, Amanda - Brotherhood of Kings -

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Landes, David, Joel Mokyr &William Baumol ed - The Invention of Enterprise - In this comprehensive study of the role of enterprise and entrepreneurs throughout history there are two essays that are especially relevant to this book.
Chapter 1 - Michael Hudson. "Entrepreneurs: From the Near Eastern Takeoff to the Roman Collapse" This essay describes the economic situation with respect to money, credit, debt, public and private merchants and entrepreneurs in Mesopotamia in broad terms and is especially interesting in the sections that compare this with a general deterioration in classical Greek and Roman societies.
Chapter 2 - Cornellia Wunsch, "Neo_Babylonian Entrepreneurs" is a more detailed study of a period for which there is even more information than in earlier millennia.
Both essays dispel the many myths and misunderstanding of overall economic conditions and especially such topics and barter, money, credit, debt, private and public property and business during the ancient Mesopotamia millennia.


Roaf, Michael, Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East - The Cultural Atlas of the World series, Stonehenge Press, Alexandria, 1994, 238 pgs., index, bibliography, gazetteer, many illustrations, maps, large format, chronology, king lists, glossary, This book greatly supplements Dr. Podany's lectures, especially with the excellent illustrations and maps.


Roberts. J. M. - Prehistory and the First Civilizations, Oxford Univ. Press, N.Y., 1998, 190 pgs., index, large format, many illustrations, The text and illustrations supplement Dr. Podany's lectures


Barbarian Tides: Timeframe 1500 - 600 BC., Time Life Books, Alexandria VA., 171 pgs., chronology, index, bibliography, many illustrations. A basic supplement that includes Egypt, India, China and Greece.


Drews, Robert - The End of the Bronze Age: Changes in Warfare and the Catastrophe CA. 1200 B.C. , Princeton Univ. Press, 1993, 252 pgs., index, bibliography, notes. This book describes the disaster that struck the Eastern Mediterranian region with the invasion of the Sea Peoples, which Dr. Podany discusses in less detail.


Saggs, H. W. F. - The Greatness that was Babylon: A sketch of the ancient civilization of the Tigris-Euphrates valley, Hawthorn Books, NY., 1962, 562 pgs., index, illustrations , bibliography, chronological tables, index to words, king lists. This is an extensive study organized in part one chronologically from prehistoric times to the Persian conquest, and in part two by subject topics including many aspects of social, cultural, economic and political life.


Braidwood. Linda - Digging beyond the Tigris, Henry Schuman, NY., 1953, 297 pgs., map, illustrations. - This is a personal narrative by an archeologist about her experiences on site digging at Jarmo on the border between Arab and Kurdish parts of Iraq. It is a valuable supplement to Dr. Podany' book - lectures as it provides experiences she no doubt had but didn't include in her lectures.


Bibby, Geoffrey - Looking for Dilmun, Alfred Knopf, NY, 1969, index, illustrations. This is the personal account of the archeologist who conducted important site work in Bahrain connecting this transit market port between India and Babylon.


Macqueen, J. G. The Hittites and their Contemporaries in Asia Minor, Westview Press, Boulder, CO., 206 pgs., maps, illustrations. index, notes, The author includes Assyria, Mittani, Babylon and many other neighbors that Dr. Podany discusses with connections to the Hittites.

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Wittfogel, Karl A. - Oriental Despotism: A Comparative Study of Total Power, Yale Univ. Press, New Haven, 1957, 556 pgs., index, bibliography, notes. The author is basically a Marxist but in this book he challenges Marx's categorization of historical societies and draws attention to an entirely different social/political organization, the hydraulic societies of the ancient Near East and China. Mesopotamia and Egypt are prime examples of his theories.


Mumford, Lewis - The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects, Harcourt, Brace & World, NY., 1961, 657 pgs., index, illustrations, bibliography. The author is a professional city planner, thus he is a strong advocate for organized central government planning of urban space and deplores anything having to do with laizzez- faire. He repeatedly acknowledges that his discussion of prehistoric and even early Mesopotamian society, villages and cities is his speculation based on scanty evidence. He does not rely in the vast cuneiform documentary record. He is also an environmentalist and castigates 'capitalism' for much destruction in pursuit of greedy profits. He deplores much else in the historical record as well. But some of his theories are worth considering.


Cotterell, Arthur - Chariot: From Chariot to tank, The Astounding Rise and Fall of the World's First War Machine, The Overlook Press, NY, 2005, 344 pgs., index, maps, illustrations, notes, bibliography. The title is over blown but the author can focus on the details of the role of chariots in Egyptian and Mesopotamian warfare. This provides more detail on the role of the chariot to add to Drews' book.


Anglim, Simon, & Phyllis Jestice - Fighting Techniques of the Ancient World, 3000 BC. - 500 AD. Thomas Dunne Books, NY., 256 pgs., index, many illustrations, glossary, bibliography. The first chapter includes a brief description of infantry in Egyptian and Mesopotamian warfare. The second chapter has more on the role of chariots and cavalry in those armies.


de Souza, Philip, ed. The Ancient World at War, Thames & Hudson, London, 2008, 320 pgs., index, sources, many illustrations. The first three chapters, by specialist scholars, are relevant to the period in Dr. Podany's lectures. They are excellent.


Ferrill, Arther - The Origins of War: From Stone Age to Alexander the Great, Thames & Hudson, London, 1985, 240 pgs., index, illustrations, maps, battle plans, illustrations. The first 85 pages provide excellent detail on the era.


Hackett, Sir John, ed. - Warfare in the Ancient World, Facts on File, NY., 1989, index, maps, illustrations, The chapters are written by various specialist scholars. That on Mesopotamian warfare is very brief, but the following chapter on the Assyrians is better.


Stillman, Nigel & Nigel Tallis - Armies of the Ancient Near East, 3000 BC - 539 BC, Wargames Research Group, London, 1984, 208 pgs., bibliography, many illustrations. The authors cite the same original sources as does Dr. Podany. This is the most comprehensive reference book available. The authors make it clear that original sources are lacking for detail during many eras. The illustrations are drawings based on archeological evidence.


Healy, Mark - The Ancient Assyrians, Osprey, London, 1991, 63 pgs, index, many illustrations, paperback. This is useful for the color illustrations not usually found in academic studies of Assyria or the Middle East.

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Graeber, David - Debt The First 5,000 Years Melvile House Publishing, 2011, 534 pgs., index, bibliography. The author is an archeologist and anthropoligist so discusses prehistoric - primitive - societies as well as very early ones at more length than is typical of authors on the history of money.

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Drews, Robert - The End of the Bronze Age, Princeton Univ. Press, 1993, , 255 pgs., index, bibliography. Dr. Podany comments briefly on the 'catastrophy' that happened about 1200 B.C. but with out deciding on its cause. Dr. Drews devotes this book to answering that question and concludes that it was largely due to the military superority of the invaders using iron weapons.


Woolley, Sir Leonard - A Forgotten Kingdom - Pelican Books, Baltimore, 1953, 191 pgs., index, diagrams, paperback - - report on excavations in Hatti with discussion of the Hittite campaigns into Mitannik Syria.


Coulanges, Fustel De - The Ancient City - Doubleday Anchor Books, N.Y., ND., 396 pgs., paperback - This is mostly about ancient Greece and Rome, but also their ancient predecessors. The author is focused on the most ancient beliefs of the peoples who first created cities, especially about religion and family. His ideas are relevant to the first Mesopotamian cities.

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Hudson, Michael ... and forgive them their debts Subtitle: Lending, Forclosure, and Redemption from Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year. ISIeT - Verlag, Dresden, 2018, 311 pgs., index, extensive bibliography, foot notes, illustrations, paper back

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Hudson, Michael, The Archeology of Money - Subtitle: Debt versus Barter Theories of Money's Origins chapter 5 in Credit and State Theories of Money - Edward Elgar Pub. Cheltenham, U.K., 2004,


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