The Near East

A Cultural History

Arthur Cotterell



A sweeping cultural history of the Near East, from the birth of civilization to the present day.

Bibliographic Details
The Near East Hardback
July 2017£20.00
9781849047968360pp


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Description

A sweeping cultural history of the Near East, from the birth of civilization to the present day.

The Near East was the cradle of civilization: the Sumerians invented urban living and writing here, and monotheism was born and spread across the globe. Arthur Cotterell vividly sketches the extraordinary cultures that have left their mark on the region, from their early myths, deities and rituals of worship to their pioneering political systems and military conquests. Charting the rise and fall of Assyria and Babylon, the world’s first great powers, then exploring the long eras of Persian, Byzantine, Arab and Ottoman rule, The Near East traces the legacy of this rich past through the destabilization of Western imperialism, and beyond.

This enthralling narrative shows how history has shaped the beliefs, traditions and politics of the Near East, one of the world’s most creative, diverse and yet troubled regions.

Author

Arthur Cotterell is a prolific historian and author. His previous books include the Penguin Encyclopedia of Ancient Civilizations, the Penguin Encyclopedia of Classical Civilizations and Chariot: The Astounding Rise and Fall of the World's First War Machine.

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Table of Contents

PART 1: LOST CIVILIZATIONS

Chapter 1: Discovery: An Archaeological Revelation

Assyria

Sumer

Babylon

Mitanni

Hatti

Ugarit and Ebla

Troy

Crete and Cyprus

PART 2: THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST

Chapter 2: Sumer: The Cradle of Civilization

Uruk: The World’s First City

Temples and Palaces

The third dynasty of Ur

Chapter 3: The First Great Empires

Akkad

Babylon

Hatti

Assyria

Persia

Chapter 4: Ancient Religion and Beliefs

The Sumerian pantheon

The rise of Marduk

West Semitic deities

Chapter 5: The Biblical Lands

Syria

Phoenicia

Palestine

Chapter 6: Greco-Roman Domination

Macedon

After Alexander

Early Christianity

The loss of the Promised Land

The eastern frontier

PART 3: THE MEDIEVAL NEAR EAST

Chapter 7: A World Crisis: The Rise of Islam

Islam: the final revelation

The Arab onslaught

The Umayyad caliphate

The Abbasid caliphate

Chapter 8: Bastion Byzantium

Beating the Sasanians

Holding off the Arabs

A limited revival

The coming of the Seljuks

Chapter 9: The Crusades

The First Crusade

The Crusader states

The advent of Saladin

The Fourth and Fifth Crusades

Chapter 10: The Ottoman Empire

The Turkish rescue of Islam

The fall of Constantinople

Ottoman zenith

Imperial troubles

PART 4: THE MODERN NEAR EAST

Chapter 11: The First World War and the Arab Revolt

Entering the World War

The Arab revolt

The conquest of Palestine and Syria

After the Ottoman defeat

Chapter 12: The Rise of Modern Turkey

Difficult times 1919-22

The secularization of Turkey

Ataturk’s nationalism

Turkey and the West

Chapter 13: The Second World War and Decolonization

The Second World War

Post-war decolonization

The kingdom of Iraq

Saddam Hussein and the Gulf Wars

Chapter 14: A Time of Turbulence

The Arab Spring

Conflict in Iraq and Syria

Gaza and Israel

The Gulf states

Reviews

As the Near East edges ever nearer, we in the Middle West need to know it better. Arthur Cotterell’s cultural history is the ideal primer. Full of surprises and enriched by the author’s insights into its mythology and ritual, The Near East offers a comprehensive history in which conquests and conversions are more than matched by continuities and commonalities.’ — John Keay, author of Sowing the Wind: the Seeds of Conflict in the Middle East as well as standard histories of India and China

‘A lively history of the Near East that presents a very accessible, readable, and accurate narrative, thanks to Cotterell’s beautiful and engaging prose.’ — Ilan Pappé, author of The Modern Middle East and The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine