Ancient World discussion


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message 1: by Gemma (new)

Gemma (littletinypieces) | 1 comments Hi Muse,

Really glad to see a group on here that caters for this particular period of history!

message 2: by Dora (new)

Dora | 1 comments Me too. I'm working on filling in some gaps in my knowledge and would love recommendations of both fiction and non-fiction.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 31 comments Mod
I find the whole period fascinating.

message 4: by Shirley (new)

Shirley (discipleshirley) | 2 comments That goes for me learning is fun! Shirley

message 5: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa Folks, I'm interested in Dark Ages to mid 1800s Hx in Britiain and Ireland...pretty much from the fall of Rome to the rise of the Victorian period.
So I may be in the wrong place here.
Having said that, I'm also keen on ancient Med culture, Carthage; Philistines; Greek city states etc. Recently read and loved Robert Graves "Hercules My Shipmate", a fictional version of Jason's journey for the fleece.

message 6: by Maya (new)

Maya (cuardai_eolais) Hi, I thought I would jump in here and introduce my fancy. I'm very much into Celtic history, Greek, Roman, Indian...Hmm, lets say History as a whole. BUT I'm beginning with Celtic.

message 7: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa Hello KJ. This group has been a wee bit quiet recently, so please rant away and I will happily join you. What period interests you most? Any subjects you're more interested in?

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 31 comments Mod
Kelly Jo - have you read 1491? I found it interesting, if with a somewhat scattered focus.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 31 comments Mod
It is very sceptical of the "Alaskan land bridge" theory, Kelly Jo. Basically it is about the research on the ancient Americas since about 1970 or so - and how that picture is very different from the traditional one we tend to have in our heads.

With such a big topic the scattered focus is probably a little inevitable. I still gave it 4 stars.

message 10: by Sid (new)

Sid (sidthomson) | 4 comments I also read 1491 recently and recommend it. I think the "scattered " comment comes from the fact that it covers all of North and South America - so it jumps around. It is not a continous type of history, but rather focuses on the newer discoveries throughout the geographical area, and how they fit into history.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 31 comments Mod
Yeah, that's probably a better description than mine, Sid.

message 12: by Sid (new)

Sid (sidthomson) | 4 comments Susanna - but I believe we both liked it and recommend it.

btw - I just checked out your profile to see if I could steal any ideas of good books. Wow! what a perfectly organized bookshelf!

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 31 comments Mod
Thank you! I just file books as it makes sense to me.

message 14: by Elijah (new)

Elijah Meeks | 3 comments Hello all. I've just joined Goodreads and thought this was a good group for me. I study environmental history, primarily in China, but there's a vast corpus of the discipline that looks at ancient Anatolia. If anyone's interested in that style of historical research, I'd recommend Sing Chew's "The Recurring Dark Ages" which touches on Minoan culture, Greece and, of course, Mesopotamia.

If anyone can recommend a good work on the Sea Peoples, I'd love to hear it.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 31 comments Mod
I would also be interested in a good book on the Sea Peoples - I find that period very interesting.

message 17: by Terence (new)

Terence (spocksbro) Kelly Jo wrote: "Yes, maybe it needed me to stir things up! Not really though, I never stir anything except when cooking.

I'm interested in anything Renaissance-era or older. To subcategorize, I then focus on E..."

To "stir things up" perhaps we could embark upon a group read? (Assuming we could come up with a common book :-)

I wouldn't be adverse to Elijah's suggestion, Collapse of the Bronze Age The Story of Greece, Troy, Israel, Egypt, and the Peoples of the Sea, definitely a period of interest to me.

Other possibilities from my GR library:

David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible's Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition
The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force
The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians
The Ruin of the Roman Empire: A New History
China's Golden Age: Everyday Life in the Tang Dynasty
The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han

You can perhaps begin to grasp where my primary interests lie :-)

But this is just to get the ball rolling if anyone is interested. We could get 10 or so book suggestions, create a poll, read the selected book and then discuss.

message 18: by Elijah (new)

Elijah Meeks | 3 comments I've been flipping through my copy of Loewe's "Everyday Life in Early Imperial China" and it's good, and I'll probably use the text in a course I'm teaching over the summer.

As far as other possibilities, I wrote most of the Wikipedia article on Arabia Petraea based on Bowersocks "Roman Arabia" and that's an interesting, though work in the area, though later than the Bronze Age. I find the story of Romanization in Greek of the Arabian province to be quite engaging and it's a quality scholarly work.

Like Kelly Jo, I'm more interested in scholarly works than popular works and confess to a certain joy when seeing transliterated cuneiform. Maybe the Sea Peoples are too lacking in academic focus and we should instead look to a better researched period. Some areas I'd be interested in:

Gudea of Lagash has been a favorite subject of mine in Mesopotamian history.
Sargon and Akkad.
Early Central Asian interaction with China, such as the Xiongnu and Xianyan (There's a very good work on Geography and its effect on Zhou China that includes the influence of the Xianyan group on the Western Zhou Dynasty by Li Feng titled "Landscape and Power in Early China" but it's pricey).
The aforementioned Roman Arabia, as well as Roman Syria and North Africa.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 31 comments Mod
I have read several by Michael Grant, but not The Ancient Mediterranean. Sounds interesting. How recent is it?

message 20: by Alinda (new)

Alinda (thiswildride) | 2 comments The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians
The Ruin of the Roman Empire: A New History
China's Golden Age: Everyday Life in the Tang Dynasty
The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han

I could do any of these. My area of interest is the Silk Road so it's pretty broad. I like medieval history too. It'd be interesting to read something on north african silk trade connections too. that area seems left out of a lot of books on the subject.

message 21: by Carla (new)

Carla Nayland | 7 comments Hello - I'm interested in early medieval Britain/Europe (aka 'Dark Ages'), especially from the fall of the Western Roman Empire to around the Norman Conquest of Britain in 1066. Also in Roman Republic/Empire (including Byzantium), pre-Roman Europe and the ancient Mediterranean, though I know less about those periods. Am I in the right place here?

message 22: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa Hi Carla. This group has been a wee bit quiet recently, but you seem to be in the right place.
Reading anything good at the minute?

message 23: by Carla (new)

Carla Nayland | 7 comments Hi Barbarossa. Just finished reading Roman Chester: City of the Eagles, by David Mason. NF account of Chester's development in the Roman and post-Roman period, written by an archaeologist involved with many of the digs in the city.
Also just finished The Kingmaking, by Helen Hollick. This is the first of a trilogy of King Arthur novels, placing Arthur in mid-fifth-century Britain and telling the story without any magic/myth/monsters.
Anyone else read either of these, or anything related?

message 24: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa Haven't heard of the Arthur book but I'm a fan of things Arthurian (there's a group of Arthurmaniacs on Goodreads, if you're interested), I'll check the book out.
I like the Dark Ages take on the stories, but Malory will always be a favorite too.
So, the big questions: Was he a real person? An amalgam of many with the same title? Are the myths and stories a corruption of earlier indigenous hero tales?
What are your thoughts?

message 25: by Carla (new)

Carla Nayland | 7 comments TH WHite's Once and Future King, which is more or less based on the King Arthur of Malory, is one of my favourites, so yes, I have a soft spot for the high-chivalry side to the legend as well.

Was he a real person? Now there is a big question! I think we will never know for sure. For what it's worth, my view is that it's quite likely there was a successful Brittonic war leader around the turn of the 5th/6th century, and we may as well assign him the name "Arthur". He may well have fought the 12 battles assigned to him in Historia Brittonum (Nennius, if you prefer) - wherever their locations actually are! - and he may or may not have been a king as well as Dux Bellorum (war leader) - the two jobs tended to go together. Whether he slept with his sister, had his best friend run off with his wife, was advised by a wizard called Merlin, owned a round table, lived in a place called Camelot, searched for the Holy Grail and was killed by his nephew/son is a different matter! I'm inclined to the view that many, perhaps most, of those trappings are later additions, perhaps building on something that was historical (plenty of kings have been attacked by their sons - Henry II leaps to mind - and adulterous queens with political influence sufficient to bring down the husband aren't unknown - Isabella of France, queen to Edward II, leaps to mind) or perhaps bolted on entirely in the interests of story.

Christopher Gidlow's book 'The Reign of Arthur: From History to Legend' attempts to identify what might be a historical core to the legend. Have you read it? I came to the same conclusions myself independently, so naturally I think it's an excellent survey! I reviewed it a while ago:
if interested.

What are your views?

message 26: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa I think there is a historical core to the stories based round one or more Romano-British warlords. The tales growing in the telling. I think they gathered stories and characters like a snowball as they were repeated by different folk, mixing with European tales. Arthur providing a central point and structure for these to be hung on.
You should check out the Arthuriana group.

message 27: by Carla (new)

Carla Nayland | 7 comments Thanks for the tip, I will go and look for it! I'm new here and haven't figured out how everything works yet.

message 28: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa Carla wrote: "Thanks for the tip, I will go and look for it! I'm new here and haven't figured out how everything works yet."

If you look on my profile and check out the groups I'm in that'll point you in the right direction.

message 29: by Alinda (new)

Alinda (thiswildride) | 2 comments Carla wrote: "Hello - I'm interested in early medieval Britain/Europe (aka 'Dark Ages'), especially from the fall of the Western Roman Empire to around the Norman Conquest of Britain in 1066. Also in Roman Repu..."

Some links I just found...

Journal of Medieval History:


Elsevier websites:

Happy hunting.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 31 comments Mod
I read Leslie Alcock's Arthur's Britain about two years ago, and found it very interesting, if somewhat dry.

message 31: by Scott (new)

Scott Ferry I am curious to know more about the early medieval period.. also history on the Picts, and small tribes like the Goths, Vandals, Visigoths, etc.. early Britain and Rome.

Recommendations welcome!

- scott

message 32: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa Scott wrote: "I am curious to know more about the early medieval period.. also history on the Picts, and small tribes like the Goths, Vandals, Visigoths, etc.. early Britain and Rome.

Recommendations welcome..."

Try: Early Medieval Europe, 300-1000, this covers a broad period of post Roman Europe but not always in great depth, good start and gives a view of the big picture.
Also, try Warlords and Holy Men Scotland 80-1000 AD, this can be a bit dry at times but puts the Picts (and Scots/Angles/Saxons/Danes/Norse etc) in context.

message 33: by Carla (new)

Carla Nayland | 7 comments Hi Scott

Fiction or non-fiction? Anyway, here are a few suggestions for both that come to mind - hope they are helpful.


Aitchison N. The Picts and the Scots at War. Sutton, 2003, ISBN 0-7509-2556-6. Very readable and fairly recent account, and he covers some of the background history as well as the specific subject of warfare.

The Picts: a history, by Tim Clarkson. ISBN 978-0752443928. Published last year, haven't read it yet, looks promising.

Cummins WA. The Age of the Picts. Sutton, 1995, ISBN 0-7509-0924-2. A bit old, but readable and interesting.

Laing L, Laing J. The Picts and the Scots. Sutton, 2001, ISBN 0-7509-2873-5. Especially good on the archaeology.

If King Arthur comes within your definition of early medieval Britain, a good place to start for exploring the possibility of a historical figure under all the legend is The Reign of Arthur, by Christopher Gidlow. It's on my bookshelves on Goodreads; I don't know how to link to it but I guess clicking on my username will take you there. Also review on my website ( Books on 'Arthur' are limitless, but this is a good place to start.


Rosemary Sutcliff: Sword at Sunset. Among my favourite portrayals of King Arthur in fiction.

Kathleen Herbert: Bride of the Spear, Queen of the Lightning, Ghost in the Sunlight. Trilogy set in what's now Northern England/Southern Scotland in the late 6th and early 7th century, covers figures like Urien Rheged and his son Owain. I like these very much but I think they are out of print.

Theresa Tomlinson: Wolf Girl. Historical mystery set at Whitby Abbey in the 660s, billed as young adult, attractive and enjoyable read. Also on my bookshelves, and review here:

William Napier: Julia. Set in Late Roman Britain in the 360s, based on a young woman's burial in London excavated in 1999. Review for more details:

If interested in early seventh-century Northumbria, you could consider my novel about Edwin of Deira, information here:

message 34: by Scott (new)

Scott Ferry That definitely give me a good start! Thanks! I hadnt thought about fiction books.. but that is an interesting area to look into as well. I appreciate this and will give any comments i have as I go through what you gave me.

message 35: by Scott (new)

Scott Ferry Thank you for the recommendations. i will definitely check those out!

Barbarossa wrote: "Scott wrote: "I am curious to know more about the early medieval period.. also history on the Picts, and small tribes like the Goths, Vandals, Visigoths, etc.. early Britain and Rome.


message 36: by Duntay (new)

Duntay | 3 comments Anything by Leslie Alcock or Anna Ritchie.
Historic Scotland's "The Making of Scotland" series is a good start, too:

Terry Jones of Monty Python fame has a very readable book called "Barbarians" (there was also an accompanying TV series) that covers some of the various tribes that came in contact with the Roman Empire.

Groam House Museum has an annual lecture and has some of the past lectures available to download on their website (which unfortunately seems down at the moment)

message 37: by Scott (new)

Scott Ferry I took a look at the Terry Jones book Barbarians. I will definitely try to read this. What did he base his viewpoint on? Is it actual history or a fictional possibility?

message 38: by Carla (new)

Carla Nayland | 7 comments I saw Terry Jones's TV series but haven't read his accompanying book, so this reply is based on the TV series. He was presenting a deliberately revisionist view of history. If I remember rightly, he says in the first episode that he was taught at school that the Romans were Noble, Clever and Civilised and the barbarians were all ignorant savages (This was a pervasive viewpoint in British education of a certain period, as parodied in 1066 And All That). He sets out to look at the history from the other side, and in doing so concludes (roughly speaking) that the barbarians had a different culture but were neither stupid nor savage, and that the Romans were ruthless oppressors. I thought the TV series was entertaining and interesting, if a bit excessively partisan. Don't swallow everything he says whole; Barbarians Good Romans Bad is just as unlikely to be accurate as Romans Good Barbarians Bad. It's a good counterpoint to the pro-Roman view, but the truth (if there is such a thing) is liable to be somewhere in between.

message 39: by Scott (last edited Aug 14, 2009 12:57PM) (new)

Scott Ferry I am looking for books on the subjects of Ancient Eygpt. Are there any good book suggestions?

I am also searching for a book that contains more then a small reference to the Philistine / Cannaanite god Dagon. Or rather a book on these cultures and history. Any ideas?

message 40: by Patrik (new)

Patrik | 2 comments Does someone have a good fiction or reference recommendation for the prehistoric time?
I already read Jean M. Auel's the Earth's Children: The Clan of the Cave Bear, the Valley of Horses, the Mammoth Hunters, the Plains of Passageand found them really interesting.

message 41: by N.J. (new)

N.J. Slater | 11 comments Hi, fascinated by both Anceint Greece and Rome, so similiar but so diferent

message 42: by N.J. (new)

N.J. Slater | 11 comments different even!

message 43: by Aloha (new)

Aloha Hi, I'm here because I've developed this very bad habit of going into a new friend's profile and seeing what interesting group that person is in. I just became a friend of Eric and saw that he is a member of this group. I've always been interested in ancient civilization, in particular ancient Egypt. Okay, since I've been joining so many new groups lately, I'm breaking down and copying what I wrote as intro. in another group. It's getting more difficult to find creative ways to talk about myself.

My childhood reading choices were the fairy tales, The Holocaust, abnormal genetics, abnormal psychology, art history, and literature. I also enjoyed my collection of Tarzan, Shazam, Disney and horror comics. I studied engineering but received my degree in Masters of Fine Arts with a focus on painting. I enjoyed Literature as an adult, Physics in combination with the metaphysical, then was briefly into Paranormal Romance, became absorbed with Horror, and now am mixing it with Fantasy and SciFi. Basically, I read everything, from non-fiction to SciFi, and books, magazines and road signs.

message 44: by Sid (new)

Sid (sidthomson) | 4 comments Hello,
I am an avid reader of history. I actually feel guilty and uneasy if I read fiction. I also get a little obsessive in my reading habits - when I have an interest in a particular period or place, I read all I can about that subject and can't read about other periods or places. That usually lasts about a year or so, and then I feel good enough to move to another topic. And even then, I usually have to read something nearby or next in chronological order.
So after spending a year on ancient Greece, I then was able to move ancient Persia. After that I moved onto Roman history. That has led me straight into Byzantine history (which I guess is still Roman history). I feel I will be going back to ancient Egypt next. I also enjoy the period of the crusades, but I am only up to the 4th-5th century, so I can't read those yet.
Enough of my problems and idiosyncrasies.
I studied Asian History in college, although I now work on wall street. So my continued interest in history is purely for enjoyment.

message 45: by Aloha (new)

Aloha Welcome, Sid. That's a good way of learning about a period, if you can stay focused on that period. It would be impossible for me to do that. I can't even stay in one genre from book to book.

message 46: by Sid (new)

Sid (sidthomson) | 4 comments Aloha,
Thank you for seeing that as a positive thing.
So now everyone in the group may be warned - I will now begin to browse through all of your book lists, looking for books to feed my frenzy.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 31 comments Mod
Happy hunting!

message 48: by Aloha (new)

Aloha Welcome, Patricia. Haven't gotten a post from this place in a while!

message 49: by J.S. (last edited Jul 30, 2011 04:17AM) (new)

J.S. Dunn (httpwwwjsdunnbookscom) | 4 comments Hello,
Glad to find this group on GR.

Am reading B. Cunliffe and John Koch, editors, Celtic from the West, among others.

If anyone knows of a book re: the Antikythera mechanism, please message me.

message 50: by Aloha (new)

Aloha Welcome, J.S. This group is really quiet. LOL

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