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Early World History

A course guide for students in Early World History courses

Ashoka (268-232 BC), Maurya Dynasty

Asoka and the Decline of the Mauryas

Found at JSCC Library Book Stacks
this classic work is based largely on the edicts of Asoka, whose policies are analyzed against the background of Mauryan civilization during the third and fourth centuries B.C. The present edition has been thoroughly revised with a new afterword and archaeological site map. From publisher's description.

Ashoka in Ancient India

In the third century BCE Ashoka ruled in South Asia and Afghanistan, and came to be seen as the ideal Buddhist king. Disentangling the threads of Ashoka's life from the knot of legend that surrounds it, Nayanjot Lahiri presents a vivid biography of an emperor whose legacy extends far beyond the bounds of his lifetime and dominion.

Ashoka: the search for India's lost emperor

Available at JSCC Jackson Campus
Ashoka the Great as he was later known-- holds a special place in the history of India. Through his third century BCE quest to govern the Indian subcontinent by moral force alone, Ashoka transformed Buddhism from a minor sect into a major world religion. His bold experiment ended in tragedy, and in the tumult that followed the historical record was cleansed so effectively that his name was largely forgotten for almost two thousand years. Yet, a few mysterious stone monuments and inscriptions miraculously survived the purge. In Ashoka: The Search for India's Lost Emperor, historian Charles Allen tells the incredible story of how a few enterprising archaeologists deciphered the mysterious lettering on keystones and recovered India's ancient past. Drawing from rich sources, Allen crafts a clearer picture of this enigmatic figure than ever before.

The Legend of King Asoka: A Study and Translation of the Ashokavadana

An English translation of the Ashokavadana text, the Sanskrit version of the legend of King Asoka, first written in the second century A.D. Emperor of India during the third century B.C. and one of the most important rulers in the history of Buddhism, Asoka has hitherto been studied in the West primarily from his edicts and rock inscriptions in many parts of the Indian subcontinent. Through an extensive critical essay and a fluid translation, John Strong examines the importance of the Asoka of the legends for our overall understanding of Buddhism. Originally published in 1984.

Xerxes (519-465 BC), Achaemenid Empire

Xerxes' Greek Adventure

This volume provides a new analysis of the Greek traditions with regard to Xerxes' expedition, offering novel views on the naval factors influencing Persian policies, on Persian naval strength, on the operations culminating in the battle of Salamis, and on the battle itself.

Xerxes

Xerxes, Great King of the Persian Empire from 486–465 B.C., has gone down in history as an angry tyrant full of insane ambition. The stand of Leonidas and the 300 against his army at Thermopylae is a byword for courage, while the failure of Xerxes' expedition has overshadowed all the other achievements of his twenty-two-year reign.

King and Court in Ancient Persia 559 to 331 BCE

Explores Achaemenid kingship and argues for the centrality of the royal court in elite Persian society The first Persian Empire (559-331 BCE) was the biggest land empire the world had seen, and seated at the heart of its vast dominions, in the south of modern-day Iran, was the person of the Great King. Hidden behind the walls of his vast palace, and surrounded by the complex rituals of court ceremonial, the Persian monarch was undisputed master of his realm, a god-like figure of awe, majesty, and mystery.Yet the court of the Great King was no simple platform for meaningless theatrical display; at court, presentation mattered: nobles vied for position and prestige, and the royal family attempted to keep a tight grip on dynastic power - in spite of succession struggles, murders, and usurpations, for the court was also the centre of political decision-making and the source of cultural expression. Key features: Draws on rich Iranian and Classical sources Examines key issues such as royal ideology, court structure, ceremony and ritual, royal migrations, gender, hierarchy, architecture and space and cultural achievements Accesses the rarefied but dangerous world of Persian palace life Includes guides to further reading and web resources to encourage research

A Message from the Great King: Reading Malachi in Light of Ancient Persian Royal Messenger Texts From the Time of Xerxes

The academy has not been kind to Malachi. Indeed, some of the most influential and seminal studies on the book denigrate its style, message, and overall artistry. This negative assessment proves extensive in the history of scholarship. Furthermore, the studies demonstrating a more positive assessment of Malachi do so without offering serious challenges to these long-standing denigrations. Complicating the matter is the observation that critical study has proffered numerous suggestions for what Malachi contains while failing to provide a viable model of what Malachi actually is. A Message from the Great King presents serious challenges to the guild's prior assessments and conclusions about the book.

Artaxerxes (465-424 BC), Persia

The Origins of the Second Temple: Persion Imperial Policy and the Rebuilding of Jerusalem

Darius I, King of Persia, claims to have accomplished many deeds in the early years of his reign, but was one of them the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem? The editor who added the date to the books of Haggai and Zechariah thought so and the author of Ezra 1-6 then relied on his dates when writing his account of the rebuilding process. The genealogical information contained in the book of Nehemiah, however, suggests otherwise; it indicates that Zerubbabel and Nehemiah were either contemporaries, or a generation apart in age, not some 65 years apart. Thus, either Zerubbabel and the temple rebuilding needs to be moved to the reign of Artaxerxes I, or Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the city walls need to be moved to the reign of Darius I. In this groundbreaking volume, the argument is made that the temple was built during the reign of Artaxerxes I. The editor of Haggai and Zechariah mistakenly set the event under Darius I because he was influenced by both a desire to show the fulfillment of inherited prophecy and by Darius' widely circulated autobiography of his rise to power. In light of the settlement patterns in Yehud during the Persian period, it is proposed that Artaxerxes I instituted a master plan to incorporate Yehud into the Persian road, postal, and military systems. The rebuilding of the temple was a minor part of the larger plan that provided soldiers stationed in the fortress in Jerusalem and civilians living in the new provincial seat with a place to worship their native god while also providing a place to store taxes and monies collected on behalf of the Persian administration.

Persian Interventions: The Achaemenid Empire, Athens, and Sparta, 450−386 BCE

Thirty years after Xerxes invaded Greece, the Achaemenid Persian Empire ended its long war with Athens. For the next four decades, the Persians tolerated Athenian control of their former tributaries, the Ionian Greek cities of western Anatolia. But during the Peloponnesian War, Persia reclaimed Ionia and funded a Spartan fleet to overthrow Athenian power. It took eight long years for Persia to triumph, and Sparta then turned on its benefactors, prompting Persia to transfer aid to Athens in the Corinthian War. The peace of 386 reiterated imperial control of Ionia and compelled both Sparta and Athens to endorse a Persian promise of autonomy for Greeks outside Asia. In Persian Interventions, John O. Hyland challenges earlier studies that assume Persia played Athens against Sparta in a defensive balancing act. He argues instead for a new interpretation of Persian imperialism, one involving long-term efforts to extend diplomatic and economic patronage over Greek clients beyond the northwestern frontier. Achaemenid kings, he asserts, were less interested in Ionia for its own sake than in the accumulation of influence over Athens, Sparta, or both, which allowed them to advertise Persia's claim to universal power while limiting the necessity of direct military commitment. The slow pace of intervention resulted from logistical constraints and occasional diplomatic blunders, rather than long-term plans to balance and undermine dangerous allies. Persian Interventions examines this critical period in unprecedented depth, providing valuable new insights for the study of Achaemenid Persia and classical Greece. Its conclusions will interest not only specialists in both fields but also students of ancient and modern comparative historical imperialism.

Cyrus the Great (600-530 BC), Achaemenid Empire

From Cyrus to Alexander

Pierre Briant, Collège de France, is a specialist in the history of the Near East during the era of the Persian Empire and the conquests of Alexander.

History's Forgotten Father: Cyrus the Great

Available at JSCC Jackson Campus
Cyrus born in 576Bc built the Achaemenid Empire of Persians based around efficiency and wealth as well as the best-organized military on earth. Beyond this, he used all his power to create a state that based its administrative actions around upholding Cyrus's beliefs to which were based around his own vision of what the world should look like. Instituting Multiculturalism, freedom of movement, equality, and the abolition of slavery as apart of a new concept he created to which we refer to today as 'Human Rights'. Cyrus on the battlefield was a military genius, destroying three of the most powerful empires of the near east and absorbing them into his own.

Xenophon's Imperial Fiction: On The Education of Cyrus

'If you inquire into the origins of the novel long enough, 'writes James Tatum in the preface to this work,'... you will come to the fourth century before our era and Xenophon's Education of Cyrus, or the Cyropaedia. 'The Cyrus in question is Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian empire celebrated in the Book of Ezra as the liberator of Israel, and the Cyropaedia, written to instruct future rulers by his example, became not only an inspiration to poets and novelists but a profoundly influential political work. With Alexander as its earliest student and Elizabeth I of England as one of its later pupils, it was the founding text for the tradition of mirrors for princes' in the West, including Machiavelli's Prince. Xenophon's masterpiece has been overlooked in recent years: Tatum's goal is to make it fully meaningful for the twentieth-century reader. To accomplish this aim, he uses reception study, philological and historical criticism, and intertextual and structural analysis of the narrative.

Ancient Syria : A Three Thousand Year History

Syria has long been one of the most trouble-prone and politically volatile regions of the Near and Middle Eastern world. This book looks back beyond the troubles of the present to tell the 3000-year story of what happened many centuries before. Trevor Bryce reveals the peoples, cities, and kingdoms that arose, flourished, declined, and disappeared in the lands that now constitute Syria, from the time of it's earliest written records in the third millennium BC until the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian at the turn of the 3-4th century AD. Across the centuries, from the Bronze Age to the Rome Era, we encounter a vast array of characters and civilizations, enlivening, enriching, and besmirching the annals of Syrian history: Hittite and Assyrian Great Kings; Egyptian pharaohs; Amorite robber-barons; the biblically notorious Nebuchadnezzar; Persia's Cyrus the Great and Macedon's Alexander the Great; the rulers of the Seleucid empire; and an assortment of Rome's most distinguished and most infamous emperors.

Han Fei Zi (280-233 BC), Zhou Dynasty

Han Feizi: Basic Writings

Trenchant, sophisticated, and cynical, Han Feizi has been read in every age and is still of interest today when people are more than ever concerned with the nature and use of power. Han Feizi (280? -233 B.C.), a prince of Han, was a representative of the Fa-chia, or Legalist, school of philosophy and produced the final and most readable exposition of its theories. His handbook for the ruler deals with the problems of strengthening and preserving the state, the way of the ruler, the use of power, and punishment and favor. Ironically, the ruler most influenced by Han Feizi, the king of Qin, eventually sent Han Feizi to prison, where he later committed suicide.

Food, Sacrifice, and Sagehood in Early China

In ancient China, the preparation of food and the offering up of food as a religious sacrifice were intimately connected with models of sagehood and ideas of self-cultivation and morality. Drawing on received and newly excavated written sources, Roel Sterckx's book explores how this vibrant culture influenced the ways in which the early Chinese explained the workings of the human senses and the role of sensory experience in communicating with the spirit world. The book, which begins with a survey of dietary culture from the Zhou to the Han, offers intriguing insights into the ritual preparation of food - some butchers and cooks were highly regarded and would rise to positions of influence as a result of their culinary skills - and the sacrificial ceremony itself. As a major contribution to the study of early China and to the development of philosophical thought, the book will be essential reading for students of the period, and for anyone interested in ritual and religion in the ancient world.

Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History

Relations between Inner Asian nomads and Chinese are a continuous theme throughout Chinese history. By investigating the formation of nomadic cultures, by analyzing the evolution of patterns of interaction along China's frontiers, and by exploring how this interaction was recorded in historiography, this looks at the origins of the cultural and political tensions between these two civilizations through the first millennium BC. The main purpose of the book is to analyze ethnic, cultural, and political frontiers between nomads and Chinese in the historical contexts that led to their formation, and to look at cultural perceptions of others as a function of the same historical process.

Sources of Western Zhou History : Inscribed Bronze Vessels

The thousands of ritual bronze vessels discovered by China's archaeologists serve as the major documentary source for the Western Zhou dynasty (1045-771 B.C.). These vessels contain long inscriptions full of detail on subjects as diverse as the military history of the period, the bureaucratic structure of the royal court, and lawsuits among the gentry. Moreover, being cast in bronze, the inscriptions preserve exactly the contemporary script and language. Shaughnessy has written a meticulous and detailed work on the historiography and interpretation of these objects. By demonstrating how the inscriptions are read and interpreted, Shaughnessy makes accessible in English some of the most important evidence about life in ancient China.

Music, Cosmology, and the Politics of Harmony in Early China

Explores the religious, political, and cultural significance attributed to music in early China. In early China, conceptions of music became important culturally and politically. This fascinating book examines a wide range of texts and discourse on music during this period (ca. 500–100 BCE) in light of the rise of religious, proto-scientific beliefs on the intrinsic harmony of the cosmos.

These Bones Shall Rise Again: Selected Writings on Early China

David N. Keightley's seminal essays on the origins of Chinese society are brought together in one volume. These Bones Shall Rise Again brings together in one volume many of David N. Keightley's seminal essays on the origins of early Chinese civilization. Written over a period of three decades and accessible to the non-specialist, these essays provide a wealth of information and insights on the Shang dynasty, traditionally dated 1766–1122 or 1056 BCE. Of all the eras of Chinese history, the Shang has been a particularly elusive one, long considered more myth than reality.

Cleopatra, (69-30 BC), Egypt

Cleopatra: a life

Available at JSCC Jackson Campus
Though her life spanned fewer than forty years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world. She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first when both were teenagers. She poisoned the second. Ultimately she dispensed with an ambitious sister as well; incest and assassination were family specialties. Cleopatra appears to have had sex with only two men. They happen, however, to have been Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, among the most prominent Romans of the day. Both were married to other women. Cleopatra had a child with Caesar and -- after his murder -- three more with his protégé. Already she was the wealthiest ruler in the Mediterranean; the relationship with Antony confirmed her status as the most influential woman of the age. The two would together attempt to forge a new empire, in an alliance that spelled their ends. Cleopatra has lodged herself in our imaginations ever since.

Cleopatra of Egypt: From History to Myth

Available at JSCC Jackson Campus
Fabled for her sexual allure and cunning intelligence, Cleopatra VII of Egypt has fascinated generations of admirers and detractors since her tumultuous life ended in suicide in 30 B.C. The last of the Ptolemaic monarchs who had ruled Egypt for three centuries, Cleopatra created her own mythology. She became an icon in her own life and a legend after her death.

This lavishly illustrated catalog coincides with a major international exhibition celebrating images of Cleopatra. It explores how she was depicted during her own era, in works ranging from coins to life-size sculpture. Exciting new discoveries are featured--including seven Egyptian-style statues believed to represent Cleopatra, and two portraits probably commissioned while she was living in Rome with Julius Caesar. The book also examines interpretations of Cleopatra from the Renaissance to modern times, as seen in paintings, ceramics, jewelry, plays, operas, and film. In addition, recent archaeological finds from Alexandria (Cleopatra's capital) and from Rome illustrate aspects of life in Cleopatra's day.

When Women Ruled the World: six queens of Egypt

Available at JCSS Jackson Campus
Explores the lives of six remarkable female pharaohs, from Hatshepsut to Cleopatra--women who ruled with real power. What was so special about ancient Egypt that provided women this kind of access to the highest political office? What was it about these women that allowed them to transcend patriarchal obstacles? What did Egypt gain from its liberal reliance on female leadership, and could today's world learn from its example?

S. P. Q. R.: a history of ancient Rome

Available at JSCC Campus
Ancient Rome was an imposing city even by modern standards, a sprawling imperial metropolis of more than a million inhabitants, a "mixture of luxury and filth, liberty and exploitation, civic pride and murderous civil war" that served as the seat of power for an empire that spanned from Spain to Syria. Yet how did all this emerge from what was once an insignificant village in central Italy? Classicist Mary Beard narrates the unprecedented rise of a civilization that even two thousand years later still shapes many of our most fundamental assumptions about power, citizenship, responsibility, political violence, empire, luxury, and beauty. From the foundational myth of Romulus and Remus to 212 CE -- nearly a thousand years later -- when the emperor Caracalla gave Roman citizenship to every free inhabitant of the empire, S.P.Q.R. (the abbreviation of "The Senate and People of Rome") examines not just how we think of ancient Rome but challenges the comfortable historical perspectives that have existed for centuries by exploring how the Romans thought of themselves: how they challenged the idea of imperial rule, how they responded to terrorism and revolution, and how they invented a new idea of citizenship and nation. Opening the book in 63 BCE with the famous clash between the populist aristocrat Catiline and Cicero, the renowned politician and orator, Beard animates this "terrorist conspiracy," which was aimed at the very heart of the Republic, demonstrating how this singular event would presage the struggle between democracy and autocracy that would come to define much of Rome's subsequent history. Illustrating how a classical democracy yielded to a self-confident and self-critical empire, S.P.Q.R. reintroduces us to famous and familiar characters -- Hannibal, Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Augustus, and Nero, among others -- while expanding the historical aperture to include those overlooked in traditional histories: the women, the slaves and ex-slaves, conspirators, and those on the losing side of Rome's glorious conquests.

Cleopatra: A Biography

Few personalities from classical antiquity are more famous--yet more poorly understood--than Cleopatra VII, queen of Egypt. In this major biography, Duane Roller reveals that Cleopatra was in fact a learned and visionary leader whose overarching goal was always the preservation of her dynasty and kingdom. Roller's authoritative account is the first to be based solely on primary materials from the Greco-Roman period: literary sources, Egyptian documents (Cleopatra's own writings), and representations in art and coinage produced while she was alive. His compelling portrait of the queen illuminates her prowess as a royal administrator who managed a large and diverse kingdom extending from Asia Minor to the interior of Egypt, as a naval commander who led her own fleet in battle, and as a scholar and supporter of the arts. Even her love affairs with Julius Caesar and Marcus Antonius--the source of her reputation as a supreme seductress who drove men to their doom--were carefully crafted state policies: she chose these partners to insure the procreation of successors who would be worthy of her distinguished dynasty. That Cleopatra ultimately lost to her Roman opponents, Roller contends, in no way diminishes her abilities.

The Life and Times of Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt: A Study in the Origin of the Roman Empire

This book, originally published in 1914, is a unique telling of the life of Cleopatra. The author, a well-learned historian of his time, offers a truer glimpse of the queen if we can rid ourselves of the influence of anyone period and ignore that aspect of morality that has developed in us by contact with the age in which we live. Good and evil are relative qualities defined largely by public opinion, and it must always be remembered that certain things considered good and evil today may have the acceptance and denunciation of yesterday and tomorrow. The author does not presume to offer an apology for the much-maligned Queen, but he describes the events of her troubled life fairly. The actions of Cleopatra will, without any particular advocacy, assume a character that is no uglier than that of every other actor in the strange drama surrounding her life.

The Roman Mistress: Ancient and Modern Representations

From Latin love, poetry's dominating and enslaving beloveds, to modern popular culture's infamous Cleopatras and Messalina, representations of the Roman mistress (or the mistress of Romans) have brought into question both ancient and modern genders and political systems. The Roman Mistress explores representations of transgressive women in Latin love poetry and British television drama, in Roman historiography and nineteenth-century Italian anthropology, on classical coinage and college websites, as a poetic metaphor,s and in the Hollywood star system. In a highly accessible style, the book makes an important and original contribution simultaneously to feminist scholarship on antiquity, the classical tradition, and cultural studies.

Roman Conquests: Egypt & Judea

Egypt was the last of the Macedonian Successor states to be swallowed up by Roman expansion. The Ptolemaic rulers had allied themselves to Rome while their rivals went down fighting. However, Cleopatra's famous love affair with Marc Antony ensured she was on the wrong side of the Roman civil war between him and Octavian (later to become Caesar Augustus). After the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra at the naval battle of Actium, Octavian swiftly brought Egypt under direct Roman control, though it took several campaigns to fully subjugate the whole country. These campaigns have previously been largely neglected. Judaea was a constant source of trouble for the Romans, as it had been for the Seleucids, the previous overlords of the region. The Romans at first were content to rule through client kings like the infamous Herod but were increasingly sucked in to direct military involvement to suppress religiously-inspired revolts.

Women in the Classical World

Information about women is scattered throughout the fragmented mosaic of ancient history: the vivid poetry of Sappho survived antiquity on remnants of damaged papyrus; the inscription on a beautiful fourth century B.C.E. grave praises the virtues of Mnesarete, an Athenian woman who died young; a great number of Roman wives were found guilty of poisoning their husbands, but was it accidental food poisoning, or disease, or something more sinister. Apart from the legends of Cleopatra, Dido, and Lucretia, and images of graceful maidens dancing on urns, the evidence about the lives of women of the classical world--visual, archaeological, and written--has remained uncollected and uninterpreted. Now, the lavishly illustrated and meticulously researched Women in the Classical World lifts the curtain on the women of ancient Greece and Rome, exploring the lives of slaves and prostitutes, Athenian housewives, and Rome's imperial family. The first book on classical women to give equal weight to written texts and artistic representations, it brings together a great wealth of materials--poetry, vase painting, legislation, medical treatises, architecture, religious and funerary art, women's ornaments, historical epics, political speeches, even ancient coins--to present women in the historical and cultural context of their time. Written by leading experts in the fields of ancient history and art history, women's studies, and Greek and Roman literature, the book's chronological arrangement allows the changing roles of women to unfold over a thousand-year period, beginning in the eighth century B.C.E. Both the art and the literature highlight women's creativity, sexuality and coming of age, marriage and childrearing, religious and public roles, and other themes. Fascinating chapters report on the wild behavior of Spartan and Etruscan women and the mythical Amazons; the changing views of the female body presented in male-authored gynecological treatises; the new woman represented by the love poetry of the late Republic and Augustan Age; and the traces of upper- and lower-class life in Pompeii, miraculously preserved by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 C.E. Provocative and surprising, Women in the Classical World is a masterly foray into the past, and a definitive statement on the lives of women in ancient Greece and Rome.