Ancient Iraq: Third Edition by Georges Roux

By Georges Roux

Newly revised and containing info from contemporary excavations and stumbled on artifacts, Ancient Iraq covers the political, cultural, and socio-economic heritage from Mesopotamia days of prehistory to the Christian period.

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Whatever man achieved in ancient Iraq, he did it at the price of a constant struggle against nature and against other men, and this struggle forms the very thread of history in that part of the world. Before going farther, however, we must first examine the sources from which historians draw their raw material. CHAPTER 2 IN SEARCH OF THE PAST In order to reconstruct the past, historians make use of two kinds of documents: texts and objects, the word ‘object’ here meaning literally any artefact, from the most elaborate building to the humblest kitchen utensil.

The Euphrates, 2,780 kilometres long, first follows a zigzagging course across Turkey, while the Tigris, notably shorter (1,950 kilometres), almost immediately flows southwards. When they emerge from the Taurus mountains the two rivers are separated from each other by some 400 kilometres of open steppe. The Euphrates, which at Jerablus is only 150 kilometres from the Mediterranean, takes a south-easterly direction and leisurely makes its way towards the Tigris. Near Baghdad they nearly meet, being a mere thirty-two kilometres apart, but they soon diverge again and do not mingle their waters until they reach Qurnah, 100 kilometres north of Basrah, to form the Shatt-el-‘Arab.

Courtesy Prof. W. Caskel, Cologne) Assyrian statue at Nimrud. (Photograph by the author) Specimen of Assyrian writing on stone, from Nimrud. (Courtesy Iraq Petroleum Company) Stele of Esarhaddon, from Zenjirli. (Courtesy Vorderasiatische Museum, Berlin) Assyrian scene of war. Relief from Nineveh. (Courtesy Louvre Museum) ILLUSTRATIONS 1. Stone tools from Iraqi Kurdistan. 2. Typical buildings and objects from the Hassuna, Halaf and Ubaid periods. 3. Examples of decorated pottery from the Neolithic to Jemat Nasr period.

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