Old World civilisation began in the Near East, in the Nile Valley and in Mesopotamia, where two very different cultures prospered. Egypt, isolated as it was within the Nile Valley, largely failed to export its culture. Early Mesopotamia, however, exerted its influence throughout the Near Eastern world. Postgate's book assesses the influence of this fascinating culture, examining modern scholarship in the light of archaeological discovery. Early Mesopotamia has left us with an abundance of inscribed clay tablets from a wide variety of sources, from government institutions and diplomatic correspondence, to legal proceedings and private correspondence. With the help of illustrations and quotations from these documents, Postgate reveals the organisation of the world's first urban society. Surprisingly modern at times, this ancient culture was technologically and socially innovative, as well as acutely self-analytical and dominated by bureaucracy and commerce. One of the strengths of this book is the integration of historical and archaeological data which until now has been largely scattered in specialist literature.
"This discussion is not just an excellent introduction to the subject: it is full of insights and evidence of the breadth of Postgate's scholarship."
"Postgate has written the finest available introduction to the ancient world of Mesopotamia. . . . Postgate successfully accomplishes what few others have achieved, namely, a narrative depiction of the lifeways of the people of early Mesopotamia: their law, warfare, crafts, trade, technological achievements, and their political and religious ideologies. . . . Essential reading for all interested in the ancient past."