The ancient Near East is known as the "cradle of civilization" - and for good reason. Mesopotamia, Syria, and Anatolia were home to an extraordinarily rich and successful culture. Indeed, it was a time and place of earth-shaking changes for humankind: The beginnings of writing and law, kingship and bureaucracy, diplomacy and state-sponsored warfare, mathematics and literature. This Very Short Introduction offers a fascinating account of this momentous time in human history. The three thousand years covered here - from around 3500 BCE, with the founding of the first Mesopotamian cities, to the conquest of the Near East by the Persian king Cyrus the Great in 539 BCE - represent a period of incredible innovation, from the invention of the wheel and the plow, to early achievements in astronomy, law, and diplomacy. As historian Amanda Podany explores this era, she overturns the popular image of the ancient world as a primitive, violent place. We discover that women had many rights and freedoms: They could own property, run businesses, and represent themselves in court. Diplomats traveled between the capital cities of major powers ensuring peace and friendship between the kings. Scribes and scholars studied the stars and could predict eclipses and the movements of the planets. Every chapter introduces the listener to a particular moment in ancient Near Eastern history, illuminating such aspects as trade, religion, diplomacy, law, warfare, kingship, and agriculture. Each discussion focuses on evidence provided in two or three cuneiform texts from that time. These documents, the cities in which they were found, the people and gods named in them, the events they recount or reflect, all provide vivid testimony of the era in which they were written. 1. Language: English. Narrator: Fajer Al-Kaisi. Audio sample: http://samples.audible.de/bk/adbl/015400/bk_adbl_015400_sample.mp3. Digital audiobook in aax.
The mystical floating city of Venice has inspired awe for generations and continues to be one of the most visited European cities for good reason. Tourists are drawn to the stunning blend of classical, Gothic, and Renaissance-inspired architecture across the picturesque towns and villages, the charming open-air markets, the mouthwatering traditional cuisine, and of course, the famous gondolas drifting down the twinkling blue waters. While these gondolas, along with the time-honored models of the Venetian vessels docked in the harbors, are one of the city's most defining landmarks, their beginnings are shrouded in a more obscure part of Venetian history. To the first settlers of the unpromising, marshy islands of Venice in the fifth century BCE, it appeared as if any attempt at civilization was doomed to fail. Yet, even with the cards stacked against them, the artful inhabitants mastered the unlivable terrain and slowly pieced together a society that would put the small, unassuming city right on the map. In time, the city evolved into the most powerful maritime empire in all of Europe. And behind this flourishing nautical force was the interconnected system of shipyards and armories - the legendary Venetian Arsenal. 1. Language: English. Narrator: Scott Clem. Audio sample: http://samples.audible.de/bk/acx0/088669/bk_acx0_088669_sample.mp3. Digital audiobook in aax.
There are few mythological characters that require less of an introduction than Hercules. His "labours" are known and have been reimagined by cultures far beyond their Greek beginnings, and he continues to influence modern culture in more ways than any other ancient Greek hero. What is curious about Hercules's character is that, despite his fame even in the ancient world, there was no authoritative source for his biography. The Library of Myths, commonly though falsely attributed to Apollodorus, is frequently used to illustrate the key episodes of Hercules's life. Despite being written at some time during the 2nd century CE, the Library encapsulates much of the “conglomerate of popular tales” that has become Hercules’s vulgate biography. Ultimately, though these tales are well known, their true beauty lies in the social and religious influence of their telling and the historical memories that remain, to this day, as shadows in their lines. The story of Jason and his crew of Argonauts is one of the best-known and most beloved myths of all time. Blockbuster movies have been made about it, and legendary explorer and historian Tim Severin even constructed a replica of the Argo in 1984 and succeeded in sailing it to Colchis (modern-day Georgia). In the ancient world too, this myth was told and retold time and again. The best source of the myth available to the modern reader (generally considered to be Apollonius Rhodius’s Argonautica) comes from the Hellenistic Period (ca. 323-31 BCE), which is very late in terms of most sources available for Greek myth. This means that the story written at that time had already been exposed to centuries of influences and additions. However, mythology is not the study of a story’s beginnings alone, and very often, it is the changes and adaptations that provide the story with its most fascinating characteristics. The vague geography of the Argo’s story will become apparent, but it's also i 1. Language: English. Narrator: Scott Clem. Audio sample: http://samples.audible.de/bk/acx0/103435/bk_acx0_103435_sample.mp3. Digital audiobook in aax.
The story of Jason and his crew of Argonauts is one of the best-known and most beloved myths of all time. Blockbuster movies have been made about it, and legendary explorer and historian Tim Severin even constructed a replica of the Argo in 1984 and succeeded in sailing it to Colchis (modern-day Georgia). In the ancient world too, this myth was told and retold time and again. The best source of the myth available to the modern audience (generally considered to be Apollonius Rhodius's Argonautica) comes from the Hellenistic Period (ca. 323-31 BCE), which is very late in terms of most sources available for Greek myth. This means that the story written at that time had already been exposed to centuries of influences and additions. However, mythology is not the study of a story's beginnings alone, and very often, it is the changes and adaptations that provide the story with its most fascinating characteristics. The vague geography of the Argo's story will become apparent, but it's also important, because there are numerous theories as to why the ancient writers may have charted the journey as they did. The Argo's journey was as revelatory to Jason as it was to the late ancient Greek readers/listeners, since it incorporated many of the mythical, political, and cultural themes that pervaded myths throughout the Mediterranean. 1. Language: English. Narrator: Scott Clem. Audio sample: http://samples.audible.de/bk/acx0/090330/bk_acx0_090330_sample.mp3. Digital audiobook in aax.
Circa 2200 BCE: Changes rocking the Continent reach Eire with the dawning Bronze Age. Well before any Celts, marauders invade the island seeking copper and gold. The young astronomer Boann and the enigmatic Cian need all their wits and courage to save their people and their great Boyne mounds, when long bronze knives challenge the peaceful native starwatchers. Banished to far coasts, Cian discovers how to outwit the invaders at their own game. Tensions on Eire between new and old cultures and between Boann, Elcmar, and her son Aengus, ultimately explode. What emerges from the rubble of battle are the legends of Ireland's beginnings in a totally new light. Larger than myth, this tale echoes with medieval texts, and cult heroes modern and ancient. By the final temporal twist, factual prehistory is bending into images of leprechauns who guard Eire's gold for eternity. As ever, the victors will spin the myths. This story appeals to fans of solid historical fiction, myth and fantasy, archaeo-astronomy, and Bronze Age Europe. Bending the Boyne draws on 21st century archaeology to show the lasting impact when early metal mining and trade take hold along north Atlantic coasts. Carved megaliths and stunning gold artifacts, from the Pyrenees up to the Boyne, come to life in this researched historical fiction. Awarded first place, Next Generation Indie Awards 2011 (USA). Nominated for Foreword Book of the Year Award (historical fiction); to be announced June 2012. 1. Language: English. Narrator: Tim Gerard Reynolds. Audio sample: http://samples.audible.de/bk/acx0/002456/bk_acx0_002456_sample.mp3. Digital audiobook in aax.