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Everyday Life in Ancient Mesopotamia

Paperback
, 288 pages
ISBN:
9780801868641
September 2001
$30.00

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Everyday Life in Ancient Mesopotamia

Everyday Life in Ancient Mesopotamia, based on articles originally published in L'Histoire by Jean Bottéro, André Finet, Bertrand Lafont, and Georges Roux, presents new discoveries about this amazing Mesopotamian culture made during the past ten years. Features of everyday Meopotamian life highlight the new sections of this book. Both gourmet cuisine and popular cookery used fish, meats, fruits, vegetables, and grains, available fresh or preserved (through methods still used today), and served with beer and wine. While feelings toward love and sex are rarely found in personal writings or correspondence, myths, prayers, and accounts of an acceptance of a wide range of behaviors (despite monogamy, prostitution flourished) argue that both were considered natural and necessary for a happy existence.

Under law woman existed as a man's property, yet stories show that wives frequently used beauty and wits to keep husbands in hand, and a wife's financial holdings remained her property, reverting to her family at her death. Women were allowed to participate in activities that could increase this wealth and some, pledged to the gods and shut away in group homes, were nonetheless able to participate in lucrative business ventures. Also included are accounts of the exceptional life of the queen and the women of Mari, the story of the great Queen Semiramis, and chapters on magic, medicine, and astrology.

The concluding section offers a fascinating in-depth comparison of ancient Sumerian myths and stories similar to those found in the Hebrew bible. The new information found in Everyday Life in Ancient Mesopotamia makes a significant contribution, one that deepens our knowledge and understanding of this great, ancient civilization.

Jean Bottéro is director of studies and chair of the Department of Assyriology at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris. André Finet is a professor of Assyriology at the Free University of Brussels. Bertrand Lafont is director of research on Assyrian history at the Centre National de Réserches Scientifiques. Georges Roux is the author of Ancient Iraq.

"A popular work for understanding Mesopotamian social life... Written in a vigorous and interesting style with much useful information."

"The book covers many interesting topics not typically addressed in general texts such as cuisine, love and sex, women's rights, and the idea of sin. The book is written for the novice in the field, but it does not simply skim the surface or summarize the authors' longer works; rather, it makes accessible much interesting primary source material that is normally only found in scholarly book sand journals."

"In Everyday Life in Ancient Mesopotamia, Jean Bottéro displays his immense learning, total command of the field, as well as a profound awareness of approaches used by scholars in other historical periods... This book is a well-rounded and appealing introduction to Mesopotamian civilization."