The book Ancient Mesopotamia: portrait of a dead civilization by Leo Oppenheim is one of the most essential books in the history field. It helps give a blend of the great mass of philological and archeological information that have been gathered in recent years in the area. Oppenheim, who contemplated historical evidence for many years, utilized his acquired knowledge of long-dead dialects to assemble an unmistakably close to the home image of the Mesopotamians who existed in the period dating around three thousand years back. Furthermore, he is a standout amongst the most recognized Assyriologists within recent times. He was the lead proofreader responsible for the Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute and John A. Wilson Professor of Oriental Studies at the University of Chicago.
Old Mesopotamia, which is now known as Iraq, has gotten less consideration compared to Ancient Egypt and other civilizations during that time that is known for their developments. In any case, various little dirt tablets covered in the large masses of sand in the region for a great period of time make it feasible for readers to find out more information on the general population of antiquated Iran than any other occupational grounds in the ahead of schedule Asian region.
Seeing as the professor studied these artifacts for a period of up to thirty years, he writes his book to give insight on the ancient forms of civilization in the area. At the beginning of the book he makes it known that he did his own research to show facts and proof, he didn’t rely on much other then the cuneiforms he studied. “Any Assyriologist who has read through as many cuneiform texts as I have in pursuit of general understanding rather than on a quest for, let us say, linguistic features, will and must come to form a concept of Mesopotamian Civilization.” (2). He is providing facts from three thousand years ago, so everyone can interpret their own view of Mesopotamia.
The book has chapters that describe various features of ancient Mesopotamia. He begins by looking at the history of both the early first millennia and late second millennia. He does a traditional review of the topography and biology of old Mesopotamia. The opening chapter of the book focuses on its kin and their dialects. He begins by describing the background, explaining how Mesopotamia was built, “In repeated fusions Mesopotamian Civilization was, then, built up in several layers.” (35). In the setting one can find more about Assyria and Babylonia and the fertile soil that they have.
On page 38 it states, “…the point where the two rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris, approach each other so closely as to leave a stretch of only about twenty miles between them.” In the specific paragraph it explains why Mesopotamia is called a land between two rivers. In the actor’s section it tells you all has appeared on “stage” with the Mesopotamian civilization. Also, it describes the development and spread of Mesopotamian culture. Oppenheim goes on and bargains first with society, financial matters, and sovereignty. Also, he explains the sanctuary; and afterward pursues a long and intriguing area on the city and urbanism in Mesopotamia.
Later, he goes on to assess the materials from which researchers today remake the order and progression of occasions in the Mesopotamian past-ruler records, year formulae, commitments, regal engravings, and so forth. Furthermore, he sheds light on Mesopotamian religion and divination. He gives a critical remedial to the various translations typically found in books on antiquated Mesopotamia. Oppenheim understands the trouble, of following a religion that lies outside the natural Judeo-Christian convention. So, when starting the chapter, he says, “Why a “Mesopotamian Religion” should not be written.”
Which is known because of the previous stated above. On account of Mesopotamian mythology, there is the other issue of the sorts of proof outstanding, which allow us to see parts of the entirety faintly. In the later chapters of the book, he concentrates on the various forms of writing and literature in ancient Mesopotamia. The book generally emphasizes the scribal education and the few examples of creativity in Mesopotamian literary composition. Finally, he portrays various subjects like science, star gazing, arithmetic, and innovation. Even though his summary on the topics is helpful, it does not describe the issues mentioned in detail. He provides an overview of how the items he covered existed in Mesopotamia.
Oppenheim uses evidence to support the information provided in the book. He uses tables and graphs to provide dating information on some of the tombstones and artifacts he found related to the area. The author also uses evidence to describe the patterns of art on some of the household items. For example, he described the grey-patterns that the early Mesopotamians used to decorate their pots. Also, he bases his knowledge on the Luristan bronzes and other elaborately dated show-stoppers who’s just known provenience is the worldwide craftsmanship showcase.
The book has six chapters that are organized based on the topic. He chronologically introduces the general area of Mesopotamia to the readers. In the last chapters of the book he gives texture and highlights without overlapping the metaphor. He states that, “Each chapter is provided with an extensive bibliographic footnote. Its primary purpose is to offer the general reader references to the books and articles… giving opinions that differ from my own.” (3). When it comes to the choice of words, he uses they are dry and insightful. He doesn’t do it intentionally, but he states in the introduction of the book that Unquestionably, the book is for the genuine understudy of human studies or paleontology over that of near religion and folklore. Scholars in the disciplines may find it easier to understand the general content of the area. Also, the paragraph structure in the book is well organized as he focuses his ideas point by point, which subtitles within each chapter. Each paragraph has its unique concept which is well presented.
The book has a lot of useful history on Mesopotamia. It describes their ancient way of life and the general topography of the land. Professor Oppenheim also describes the growth of public technology in the area and the forms of art and literature that existed in Mesopotamia at the time. However, it is not a book that provides enough incite on specific aspects of Mesopotamian history. Being a general reader, I was not able to comprehend some of his ideas. Furthermore, I think he uses a lot of speculation in considering the artifacts that he uses in his books. The book caused me to revise my interpretation of Mesopotamian history and look at it from his perspective.
Overall, the book was very organized with very informative information. It is a worthy read with a lot of new light on the history of Mesopotamia. I think the book is best suited for scholars with knowledge on ancient archeological history. In contrast, I did not believe the author managed to achieve his intended target. He did not accurately describe the Mesopotamian civilianization. He looked to relate the history to people with no history in the field. In my opinion it is people with prior information that will enjoy this book, or people that have different view points the Oppenheim himself.