Amanda PodanyFeb 25, 2023
Weavers, Scribes, and Kings
A New History of the Ancient Near East
Oxford University Press 2022
In Weavers, Scribes, and Kings: A New History of the Ancient Near East (Oxford University Press, 2022), a sweeping history of the ancient Near East, Dr. Amanda Podany takes readers on a gripping journey from the creation of the world's first cities to the conquests of Alexander the Great.
The book is built around the life stories of many ancient men and women, from kings, priestesses, and merchants to brickmakers, musicians, and weavers. Their habits of daily life, beliefs, triumphs, and crises, and the changes that people faced over time are explored through their own written words and the buildings, cities, and empires in which they lived. These life stories are preserved on ancient clay tablets, which allow us to trace, for example, the career of a weaver as she advanced to become a supervisor of a workshop, listen to a king trying to persuade his generals to prepare for a siege, and feel the pain of a starving young couple and their four young children as they suffered through a time of famine.
What might seem at first glance to be a remote and inaccessible ancient culture proves to be a comprehensible world, one that bequeathed to the modern world many of our institutions and beliefs, a truly fascinating place to visit.
This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.