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Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations

From Prehistory to 640 CE

Second Edition

Ralph W. Mathisen

Publication Date - June 2014

ISBN: 9780199384457

608 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $65.95

The most thought-provoking, contemporary, and engaging survey of the ancient world


Challenging the stereotypes and myths that typically characterize students' understanding of antiquity, Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations: From Prehistory to 640 CE, Second Edition, focuses on continuity and connections, along with cultural diffusion and cultural diversity, to show how history is a cumulative process and that numerous similar themes recur in different times and places. The text also explores sensitive issues and debates including attitudes toward race, ethnicity, and tolerance; gender issues and roles; slavery; social mobility; religion; political evolution; the nature of government; and imperialism.


New! Chapter 9: "Civilization beyond the Near East, Greece, and Rome (2300-31 BCE)"

New! "Digging Antiquity": Illustrated features that discuss specific archaeological sites, many of which can still be visited today

New!: "Looking Back": Chapter summaries, followed by "Looking Ahead" sections that preview the following chapters

"History Laboratory": Concise observations on how historians use different methodologies to interpret historical evidence and to debunk pseudoscience

"Historical Controversy": Reflections that explore conflicting modern interpretations of ancient phenomena

"A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words": Illustrations of distinctive material artifacts, accompanied by brief essays

"Mysteries of History": Selections that address puzzling and intriguing aspects of the past

"In Their Own Words": Extended quotations that exemplify each chapter's main themes

Stunning Interior Design: More than 200 maps and illustrations, including an eight-page color portfolio

An Image Bank containing more than 100 PowerPoint-based slides and approximately forty maps, available to adopters

New to this Edition

  • A new chapter 9: "Civilization beyond the Near East, Greece, and Rome (2300-31 BCE)"
  • "Digging Antiquity": Illustrated features that discuss specific archaeological sites, many of which can still be visited today
  • "Looking Back": Chapter summaries, followed by "Looking Ahead" sections that preview the following chapters
  • A new discussion of the origins of Celtic culture from the megalithic period on
  • Coverage of the Italian pre-Roman origins of Roman civilization
  • Additional coverage of the Hittites; the later Egyptian dynasties; Israelite prophets; Greek poets; the Ptolemies and Seleucids; the nature of early Rome; Caesar's Gallic Wars; the early Germans; Juba II and Cleopatra Selene; the emperors Nero, Vespasian, Trajan, Elagabalus, and Galerius; Roman entertainment; Rabbinic literature; the Roman frontiers; late Latin literature; and the Burgundians

About the Author(s)

Ralph W. Mathisen is Professor of History, Classics, and Medieval Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has authored, edited, or coedited thirteen books and has published 100 scholarly articles. He is a Fellow of the American Numismatic Society, founding editor of the Journal of Late Antiquity, and Director of the Biographical Database for Late Antiquity Project.

Previous Publication Date(s)

February 2011


"Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations is beautifully produced, has excellent maps and well-chosen images, and is up to date from a scholarly perspective. It is easily the best general work currently available, covering the Ancient Mediterranean through Late Antiquity in a relatively brief format."--Kenneth G. Holum, University of Maryland, College Park

"Mathisen's focus on multiculturalism, scientific literacy, and visual reasoning make the book far more up to date than any of its competitors."--Andrew J. Bonnell, Ball State University

Table of Contents

    Note on Spelling and Pronunciation
    About the Author
    SECTION I: The Origins of History
    1. Civilization Before Civilization (2,000,000-3000 BCE)
    SECTION II: The Ancient Near Eastern World
    2. Mesopotamia and the Bronze Age (6000-1200 BCE)
    3. Egypt and the Bronze Age (8000-1200 BCE)
    4. Coastal Civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean (2500-800 BCE)
    5. Iron Age Empires: Assyria, Babylonia, and Persia (850-500 BCE)
    SECTION III: The Ancient Greek World
    6. Greece in the Dark and Archaic Ages (1100-500 BCE)
    7. Sparta, Athens, and the Classical Age (500-387 BCE)
    8. Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Age (387-31 BCE)
    9. Civilization beyond the Near East, Greece, and Rome (2300-31 BCE)
    SECTION IIII: The Ancient Roman World
    10. The Rise of Rome and the Roman Republic (753-120 BCE)
    11. Crisis, Recovery, and the Creation of the Principate (150-21 BCE)
    12. The Roman Peace (27 BCE-192 CE)
    SECTION V: The World of Late Antiquity
    13. Crisis, Recovery, and the Creation of the Late Roman Empire (192-337)
    14. The Christian Empire and the Late Roman World (337-476)
    15. The End of Antiquity (476-640)