Lost Cities of the Ancient World

Lost Cities of the Ancient World - Carl Blegen Lost Cities of the Ancient World
Five books covering five cities from ancient times that were abandoned or destroyed and which through the archaeology we have been able to piece together significant knowledge of our Bronze Age and later forbears. The texts can be quite dry, but informative.

A republished version of Carl Blegen’s Troy and the Trojans first published in 1963, with an updating introduction by Donald Easton and modern photographic plates.
Carl Blegen’s narrative is a bit dull at times, more like an archaeologists’ guide rather than something for the layman. While the descriptions of the many layers of the site provide much information about the probable life of this bronze-age city, the loss and destruction caused by the clumsy evacuations of the 19th and early 20th centuries made me sad.
Donald Easton provides an interesting perspective in his introduction, correcting some of the errors suggested by more modern archaeological methods and the investigations of the 80’s and 90’s as well as a discussion around the association between the site and the famous works of Homer.

Colin MacDonand explores the archaeology of the palace at Knossos. Knossos was originally a Neolithic settlement that grew into the Minoan city of Greek legend (where the Minotaur skulked the labyrinth). There is only a small consideration of the legends, but plenty of discussion about the development of the city, culture, religion etc and more specifically the palace(s). There is a fold up map at the back of the book which shows just how big (and labyrinth) the palace was and photographic plates to show the finds and context of the city.

This is an updated version of Joan Oates Babylon (First published in 1979, updated in 1986 and updated again for this Folio Edition in 2005). The archaeology that Troy or Knossos concentrated on is replaced in the first two thirds of this book by a chronicling of the rise and fall of Babylon, the region, the tribes and the Kings. There seemed to be a lot of wars in the area during the reign of Babylonia. Not much appears to have changed in 5000 years!
The latter third of the book covers more about the buildings and archaeology, but also about the ‘state of knowledge’ of the Babylonian man. This is fascinating stuff which we are only able to learn about because of the Sumerians (And later Babylonians) seemed to be obsessed with recording lists...

While the city of Pompeii conjures images of camp slaves and edicts against tittering, this book by Michal Grant originally from 1971 is about the ruins and the peoples of Pompeii and Herculaneum as preserved by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the first century AD.
As with other books in the series, the book has been updated with a new introduction (in this instance by Andrew Wallice-Hadrill) and modern photographic plates of some of the relics described in the text.
The eruption of the volcano, while a terrible event of the time, has resulted in a wealth of information about the life in Graeco-Roman times that would not exist. So instead of concentration on the pottery (as in Troy) the book is able to describe in detail the artworks, religious and day to day lives of the inhabitants.

Jane Taylor’s Petra and the lost kingdom of the Nabataeans, originally published in 2002 and re-issued in this Folio Society edition with minor changes in 2005.
Charts the origins of the Nabataean culture, its interactions with other cultures –especially through the very lucrative frankincense and myrrh trading, on which they evolved from a mostly nomadic life into the powerful proprietors of Petra. After Petra’s glory years, the narrative moves through the absorption into the Roman and Byzantine empires and its sad decline thereafter.
There is also much discussion of religious practices and legal practices, both which reveal a rich and enlightened culture of tolerance and intelligence.