Thursday, March 13, 2014

Reading :: Babylonians and Assyrians: Life and Customs

Babylonians and Assyrians, Life and Customs
By the Rev. A.H. Sayce

I was looking for some pleasure reading a couple of months ago, so I downloaded this public domain book on Kindle. It's what you might expect from a book published in 1899, with phrases such as "Of this there is no proof" and lots of superfluous hyphens. Still, it paints an interesting and entertaining portrait of the Babylonians and Assyrians as they were then understood.

The book covers what was then known about Babylonia and its inhabitants; the family; education and death; slavery and free labor; manners and customs; trades and land; banking; government; law; writing; and religion. I was particularly interested in the last two.

Can I recommend this book? Not as scholarship—it's too dated and too imprecise. Not as entertainment—it's not really a page turner. But if you're the kind of person who becomes curious about a particular topic, such as Babylonian religion, and finds himself spending way too much time reading about it on Wikipedia, this might be a good way to learn a little more about it for free.

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