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Publisher's Summary

All cultures lie in the shadow of ancient Mesopotamia-the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers that is now mostly encompassed by the borders of modern Iraq. In this fascinating series of 36 lectures, an award-winning teacher leads you on a vivid journey through Mesopotamian history-from Neolithic times to the age of Alexander the Great-and into the lives of mighty emperors, struggling farmers, ambitious merchants, and palace servants to reveal why this ancient culture occupies such a foundational position in our history.
The lectures look back to the time when the first cities arose in Mesopotamia and kings created complex bureaucracies to rule their expanding territories, thus fostering the invention of writing and other technologies. You peer into the lives and fortunes of Mesopotamia's people and learn about the birth of the urban lifestyle.
Professor Castor creates a detailed image not only of larger Mesopotamian society but of life on the level of the individual Mesopotamian as well. Among the many fascinating insights into daily Mesopotamian life you examine are how they ate, worked, learned, worshiped, married, and reared children; used scientific ideas to help them order and understand the natural world; engaged with their powerful neighbors in Egypt, Syria, and Anatolia (modern-day Turkey); waged war and experienced peace; and endured the collapse of their cities.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2006 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2006 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By tamim on 03-11-15

Kinda Tells you what u need, but not really

OK this is complicated, I'm a history lover, and when usually people yawn or call asleep in history lectures I find myself most intrigued. until this audio book. I don't know the exact problem, the lecturer's tone was quite monotonous, as if reading from a paper.
also the progression wasn't chronological as I hoped it would be, one moment we're talking about Sargon of Akkad the next she's discussing late Assyrian kings and their kingly roles.
all in all I learned TONS and for that I'm grateful, but the layout of the lectures leaves big room for improvement.

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21 of 21 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Ark1836 on 09-02-15

Mesopotamia as a Bridge Between East and West

Mesopotamian history is integral to an understanding of ancient history. It often gets overshadowed, though, by Egypt, Greece and Rome. I have had many courses where Mesopotamia was at least somewhat discussed—Ur, Babylon, the Assyrians, etc…. However, before this course I had not taken a course that focused exclusively on Mesopotamia. I am grateful that I took this course because it gave me a much greater appreciation of the role Mesopotamia served as the bridge between the East and the West. As explained in the course, Mesopotamian culture and politics profoundly influenced many aspects of the ancient world. This influence is made apparent through the professor's excellent instruction.

The professor, who is both humorous and knowledgeable, covers the history of this region from pre-history through the conquest of Alexander the Great. She generally follows the chronological political history of the region but takes frequent detours to cover topics such as religion, family life, architecture and food. The professor makes each lesson informative and enjoyable. I now have a better understanding of Mesopotamian history and a greater interest in visiting museums featuring exhibits from this region.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Alex on 07-15-14

Comprehensive, Intelligent but incomplete

Would you consider the audio edition of Between the Rivers: The History of Ancient Mesopotamia to be better than the print version?

The needlessly flamboyant music and obviously fake applause are clearly aimed at a more childish audience, hard to think why they'd do that.
The audio version was very well read apart from that and the author clearly knows her subject.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Between the Rivers: The History of Ancient Mesopotamia?

The subject was well set out and delivered as a whole.
A map or maps would have been extremely helpful though.

Have you listened to any of Professor Alexis Q. Castor’s other performances? How does this one compare?


Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I would want to but it's too long to do that practically.

Any additional comments?

Supplementary learning material, critical to make cohesive sense and memory of this great course is widtheld from customers. A mistake that undermines the value of the book immensely.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By G on 10-08-16

Fascinating detailed history

This course is absolutely packed with information in a comprehensive account of this area. It is aimed at an audience seeking a real depth of knowledge rather than having a passing interest and I found it really fascinating.
The lecturer presents the information well and varies her delivery and approach to the subject matter. However, a word of warning here - I found her voice had a strangely hypnotic quality. This was particularly apparent while I was driving leading to drooping eyelids and necessitating frequent caffeine stops ! Im very happy to recommend this course but take care !

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 06-21-18


Interesting and informative.
BUT claims about Mesopotamia being the oldest civilisation are annoying and simply wrong. The assumption seems to be that civilisation is defined in terms of current western values. That is really limiting.
Australian Aboriginal peoples are generally regarded as the oldest continuing society/civilisation. The sixty thousand (60,000) years of Aboriginal society makes Mesopotamia a very recent arrival.
The fact that a society/civilisation does not align with modern western thinking is no reason to ignore it.

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4 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 10-23-15

Worth the Purchase

Very interesting series. Good sense of broader Ancient History.
Having been doing my listening for more modern periods I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of the archaeological discussion.

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