Cities That Shaped the Ancient World


An illuminating and evocatively illustrated tour of forty of the greatest cities that shaped the ancient world and its civilizations, and which in turn have shaped our own.

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ISBN: 9780500252048 Category:


The cities of the ancient world built the foundations for urban life today. But when did humans first come together in this way and what were these places like to live in? From the world’s first cities, in Mesopotamia, to the spectacular urban monuments of the Maya in Central America, the cities described here represent almost three millennia of human history and development. Under John Julius Norwich’s expert editorship, eminent historians and archaeologists with first-hand knowledge of each site give voices to these silent ruins, bringing them to life as the teeming, state-of-the-art metropolises they once were.

Cities That Shaped the Ancient World takes a global tour, beginning in the Near East with the earliest cities such as Ur and Babylon. Africa gave rise to the conurbations of ancient Egypt such as Thebes and Amarna, and the Ethiopian capital of Aksum. Glorious European metropolises, including Athens and Rome, ringed the Mediterranean, but also stretched to Trier on the turbulent frontier of the Roman empire. Asia had bustling commercial and imperial centres such as Mohenjo-daro and Xianyang, while in the Americas the Mesoamerican and Peruvian cultures created massive settlements in jungles and on mountain ranges, including Caral and Teotihuacan. Illustrated with spectacular photographs of the places, as well as fabulous objects and works of art, this book provides a fascinating exploration of cities that shaped the ancient world – just as that world has shaped our own.

Additional information

Weight 1117 g
Dimensions 19.6 x 24.9 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 1 October 2014
Number of pages 240
Format Hardback
Contributors Edited by John Julius Norwich
Dimensions 19.6 x 24.9 cm
Weight 1117 g


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John Julius Norwich is the author of magisterial histories of Norman Sicily, the republic of Venice and the Byzantine empire. He has also written widely on architecture and music, and has presented some 30 BBC television historical documentaries. He is Chairman of the Venice in Peril Fund and of the World Monuments Fund in Britain.