New Book: “Assyria:  The Rise and Fall of the World’s First Empire” by Eckart Frahm

Dear Commons Community,

I have just finished reading Assyria:  The Rise and Fall of the World’s First Empire” by Eckart Frahm and published by Basic Books.  Frahm is a professor of Assyriology in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Yale University.   Frahm tells the story of Assyria’s rise and its influences on global history.  He describes its rulers, conflicts with neighboring lands especially Babylon, libraries, sculptures, trade and communications networks as well as plagues and climate.  He comments that Assyria also provided a model for subsequent empires (Greek, Roman, Persian) that followed.  He has chapters devoted to social history as well as influential Assyrian women.  It is a slow read mainly because the names of people and places are difficult to follow for those of us unfamiliar with the subject. Readers will find themselves regularly referencing several of the maps at the beginning of the book. If you are at all interested in this subject, I recommend Frahm’s book.

Below is a brief review that appeared in  Bloomsbury.



Assyria:  The Rise and Fall of the World’s First Empire

Eckart Frahm (Author)

The first comprehensive account of the rise and fall of what historians consider to be the world’s very first empire: Assyria

‘A work of remarkable synthesis. The range of its sources is truly extraordinary . . . Frahm punctures a fair share of myths too’ Pratinav Anil, The Times

At its height in 660 BCE, the kingdom of Assyria stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf. It was the first empire the world had ever seen.

Here, historian Eckart Frahm tells the epic story of Assyria and its formative role in global history. Assyria’s wide-ranging conquests have long been known from the Hebrew Bible and later Greek accounts. But nearly two centuries of research now permit a rich picture of the Assyrians and their empire beyond the battlefield: their vast libraries and monumental sculptures, their elaborate trade and information networks, and the crucial role played by royal women.

Although Assyria was crushed by rising powers in the late seventh century BCE, its legacy endured from the Babylonian and Persian empires to Rome and beyond. Assyria is a stunning and authoritative account of a civilisation essential to understanding the ancient world and our own.

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