Nov 26

Ancient Empires Before Alexander, by Robert Dise, from the Teaching Company ????

Many of my recent Teaching Company reviews have been less than favorable, but this series is an exception. Covering in this series is a discussion of the rise of the concept of empires, first noted historically by Sargon in Mesopotamia. Dise proceeds to then discuss the Ur kingdom, the Kassites, Hatti (the Hittites), Egypt, Minoan and Mycenaean empires, Israel, Assyria, neo-Babylon, Persia, and finally Carthage. Throughout, Dise remains informative as well as interesting. His discussions do not err as many in extrapolations of data, but instead gives a good review of our current knowledge of the various empires above. My most serious complaint is his treatment of Israel and use of the Biblical data. It is so often the case that while trying to maintain an air of objectivism and critical review of the sources of ancient literature, one fails to appreciate the differences in stylistic writing that would clue one into the credibility of the literature in question. Such is the case with the Biblical script, which should not come under doubt simply because it is also considered a religious genre. Other than that, it is nice to see that moderns did not invent the concept of empire, which existed from earliest written history. It is not a question of whether or not empires will exist, but rather, who will lead and control those empires. All empires have had the tendency to be expansionistic. Some empires desired expansion for economic reasons (Carthage), many for defense of borders, and some simply for the joy of lording over others. Power seems to remain throughout history a stronger driving force than wealth or any other characteristic in motivating empire. This series does a masterful job of helping one explore the concept of empire, and understanding those driving factors throughout mankind that drives for empire.

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