Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BBR 22:1 (2012) p. 113
Sharon R. Steadman and Gregory McMahon, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Anatolia: 10,000–323 B.C.E. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Pp. xvii + 1,174. ISBN 978–0-19–537614–2. $175.00 cloth.
This nearly 1,200-page opus is part of the renowned Oxford University Press Handbook series and seeks to describe in a one-volume format the present state of the art of our knowledge about the history, the material culture, and the languages of ancient Anatolia or, as the editors write, “a synthesis of our current understanding” (p. 3), concluding roughly a century of serious scholarly study of ancient Anatolia.
Following an introductory chapter by the editors (pp. 3–11), the volume contains 51 chapters (of 20–30 pages each), divided into five parts: part 1, “The Archaeology of Anatolia: Background and Definitions” includes 3 chapters dealing with the perspective of the ancient people living in Anatolia, a research history of its preclassical archaeology, and a discussion of Anatolian chronology and terminology. Each chapter contains endnotes (if needed; generally an in- text reference model was used) and a bibliography (divided into primary and secondary sources). Not all bibliographies are equal; while some cover a page or two, others extend up to eight pages. Most chapters contain useful illustrative material such as maps, city plans, black-and-white photos, or tables. These help the reader to visualize a subject that has suffered from lack of exposure and (often) the link to the Hebrew Bible that motivated many of the early scholars (or adventurers) working in Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia.
Part 2, entitled “Chronology and Geography,” is the most extensive section of the Handbook (pp. 99–514) and contains 17 chapters subdivided into five archaeological periods: prehistory, Early Bronze Age (EBA), Middle Bronze Age (MBA), Late Bronze Age (LBA), and Iron Age (IA). Most of the contributions to part 2 are cognizant of the difficulty of nomenclature, periodization, and geographical boundaries that inform chapters seeking to synthesize the developments (both in terms of settlements and human life) of a specific period and place (compare, already in 1996, Israel Finkelstein, “Toward a New Periodization and Nomenclature of the Archaeology of the Southern Levant,” in The Study of the Ancient Near East in the 21st Century: The William Foxwell Albright Centennial Conference [ed. Jerrold S. Cooper and Glenn M. Schwartz; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1996], 103–23). Apropos geography: not all chapters share the same presuppositions regarding the extension of the regional entity called “Anatolia” (see pp. 4, 6)—something that is quite understandable for a region that the editors described as “one of ...
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