by Stephen Bertman
New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2005, 114 illus., 3 maps, 416 pp.
Reviewed by Michael D. Swartz
Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia, by Stephen Bertman, professor emeritus of classics at the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada, is a comprehensive look into the lives of the Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian neighbors mentioned in the Bible and contemporary records. Most of what was once known as Mesopotamia lies within the modern-day borders of Iraq and has long been associated in Biblical tradition with the “cradle of civilization.” More of a reference book than a straight-read, Bertman’s Handbook defines in categorical order the important places, finds and people of Mesopotamia. Illustrated with pictures to back up the information, it is an encyclopedic portrait of life in the region, from the people who lived there, to what they wore, to how they spoke, worshiped, traveled and made their living.
Michael D. Swartz is professor of Hebrew and religious studies in the department of Near Eastern languages and cultures at the Ohio State University in Columbus.