Books and Resources

A Short History of the Ancient World

Author: Nicholas K. Rauh with Heidi E. Kraus


About The Book

A Short History of the Ancient World begins with the Bronze Age and ends with the collapse of the Roman Empire. Rather than restricting his analysis to the Greek and Roman experience, Rauh introduces students to ancient Africa, Israel, Egypt, Iran, China, and the Indian subcontinent.

To aid students on their journey into the ancient world, Rauh has provided key terms and definitions, “What Have We Learned” review points, and an engaging art program that includes 51 images within the “Art in Focus” and “Materials and Techniques” features. Informative maps, chronologies, and tales also give students a closer look into the rise and fall of these great civilizations. With A Short History of the Ancient World, Rauh has crafted a comprehensive exploration of humanity’s most fascinating early civilizations.

About The Author

Nicholas K. Rauh is Professor of Classics at Purdue University and an award-winning teacher. He is the author of The Sacred Bonds of Commerce: Religion, Economy, and Trade Society at Hellenistic Roman Delos (1993) and Merchants, Sailors, and Pirates in the Roman World (2003). Heidi E. Kraus is Assistant Professor of Art History and Director of The De Pree Gallery at Hope College.

Study Questions

Questions for Reflection

  • 1. Discuss the pros and cons of relying on archaeological versus textual evidence to reconstruct the history of ancient civilizations. What are the strengths of each type of evidence? What are the weaknesses or limitations? Why do we need to use both to investigate “literate” societies?

    2. Discuss the key components of ancient religion and apply them to one of the following religious worldviews: The Epic of Gilgamesh, the Osiris cult, or the Hebrew God of Moses. More specifically, how did people communicate with the god(s) in this worldview?

  • 1. List the seven criteria for the rise of civilizations and apply at least six of them to one of the following cultures: Agamemnon’s Mycenae, Solomon’s Israel, or Akhenaton’s Egypt. When possible give a specific name to the criterion in question, for example, the name of a large urban center.

    2. Discuss trends in the development of Greek intellectual thought from the Archaic Age to the Hellenistic Era. What principal intellectual skills were developed, and how did philosophical ideas change over time? In your discussion, mention of at least four of the following: Pythagoras, Sophocles, Anaxagoras, Socrates, Aristotle, Epicurus, or Zeno. Alternatively, focus on the question how does a just person live a just life in an unjust world? Discuss how four of the above philosophers would answer this question.

    3. Consider how the developments of Greek warfare reflect the contrasting tendencies between Particularism and Panhellenism. Discuss either the period from 490–323 BC, or from the Persian Wars to the Conquest of Alexander the Great.