Books on the Ancient World

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Ancient World
General Works

Books - Ancient World

General Works - Hellenistic World - Egypt - Seleucid Empire

General Works

The Ancient Assyrians – Empire and Army, 883-612 BC, Mark Healy. An impressively detailed military history of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, covering the rise and fall of the Empire, the activities and policies of the Emperors, the nature of the Assyrian army and its many campaigns. The survival of a massive number of cuniform tablets, combined with the monumental wall art created to celebrate the achievements of the Emperors, allows the author to create an impressively detailed military and political history of what became the largest Empire yet to exist(Read Full Review)
The Wars of Alexander’s Successors 323-281 BC: Volume I: Commanders & Campaigns, Bob Bennett & Mike Roberts. The first part of a study of the wars of Alexander’s Successors, concentrating on the individual commanders, their overall careers and their campaigns, leaving the details of their battles for part two. An interesting approach, with some chapters covering the entire group during key events and others focusing on the career of one successor at a time. Looks at a forty year period of near constant warfare, involving some remarkable, ambitious characters, none of whom were quite able to ever reunite Alexander’s empire.(Read Full Review)
The Galatians – Celtic Invaders of Greece and Asia Minor, John D. Grainger. A detailed history of the Galatians, tracing their development from Balkan raiders to part of the Hellenistic state system, and on to their relationship with the expanding power of Rome. Does an excellent job of looking at events from the Galatian perspective, rather than as they were seen by their Greek enemies, so we see them evolve from a raiding force into a more or less regular part of the Hellenistic state system, before eventually succumbing to the power of Rome. (Read Full Review)
Armies of Celtic Europe – 700BC – AD106 – History, Organization and Equipment, Gabriele Esposito. A look at the military history of the ancient Celts, from their origins in central Europe through their expansion west into modern France, Spain and Britain and east into the Balkans and Anatolia, and their long conflict with the expanding Roman empire. Especially strong on the armours and weaponry of the Celts, and illustrated with a large number of pictures of modern re-enactors showing a wide range of types of Celtic arms and armour (Read Full Review)
Ancient Warfare Vol XI, Issue 4: Wars of the Twelve Tribe - Conflict in the Old TestamentAncient Warfare Vol XI, Issue 4: Wars of the Twelve Tribe - Conflict in the Old Testament Focuses on some of the wars mentioned in the Old Testament, including Gideon’s famous selection of an elite force, a coalition battle against the Neo-Assyrians, the defensive policy of Judah, the role of Israelites in the Assyrian army, and the Lachish reliefs. Away from the theme looks at a Roman military diploma in New York, all-source analysis and the mystery of the antisignani, described as fighting in front of the banners in a Roman army. [see more]
Ancient Warfare Vol X, Issue 5: The Legacy of  Cyrus - The empires of Persia at WarAncient Warfare Vol X, Issue 5: The Legacy of Cyrus - The empires of Persia at War Focuses on the massive Persian Empire, starting with the conquest of Cyrus the Great and going on to the later Sassanid period. Includes an interesting look at how Cyrus’s conquest of Babylon became the basis of a much later Sassanid myth, the undocumented but archeologically interesting of Dura-Europos, and the portrayal of Artemisia of Halicarnassus in the Greek histories of the period [see more]
Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Vol XI, Issue 5: Riding into Battle - Ancient mounted warfare Focuses on mounted warfare in the ancient world, but with a wider remit than horse cavalry, so includes a look at dromedary troops, two articles on war elephants and one on a type of infantry that found alongside the cavalry, as well as the evidence for cavalry on the Pydna monument, and an examination of how the Legions cared for their horses. Also includes an alternative theory on how the Legions fought, and a look at a mystery troop type mentioned in a Roman military manual [see more]
Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Vol XI, Issue 1: Blotting out the Sun - Archers in the ancient world Focuses on archery across the Ancient world, covering an impressively wide geographical and historical range, from Qin China in the east to Rome in the west, and including the Neo-Assyrians, Cretan archers and the mounted archer. Also looks at Marathon, the famous Lorica Segmentata and an example of a Roman Centurion [see more]
Ancient Warfare Vol XII, Issue 3: The Many Means of Protection - Body armour in the ancient worldAncient Warfare Vol XII, Issue 3: The Many Means of Protection - Body armour in the ancient world Focuses on the use of armour in the ancient world, including a look at its earliest forms, the emergence of chain mail, how heavy armour could be countered and the industrial scale of armour production in the Roman Empire. Also looks at the use of magical wards in the supersticious Roman army, the use of animal pelts by standard bearers, aspects of the cavalry and the development of siege warfare [see more]
Carthage’s Other Wars, Dexter Hoyos. Looks at Carthage’s ‘other’ wars, their repeated conflicts against the Greeks of Sicily, the struggles to maintain their position in Africa and the late conquest of Spain. The nature of the surviving sources mean that most of the material covers the wars against the Greeks of Sicily, whose accounts of the fighting have survived, but there is also good material on the wars in North Africa and Spain. Written by an established expert on Carthage, the military narratives are supported by an excellent understanding of the city’s politics(Read Full Review)
War Bows, Mike Loades. Looks at the longbow, crossbow, composite bow and Japanese Yumi, largely based on previously published Osprey books, but updated for this combined edition. Brings together four fascinating topics to provide a useful overview of the many types of war bow that were used from western Europe to Japan, and the varied types of archery that developed around them.  Useful to have all four together in a single volume, allowing a more direct comparison between the different types(Read Full Review)
Pyrrhus of Epirus, Jeff Champion. A useful biography of one of the more adventurous leaders of the generation that followed Alexander the Great, twice king of Macedon, twice king of Epirus, once king of Sicily and one of Rome's most dangerous early opponents, even if his victories did come at such a cost that his name has become associated with costly self defeating victories. Does a good job of tracing his career through the often fragmentary sources, and of placing him in the context of his times Read Full Review
Ancient Warfare Vol IX, Issue 6: A Feast for Dogs & Crows - The Aftermath of BattleAncient Warfare Vol IX, Issue 6: A Feast for Dogs & Crows - The Aftermath of Battle An unusual theme, focusing on the aftermath of war, looking at the fate of the victors and vanquished, the return home and the celebrations of victory as well as the fate of the dead or the captive. Interesting to follow on from where most accounts of battles end,  . Also looks at the real role of the Praetorian Guard, and the nature of the cuneus in Roman fighting. [see more]
Cataphracts - Knights of the Ancient Eastern Empires, Erich B. Anderson. Looks at the heavily armoured horsemen found in armies across the Ancient Middle East, most famously in the armies of Parthia, Persia and the Byzantines. Traces the development of heavily armoured troops, their use in battle, the variants in use with different powers, and their eventual decline during the Byzantine period. A useful single volume history of the heaviest cavalry type of the ancient world. [read full review]
Dawn of the Horse Warriors - Chariot and Cavalry Warfare 3000-600BC, Duncan Noble. Looks at the history of chariot warfare in the pre-classical world, a period in which chariots were found across a vast area stretching from the edges of the Greek world south to Egypt and all the way to China. Written by an experimental archaeologist who has been involved with reconstructing chariots, and so combines a good use of the ancient sources with an understanding of what was actually possible. [read full review]
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Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Vol IX, Issue 3: Mighty Rulers of Anatolia - Hittites and their successors. Focuses on the Hittites, one of the great empires of pre-classical antiquity, and takes great advantage of the surprising range of documents that have survived from that period. Includes a set of rules for the Guards and horse training instructions. Also looks at Hittite fortifications, the Hittite army and the Neo-Hittite kingdoms.   [see more]
The Carthaginians 6th-2nd Century BC, Andrea Salimbeti and Raffaele D'Amato. Mainly looks at the land forces fielded by Carthage during the period between its first campaigns on Sicily and its destruction by the Romans at the end of the Third Punic War. Includes the native Carthaginian and more numerous mercenary forces and looks at some of the less familiar campaigns fought by Carthage. [read full review]
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Ancient Warfare Volume VIII Issue 3. Swift as the Wind Across the Plains: Horsemen of the steppes. Mainly focusing on the Scythians, the nomadic horsemen found to the north of the Greek and Persian worlds. A valuable look at a culture that is often only seen as the enemy from beyond the edge of civilisation, but that was much more complex.. [see more] Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribe
Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Volume VII Issue 4 . Movement and supply: Logistics and the army train. Looks at how the realities of supplying an army impacted on warfare in the Ancient World, covering a wide range of topics from Assyria and Babylon to the mobile late Roman army. Also looks at the warrior in Greek lyric poetry and the nature of Mithraism.. [see more]
Henchmen of Ares: Warriors and Warfare in Early Greece, Josho Brouwers. Looks at warfare during the Mycenaean period, the Greek Dark Ages, the rise of the Hoplite and the Persian Wars. Supported by good full colour photos and illustrations, this is an interesting look at a less well known period of Ancient Greek history. [read full review]
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Ancient Warfare Vol VIII, Issue I: Deserters, Defectors, Traitors: Betrayal in the ancient worldAncient Warfare Vol VIII, Issue I: Deserters, Defectors, Traitors: Betrayal in the ancient world. Looks at a range of famous traitors in the Ancient World, stretching from the Biblical David up to Cataline's Revolt during the late Roman Republic, and a variety of types of betrayal, from internal revolt to siding with external enemies.. [see more]

Warfare in the Ancient World, Brian Todd Carey, Joseph B. Allfree & John Cairns. Looks at twenty-one major battles and the armies that fought them, and traces how warfare developed over the long span of Ancient History. Written as an undergraduate textbook the result is a useful overview of four and a half thousand years of military history, supported by some excellent battle maps. [read full review]
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Bronze Age Military Equipment, Dan Howard. A detailed survey of Bronze Age weapons, armour and shields, focusing mainly on the rare survivals and the textual evidence to try and reproduce the military equipment of the Near East, Middle East and eastern Mediterranean. A very valuable summary of the current state of knowledge on this early period in military history. [read full review]
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The Wars of the Maccabees, John D. Grainger. A military history of the hundred years of warfare between the revolt of the Maccabees in 167BC and the Roman conquest of the Hasmonean kingdom and their capture of Jerusalem in 63BC. The author does an excellent job of comparing the Jewish and other sources to produce a more realistic assessment of the conquests and achievements of the Hasmonean kings. [read full review]
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Ancient Warfare Vol V Issue 4: Sieges and Terror Tactics, The Assyrian Empire at War. Focuses on a fascinating period, the increasingly well documented Assyrians, one of the earliest known empires, and a civilisation that lasted for a millennium and a half. Also includes an attempt to reconstruct key elements of the battle of Marathon, a fake Roman helmet and the debate over Diocletian's possible reforms of the Roman army. [read full review]
Holy Wars: 3,000 Years of Battles in the Holy Land, Gary L. Rashba. An interesting selection of incidents from the long and warlike history of the Holy Land, ranging from the Israelite conquest to the modern Arab-Israeli Wars. Includes a good mix of ancient, medieval and modern conflicts. A bit lacking in analysis of the value of early religious sources, but otherwise sound. [read full review]
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Hellenistic World

Armies of the Hellenistic States 323 BC- AD 30, History, Organisation & Equipment, Gabriele Esposito. An excellent study of the armies fielded by the many different Hellenistic powers, starting with the Macedonian armies of Philip II and Alexander the Great, then looking at the armies of the many and varied powers to emerge from the wars of the successors, from the ‘big three’ of Macedonia, Egpyt and the Seleucids to the individual Greek cities, Hellenistic Isreal and the Bactrian and Indian outposts. Covers their structure, troop types and equipment, and how they changed over time (Read Full Review)
The Rise of the Hellenistic Kingdoms 336-250 BC, Philip Matyszak. Looks at the first period in the history of the Hellenistic kingdoms, looking at the conquests of Alexander the Great, the wars of the successors that created the three main Hellenistic kingdoms, and the prime years of those kingdoms, when they were the dominant powers of the eastern Mediterranean. Perhaps inevitably focuses largely on the wars that created the empire then broke it apart, but also looks at the wider Hellenistic world, a period of some scientific progress, as well as the creation of the famous Library of Alexandria (Read Full Review)
The Macedonian Phalanx, Richard Taylor. A detailed look at the Macedonian phalanx, looking at how it developed, how it was equipped, how it was used in battle and its strengths and weaknesses. Based on a detailed anaylsis of the available sources, with a great deal of effort taken to make sure that evidence for the hoplite isn’t used for the Macedonians. Often disagrees with the standard view of the phalanx, but always backs up those arguments with excellent sources.(Read Full Review)
Antipater’s Dynasty – Alexander the Great’s Regent and his Successors, John D Grainger . A useful study of the short-lived dynasty founded by Antipater, Alexander the Great’s deputy in Macedonia during his great campaign, and continued by his son Cassander, who overthrew Alexander’s dynasty and declared himself to be king of Macedonia. A good choice of topic, filling a gap in the history of the period, and demonstrating just how significant this pair of father and son were in the creation and then the destruction of Alexander’s empire(Read Full Review)
Twilight of the Hellenistic World, Mike Roberts and Bob Bennett. A fascinating history of the last thirty years before the Romans began to dominate the Hellenistic World, looking at the struggles between Macedon, the Greek Leagues, the Seleucid and Ptolemaic empires, a resurgent Sparta and the kings of Asia Minor at the end of the third century BC. [read full review]
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Kings and Kingship in the Hellenistic World 350-30 BC, John D Grainger. Looks at the nature of kingship in the years between Alexander the Great and the Roman conquest of the Hellenistic world, a period in which a surprising number of dynasties established themselves, and in some cases even flourished for centuries before disappearing. Organised thematically, so we see how the various dynasties differed, and more often how much they had in common. Also helps to explain how some of these apparently unstable dynasties managed to survive for so long (Read Full Review)


The Army of Ptolemaic Egypt 323-204 BC – An Institutional and Operational History, Paul Johstono. Looks at the organisation and performance of the army of the first four Ptolemies, members of the longest lived of the successor kingdoms founded after the death of Alexander the Great. Takes advantage of the impressive array of surviving documents (mainly papyri) to study the structure of the army in great detail and then compare those results to what we know about the army’s performance, and what ancient historians reported about the army(Read Full Review)
Pharaoh Seti I - Father of Egyptian Greatness, Nicky Nielsen. Excellent biography of the father of Ramesses II, tracing the key developments of his decade long reign, which saw Egypt recover from a period of religious and dynastic confusion, and set the stage for the long reign of his more famous son. Traces his early life, military campaigns and monumental construction projects as well as some of the more ordinary aspects of life in Seti’s Egypt. The author makes a good case for seeing Seti’s reign as key to the success of his son(Read Full Review)
Ancient Warfare Vol VII, Issue 1: Warriors of the Nile - Conflict in Ancient Egypt. Looks at the sources for Ancient Egyptian military history, the equipment buried with Tutankhamen, the battle of Kadesh, Egypt's fortified borders, the Hyksos, and letters between the major Kings of the period. Also looks at the standards held by the Roman Legion and a clash between an outpost of Macedonian civilisation in central Asia and the Han Empire of China. [read full review]
Ancient Warfare Vol X, Issue 2: Wars in Hellenistic Egypt, kingdom of the PtolemiesAncient Warfare Vol X, Issue 2: Wars in Hellenistic Egypt, kingdom of the Ptolemies Focuses on Ptolemaic Egypt, the most successful and long-lived of the successor kingdoms to the empire of Alexander the Great. Includes interesting articles on Julius Caesar's period of urban warfare in Alexandria, the massive warships of the Ptolemaic navy, and away from the theme on the value of 'Barbarian' troops to the Late Roman Empire. Nice to have a focus on Ptolemaic Egypt in its own right, rather than as part of someone else's story.. [see more]

Seleucid Empire

The Rise of the Seleukid Empire 323-223 BC, John D Grainger . Looks at the rise and first fall of the Seleucid Empire, the largest successor state to emerge from the collapse of Alexander the Great's Empire. Starts with the rise of the Empire under the impressive Seleucus I and ends with the accession of Antiochus III, the subject of volume two in the series. [read full review]
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The Seleukid Empire of Antiochus III 223-187 BC, John D. Grainger. Looks at the life and achievements of Antiochus III, one of the most successful of the Seleukid Emperors, but now best remembered for his defeats at the hands of the Romans. During a long reign he regained control of most areas that had been claimed by his predecessors, defeated the Ptolomies, secured most of Asia Minor, but overstretched himself with an invasion of Thrace and his activities in mainland Greece, which helped trigger the clash with Rome. [read full review]
The Fall of the Seleukid Empire, 187-75 BC, John D. Grainger. Looks at the last century of the Seleukid Empire, a period of near constant decline, repeated civil wars and family disputes that eventually saw this powerful empire dwindle away and disappear. A good, convincing narrative produced from a limited number of available sources, following the decline of what was once the largest of the successor states to Alexander the Great [read full review]
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