David Wengrow explores 'What Makes Civilization?'

10 September 2010


David Wengrow's latest book entitled 'What Makes Civilization?' describes the story of Ancient Mesopotamia (Iraq) and Egypt: the 'birthplace of civilization', where the foundations of our own modern societies were laid.

The book brings these two regions, normally treated in isolation, together within a unified history of how people first created cities, kingdoms, and monumental temples to the gods. But civilization, as it shows, is not only about such grand monuments. Just as importantly, it is also about the ordinary but fundamental practices of everyday life that we might take for granted, such as cooking food and keeping the house and body clean. Tracing the development of such practices, from prehistoric times to the age of the pyramids, the book reveals unsuspected connections between distant regions, and provides new insights into the workings of societies we have come to regard as remote from our own. It also obliges us to recognize that civilizations are not formed in isolation, but through the mixing and borrowing of culture between societies.

Published in July by Oxford University Press, a dedicated blog for the publication is now available. 'What Makes Civilization?' should appeal to those interested in the history of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, ancient archaeology, the birth of human civilization, and the relationship between Europe and the Middle East over the centuries.

David trained in archaeology and anthropology at the University of Oxford and has conducted fieldwork in both Africa and the Middle East. His research explores early cultural transformations across the boundaries of Asia, Africa and Europe, including the emergence of the first farming societies, states and systems of writing.