From time immemorial, the region of modern-day Turkey has served as a crossroads between east and west. In this illuminating course, Professor Jennifer Tobin leads a compelling discussion of "Anatolia" from early archaeological sites and the Trojan War up through the Greeks, Persians, Alexander the Great, and the Romans. A land of immense cultural significance, Ancient Turkey has housed an amazing array of peoples - the study of whom shines light on the modern world.
©2011 Jennifer Tobin (P)2011 Recorded Books, LLC
Another fascinating presentation by Professor Tobin. This time she focusses on just one small part of the ancient world, Anatolia, or what we nowadays call Turkey. But the number of different peoples who lived in this bit of land makes it an amazing trip through time. Did you know that people were building temples in 11,000 BC, even before we started farming or living in villages, let alone cities? Do you know who invented money? Did you know that America's federal system is based partly on the government of a small nation in southern Turkey that was established before Christ? Enough of the spoilers, hear it for yourself. Suffice it to say that Professor Tobin never loses sight of the fact that she is talking about people, not just buildings. And the PDF document you get with the program enables you to see the pictures and check the spelling of those funny names.
Love having someone read me a story. Fires in the hearth, rain on the roof, sunny days and surf. Good friends, good food and J S Bach.
Treat this as a Lecture series and a Guide. What I did like was the number of www. sites as well as books for further reading. The pdf was great, thanks. The area covered is huge, the time span great, so I for one see this series of lectures as a suggested 'road map'. Today this whole area is still a hotbed. In terms of Archeology there is still so much being uncovered and more questions being asked. I have hardly started going through the suggested readings. So my rating is a little premature. I expect I will be dipping into this series of lectures for a while to come.
This professor presents seriously questionable interpretations without mentioning the fact that they are disputed. I can only remark on the first lecture, as this is an area I specialize in, but two major interpretations with serious flaws are given as if they are the mainstream view of the material.
The first being her notion that the impetus to sedentism was related to communal worship rather than the pressures of changing climate and related distribution of food plants and animals. This misrepresents the issues and arguments, fails to mention adaptation to climate change, and doesn't even address the possibility that the sharing of food plant seeds that may have occurred at Gobekli Tepe could easily have been a big contributor to the development of domesticated crops. In other words, the ability to convert to an agricultural economy began as an incidental side effect of communal worship, whereas what she says implies that people formed sedentary communities specifically to worship in groups-in spite of the obvious fact that Gobekli Tepe was built and maintained purely by foragers who did not live year-round in the region!
There is no reason not to believe that communal religion existed well before agriculture. Since sedentism allows a small group of people to control the community by controlling access to luxury goods and trade, it is in sedentary communities where the evidence of hierarchy begins to be visible, obviously including religious professionals who might be buried with ornaments or possessions unavailable to the general population. But just because this is visible in sedentary cultures doesn't mean that religious professionals did not exist in mobile communities-only that their ability to be differentiated from others must have been less. In short, Schmitt is being fully reasonable (and Tobin, for mentioning the theory) by suggesting that organized religion pre-dated settled communities. BUT. This does not in any way mean that settled communities came about because of organized religion. In many ways it implies the exact opposite! That towns and the agriculture necessary to support them are not required for organized, communal religion to exist. And Gobekli Tepe is at the moment the world's outstanding example of this exact phenomenon.
My second argument is with Tobin's mention of a "Great Mother Goddess" in her discussion of Catal Huyuk as an entity (Tobin does admit that this goddess's existence is conjectural) that has a long history in Anatolia, presumably spanning cultures and large periods of time.
Now, it's one thing to say "The people of Catal Huyuk were farmers, and farmers are often concerned with fertility, and fertility is often also connected with the female body and childbirth, and one recurring image in the arts of Catal Huyuk is of the female form, sometimes emphasizing childbirth or reproductive characteristics". It is QUITE another thing to say that these female figures could be representations of a singular Great Mother Goddess of fertility and wild animals (but implying that this is actually about agricultural fertility) and that this singular entity crossed cultures and time frames throughout the geography and history of Anatolia.
Not to say that this isn't possible, but on the other hand it's all a fabrication and not supported by all the available evidence, either. And since this topic brushes up against some terribly unprofessional and insupportable theories about prehistoric religion that still crop up throughout popular literature about the period, it seems to me that representing the issue the way Tobin does is designed to give the listener an idea about Catal Huyuk that is not based upon good science, but smacks of revisionist feminist history. Any interested persons who then did a little internet digging or checked a book out of their local library would be likely to land on Mellaart or Gimbutas and have no background to think critically about what they were reading, coming away with an impression of prehistory worldwide that would be nothing short of pure fantasy. Ultimately the important thing to remember about these interpretations is that comparisons between cultures must be made very carefully indeed, and followed up with very good documentation, to be worthy of consideration. Any other approach is likely to produce blindness to the evidence that does NOT support the theory.
Given my two concerns with the first lecture, I do not recommend this series to the uninformed, basic listener who is simply curious about Anatolia. This is the person to whom the lectures are addressed, and this is the person who will not have access to information that rounds out what Tobin is saying. All sources tend to be biased in some direction or other, this is true. But I think this course does a poor job of presenting the material fairly.
This book was decent, and to an extent informative. The title is a little bit misleading in that the vast preponderance of the information was related to ancient Anatolia, only the final ten minutes of the book was related to Constantinople. The other shortcoming in my opinion was the total lack of discussion on the critical role this area played in the early Christian Church.
The narration was good, although it is in the form of a lecture rather than a narration.
Well spoken and easy to follow
Urmmmm I would have to say Turkey?
It was great ! Love to listen to her ! Never boring.
Yea!!! I enjoyed it thoroughly
"Lecture format but informative and listenable"
Lectures an informative and story like account which was what I wanted. Irritation is the constant advertising between chapters-but not a train smash.
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