Books Features

BOOKS: Hot New Ancient History Releases!: January

Old Books

Old BooksForeword
It’s January, and we’re deep into winter’s grips; the snow is blowing, the wind is wailing, so what better time to grab a book, curl up under a warm blanket, and hunker down for a good read? I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions, but if I had one, it would be to read more in 2016. This year, on History of the Ancient World and our sister sites, Early Modern England and, it’s #theyearofthebook. Every month we will features the latest book on ancient history, archaeology and historical fiction. If improving your reading is your goal for 2016, you’ve come to the right place! Here are our hot new ancient history releases for January!

~Sandra Alvarez


Books: The Play of Allusion in the Historia Augusta

The Play of Allusion in the Historia Augusta (Wisconsin Studies in Classics)

Author: David Rohrbacher
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 1 edition (January 26, 2016)

By turns outlandish, humorous, and scatological, the Historia Augusta is an eccentric compilation of biographies of the Roman emperors and usurpers of the second and third centuries. Historians of late antiquity have struggled to explain the fictional date and authorship of the work and its bizarre content (did the Emperor Carinus really swim in pools of floating apples and melons? did the usurper Proculus really deflower a hundred virgins in fifteen days?). David Rohrbacher offers, instead, a literary analysis of the work, focusing on its many playful allusions. Marshaling an array of interdisciplinary research and original analysis, he contends that the Historia Augusta originated in a circle of scholarly readers with an interest in biography, and that its allusions and parodies were meant as puzzles and jokes for a knowing and appreciative audience.




Books: In Search of our Ancient Ancestors: From the Big Bang to Modern Britain, in Science and Myth

In Search of our Ancient Ancestors: From the Big Bang to Modern Britain, in Science and Myth

Author: Anthony Adolph
Publisher: Pen and Sword (January 19, 2016)

What a fine long pedigree you have given the human race. – Charles Darwin to Charles Lyell, 1863.

How is the Royal Family descended from fish? How distantly are we related to dinosaurs? How much of your DNA came from Neanderthals? How are the builders of Stonehenge connected to great-grandpa?

According to science, life first appeared on Earth about 3,500 million years ago. Every living thing is descended from that first spark, including all of us. But if we trace a direct line down from those original life forms to ourselves, what do we find? What is the full story of our family tree over the past 3,500 million years, and how are we able to trace ourselves so far back?

From single-celled organisms to sea-dwelling vertebrates; amphibians to reptiles; tiny mammals to primitive man; the first Homo sapiens to the cave painters of Ice Age Europe and the first farmers down to the Norman Conquest, this book charts not only the extraordinary story of our ancient ancestors but also our 40,000-year-long quest to discover our roots, from ancient origin myths of world-shaping mammoths and great floods down to the scientific discovery of our descent from the Genetic Adam and the Mitochondrial Eve.

This is the amazing story of our ancient ancestors, as told by one of Britain’s leading genealogists.

Books: Ovid on Cosmetics: Medicamina Faciei Femineae and Related Texts

Ovid on Cosmetics: Medicamina Faciei Femineae and Related Texts

Author: Marguerite Johnson
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (January 28, 2016)

The Medicamina Faciei Femineae is a didactic elegy that showcases an early example of Ovid’s trademark combination of poetic instruction and trivial subject matter. Exploring female beauty and cosmeceuticals, with particular emphasis on the concept of cultus, the poem presents five practical recipes for treatments for Roman women. Covering both didactic parody and pharmacological reality, this deceptively complex poem possesses wit and vivacity and provides an important insight into Roman social mores and day-to-day activities.
The first full study in English devoted to this little-researched but multi-faceted poem, Ovid on Cosmetics includes an introduction that situates the poem within its literary heritage of didactic and elegiac poetry, its place in Ovid’s oeuvre and its relevance to social values, personal aesthetics and attitudes to female beauty in Roman society. The Latin text is presented on parallel pages alongside a new translation, and all Latin words and phrases are translated for the non-specialist reader. Detailed commentary notes elucidate the text and individual phrases still further.
Ovid on Cosmetics presents and explicates this witty, subversive yet significant poem. Its attention to the technicalities of cosmeceuticals and cosmetics, including detailed analyses of individual ingredients and the effects of specific creams and makeup, make this work a significant contribution to the beauty industry in antiquity.

Books: In Bed with the Romans

In Bed with the Romans

Author: Paul Chrystal
Publisher: Amberley (January 19, 2016)

Our popular impression of the Roman Empire is of a seamy, salacious world in which intrigue and sexual license were ubiquitous at the highest levels of state. Here we explore that familiar elite world as well as the role sex played in broader Roman society from the late Republic to the third century AD – from sex in Roman marriage to homosexuality, from sexual graffiti and prostitution to sexual medicine and aphrodisiacs.

In Bed with the Romans provides a balanced account of sex and sexuality in ancient Rome over three hundred pivotal years, while at the same time providing a lively and explicit account of the sexual exploits of a number of key protagonists at the end of the Republic and early Empire, the men and women who have come down to us as alleged or actual adulterers, sexual predators or deviants. We meet Clodia, vituperated by Cicero, loved and hated by Catullus; Cleopatra – lover to both Caesar and Antony; Fulvia, excoriated by Octavian; the mothers, wives, mistresses, siblings and children of the Julio-Claudian emperors; Hadrian and his infatuation with Antinous; and we witness the serial depravity of Elagabalus.

Books: Scanning the Pharaohs: CT Imaging of the New Kingdom Royal Mummies

Scanning the Pharaohs: CT Imaging of the New Kingdom Royal Mummies

Author: Anthony Adolph
Publisher: The American University in Cairo Press; 1 edition (December 30, 2015)

The royal mummies in the Cairo Museum are an important source of information about the lives of the ancient Egyptians. The remains of these pharaohs and queens can inform us about their age at death and medical conditions from which they may have suffered, as well as the mummification process and objects placed within the wrappings.

Using the latest technology, including Multi-Detector Computed Tomography and DNA analysis, co-authors Zahi Hawass and Sahar Saleem present the results of the examination of royal mummies of the Eighteenth to Twentieth Dynasties. New imaging techniques not only reveal a wealth of information about each mummy, but render amazingly lifelike and detailed images of the remains. In addition, utilizing 3D images, the anatomy of each face has been discerned for a more accurate interpretation of a mummy’s facial features. This latest research has uncovered some surprising results about the genealogy of, and familial relationships between, these ancient individuals, as well as some unexpected medical finds.
Historical information is provided to place the royal mummies in context, and the book with its many illustrations will appeal to Egyptologists, paleopathologists, and non-specialists alike, as the authors seek to uncover the secrets of these most fascinating members of the New Kingdom royal families.


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