Ancient World Magnified

Ancient World Magnified
David Long and Andy Rowland
Wide Eyed Editions

New in the interactive ‘Magnified’ series, this is one of those books where you think, ‘I’ll just spend a few minutes reading this’ and hours later you’re still totally immersed, using the magnifying glass provided inside the front cover.

Starting with Mesopotamia in what is today parts of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, author, David Long and illustrator Andy Rowland take readers time travelling to visit sixteen ancient civilisations, providing a taster of what life was probably like in each one. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that here where civilisation is thought to have begun, men and woman were mostly treated as equals.

From there we move to (c. 4000-1500 BC), a large area now in India and Pakistan, the Indus Valley Civilisation, in which I have a particular interest having once visited not Harappa or Mohenjo-daro featured here, but another more southern site, Lothal.

I have to admit though I’d never heard of Olmec, central America’s first civilisation in what is Mexico today, nor the Kingdom of Aksum (120BC – 850 AD), one of Africa’s greatest empires much of which is in modern Ethiopia and we learn, among the first of the great civilisations to convert to Christianity. 

Also new to me is the Xiongnu Empire in what took up large parts of today’s northern China, Siberia and Mongolia, formed when several tribes of nomadic peoples came together under a ruler named Modu, controlling an area almost as big as Europe. 

Each of these fascinating civilisations is allocated a double spread most of which is taken up with a riveting, highly detailed illustration by Andy Rowland. There are also two or three paragraphs giving information about location, daily life, buildings, what made it prosper etc. and there are ’10 things to spot’ on every spread. Not easy in several cases but should you wish to look, the answers are supplied at the back of the book, along with a famous figures gallery, almost 60 more things to find in the busy scenes, a timeline and glossary.

Recommended especially for young history enthusiasts, as well as those who love search-and-find books.

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