The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Rome
Prices for book: The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Rome
Book ISBN: 9780140513295
Author(s): Chris Scarre
Document type: Trade Paper
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Not Quite An Atlas...
Perhaps it should be called, "Penguin's Lavishly Illustrated but Brief History of Ancient Rome With a Bunch of Maps." As some reviewers have mentioned, it's really too small -- both in map quantity and size -- to earn the name of an atlas.
Despite that, and the errors mentioned above, there is a lot of info in this book that can be useful -- and some of it is hard to find in other places. The map of sailing times across the Mediterranean, for example, presents information I've only found in Lionel Casson's excellent books -- and presents it in a form much easier to use.
As others have mentioned, the pictures are nice, and the captions are informative. While it falls somewhat short of an atlas, I use it as a quick supplement to other references -- but now I'll be careful to verify what I find here.
What I'm really looking for is a book of large-scale maps of the city and environs of Rome itself from say, 400 BC to 400 AD -- now that would be useful!
Wayne Anderson (Amazon.com)
A quick and reasonable overview of Roman history. This short book provides the basic narrative, historical geography, and some highlighting of specific topics like art, funerary customs, and religions. A good introduction for high school students or early undergrads with little prior knowledge of classical history.
R. Albin (Amazon.com)
This short book is an excellent introduction to Roman history. It is divided into easy to digest chapters which deal with a single theme.
John Nugent (Amazon.com)
Good but should have been bigger.
The atlas is not that large. I bought four similar atlases all from Penguin and they are all thin books (< 150 pages) and small in size (10" x 7").
Atlases are supposed to be hugh.
However this (and the other 3 books) do contain loads of information.
The book skims over the Republican era. The first map at page 22 and by page 32 the Republic is over.
The book has only a few maps of the expansion of Rome within Italy (hardly a mention of the Samnites, or Sabines; and one small blip on the map for Sparticus)
It has a few maps of Asia Minor at this time. With Carthage and the Punic wars taking up most of these few pre-Empire maps.
Maybe 10 maps to cover 600 years.
We then have many maps to cover the next three hundred years.
Then the book ends abruptly. Shows Constantine's Empire and then quickly shows the Germanic kingdoms and the new Byzantine Empire. And it is over. No maps of Parthia or the neo Persian empires. No maps of the distribution of Germanic tribes outside of Roman areas.
I would have liked to have a bigger book with larger maps. Too many maps cover two pages, so the book binding obscures some information and making a scan of a map is very hard.
On the plus it has many other types of information (unfortunately sometimes repeated by the author in the start of a chapter and later in some specific article).
The types of info include the economy, currency (25 silver Denarius = 1 gold Aureus), the legions (names and numbers at different times), how mines work, the olive oil industry, and of course articles on emperors, politics and religion. A good dozen examples of city maps and a legion camp are shown.
On the whole a good reference and a good read on the history of Rome. But of course a real book with 1000+ pages is required to cover all aspects of the Roman empire. So this is a great companion atlas to that other book. I also got Penguin's Ancient & Medieval Histories (2xMcEvedy) and Ancient Civilizations (Haywood). Together all four give you the info to cover Rome very well.
Ralph Boerke (Amazon.com)
Not really an Atlas
I would like to second the comments of Jacques P. Talbot. I bought this book expecting an atlas, that is a book of maps. There are some maps in this book, but they are small and cluttered and I don't really find them useful. The book is mostly pictures and text. It reminds me of that Time-Life series, that is aimed at young people, although this book is not as good as any in that series. The publishers must have changed their mind about what they wanted to do with this book. They should not have put the word "Atlas" on this confused mess. It might be OK as an introduction for people about 14-16 years old, but if you want an atlas with useful maps in it, don't buy this.
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