BBC History Magazine

Tom Holland on… the importance of the ancient world

“There has never been a more thrilling time to learn about the ancient world – nor a greater sense of urgency”

“Nabonidus, who in 556 BC seized the throne of Babylon in a coup, was obsessed by ancient history. As the lord of the Land Between Two Rivers, he was ideally placed to pursue his fascination. Mesopotamia was the birthplace of everything that distinguished civilisation from barbarism: writing, high-rise buildings, hierarchy.

Imperialism, too. Akkad, a region to the north of Babylon, was where a

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