Dr Michael Scott, Associate Professor in the University of Warwick’s Classics and Ancient History department presents a richly coloured new vision of ancient history for our globalised world, showing us that to truly understand great events in our past we must explore their global contexts, connecting the West to the East and indeed to all corners of the earth.
Charting an odyssey which takes places over 900 years – from the Mediterranean to India and China – covering the birth of modern politics in Greece and Rome, the building of great empires by war and conquest, and the rise of the world’s great religions.
Scott highlights three great ‘moments’ in classical antiquity, essential to any world-historical account of Politics, War, and Religion, and expands our vision of their significance.
508 BC: Athenian democracy and Rome’s republic are born simultaneously, albeit with opposing ideas of how power should be allotted between aristocrats and commoners. But to the East, at the end of a century of prophetic figures (Zoroaster, the Buddha), Confucius teaches China a ‘middle way’ that will be integral to its coming rise as a world power.
218 BC: The genius general Hannibal, seeking to expand Carthage’s empire from North Africa, crosses the Alps and wins crushing victories over Roman armies. However, Rome regroups, retaliates, and continues its rise. But in this world of ceaseless war and domino-like rivalries Rome is not at the centre – rather, one in a chain of ambitious states, from the Seleucid Empire and Greco-Bactrian Kingdom to China, newly united under the Qin Dynasty.
312 AD: Constantine reunites the Roman Empire under the once-persecuted faith of Christianity, seeking to impose it wherever it is not made welcome. Meanwhile the simultaneous flowering of Hinduism in India and Buddhism in China propose different paths to their followers. But both Constantine and Indian emperor Ashoka, a pious convert to Buddhism, see that religion can reinforce a ruler’s authority, by connecting heaven to earth.
Dr Scott said of his new book:
“I sit in the department of Classics and Ancient History and I look at the Mediterranean, there are lots of departments in universities across the world that focus on very particular areas of the past. But that’s not how the past was lived and it’s not how we live the present in our 21st century globalised world.
“People are affected by people, other places and events that happen over a much wider geographical remit. So in my book, I try to offer a connected version of ancient global history, looking at what was happening all over the world, from the Mediterranean to China and how those places and people helped shape not just the ancient world but the modern world we inhabit today.”
Dr Michael Scott is an Associate Professor in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Warwick. He received his doctorate from Christ's College, Cambridge, and lectured at Darwin College, Cambridge, before taking up his role at Warwick.
Others say of of Ancient Worlds:
“As panoramic as it is learned, this is ancient history for our globalised world.” Tom Holland
“A bold and imaginative page-turner that challenges ideas about the world of antiquity.” Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads
“This vivid and engaging book brings to life some of the most important moments in ancient history, moments that have shaped not only the politics and culture of bygone eras, but the institutions, thoughts and fantasies of our time.” Yuval Harari, author of Sapiens
Ancient Worlds brings to life the diversity of journeys which share deep and before unknown connections, redrawing the map of classical antiquity and revealing its fascinating exchanges of ideas to a new generation.
Dr Scott has written a number of books and written and presented a range of TV programmes, including Delphi: Bellybutton of the Ancient World (BBC4, 2010); Guilty Pleasures : Luxury in Ancient Greece and Luxury in the Middle Ages (BBC4, 2011); Jesus: Rise to Power (National Geographic, 2012); The Mystery of the X Tombs (BBC2, 2013); Ancient Greece – The Greatest Show on Earth (BBC4 2013); Who were the Greeks? (BBC2, 2014); Roman Britain from the Air (ITV, 2014); and Rome’s Invisible City (BBC1, 2015). He also presented the BBC Radio 4 series Spin the Globe from 2013-2014.
Read more about Ancient Worlds here.
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