Book review: Cities of the Classical World: an atlas and gazetteer of 120 centres of ancient civilisation

1 min read

Colin McEcedy
Allen Lane, £25.00

Alexandria. Athens. Babylon. Carthage. Constantinople. Jerusalem. Colin McEvedy’s contents page reads like a roll-call of some of the greatest centres of civilisation in the ancient world. This stunning compendium – a lifetime labour of love for McEvedy, who died in 2005 – catalogues 120 Classical cities across Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. Each entry includes a concise description of the site’s history, topography, and population, accompanied by a meticulously researched scale map. These specially drawn plans are a delight to pore over, showing the location of known temples and baths, theatres and libraries, palaces and monuments. The city walls, cemeteries, and military features are all carefully labelled, bringing the lost metropolises vividly back to life. Such insightsare particularly useful for the more obscure sites.

Many popular holiday destinations are covered, from Paris and Rome to Pompeii and Petra. Accessibly written, surprisingly light, and compact enough to fit into a backpack, this volume makes an entertaining travel companion – intrepid tourists will enjoy comparing McEvedy’s street plans to what they can see today. A treasure-trove of information, it is a lovely book to dip into. If you know a Classicist with an upcoming birthday, buy them this.

This article is an extract from the full article published in World Archaeology Issue 51. Click here to subscribe

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