Ancient Iraq: Archaeology Unlocks the Secrets of Iraq's Past
Author: Beth Gruber; Consultant: Tony Wilkinson
Pages: 64
Publisher/Date: National Geographic/2007
ISBN: 0792253825
Age Levels: 8-12

Book Review

Note: National Geographic Investigates™ is a series which examines the latest information about ancient civilizations. Intended for grades three through six, the books bring the past alive for curious students.
Gruber begins with an overview of the three major periods of Iraqi history: Sumer (2112-2004 B.C.), Babylon (1792-1750 B.C.), and Assyria (858-824 B.C.). She then whisks readers back in time more than 100,000 years to Barda-Balka where some of the oldest human remains in the world were found. Slowly moving forward through the centuries, the author stops briefly in ancient cities such as Ur, Nippur, and Kish. Along the way she describes archaeological excavations and astonishing finds. One of the most interesting being the site of what may be the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Readers learn not only of ancient buildings and buried artifacts, but of long gone lifestyles, beliefs, laws, and more. Did you know, for example, that while in ancient Sumer it was a "great honor to serve a member of the royal family," that "honor came with a great price—servants were expected to die with their masters and mistresses." And so in the tomb of Queen Puabi we find both incredible riches and dozens of skeletons, among them "10 handmaidens to wait on her in the afterlife and five soldiers to guard her."

The last chapter in the book, "Protecting the Past," chronicles the looting of the National Museum in April, 2003, as well as the current attempts to rescue and safeguard the ancient treasures of Iraq’s history.

A glossary, bibliography, and index are included.

Reviewed by the teachers at Education Oasis
©2007 Education Oasis

About the Author

Beth Gruber has worked in children's publishing for more than 20 years as an author, editor, and reviewer of books for young readers. A graduate of the New York University School of Journalism, she is the author of National Geographic's Countries of the World: Mexico and National Geographic Investigates: Ancient Inca, among other titles.


The British Museum's Mesopotamia Web site offers information on the geography, myths, and more, of Sumer, Babylon, and Assyria.