Here are our top ten recommendations if you are looking for the best books to read in Ancient Civilizations. We have made sure our list is diverse to cater to the interests of different types of readers.
1. Magicians of the Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth’s Lost Civilization
Graham Hancock's multimillion best seller Fingerprints of the Gods remains an astonishing, deeply controversial, wide-ranging investigation of the mysteries of our past and the evidence for Earth's lost civilization. Twenty years on, Hancock returns with the sequel to his seminal work, filled with completely new scientific and archaeological evidence, which has only recently come to light.... Near the end of the last ice age, 12,800 years ago, a giant comet that had entered the solar system from deep space thousands of years earlier broke into multiple fragments. Some of these struck the Earth, causing a global cataclysm on a scale unseen since the extinction of the dinosaurs. At least eight of the fragments hit the North American ice cap while further fragments hit the Northern European ice cap. The impacts, from comet fragments a mile wide approaching at more than 60,000 miles an hour, generated huge amounts of heat that instantly liquidized millions of square kilometers of ice, destabilizing the Earth's crust and causing the global deluge that is remembered in myths all around the world. A second series of impacts, equally devastating, causing further cataclysmic flooding, occurred 11,600 years ago - the exact date that Plato gave for the destruction and submergence of Atlantis. The evidence revealed in this book shows beyond reasonable doubt that an advanced civilization that flourished during the Ice Age was destroyed in the global cataclysms between 12,800 and 11,600 years ago. But there were survivors - known to later cultures by names such as "the Sages", "the Magicians", "the Shining Ones", and "the Mystery Teachers of Heaven". They travelled the world in their great ships, doing all in their power to keep the spark of civilization burning. They settled at key locations - Gobekli Tepe in Turkey, Baalbek in the Lebanon, Giza in Egypt, ancient Sumer, Mexico, Peru, and across the Pacific, where a huge pyramid has recently been discovered in Indonesia. Everywhere they went these "Magicians of the Gods" brought with them the memory of a time when mankind had fallen out of harmony with the universe and paid a heavy price. A memory and a warning to the future...for the comet that wrought such destruction between 12,800 and 11,600 years ago may not be done with us yet. Astronomers believe that a 20-mile-wide "dark" fragment of the original giant comet remains hidden within its debris stream and threatens the Earth. An astronomical message encoded at Gobekli Tepe and in the Sphinx and the pyramids of Egypt warns that the "Great Return" will occur in our time....
- Author: Graham Hancock
- Genre: Arts & Photography, History & Criticism, History
Here are the thrills, grandeur, and unabashed fun of the Greek myths, stylishly retold by Stephen Fry. The legendary writer, actor, and comedian breathes life into ancient tales, from Pandora's box to Prometheus's fire, and transforms the adventures of Zeus and the Olympians into emotionally resonant and deeply funny stories, without losing any of their original wonder. Learned notes from the author offer rich cultural context. This volume is a doorway into a captivating world.
- Author: Stephen Fry
- Genre: History, Ancient Civilizations, Greece
3. The Immortality Key: The Secret History of the Religion with No Name
THE NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER As seen on The Joe Rogan Experience! This program includes a Foreword written and read by Graham Hancock. A groundbreaking dive into the role psychedelics have played in the origins of Western civilization, and the real-life quest for the Holy Grail that could shake the Church to its foundations. The most influential religious historian of the 20th century, Huston Smith, once referred to it as the "best-kept secret" in history. Did the Ancient Greeks use drugs to find God? And did the earliest Christians inherit the same, secret tradition? A profound knowledge of visionary plants, herbs and fungi passed from one generation to the next, ever since the Stone Age? There is zero archaeological evidence for the original Eucharist - the sacred wine said to guarantee life after death for those who drink the blood of Jesus. The Holy Grail and its miraculous contents have never been found. In the absence of any hard data, whatever happened at the Last Supper remains an article of faith for today’s 2.5 billion Christians. In an unprecedented search for real answers, The Immortality Key examines the archaic roots of the ritual that is performed every Sunday for nearly one third of the planet. Centuries in the making, religion and science converge to paint a radical picture of Christianity’s founding event. And to solve history’s greatest puzzle once and for all. Before the rise of Christianity, the Ancient Greeks found salvation in their own sacraments. Sacred beverages were routinely consumed as part of the so-called Ancient Mysteries – elaborate rites that led initiates to the brink of death. Athens’ best and brightest flocked to the spiritual capital of Eleusis, where a holy beer unleashed heavenly visions for two thousand years. Others drank the holy wine of Dionysus to become one with the god, achieving immortality. In the 1970s, renegade scholars claimed this beer and wine - the original sacraments of Western civilization - were spiked with mind-altering drugs. In recent years, vindication for the disgraced theory has been quietly mounting in the laboratory. The constantly advancing fields of archaeobotany and archaeochemistry have suggested the use of psychedelic drinks in antiquity. And with a single dose of psilocybin, the psycho-pharmacologists at Johns Hopkins and NYU are now turning self-proclaimed atheists into instant believers. If these sacraments survived for thousands of years in our remote prehistory, from the Stone Age to the Ancient Greeks, did they also survive into the age of Jesus? Was the original Eucharist of Christianity, in fact, a psychedelic Eucharist? Is this the real secret behind the Holy Grail? With an unquenchable thirst for evidence, Muraresku tours the ruins of Greece with its government archaeologists. He gains access to the hidden collections of the Louvre Museum to show the continuity between pagan and Christian wine. He unravels the Ancient Greek of the New Testament with the world’s most controversial priest. He spelunks into the catacombs under the streets of Rome to decipher the lost symbols of Christianity’s oldest monuments. He breaches the secret archives of the Vatican to unearth documents never before translated into English. And with leads from the archaeological chemists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania, he unveils the first hard data for the ritualistic use of psychedelic drugs in antiquity. The Immortality Key reconstructs a suppressed history of women consecrating the forbidden, drugged Eucharist that was later banned by the Church Fathers. Women who were later targeted as witches during the Inquisition, when Europe’s sacred pharmacology largely disappeared. If the scientists of today have resurrected this technology, then Christianity is dead. Unless it returns to its roots. A Macmillan Audio production from St. Martin's Press
- Author: Brian C. Muraresku
- Genre: History, World, Religious, Christianity
4. Don't Know Much About Mythology: Everything You Need to Know About the Greatest Stories in Human History but Never Learned (Don't Know Much About Series)
The latest installment in the New York Times bestselling Don't Know Much About® series -- a magical journey into the timeless world of mythology It has been fifteen years since Kenneth C. Davis first dazzled audiences with his instant classic Don't Know Much About® History , vividly bringing the past to life and proving that Americans don't hate history, they just hate the dull, textbook version they were fed in school. With humor, wit, and a knack for storytelling, Davis has been bringing readers of all ages up to speed on history, geography, and science ever since. Now, in the classic traditions of Edith Hamilton and Joseph Campbell, he turns his talents to the world of myth. Where do we come from? Why do stars shine and the seasons change? What is evil? Since the beginning of time, people have answered such questions by crafting imaginative stories that have served as religion, science, philosophy, and popular literature. In his irreverent and popular question-and-answer style, Davis introduces and explains the great myths of the world, as well as the works of literature that have made them famous. In a single volume, he tackles Mesopotamia's Gilgamesh, the first hero in world mythology; Achilles and the Trojan War; Stonehenge and the Druids; Thor, the Nordic god of thunder; Chinese oracle bones; the use of peyote in ancient Native American rites; and the dramatic life and times of the man who would be Buddha. Ever familiar and instructive, Davis shows why the ancient tales of gods and heroes -- from Mount Olympus to Machu Picchu, from ancient Rome to the icy land of the Norse -- continue to speak to us today, in our movies, art, language, and music. For mythology novices and buffs alike, and for anyone who loves a good story, Don't Know Much About® Mythology is a lively and insightful look into the greatest stories ever told.
- Author: Kenneth C. Davis
- Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; Reprint edition (December 10, 2009)
- Genre: Kindle Store, Kindle eBooks, History
5. Everything You Need to Ace World History in One Big Fat Notebook: The Complete Middle School Study Guide (Big Fat Notebooks)
It’s the revolutionary world history study guide just for middle school students from the brains behind Brain Quest . Everything You Need to Ace World History . . . kicks off with the Paleolithic Era and transports the reader to ancient civilizations—from Africa and beyond; the middle ages across the world; the Renaissance; the age of exploration and colonialism, revolutions, and the modern world and the wars and movements that shaped it. The BIG FAT NOTEBOOK™ series is built on a simple and irresistible conceit—borrowing the notes from the smartest kid in class. There are five books in all, and each is the only one book you need for each main subject taught in middle school: Math, Science, American History, English, and World History. Inside the reader will find every subject’s key concepts, easily digested and summarized: Critical ideas highlighted in marker colors. Definitions explained. Doodles that illuminate tricky concepts. Mnemonics for a memorable shortcut. And quizzes to recap it all. The BIG FAT NOTEBOOKS meet Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and state history standards, and are vetted by National and State Teacher of the Year Award–winning teachers. They make learning fun, and are the perfect next step for every kid who grew up on Brain Quest .
- Author: Workman Publishing
- Publisher: Workman Publishing Company; Illustrated edition (August 9, 2016)
- Genre: Children's Books, Education & Reference
- ISBN: 978-0761160946
- Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 7.9 inches
6. Heroes: The Greek Myths Reimagined
In the newest installment of the best-selling series Mythos, legendary author and actor Stephen Fry moves from the exploits of the Olympian gods to the deeds of mortal heroes. Perseus. Jason. Atalanta. Theseus. Heracles. Rediscover the thrills, grandeur, and unabashed fun of the Greek myths. Whether recounting a tender love affair or a heroic triumph, Fry deftly finds resonance with our own modern minds and hearts. Each adventure is infused with Fry's distinctive voice and writing style. Connoisseurs of the Greek myths will appreciate this fresh-yet-reverential interpretation, while newcomers will feel welcome. Retellings brim with humor and emotion. "Mostly Chiron saw in the child, and the young man he became, boundless courage, athleticism, intelligence, and ambition. He saw too lots of words beginning with 'self', which gave him pause. Self-belief, self-possession, self-righteousness, self-confidence, self-love. Perhaps these characteristics are as necessary to a hero as courage." In Heroes , Fry draws out the humor and pathos in both tender love affairs and heroic battles, and reveals each myth's relevance for our own time.
- Author: Stephen Fry
- Genre: History, Ancient Civilizations, Greece
7. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
New York Times Bestseller A Summer Reading Pick for President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.” One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us? Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas. Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become? Featuring 27 photographs, 6 maps, and 25 illustrations/diagrams, this provocative and insightful work is sure to spark debate and is essential reading for aficionados of Jared Diamond, James Gleick, Matt Ridley, Robert Wright, and Sharon Moalem.
- Author: Yuval Noah Harari
- Publisher: Harper; Reprint edition (February 10, 2015)
- Genre: Kindle Store, Kindle eBooks, History
8. Mythos: (Ancient Greek Mythology Book for Adults, Modern Telling of Classical Greek Myths Book) (Stephen Fry's Greek Myths, 1)
Mythos is a modern collection of Greek myths, stylishly retold by legendary writer, actor, and comedian Stephen Fry. Fry transforms the adventures of Zeus and the Olympians into emotionally resonant and deeply funny stories, without losing any of their original wonder. This stunning book features classical artwork inspired by the myths, as well as learned notes from the author. • Each adventure is infused with Fry's distinctive wit, voice, and writing style • Connoisseurs of the Greek myths will appreciate this fresh-yet-reverential interpretation, while newcomers will feel welcome • Retellings brim with humor and emotion and offer rich cultural context Celebrating the thrills, grandeur, and unabashed fun of the Greek myths, Mythos breathes life into ancient tales—from Pandora's box to Prometheus's fire. This gorgeous volume invites you to explore a captivating world with the brilliant storyteller Stephen Fry as your guide. • A collectible volume complete with a textured case, a foil-stamped jacket, and full-color art throughout • The perfect gift for Greek mythology and history buffs, lovers of ancient Greece, art aficionados, and devoted fans of Stephen Fry • Add it to the shelf with books like Circe by Madeline Miller, Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman, and Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton
- Author: Stephen Fry
- Publisher: Chronicle Books; Illustrated edition (August 27, 2019)
- Genre: History, Ancient Civilizations
- ISBN: 978-1452178912
- Dimensions: 7.75 x 1.45 x 9.6 inches
9. The Book of Enoch
The Bible, as we hold it today, is esteemed by many religious institutions and especially Conservative Christians to be the inspired, inerrant Word of God. This doctrinal position affirms that the Bible is unlike all other books or collections of works in that it is free of error due to having been given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). While no other text can claim this same unique authority, the Book of Enoch is an ancient Jewish religious work, ascribed by tradition to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah, which played a crucial role in forming the worldview of the authors of the New Testament, who were not only familiar with it but quoted it in the New Testament, Epistle of Jude, Jude 1:14 15, and is attributed there to "Enoch the Seventh from Adam" (1 En 60:8). The text was also utilized by the community that originally collected and studied the Dead Sea Scrolls. While some churches today include Enoch as part of the biblical canon (for example the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church), other Christian denominations and scholars accept it only as having historical or theological non-canonical interest and frequently use or assigned it as supplemental materials within academic settings to help students and scholars discover or better understand cultural and historical context of the early Christian Church. The Book of Enoch provides commentators valuable insight into what many ancient Jews and early Christians believed when, God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets (Heb. 1:1). As Dr. Michael S. Heiser in the Introduction to his important book Reversing Hermon so powerfully notes: For those to whom 1 Enoch sounds unfamiliar, this is the ancient apocalyptic literary work known popularly (but imprecisely) as the Book of Enoch. Most scholars believe that 1 Enoch was originally written in Aramaic perhaps as early as the 3rd century B.C. The oldest fragments of the book were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and dated to roughly the second century B.C. This places the book squarely in the middle of what scholars call the Second Temple Period (ca. 500 B.C. 70 A.D.), an era more commonly referred to as the Intertestamental Period. This book will use the more academic designation ( Second Temple Period ) ... The Watcher story of 1 Enoch, as many readers will recall, is an expansion of the episode described in Genesis 6:1-4, where the sons of God (Hebrew: beney ha- elohim) came in to the daughters of man (Gen 6:4; ESV). Consequently, Watchers is the Enochian term of choice (among others) for the divine sons of God. While the story of this supernatural rebellion occupies scant space in Genesis, it received considerable attention during the Second Temple Period ... The Enochian version of the events of Gen 6:1-4 preserves and transmits the original Mesopotamian context for the first four verses of the flood account. Every element of Gen 6:1-4 has a Mesopotamian counterpoint a theological target that provides the rationale for why these four verses wound up in the inspired text in the first place. Connections to that backstory can be found in the Old Testament, but they are scattered and unsystematically presented. This is not the case with Second Temple Jewish literature like 1 Enoch. Books like 1 Enoch preserve all of the Mesopotamian touchpoints with Gen 6:1-4 when presenting their expanded retelling of the events of that biblical passage. The Book of Enoch is therefore intended to be an important supplemental resource for assisting serious researchers and students in the study of the Bible.
- Author: Enoch
- Publisher: Defender Publishing (March 24, 2017)
- Genre: History, World
- ISBN: 978-0998142623
- Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 9.1 inches
10. America Before: The Key to Earth's Lost Civilization
This program is read by the author. Was an advanced civilization lost to history in the global cataclysm that ended the last Ice Age? Graham Hancock, the internationally best-selling author, has made it his life's work to find out - and in America Before , he draws on the latest archaeological and DNA evidence to bring his quest to a stunning conclusion. We’ve been taught that North and South America were empty of humans until around 13,000 years ago - among the last great landmasses on earth to have been settled by our ancestors. But new discoveries have radically reshaped this long-established picture, and we know now that the Americas were first peopled more than 130,000 years ago - many tens of thousands of years before human settlements became established elsewhere. Hancock's research takes us on a series of journeys and encounters with the scientists responsible for the recent extraordinary breakthroughs. In the process, from the Mississippi Valley to the Amazon rain forest, he reveals that ancient "New World" cultures share a legacy of advanced scientific knowledge and sophisticated spiritual beliefs with supposedly unconnected "Old World" cultures. Have archaeologists focused for too long only on the "Old World" in their search for the origins of civilization while failing to consider the revolutionary possibility that those origins might in fact be found in the "New World"? America Before: The Key to Earth's Lost Civilization is the culmination of everything that millions of people have loved in Hancock's body of work over the past decades, namely a mind-dilating exploration of the mysteries of the past, amazing archaeological discoveries, and profound implications for how we lead our lives today.
- Author: Graham Hancock
- Genre: Religion & Spirituality, Occult & Paranormal, Ancient & Controversial Knowledge