Exploring the Classical World: A Guide to Ancient History

Exploring the Classical World: A Guide to Ancient History


This chapter provides valuable insights and recommendations for readers interested in ancient Roman, Greek, and Christian history. It includes book recommendations, places to visit, and online sources. The texts mentioned cover a wide range of topics from Alexander the Great to the fall of Rome, and from Roman mosaics to late Christian buildings.

Table of Contents

  • Recommended books on Greek and Spartan history
  • Comprehensive accounts of early Roman history
  • Resources on the late Roman Empire
  • The classical foundations of modern historiography
  • Early Christian buildings and structures
  • Byzantine Empire and the fall of Rome
  • A timeline of events from 1900 BC to AD 363


Q: What are some good books on Greek and Spartan history?

A: We recommend Paul Cartledge’s The Spartans and Elizabeth Rawson’s The Spartan Tradition in European Thought. For insights into Sparta and its legacy, these books provide excellent information. If you’re looking for more general knowledge on Greek history, Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War is a rewarding read with Richard Crawley’s out-of-print version and Martin Hammond’s 2009 version being the best English translations available.

Q: Are there any comprehensive accounts of early Roman history?

A: Indeed, there are. T.J. Cornell’s The Beginnings of Rome and Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. 8 are two books that provide thorough accounts of early Roman history. Additionally, The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Republic is a good introduction to the period.

Q: What resources are available for the late Roman Empire?

A: Books by Peter Brown and Averil Cameron offer in-depth information on the late Roman Empire. Furthermore, Religions of Rome by Mary Beard, John North, and Simon Price may help as well. For those looking for more visual aids, the Cambridge Ancient History volumes 10 to 13 are useful. Online resources like the Codex Sinaiticus and Freud’s Collection of Antiquities at the Freud House in London also provide ancient texts and artifacts from the era.

Q: Are there any resources available on Byzantine Empire and the fall of Rome?

A: Several books explore these topics. For the establishment of Orthodox Byzantium, The Making of Orthodox Byzantium, 600-1025 by Mark Whittow provides significant insight. For the west, The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity by Peter Brown covers the topic. The Inheritance of Rome: A History of Europe from 400 to 1000 by Chris Wickham encompasses the turbulence and achievements of the period. Lastly, The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization by Bryan Ward-Perkins argues for major disruption to the era, while Julia Smith’s Europe after Rome: A New Cultural History 500-1000 stresses the dynamism of the Early Middle Ages.

Q: Can you recommend any books on Christian structures and buildings?

A: Of course! Roger Collins’ Spain, Oxford Archaeological Guides is an excellent resource for early Christian buildings in cities such as Tarragona, Mérida, and Ampurias in Spain, as well as the grand rural villa at Carranque. Michael Fulford’s Lullingstone Roman Villa, Kent and the English Heritage website are recommended for information on visiting the Lullingstone villa. For information on Constantinople/Istanbul and the remains of the Serpent Column, we recommend Strolling Through Istanbul: A Guide to the City by Hilary Sumner-Boyd and John Freely. Oleg Grabar’s The Dome of the Rock covers the structure of the same name, while Glen W. Bowersock’s Mosaics as History: The Near East from Late Antiquity to Islam explores late mosaics in the Levant.


This chapter provides an excellent starting point for anyone interested in delving into ancient history. From Greek and Roman history to early Christian and Byzantine architecture, there is something for everyone. The recommended books cover a wide range of topics and are an excellent resource for scholars, students, and casual readers alike. Additionally, the list of places to visit and online resources offers further opportunities to explore the classical world.

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