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Whilst it is not essential to do any background reading before the course begins, you may find it useful to do so. The reading list below contains books that you can read. You don’t have to read all of these and we don’t specify any that you must read. Instead, these are readings you can use to gain a preliminary understanding of topics, as well as to study in more depth those parts of the course you are particularly interested in. You may also want to take a look at magazines such as British Archaeology, World Archaeology and Current Archaeology.

Further suggestions about ways you can extend your understanding of topics through books, television etc may also be posted as appropriate on this blog.


Barker, G. 2009. The Agricultural Revolution in Prehistory: Why did Foragers become Farmers? Oxford University Press.

Diamond, J. 1999. Guns, Germs and Steel. Vintage Press.

George, A (trans.). 2000. The Epic of Gilgamesh. Penguin Classics.

Gnanadesikan, A.E. 2008. The Writing Revolution: Cuneiform to the Internet. Wiley-Blackwell.

Gosden, C. 2003. Prehistory: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press.

Hodder, I. 2011. Religion in the Emergence of Civilization: Çatalhöyük as a Case Study. Cambridge University Press.

Hodder, I. (Ed.) 2014. Religion at Work in a Neolithic Society: Vital Matters. Cambridge University Press.

Kriwaczek, P. 2012. Babylon: Mesopotamia and the Birth of Civilization. Atlantic Books.

Leick, G. 2002. Mesopotamia: The Invention of the City. Penguin.

Miles, R. 2010. Ancient Worlds: The Search for the Origins of Western Civilization. Penguin.

Scarre, C. (ed.). 2018. The Human Past. 4th edition. Thames and Hudson Ltd.