The deal of the decade just got better, The Barrington Atlas app is on sale for $14.99 (#AIAAPA)

Barrington iconIn celebration of the joint meeting of the American Philological Association and the Archaeological Institute of America, we’ve lowered the price of The Barrington Atlas app to $14.99. It will only be on sale through January 8, so don’t wait. After January 8, the price will return to $19.99 (which is still a steal given the print book costs $395.00).

New History Catalog!

Be among the first to browse and download our new history catalog!

Of particular interest is The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century by Jürgen Osterhammel. This is the highly anticipated English edition of the spectacularly successful and critically acclaimed German book, which is also being translated into Chinese, Polish, Russian, and French. Indispensable for any historian, The Transformation of the World sheds important new light on this momentous epoch, showing how the nineteenth century paved the way for the global catastrophes of the twentieth century, yet how it also gave rise to pacifism, liberalism, the trade union, and a host of other crucial developments.

Also be sure to note The Golden Age Shtetl: A New History of Jewish Life in East Europe by Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern. The shtetl was home to two-thirds of East Europe’s Jews in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, yet it has long been one of the most neglected and misunderstood chapters of the Jewish experience. This book provides the first grassroots social, economic, and cultural history of the shtetl. Challenging popular misconceptions of the shtetl as an isolated, ramshackle Jewish village stricken by poverty and pogroms, Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern argues that, in its heyday from the 1790s to the 1840s, the shtetl was a thriving Jewish community as vibrant as any in Europe.

And don’t miss out on Child Migration and Human Rights in a Global Age by Jacqueline Bhabha. Spanning several continents and drawing on the actual stories of young migrants, the book shows how difficult it is for children to reunite with parents who left them behind to seek work abroad. It looks at the often-insurmountable obstacles we place in the paths of adolescents fleeing war, exploitation, or destitution; the contradictory elements in our approach to international adoption; and the limited support we give to young people brutalized as child soldiers. Part history, part in-depth legal and political analysis, this powerful book challenges the prevailing wisdom that widespread protection failures are caused by our lack of awareness of the problems these children face, arguing instead that our societies have a deep-seated ambivalence to migrant children—one we need to address head-on.

Even more foremost titles in history can be found in the catalog. You may also sign up with ease to be notified of forthcoming titles at http://press.princeton.edu/subscribe/. Your e-mail address will remain confidential!

If you’re heading to the American Historical Association’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., January 2nd-5th, come visit us at booth 706-708 and follow #AHA2014 and @PrincetonUnivPress on Twitter for updates and information on our new and forthcoming titles throughout the meeting. See you there!

Peter Brown Wins 2013 Philip Schaff Prize

Peter Brown – Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD
Winner of the 2013 Philip Schaff Prize, American Society of Church History

The Philip Schaff Prize is an award in the amount of $2,000 to the author of the best book published in the two previous calendar years, originating in the North American scholarly community, which presents original research on any period in the history of Christianity, or makes a significant synthesizing scholarly contribution.  According to Dr. Keith Francis, Executive Secretary of ASCH, “The members of the committee described Through the Eye of a Needle as a ‘tour de force,’ a ‘magisterial study,’ and a ‘work of astonishing erudition.’  High praise indeed!  I was even more impressed by the comment that you had written ‘a brilliant synthesis of other scholars’ work as well as the harvest of your own five-decade career.” The prize will be awarded at ASCH’s next business meeting in Washington DC on January 4, 2014. For more information, click here.

k9807Jesus taught his followers that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Yet by the fall of Rome, the church was becoming rich beyond measure. Through the Eye of a Needle is a sweeping intellectual and social history of the vexing problem of wealth in Christianity in the waning days of the Roman Empire, written by the world’s foremost scholar of late antiquity.

Peter Brown, the world’s foremost scholar of late antiquity, examines the rise of the church through the lens of money and the challenges it posed to an institution that espoused the virtue of poverty and called avarice the root of all evil. Drawing on the writings of major Christian thinkers such as Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome, Brown examines the controversies and changing attitudes toward money caused by the influx of new wealth into church coffers, and describes the spectacular acts of divestment by rich donors and their growing influence in an empire beset with crisis. He shows how the use of wealth for the care of the poor competed with older forms of philanthropy deeply rooted in the Roman world, and sheds light on the ordinary people who gave away their money in hopes of treasure in heaven.

Through the Eye of a Needle challenges the widely held notion that Christianity’s growing wealth sapped Rome of its ability to resist the barbarian invasions, and offers a fresh perspective on the social history of the church in late antiquity.

Peter Brown is the Philip and Beulah Rollins Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University. His many books include The World of Late Antiquity, The Rise of Western Christendom, and Augustine of Hippo.

 

Win a copy of Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World app (#BarringtonAtlasApp)

Scrambling for gift ideas for the archaeology buff who seems to have everything? Or eager to immerse yourself in the terrain and geography of the ancient world over the winter break? Enter our giveaway for a chance to win one of five free copies of the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World app for iPad2+!

The giveaway ends on December 23 at 10:00 AM. Winners will be notified by noon on December 23 and supplied with promo codes that are transferable (good for gift giving if you’re still shopping for Christmas or are shopping for a December birthday!).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Details:

Please note — this giveaway is for an app available on the iPad platform only. The app is not compatible with earlier versions of iPad and will work only on the iPad2 or higher. The prize will be supplied in the form of a promo code that can be used to download the app in the iTunes gift store, but this giveaway is not affiliated with iTunes or any of their related companies. If you prefer to email your entry in, please send an email to blog@press.princeton.edu with “Barrington App Giveaway” in the subject field. The promo codes expire on January 2 and must be redeemed before this date. No replacement promo codes will be supplied if winners miss the expiration date.

Rome wasn’t built in a day either…

[Update: the app is now available in the iTunes store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/barrington-atlas-greek-roman/id767575157]

Greatness is taking longer than expected, so we have to delay the availability date for The Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World for iPad by a few days. The new availability date is December 2, 2013.

We are striving to make sure the app is as perfect as possible before we make it available to the public. In the meantime, we hope you will enjoy this rather Apple-esque video highlighting even more features of the app.

Peter Brown Receives Honorable Mention for the 2013 Cundill Prize

Peter Brown – Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD
Honorable Mention for the 2013 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature, McGill University

“The Cundill Prize in Historical Literature at McGill is the world’s most important international nonfiction historical literature prize.”

Six books have moved on to the shortlist; the winner will be announced on November 20th in Toronto. Peter Brown’s book did not make the shortlist, but was recognized by the jury with an honorable mention (one of only two books so honored).

For more information about this award and event, click here.

Through the Eye of the Needle

 Through the Eye of a Needle is a sweeping intellectual and social history of the vexing problem of wealth in Christianity in the waning days of the Roman Empire, written by the world’s foremost scholar of late antiquity.

Peter Brown examines the rise of the church through the lens of money and the challenges it posed to an institution that espoused the virtue of poverty and called avarice the root of all evil. Drawing on the writings of major Christian thinkers such as Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome, Brown examines the controversies and changing attitudes toward money caused by the influx of new wealth into church coffers, and describes the spectacular acts of divestment by rich donors and their growing influence in an empire beset with crisis. He shows how the use of wealth for the care of the poor competed with older forms of philanthropy deeply rooted in the Roman world, and sheds light on the ordinary people who gave away their money in hopes of treasure in heaven.

Through the Eye of a Needle challenges the widely held notion that Christianity’s growing wealth sapped Rome of its ability to resist the barbarian invasions, and offers a fresh perspective on the social history of the church in late antiquity.

Peter Brown is the Philip and Beulah Rollins Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University. His many books include The World of Late Antiquity, The Rise of Western Christendom, and Augustine of Hippo.

Patrick E. McGovern’s study is the first to prove using chemical analysis that the Etruscans taught the French Celts in Lattara how to produce wine

Dr. Pat

A cartoon from Dr. Pat’s page on the University of Pennsylvania Museum’s website.

Patrick E. McGovern, author of Ancient Wine: The Search for the Origins of Viniculturespearheaded the research that further confirms Etruscans from Italy heavily influenced wine production in Lattara, an ancient harbor city in the south of France. There had been ancient documents and archaeological findings that already strongly suggested Etruscans presented wines to the Celt dwellers of France at trading stations in Lattara. McGovern and team’s findings only strengthen this notion.

Using biomolecular analysis, McGovern and researchers discovered that fifth century Etruscan pots used for transportation, known as amphorae, had traces of wine imbued with rosemary, basil, and thyme. McGovern’s research also establishes that the Celts living in Lattara began producing the wine at the close of the fifth century.

The team of researchers stumbled upon another fresh discovery: In the past, it was generally understood that limestone presses in Lattara were used to press olives. Using biomolecular anaylsis, just as they did with the amphorae, the group found that the presses were actually used for grapes.

To establish that the compressor was utilized to squash grapes, the researchers obtained consent to carve off a tiny portion of a limestone wine press. The sample was mailed to the University of Pennsylvania Museum, where procedures embracing mass spectrometry were employed to separate and classify chemical compounds present in the rock and earthenware.

The study was printed in the May 1 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read the original article on The Sacramento Bee’s website: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/06/12/5488741/archaeologists-affirm-frances.html#storylink=cpy

Interested in channeling the local fifth century Gallic people with a little home winemaking? Check out this informative how-to video made by YouTube user martiwf0:

Watch the video via YouTube: http://youtu.be/HjHwC75meuw

Ancient Wine
Patrick E. McGovern

Coming of Age in Second Life by Tom BoellstorffThe history of civilization is, in many ways, the history of wine. This book is the first comprehensive and up-to-date account of the earliest stages of vinicultural history and prehistory, which extends back into the Neolithic period and beyond. Elegantly written and richly illustrated, Ancient Wine opens up whole new chapters in the fascinating story of wine and the vine by drawing upon recent archaeological discoveries, molecular and DNA sleuthing, and the texts and art of long-forgotten peoples.

Patrick McGovern takes us on a personal odyssey back to the beginnings of this consequential beverage when early hominids probably enjoyed a wild grape wine. We follow the course of human ingenuity in domesticating the Eurasian vine and learning how to make and preserve wine some 7,000 years ago. Early winemakers must have marveled at the seemingly miraculous process of fermentation. From success to success, viniculture stretched out its tentacles and entwined itself with one culture after another (whether Egyptian, Iranian, Israelite, or Greek) and laid the foundation for civilization itself. As medicine, social lubricant, mind-altering substance, and highly valued commodity, wine became the focus of religious cults, pharmacopoeias, cuisines, economies, and society. As an evocative symbol of blood, it was used in temple ceremonies and occupies the heart of the Eucharist. Kings celebrated their victories with wine and made certain that they had plenty for the afterlife. (Among the colorful examples in the book is McGovern’s famous chemical reconstruction of the funerary feast–and mixed beverage–of “King Midas.”) Some peoples truly became “wine cultures.”

When we sip a glass of wine today, we recapitulate this dynamic history in which a single grape species was harnessed to yield an almost infinite range of tastes and bouquets. Ancient Wine is a book that wine lovers and archaeological sleuths alike will raise their glasses to.

 

The “Gate to Hell” Unearthed

Italian scientists have reportedly found the “Gate to Hell” among ancient ruins in southwestern Turkey. The discovery was recently announced at an archeology conference in Istanbul, Turkey, according to Discovery News. Commonly called “Pluto’s Gate,” or Plutonium in Latin, the cave was understood to be the portal to the underworld in Greek and Roman mythology, with its entrance filled with lethal vapors. According to the discovery team’s head, Francesco D’Andria, this extraordinary finding helps to confirm and clarify what we know from ancient literary and historic source material.

Plutonium is documented in the description of ancient Hierapolis within Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites (1976), which notes:

Adjoining the temple on the SE is the Plutoneion, which constituted the city’s chief claim to fame. It was described by Strabo (629-30) as an orifice in a ridge of the hillside, in front of which was a fenced enclosure filled with thick mist immediately fatal to any who entered except the eunuchs of Kybele. The Plutoneion was mentioned and described later by numerous ancient writers, in particular Dio Cassius (68.27), who observed that an auditorium had been erected around it, and Damascius ap. Photius (Bibl. 344f), who recorded a visit by a certain doctor Asclepiodotus about A.D. 500; he mentioned the hot stream inside the cavern and located it under the Temple of Apollo. There is, in fact, immediately below the sidewall of the temple in a shelf of the hillside, a roofed chamber 3 m square, at the back of which is a deep cleft in the rock filled with a fast-flowing stream of hot water heavily charged with a sharp-smelling gas. In front is a paved court, from which the gas emerges in several places through cracks in the floor. The mist mentioned by Strabo is not observable now. The gas was kept out of the temple itself by allowing it to escape through gaps left between the blocks of the sidewalls.

D’Andria and his team are currently creating a digital reconstruction of the ancient site. In the meantime, we thought it might be useful to brush up on our own ancient world knowledge. Here’s a quick reading list to get you going:

k235When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth
Elizabeth Wayland Barber & Paul T. Barber
Check out Chapter 1

Myth and History in Ancient Greece: The Symbolic Creation of a Colony
Claude Calame, Translated by Daniel W. Berman
Read Chapter 1

The Mythic Image
Joseph Campbell
One of Princeton University Press’s Notable Centenary Titles

k6773Apocalypse: Earthquakes, Archaeology, and the Wrath of God
Amos Nur, With Dawn Burgess
Here’s the Introduction

Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World
Edited by Richard J. A. Talbert
Winner of the 2000 Association of American Publishers Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Multivolume Reference Work in the Humanities
One of Princeton University Press’s Notable Centenary Titles

Beware the Ides of March!

Marcus Tullius Cicero, Rome’s greatest statesman and orator, was elected to the Roman Republic’s highest office at a time when his beloved country was threatened by power-hungry politicians, dire economic troubles, foreign turmoil, and political parties that refused to work together. What did he have to say of the death of Caesar on the Ides of March, 44 B.C.? Here’s an excerpt from Cicero’s How to Run a Country on Tyranny:

People submit themselves to the authority and power of another person for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they do it because of goodwill or gratitude for favor shown to them. Sometimes they do it because of the dignity of a person or because they hope to profit from the act. Some people subordinate themselves fearing that if they don’t, the other person will make them submit anyway. Sometimes people surrender their freedom because of gifts or promises. Finally, as has so often been the case in our own country, people submit to the power of another because of outright bribes.

The best way for a man to gain authority over others and maintain it is through genuine affection. The worst way, however, is through fear. Wise Ennius once said: “People hate the man they fear—and whomever they hate, they want to see dead.” Just recently we’ve learned, as if we didn’t know it already, that no amount of power can stand up to the hatred of the people. The death of Caesar, who ruled the state through armed force (and whose legacy still rules us) shows better than anything the terrible price paid by all tyrants. You will have a difficult time finding any despot who doesn’t end up like him. I say it again, using fear to maintain power simply doesn’t work. But the leader who keeps the goodwill of his people is secure.

Those rulers who wish to keep their subjects under control by force will have to use brutal methods, just as a master must when dealing with rebellious slaves. Whoever tries to govern a country through fear is quite mad. For no matter how much a tyrant might try to overturn the law and crush the spirit of freedom, sooner or later it will rise up again either through public outrage or the ballot box. Freedom suppressed and risen again bites with sharper teeth than if it had never been lost. Therefore remember what is true always and everywhere and what is the strongest support of prosperity and power, namely that kindness is stronger than fear. That is the best rule for governing a country and for leading one’s own life.

Eager to read more? Check out Philip Freeman’s Introduction to How to Run a Country. You might also want to have a look at How to Win an Election, Quintus Tullius Cicero’s no-nonsense advice on running a successful campaign for his brother Marcus. Here’s the Introduction.

Looking Back at 2012 “Through the Eye of a Needle”

As we come to the end of the holiday season and are almost to the New Year, we take the time to reflect on the magnum opus of the historian of late antiquity Peter Brown: Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD.

2012 has seen reviews of Brown’s important book in the New Republic, the New York Review of Books, and in the UK in BBC History Magazine, The Guardian, The Literary Review, and The Times Literary Supplement, to list just a few.

Why the interest in how Christianity and conceptions of wealth changed over a period of a two hundred years a few millenia ago? With ongoing discussions about how much each of us owes society (whether we’re talking holiday gifts or taxes and the so-called fiscal cliff), the issues around giving and our beliefs couldn’t be more timely–and it certainly can’t hurt that Brown is the top scholar to draw connections between the ancient past and today. As Glen W. Bowersock writes in the New Republic:

It is exciting to watch a historian who has already written so extensively on Late Antiquity absorb so much new scholarship, revise his old reviews, and re-imagine the world we thought we knew from him. . . . Through the Eye of a Needle is a tremendous achievement, even for a scholar who has already achieved so much. Its range is as vast as its originality, and readers will find everywhere the kinds of memorable aperçus and turns of phrase for which its author is deservedly famous. . . . There can be no doubt that we are in the presence of a historian and teacher of genius.

In his piece “A Masterpiece on the Rise of Christianity” in the New York Review of Books, Garry Wills (who also selected the title as his book of the year in the Chicago Tribune) says:

To compare it with earlier surveys of this period is to move from the X-ray to the cinema….Every page is full of information and argument, and savoring one’s way through the book is an education. It is a privilege to live in an age that could produce such a masterpiece of the historical literature.

Writing in his five-star online review at Christianity Today, Peter Leithart affectionately calls the book “deliriously complicated,” and goes on to write:

As usual, Brown leaves no stone unturned in his search for insight and evidence. … He paints a colorful social setting for early church debates about theology and ethics without becoming reductively sociological, and often overturns accepted mytho-history in the process. He quietly draws on contemporary theory but typically lets ancients speak for themselves because his aim is to introduce us to an exotic world. Through it all, he focuses on the masses of details by treating attitudes, beliefs, and practices about wealth as a ‘stethoscope’ to hear the heartbeat of late Roman and early Christian civilization. … Brown has captured the rough texture of real history. It is testimony to the success of Brown’s subtle, provocative, and beautifully written book.

Across the pond, Tom Holland champions Peter Brown and the book in History Today, BBC History Magazine, and Twitter. In History Today, Holland calls Brown the “greatest living historian of late antiquity.” He goes on in BBC History Magazine:

Through the Eye of a Needle is the crowning masterpiece of Peter Brown, the great historian who virtually invented late antiquity as a periodisation. The book’s theme might seem specialised: the evolution of attitudes towards wealth in the last century and a half of the Roman empire in the west, and the century that followed its collapse. In reality, like so many of Brown’s books, it gives us a world vivid with colour and alive with a symphony of voices. It is not only the most compassionate study of late antiquity in the west ever written, but also a profoundly subtle meditation on our own tempestuous relationship with money.

Meanwhile, Peter Thornemann of the Times Literary Supplement calls it “[O]utstanding. . . . Brown lays before us a vast panorama of the entire culture and society of the late Roman west.” And at The Guardian, Tim Whitmarsh writes,”His sparkling prose, laced with humour and humanity, brings his subjects to life with an uncommon sympathy and feeling for their situation.”

Through the Eye of the Needle has also been selected as a best book of the year at the Institute of Public Affairs blog, among others. Doubtless, the interest in the origins of how society balances faith and finances will continue well into 2013 and we would do well to heed the fascinating lessons of Brown’s much-lauded work.

To learn more about the author and his latest book:

bookjacket

Through the Eye of a Needle
Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD
By Peter Brown

Through the Eye of a Needle and Rethinking the Other in Antiquity are selected as Cambridge Heffer’s Classic Books of 2012

Through the Eye of a Needle:
Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD

Peter Brown

Peter Brown examines the rise of the church through the lens of money and the challenges it posed to an institution that espoused the virtue of poverty and called avarice the root of all evil. Drawing on the writings of major Christian thinkers such as Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome, Brown examines the controversies and changing attitudes toward money caused by the influx of new wealth into church coffers, and describes the spectacular acts of divestment by rich donors and their growing influence in an empire beset with crisis. He shows how the use of wealth for the care of the poor competed with older forms of philanthropy deeply rooted in the Roman world, and sheds light on the ordinary people who gave away their money in hopes of treasure in heaven.

“To compare it with earlier surveys of this period is to move from the X-ray to the cinema. . . . Every page is full of information and argument, and savoring one’s way through the book is an education. It is a privilege to live in an age that could produce such a masterpiece of the historical literature.”–Gary Wills, New York Review of Books

 

bookjacketRethinking the Other in Antiquity

Erich S. Gruen

Gruen shows how the ancients incorporated the traditions of foreign nations, and imagined blood ties and associations with distant cultures through myth, legend, and fictive histories. He looks at a host of creative tales, including those describing the founding of Thebes by the Phoenician Cadmus, Rome’s embrace of Trojan and Arcadian origins, and Abraham as ancestor to the Spartans. Gruen gives in-depth readings of major texts by Aeschylus, Herodotus, Xenophon, Plutarch, Julius Caesar, Tacitus, and others, in addition to portions of the Hebrew Bible, revealing how they offer richly nuanced portraits of the alien that go well beyond stereotypes and caricature.

Providing extraordinary insight into the ancient world, this controversial book explores how ancient attitudes toward the Other often expressed mutuality and connection, and not simply contrast and alienation.

“[T]he range of research, and the depth of thought, are extraordinary. Gruen has taken on a massively important subject, and he has brought a genuinely new perspective to the scholarly conversation.”–Emily Wilson, New Republic

This Week’s Book Giveaway

Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD
by Peter Brown

“Every page is full of information and argument, and savoring one’s way through the book is an education. It is a privilege to live in an age that could produce such a masterpiece of the historical literature.”
—Gary Wills, New York Review of Books

Jesus taught his followers that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Yet by the fall of Rome, the church was becoming rich beyond measure. Through the Eye of a Needle is a sweeping intellectual and social history of the vexing problem of wealth in Christianity in the waning days of the Roman Empire, written by the world’s foremost scholar of late antiquity.

Peter Brown examines the rise of the church through the lens of money and the challenges it posed to an institution that espoused the virtue of poverty and called avarice the root of all evil. Drawing on the writings of major Christian thinkers such as Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome, Brown examines the controversies and changing attitudes toward money caused by the influx of new wealth into church coffers, and describes the spectacular acts of divestment by rich donors and their growing influence in an empire beset with crisis. He shows how the use of wealth for the care of the poor competed with older forms of philanthropy deeply rooted in the Roman world, and sheds light on the ordinary people who gave away their money in hopes of treasure in heaven.

Through the Eye of a Needle challenges the widely held notion that Christianity’s growing wealth sapped Rome of its ability to resist the barbarian invasions, and offers a fresh perspective on the social history of the church in late antiquity.

The random draw for this book with be Friday 9/28 at 11 am EST. Be sure to like us on Facebook if you haven’t already to be entered to win!