Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Free Books on Archaeology & Ancient History Available in Kindle Form

Let me start by saying that you do not need an Amazon Kindle to read Kindle books. Amazon offers free reading apps for iPads, iPhones, PCs, Macs, Androids, BlackBerries and Windows Phones, so you can read Kindle books on any of those devices. Personally I recently entered the world of Kindle by purchasing a Kindle Wi-Fi, and I would recommend the device to anyone who enjoys reading. (There is also a 3G version and a version with a 9.7" display.) But you don't need to spend $139 or more to get the books referenced below. They are available absolutely free through the use of one of the free reading apps.

One of the things that attracted me to the Kindle was all of the free books that are available in Kindle form. Amazon advertises: "Over 1.8 million free, out-of-copyright, pre-1923 books are available." Many of these books are "Popular Classics" such as The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Pride and Prejudice, and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. However, some of the free books are out of copyright works related to archaeology and ancient history that I think would be of interest to readers of this blog. Here are the works that I have found so far that fit this category:
  • Flavius Josephus, Against Apion, translated by William Whiston, (c) not listed.
Let me also point out that this is not an exhaustive list. In addition to the fact that there are probably other books available on Amazon's website that I missed, works from the Internet Archive, Open Library, Project Gutenberg, and ManyBooks.net can be delivered to your Kindle or Kindle App as well. More information on how to do that can be found here. Also, I did not include books that are available for very little money through the Kindle Store. Perhaps we'll explore those titles at a later date.

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that these books are free, and to some degree "you get what you pay for." So don't expect too much. For example, in many (if not all) cases, the illustrations that were included in the original book are not included in the free Kindle book. At the same time, if I had to choose between having a free Kindle version of a book and not having the book at all, I would choose the Kindle book. After all, if I find that the work is particularly valuable, I can always track down a physical copy of the book to use in serious research or a writing project. In that sense, these free books serve as a great introduction to some of the classic works on Middle Eastern archaeology and ancient history.

Also (although it is not exactly free) I should mention that there is a subscription available to the BiblePlaces Blog through the Kindle store for 99 cents a month. Unlike an RSS feed which only sends a stub about new posts, this subscription service delivers new posts in their entirety. The first 14 days of service are free, if you would like to try it out.

Anyone else know of any free books that would be of interest?



  • Thanks for the list, Seth. For those who don't like Amazon for one reason or another, here are links to the same books at Project Gutenberg. It has several different versions inclucding Kindle, epub, and html.

    Jacob Abbott, History of Julius Caesar, (c) 1904. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/11688

    E. A. Wallis Budge, Legends of the Gods: The Egyptian Texts, Edited with Translations, (c) 1912. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/9411

    E. A. Wallis Budge, The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, (c) 1914. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/15932

    E. A. Wallis Budge, The Babylonian Legends of the Creation and the Fight Between Bel and Dragon, Told by Assyrian Tablets from Nineveh, (c) 1921(?). http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/9914

    E. A. Wallis Budge, The Book of the Dead, (c) 1920(?). http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/7145

    Herodotus, An Account of Egypt, translated by G. C. Macaulay, (c) not listed. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2131

    Flavius Josephus, Against Apion, translated by William Whiston, (c) not listed. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2849

    Flavius Josephus, The Life of Flavius Josephus, translated by William Whiston, (c) not listed. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2846

    Flavius Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, translated by William Whiston, (c) not listed. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2848

    L. W. King, Legends of Babylon and Egypt in Relation to Hebrew Tradition, The Schweich Lectures of 1916, (c) 1920. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2030

    G. Maspero, Manual of Egyptian Archaeology and Guide to the Study of Antiquities in Egypt, revised and enlarged edition, translated by Amelia B. Edwards, (c) 1895. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/14400

    Isaac Myer, Scarabs: The History, Manufacture and Religious Symbolism of the Scarabaeus, in Ancient Egypt, Phoenicia, Sardinia, Etruria, etc., (c) 1894. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/25757

    Robert Franklin Pennell, Ancient Rome: From the Earliest Times Down to 476 A.D., revised edition, (c) 1890(?). http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/6989

    W. M. Flinders Petrie, ed., Egyptian Tales, Translated from the Papyri: First Series, IVth to XIIth Dynasty, 2nd edition, (c) 1899. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/7386

    W. M. Flinders Petrie, ed., Egyptian Tales, Translated from the Papyri: Second Series, XVIIIth to XIXth Dynasty, 2nd edition, (c) 1913. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/7413

    W. M. Flinders Petrie, The Religion of Ancient Egypt, (c) 1906. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/29010

    Various authors, How to Observe in Archaeology: Suggestions for Travellers in the Near and Middle East, (c) 1920. The authors include J. G. C. Anderson, T. P. Droop, H. R. Hall, G. F. Hill, D. G. Hogarth, F. G. Kenyon, R. A. S. Macalister, J. L. Myres, and W. M. Flinders Petrie. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/13575

    By Blogger Sean, at Tue Mar 01, 08:15:00 AM  

  • Dittoing (if that's a word) what Sean said in a different venue, http://books.google.com has many of these books also, with the different apps. I usually use the pdfs.

    By Blogger Who cares?, at Tue Mar 01, 08:58:00 AM  

  • This week I downloaded Macalister's 1912 3-volume "The Excavation of Gezer" from www.archive.org in convenient PDF format. I can't imagine why anyone would want a Kindle (especially since it's such a dumb name for an electronic book-reading device).

    By Blogger G.M. Grena, at Tue Mar 01, 10:37:00 PM  

  • Amazon also has lots of classic, public domain books (as e-books) available for free. Just type "War and Peace" in the Kindle Store, click on it, and you'll find many other ebooks listed below. Good stuff. For free!

    By Blogger Wayne Stiles, at Fri Mar 04, 03:00:00 PM  

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