This well-illustrated encyclopedia introduces middle and high school students to the panorama of the ancient and medieval worlds. With a more than 5,000-year, worldwide scope, the 97 chronologically arranged essays can essentially present only the highlights of human history, from the ancient Sumerians and Old Kingdom of Egypt to the Renaissance and golden age of exploration. The coverage includes Phoenicians, Assyrians, Persians and Israelites as well as Vikings, Mongols, Mayas and Incas. Coverage concludes with the European expansion and discoveries of indigenous American civilizations. With the exception of only Greece, Rome and medieval Europe, most periods and places receive coverage in only a handful of chapters. However, the primary purposes here are to outline the salient features of each culture and whet the student’s appetite for more information. At this, the set succeeds admirably well. The text is complemented by more than 1,000 color illustrations, 50 maps and nearly 300 sidebars that feature archaeological sites, daily life, military practices, religious beliefs, historic figures and the modern research that has made our understanding of the past possible. Each volume includes separate indexes, timelines, glossaries, biographical sketches and bibliographies specific to that period. These features are cumulated in the final volume where they add substantial reference value, along with nine thematic indexes on people, technology, trade, wars and other aspects of ancient and medieval life. For this edition the text has been revised to provide greater emphasis on non-western cultures. The arrangement also takes a more chronological approach than before, although most volumes have a regional focus. The number of illustrations in this edition has actually been reduced, but the excellent selection and well-reproduced images dramatically convey a sense of the material culture of each civilization. All told, the set provides an excellent starting point for students to begin the exploration of ancient and medieval history.