Espionage in the Ancient World

An Annotated Bibliography of Books and Articles in Western Languages


In stock

About the Book

Intelligence activities have always been an integral part of statecraft. Ancient governments, like modern ones, realized that to keep their borders safe, control their populations, and keep abreast of political developments abroad, they needed a means to collect the intelligence which enabled them to make informed decisions. Today we are well aware of the damage spies can do. Here, for the first time, is a comprehensive guide to the literature of ancient intelligence. The entries present books and periodical articles in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish, and Dutch—with annotations in English. These works address such subjects as intelligence collection and analysis (political and military), counterintelligence, espionage, cryptology (Greek and Latin), tradecraft, covert action, and similar topics (it does not include general battle studies and general discussions of foreign policy). Sections are devoted to general espionage, intelligence related to road building, communication, and tradecraft, intelligence in Greece, during the reign of Alexander the Great and in the Hellenistic Age, in the Roman republic, the Roman empire, the Byzantine empire, the Muslim world, and in Russia, China, India, and Africa. The books can be located in libraries in the United States; in cases where volumes are in one library only, the author indicates where they may be found.

About the Author(s)

R.M. Sheldon is a professor of history and department head at the Virginia Military Institute. She currently serves on the editorial board of The Journal of Military History, Small Wars and Insurgencies and the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence. She is the author of numerous books and articles on intelligence gathering in the ancient world and lives in Buena Vista, Virginia.

Bibliographic Details

R.M. Sheldon
Foreword by Thomas-Durrell Young
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 244
Bibliographic Info: glossary, index
Copyright Date: 2008 [2003]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3768-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1099-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     vii
Foreword     1
Preface     3
Introduction     7
Glossary     11

General     15
Road Building, Communications, Tradecraft     18

Mesopotamia and Palestine     29
Egypt     36
Assyria and Babylonia     46
Persia     49

General     54
The Skytale     72
Tachygraphy     76
The Spartan Krypteia     79
Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Age     81

General     85
Tironian Notes     90

General     96
Signalling     141

General     149
Greek Fire     159

General     161
Dubthach Cipher & the Bamberg Cryptogram     170
Oghams     171
Bacon Cipher     173
Runes     173
The Voynich Manuscript     175

General     177
Yezidis     183

Russia     184
China and Southeast Asia     185
India     187
Africa     189
An Unsolved Cryptogram: The Sator Rebus     189

Index     219

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “splendid…accessible format with excellent indexes…provides a wealth of information…recommended”—Booklist
  • “well researched, organized and indexed…an excellent work…highly recommended”—Choice
  • “delightful and impressive work…highly informative…a reader could learn much from merely reading the introductions, annotations, and reviews”—Reference & User Services Quarterly
  • “a very valuable handbook for students of warfare in ancient, medieval, and nonwestern cultures, as well as for those interested in the history of intelligence”—
  • “a very valuable handbook”—The NYMAS Review
  • “an essential reference work”—CIA Website
  • “an immensely useful compilation…authority on the subject…the organization of the collection is solid and intelligent”—Military History
  • “comprehensive…worthwhile”—Cryptologia
  • “the first comprehensive guide to the literature of ancient intelligence…worthwhile”—The Cryptogram