Okay, you've seen us recommend these up and down the bibliographies, but because they're divided by area, not era, it's hard to plug them in everywhere. This is the list, as we have it to date.
All are now from Facts on File, and are about $45-$50 new, though you can sometimes catch them at Barnes & Noble or Edward R. Hamilton for less when they have a temporary overstock in one or another. Based around superb maps for the different periods or subjects, with informative text articles and close-ups of many cities or locales. They are all recommended at the first or any other tier of research.
All are excellent, rating five stars and a bang. They provide your need for period maps and an introductory history with often some interesting details not covered elsewhere. Each has a list of bibliographic reference, an index, usually a glossary, and for some areas a gazetteer.
Cultural Atlas of Japan
Cultural Atlas of Russia
Cultural Atlas of Ancient Mesopotamia
Ardagh, John, with Colin Jones
Cultural Atlas of France
1991; 240 pgs, oversize
Like all the books in this series, this serves as both your introductory history text and just about all the atlas you will need.
Baines, John & Jaromir Malek
Cultural Atlas of the World: Ancient Egypt
1984; 240 pgs, oversize
Fulfills your daily research requirements for superb maps, city plans (with Egyptian rather than Greek names), excellent glossy photography of ruins, art, and artifacts, king lists, and a general coverage of history and life.
Blunden, Caroline, & Mark Elvin
Cultural Atlas of the World: China
1983; 237 pgs, oversize<
Encyclopedic, but not linear in time. Requires a couple of readings, but then everything falls into place, and you know a lot about China. Magnificent maps.
Cornell, Tim & John Matthews
The Cultural Atlas of the World: The Roman World
1986, 1990; 240 pgs, oversize
Excellent maps with the period names of places, which otherwise have to be dug up in maddening piecemeal. Mostly the many cities covered with several paragraphs and a couple of photos of ruins or artifacts. The articles on Roman culture at the different periods that introduce the sections are very good, and less completely military-political than they might be.
Graham-Campbell, James, ed.
The Cultural Atlas of the Viking World
Uses more contributors than most, but the usual excellent production from the Cultural Atlas series: maps, history, mores, culture, dress, technology. Maps especially useful for these wanderers!
Cultural Atlas of India
Covers the whole subcontinent, which includes the modern nations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
Cultural Atlas of the Greek World
1986; 240 pgs, oversize
An enthusiastic and well-informed tour of the Greek-speaking areas of the civilized West, from Magna Graecia in the west to Bactria in the east. Recommended by those who can't carry all their home Greek reference in one trip, as an excellent first book on history and culture, and a good companion throughout one's researches.
Cultural Atlas of Africa
1981, 240 pgs
Everything you need to know to get grounded in geography, tribal and linguistic distribution, old colonial spheres, ad infinitum.
Nile, Richard, and Christian Clark
Cultural Atlas of Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific *****!
Another boringly superlative job by this series. There's just nothing about which to be cleverly snide. If you're working in this area, get it -- it's an excellent introductory history, as well.
Vincent, Mary, and R. A. Stradling
Cultural Atlas of Spain & Portugal
Runs from prehistory to the present, covering all the cultural groups of the Iberian Peninsula. This was always a diversified area, and really only became "Spain" in the Renaissance after the Reconquista.