Empires of the Plain: Henry Rawlinson and the Lost Languages of Babylon

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9780007129003: Empires of the Plain: Henry Rawlinson and the Lost Languages of Babylon

How 19th-century soldier, adventurer and scholar Henry Rawlinson deciphered cuneiform, the world's earliest writing, and rediscovered Iraq's ancient civilisations. This is the exciting, true adventure story of Henry Rawlinson, a fearless soldier, sportsman and explorer. From 1827 he spent twenty-five years in India, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. A brilliant linguist, fascinated by history, he became obsessed with cuneiform, the world's earliest writing. An immense inscription on a sheer rock face at Bisitun in Iran was the key to understanding the many cuneiform scripts and languages, and only Rawlinson had the skills to achieve the perilous ascent and copy the monument. In her gripping account, Lesley Adkins relates how Rawlinson triumphed in deciphering the lost languages of Persia and Babylonia, overcoming his bitter rival, Edward Hincks. While Rawlinson was based at Baghdad, incredible palaces with whole libraries of cuneiform clay tablets were unearthed in the ancient mounds of Mesopotamia, from Nineveh to Babylon - the great flood plain of the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers that had been fought over by so many powerful empires. His decipherment of the inscriptions resurrected these lost civilisations, revealing fascinating details of everyday life and forgotten historical events. By proving to the astonished Victorian public that people and places in the Old Testament really existed, Rawlinson assured his own place in history.

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About the Author:

Lesley Adkins, an archaeologist and Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, is the author of several reference books on archaelogy and ancient history, as well as The Keys of Egypt: The Race to Read the Hieroglyphs, the account of the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphs by Jean-Francois Champollion, which was published to great acclaim in 2000. She lives in Devon, and is married to Roy Adkins, also an archaeologist and writer.

From Publishers Weekly:

What François Champollion was to Egyptian hieroglyphics, Henry Rawlinson was to Babylonian cuneiform. In 1833 Rawlinson was a brash, courageous and talented young British military officer and amateur philologist posted in Persia. He eagerly—and at great personal risk—devoted himself to the first comprehensive study of the famed cuneiform inscriptions at Bisitun, which covered a remote cliff face as large as a football field, having been commissioned circa 515 B.C. by Darius I of Persia as a personal monument. Over the course of 30 years, punctuated by a breathless succession of military campaigns, political intrigue and instability during which he earned honor and fame, Rawlinson pursued with dogged serenity the deciphering of the cuneiform pictographs. He benefited from the similarly dedicated efforts of a small fraternity of like-minded scholars(though competitive rivalries would embitter the fraternity). Adkins, a British author of several books on archeology and antiquity, admits this biography is limited. Rawlinson the man never comes to life. What must have been a fascinating and even passionate pursuit is only dimly illuminated. Dedicated philologists may rejoice, but for readers seeking a more human story, the man who solved the enigma of cuneiform remains undeciphered. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW, 3 maps.
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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, United Kingdom, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 194 x 128 mm. Language: N/A. Brand New Book. How 19th-century soldier, adventurer and scholar Henry Rawlinson deciphered cuneiform, the world s earliest writing, and rediscovered Iraq s ancient civilisations. This is the exciting, true adventure story of Henry Rawlinson, a fearless soldier, sportsman and explorer. From 1827 he spent twenty-five years in India, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. A brilliant linguist, fascinated by history, he became obsessed with cuneiform, the world s earliest writing. An immense inscription on a sheer rock face at Bisitun in Iran was the key to understanding the many cuneiform scripts and languages, and only Rawlinson had the skills to achieve the perilous ascent and copy the monument. In her gripping account, Lesley Adkins relates how Rawlinson triumphed in deciphering the lost languages of Persia and Babylonia, overcoming his bitter rival, Edward Hincks. While Rawlinson was based at Baghdad, incredible palaces with whole libraries of cuneiform clay tablets were unearthed in the ancient mounds of Mesopotamia, from Nineveh to Babylon - the great flood plain of the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers that had been fought over by so many powerful empires. His decipherment of the inscriptions resurrected these lost civilisations, revealing fascinating details of everyday life and forgotten historical events. By proving to the astonished Victorian public that people and places in the Old Testament really existed, Rawlinson assured his own place in history. Bookseller Inventory # AAW9780007129003

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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, United Kingdom, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 194 x 128 mm. Language: N/A. Brand New Book. How 19th-century soldier, adventurer and scholar Henry Rawlinson deciphered cuneiform, the world s earliest writing, and rediscovered Iraq s ancient civilisations. This is the exciting, true adventure story of Henry Rawlinson, a fearless soldier, sportsman and explorer. From 1827 he spent twenty-five years in India, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. A brilliant linguist, fascinated by history, he became obsessed with cuneiform, the world s earliest writing. An immense inscription on a sheer rock face at Bisitun in Iran was the key to understanding the many cuneiform scripts and languages, and only Rawlinson had the skills to achieve the perilous ascent and copy the monument. In her gripping account, Lesley Adkins relates how Rawlinson triumphed in deciphering the lost languages of Persia and Babylonia, overcoming his bitter rival, Edward Hincks. While Rawlinson was based at Baghdad, incredible palaces with whole libraries of cuneiform clay tablets were unearthed in the ancient mounds of Mesopotamia, from Nineveh to Babylon - the great flood plain of the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers that had been fought over by so many powerful empires. His decipherment of the inscriptions resurrected these lost civilisations, revealing fascinating details of everyday life and forgotten historical events. By proving to the astonished Victorian public that people and places in the Old Testament really existed, Rawlinson assured his own place in history. Bookseller Inventory # AAW9780007129003

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