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9781668015445

The Mesopotamian Riddle An Archaeologist, a Soldier, a Clergyman and the Race to Decipher the World's Oldest Writing

by
  • ISBN13:

    9781668015445

  • ISBN10:

    1668015447

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2025-03-18
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
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Summary

A rollicking adventure starring three free-spirited Victorians on a twenty-year quest to decipher cuneiform, the oldest writing in the worldfrom the New York Times bestselling author of The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu.

It was one of history’s great vanishing acts.

Around 3,400 BCE—as humans were gathering in complex urban settlements—a scribe in the mud-walled city-state of Uruk picked up a reed stylus to press tiny symbols into clay. For three millennia, wedge shape cuneiform script would record the military conquests, scientific discoveries, and epic literature of the great Mesopotamian kingdoms of Sumer, Assyria, and Babylon and of Persia’s mighty Achaemenid Empire, along with precious minutiae about everyday life in the cradle of civilization. And then…the meaning of the characters was lost.

London, 1857. In an era obsessed with human progress, mysterious palaces emerging from the desert sands had captured the Victorian public’s imagination. Yet Europe’s best philologists struggled to decipher the bizarre inscriptions excavators were digging up.

Enter a swashbuckling archaeologist, a suave British military officer turned diplomat, and a cloistered Irish rector, all vying for glory in a race to decipher this script that would enable them to peek farther back into human history than ever before.

From the ruins of Persepolis to lawless outposts of the crumbling Ottoman Empire, The Mesopotamian Riddle whisks you on a wild adventure through the golden age of archaeology in an epic quest to understand our past.

Author Biography

Joshua Hammer is the New York Times bestselling author of six books, including The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and The Mesopotamian Riddle. His writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, GQ, The AtlanticThe New YorkerNational Geographic, Smithsonian, and Outside. He lives in Berlin.

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