Read Empires of the Plain: Henry Rawlinson and the Lost Languages of Babylon by Lesley Adkins Online

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From 1827 Henry Rawlinson, fearless soldier, sportsman and imperial adventurer of the first rank, spent twenty-five years in India, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan in the service of the East India Company. During this time he survived the dangers of disease and warfare, including the disastrous First Anglo-Afghan War. A gifted linguist, fascinated by history and exploration, heFrom 1827 Henry Rawlinson, fearless soldier, sportsman and imperial adventurer of the first rank, spent twenty-five years in India, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan in the service of the East India Company. During this time he survived the dangers of disease and warfare, including the disastrous First Anglo-Afghan War. A gifted linguist, fascinated by history and exploration, he became obsessed with cuneiform, the world's earliest writing. An immense inscription high on a sheer rock face at Bisitun in the mountains of western Iran, carved on the orders of King Darius the Great of Persia over 2,000 years ago, was the key to understanding the many cuneiform scripts and languages. Only Rawlinson had the physical and intellectual skills, courage, self-motivation and opportunity to make the perilous ascent and copy the monument. Here, Lesley Adkins relates the story of Rawlinson's life and how he triumphed in deciphering the lost languages of Persia and Babylonia, overcoming his brilliant but bitter rival, Edward Hincks. While based in Baghdad, Rawlinson became involved in the very first excavations of the ancient mounds of Mesopotamia, from Nineveh to Babylon, an area that had been fought over by so many powerful empires. His decipherment of the inscriptions resurrected unsuspected civilizations, revealing intriguing 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 (and, furthermore, that documents and chronicles had survived from well before the writing of the Bible), Rawlinson became a celebrity and assured his own place in history....

Title : Empires of the Plain: Henry Rawlinson and the Lost Languages of Babylon
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ISBN : 9780312330026
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 424 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

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

  • Claire
    2019-06-30 21:38

    This is a fascinating and engrossing read. I've read a lot about ancient Mesopotamia but before reading this book I knew little of the incredible story behind the translation of cuneiform writing. It's amazing to think that only two hundred years ago almost nothing was known about the civilisations of Mesopotamia other than what was written in the Old Testament. While at times I yearned for more detail about the actual process of translation, I think it's better for the general reader that Adkins focuses on the story of Rawlinson's life and of cuneiform translation rather than on the particulars of the translation process. The story centres not just around Rawlinson's own career as an officer of the East India Company army and a self-taught translator of cuneiform, but also on the contemporaneous first-time excavations of Mesopotamian cities such as Nimrud, Ninevah, Khorsabad and Borsippa. Adkins vividly portrays the many and varied personalities in the book, including Henry Rawlinson, the archaeologist Austen Henry Layard, and Rawlinson's bitter and jaded (but inspired) rival Edward Hincks. The author's liberal use of letters and diary entries also provides a sense of immediacy to the events and personalities under discussion. This book is a must read for anyone interested in ancient Mesopotamia or archaeology in general, in the translation of ancient texts and languages, or in British involvement in India, Persia and Afghanistan in the 19th century.

  • Avery
    2019-07-17 23:55

    An irritating read that I had to push through to the end. The subject is fascinating and could make for top-quality reading: Henry Rawlinson's discovery of cuneiform and ancient Babylon, true Indiana Jones type stuff. The problem is that the author doesn't really know what kind of information to supply about the discovery. Exactly the wrong kinds of background information are supplied: lengthy play-by-play summaries of diaries and letter exchanges, and irritatingly spotty passages about other research into cuneiform going on in Europe at the time. The suspense and excitement of discoveries and competitions is thereby muted.As Stephen Jay Gould has written, science is often a matter of slow consensus-building rather than eureka moments, and the author seems to be making the case that cuneiform worked this way. But surely there were moments of realization when Rawlinson and others first recognized that the Babylonian king chronologies overlapped with the Bible, or that some tablets were over 3000 years old. These moments are only hinted at in the narrative. Worth reading if you really want to know about the subject. Will hesitatingly keep my purchase, but it's better to skim this book at the library.

  • Maureen
    2019-07-12 21:52

    I found this a difficult read. The material was very interesting and Rawlinson a very interesting character: the intrepid, multi-talented British explorer, soldier and statesman of the type that kept the British Empire going for a long time. Readers interested in the politics of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Russia and the surrounding areas will find the history of interest. But I thought that there was a narrative level missing, some way of more easily navigating all of the detail. Great credit to the author, though, for assembling the information and painting the picture of Rawlinson.

  • Jacek
    2019-07-02 02:35

    Amazing book, it contains a lot of significant information concerning the background of assyriology.

  • Shanthanu
    2019-06-26 23:34

    This book is subtitled ``Henry Rawlinson and the Lost Languages of Babylon'', but there is a lot more Rawlinson and far too less on cuneiform or the ancient languages in question. Having read an account of Champollion's decipherment of Egyptian Hieroglyphs by the same author, I had expected something in the same vein which would describe the process of decipherment and its results in more detail. As far as a biography of Rawlinson, I felt as another reviewer mentioned there wasn't much of a narrative quality to the book, and read more like a series of disjointed episodes about this heroic Englishman's adventures in the benighted east where he subdues and overcomes the ignorant natives. Also the dozen mentions of Rawlinson's solo free-climb of the Bisitun rock face every time someone else claimed it was unapproachable get a bit old.All in all, there's some interesting historical information but a bit too uncritical and hagiographical for my tastes.

  • Liz
    2019-07-13 02:42

    Well-written, really interesting book on the discoveries that we now take for granted, of the ancient Mesopotamian civilizations, their importance & relevance to us today, and of the discoverers thereof, mainly Henry Rawlinson of the East India Company.

  • Jessica
    2019-07-09 23:31

    Gets off to a sluggish start, but picks up steam in the second half with the introduction of Rawlinson's rival Hincks.

  • Sue
    2019-07-04 02:28

    The story of Henry Rawlinson, who combined scholarship with adventure and exploration, to make a significant contribution to the understanding of early languages.

  • John
    2019-07-01 01:39

    Wish I could have been in or seen those times in history, the awe of those sites.

  • Lili Kyurkchiyska
    2019-06-21 22:53

    Горещо препоръчвам за хора, които тепърва навлизат в тематиката, тъй като е написана достъпно и то на базата на архивен материал. Полезна е и с това, че дава основна представа за епохата.

  • Converse
    2019-07-05 01:30

    Rawlinson was a major contributor to deciphering cuneiform, a set of related forms of writing used to record Sumerian, Akkadian, Elamite, and Persian. Some priority disputes with Edward Hinks

  • Ian Hodkinson
    2019-06-29 23:50

    A thorough and well researched account of the life and times of Henry Rawlinson who deciphered the cuneiform script used as a written record by a variety of early languages in the Middle East. Rawlinson spent much of his life in Persia, Afghanistan, Iraq and India in the 19th Century - truly one of Britain's finest. Despite being a somewhat dry subject matter, the biographical mixed with the historical and linguistic flows well.