Whether it's the possibility of hearing the voices of ancient
peoples or the puzzle solver's taste for the challenges posed by
breaking codes, undeciphered scripts have long tantalized the
public. Here, Andrew Robinson investigates the most famous
examples, beginning with the stories of three great decipherments:
Egyptian hieroglyphs, Maya glyphs, and the Minoan Linear B clay
He then tackles the important scripts that have yet to be
cracked. Perhaps the greatest challenge is the Indus script, the
onl writing of the four "first" civilizations that cannot be read
and a potential key to better understanding the impressive Indus
Valley civilization. Then there are the Etruscans, builders of
sensational tombs and the cultural conduit through whom the Greek
alphabet reached Rome and the rest of Europe. Yet the language
spoken by the Etruscans remains wrapped in mystery. And on isolated
Easter Island, the Rongorongo script, inscribed on wood with
sharks' teeth, has long been an irresistible magnet for ambitious
The struggle to decipher these three scripts and six
others--including the Phaistos disc of Crete and the Zapotec script
of Mexico--is recounted with extraordinary depth and erudition in
this wonderfully illustrated book. Lost Languages is an
archaeological and linguistic detective story that will appeal to
anyone interested in ancient peoples and the intricacies of
Andrew Robinson's many books include The Story of Writing.
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