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By H. W. F. Saggs

For plenty of centuries it used to be authorised that civilization started with the Greeks and Romans. over the past 2 hundred years, despite the fact that, archaeological discoveries in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Crete, Syria, Anatolia, Iran, and the Indus Valley have published that wealthy cultures existed in those areas a few thousand years sooner than the Greco-Roman period. during this attention-grabbing paintings, H.W.F Saggs offers a wide-ranging survey of the extra extraordinary achievements of those societies, exhibiting how a lot the traditional peoples of the close to and heart East have prompted the styles of our day-by-day lives. Saggs discussesthe the discovery of writing, tracing it from the earliest pictograms (designed for account-keeping) to the Phoenician alphabet, the resource of the Greek and all eu alphabets. He investigates teh curricula, instructing equipment, and values of the universities from which scribes graduated. reading the provisions of a few of the legislation codes, he illustrates the operation of foreign legislations and the overseas alternate that it made attainable. Saggs highlights the artistic ways in which those historical peoples used their typical assets, describing the enormous works in stone created through the Egyptians, the advance of expertise in bronze and iron, and the creation of valuable crops into areas outdoors their normal habitat. In chapters on arithmetic, astronomy, and medication, he bargains fascinating motives approximately how sleek calculations of time derive from the traditional international, how the Egyptians practiced clinical surgical procedure, and the way the Babylonians used algebra. The e-book concludes with a dialogue of old faith, displaying its evolution from the main primitive varieties towards monotheism.

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Israelites and Judaeans were in touch with other peoples of the ancient Near East, and one would expect that the ideas they transmitted would have acted as a leaven. It must be said that there is no indisputable proof that this actually happened, but there are some pointers. Merodach-baladan, a Chaldaean chief who was a thorn in the side of Assyria at the end of the eighth century, sent an embassy to Hezekiah ofjudah (2 Kings 20:12), who (unsuccessfully) joined him in an anti-imperialist rebellion.

Rawlinson recognized that one of these was obviously used for the language of Babylon, since the same system was found on bricks from that city. We now call that language, which is of the Semitic group and related to Hebrew and Arabic, Akkadian; Babylonian was one main dialect of it and Assyrian another. Rawlinson took up the challenge. In the long trilingual inscription, his decipherment of the old Persian version gave him the general sense and a number of proper names. Using this, and new inscriptions which Layard made available to him, Rawlinson had taken major steps towards the decipherment of Akkadian cuneiform by 1849.

But when in March 1843 he shifted operations to a different site, Khorsabad, some ten miles to the north-northeast, he met immediate success, revealing walls of stone slabs covered with vivid scenes in bas-relief. When news of this reached Paris, the French Government made ample funds available to Botta to continue the work. It was now the turn of England to play a part. A footloose young Englishman, Henry Austen Layard, a newly qualified solicitor on his way overland to Ceylon to practise law there, was bitten by the romance of the Middle East and got no further than western Persia (Iran).

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