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Lost Languages

The Enigma of the World's Undeciphered Scripts

Andrew Robinson


‘A masterly book … Clearly written, dispassionate and entertaining ... will appeal to anyone interested in ancient civilizations and the intricacies of languages and scripts’ Brian Fagan


Beginning with the stories of three great decipherments – Egyptian hieroglyphs, Minoan Linear B and Mayan glyphs – Lost Languages moves on to dissect the most well-known and enigmatic undeciphered scripts from around the world.

These include the Etruscan alphabet of Italy, the Indus Valley seal script, Rongorongo from remote Easter Island, the Zapotec script of Mexico (probably the first writing system in the Americas), and the unique Phaistos disc of Crete. Lost Languages reports from the front lines of scholarship where obsessions, genius, occasional delusion and sometimes bitter rivalry are de rigueur among those currently competing for the rare honour of cracking these ancient codes – and giving voice to forgotten worlds.

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'Robinson's enthusiasm for the subject is so infectious that you might find youreself trying to crack Etruscan in your spare time'

'If you hate unsolved mysteries this parade of incomprehensible texts will drive you nuts with frustration. But if you're a wannabe linguist, and perhaps the world's next Michael Ventris, you'll definitely want to read this book'

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Size: 23.2 x 18.7 cm

Extent: 352 pp

Publication date: 16 February 2009

ISBN: 9780500288160

About the Author

Andrew Robinson has written more than 25 books on the arts and sciences. They include Lost Languages: The Enigma of the World's Undeciphered Scripts, India: A Short History and Earthshock, which won the Association of Earth Science Editors Outstanding Publication Award, plus Earth-Shattering Events . A regular contributor to such magazines as Current World Archaeology, History Today, The Lancet, Nature and Science, he has also been literary editor of The Times Higher Education Supplement and a visiting fellow at the University of Cambridge.