The Riddle Of The Labyrinth: The Quest To Crack An Ancient Code

Paperback | April 15, 2014

byMargalit Fox

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In the tradition of Simon Winchester and Dava Sobel, The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code tells one of the most intriguing stories in the history of language, masterfully blending history, linguistics, and cryptology with an elegantly wrought narrative.
 
When famed archaeologist Arthur Evans unearthed the ruins of a sophisticated Bronze Age civilization that flowered on Crete 1,000 years before Greece’s Classical Age, he discovered a cache of ancient tablets, Europe’s earliest written records. For half a century, the meaning of the inscriptions, and even the language in which they were written, would remain a mystery.
                                              
Award-winning New York Times journalist Margalit Fox's riveting real-life intellectual detective story travels from the Bronze Age Aegean—the era of Odysseus, Agamemnon, and Helen—to the turn of the 20th century and the work of charismatic English archeologist Arthur Evans, to the colorful personal stories of the decipherers. These include Michael Ventris, the brilliant amateur who deciphered the script but met with a sudden, mysterious death that may have been a direct consequence of the deipherment; and Alice Kober, the unsung heroine of the story whose painstaking work allowed Ventris to crack the code.

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From the Publisher

In the tradition of Simon Winchester and Dava Sobel, The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code tells one of the most intriguing stories in the history of language, masterfully blending history, linguistics, and cryptology with an elegantly wrought narrative. When famed archaeologist Arthur Evans unearthed the ruin...

From the Jacket

The Riddle of the Labyrinth is the true story of the quest to solve one of the most mesmerizing linguistic riddles in history and of the three brilliant, obsessed, and ultimately doomed investigators whose combined work would eventually crack the code. An award–winning journalist trained as a linguist, Margalit Fox not only takes reade...

An award-winning journalist trained as a linguist, Margalit Fox is a senior writer at theNew York Times. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in linguistics from Stony Brook University and a master's degree in journalism from Columbia Univer-sity. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, the writer and critic George Robinson.

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$21.29 online$29.99list price(save 29%)
Format:PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.86 inPublished:April 15, 2014Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0062228862

ISBN - 13:9780062228864

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Customer Reviews of The Riddle Of The Labyrinth: The Quest To Crack An Ancient Code

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Most Exciting Adventure I’ve always had a fascination for the Minoans – Europe’s most ancient civilization that lived on the island of Crete over three and a half millennia ago – so advanced yet so mysterious. When I stumbled upon this book dealing with the decipherment of a script written on ancient clay tablets, most of which were found at Knossos on Crete, I had to get it. Admittedly, at first glance, I found all the strange symbols throughout the book rather intimidating. However, that turned out to be unfounded since the author painlessly explained what they were and how some were combined to make words in order for the reader to get a gist of how it worked. As it turns out, the script, called Linear B, was produced by the Mycenaean culture rather than by the (more ancient) Minoans who are thought to have developed the older and still-un-deciphered Linear A script. For those who, like me, are completely unfamiliar with the field of linguistics and of what is involved in deciphering ancient scripts, there is much information to be gleaned from this marvellous book. Following, sequentially, the lives of the three main individuals responsible for the decipherment of the Linear B script – Sir Arthur Evans, Alice Kober and Michael Ventris - the author guides the reader through the methods used to achieve that goal with clear, intense, lively and captivating prose. The book’s epilogue summarizes what is now known about Mycenaean society, thanks to the hard work of the above three individuals. The book has many of the assets of an exciting detective novel: the blind alleys, the subtle clues, the errors, the insights, the discoveries – it’s all here. Consequently, I believe that this book can be enjoyed by anyone, but those with a penchant for ancient history, archaeology and the decipherment of ancient scripts should be in for a treat.
Date published: 2013-06-13

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Editorial Reviews

“As with any good detective story, there’s a driving narrative behind the puzzle, peopled by solitary sleuths.”