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Riddle of the Labyrinth The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code and the Uncovering of a Lost Civilisation by Margalit Fox
  

Riddle of the Labyrinth The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code and the Uncovering of a Lost Civilisation

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Sue Baker's view...

There are two stories here, the story of the peoples whose language remained undeciphered; the people who worked on the problem and how they teased meaning from the symbols of linear B to resurrect the language. Poignantly it revealed more about crop inventories and stock control that bringing us great literature but for archaeologists and historians it was a marvellous insight into the people of Knossos. Margalit Fox tells a compelling story, revealing the forgotten story of Alice Kober, the New York teacher who laboured on the problem until her death. Her work let others make the final discovery, now her place in the story is revealed.

Like for Like Reading:

The Decipherment of Linear B, John Chadwick

Lost Languages: The enigma of the World's Undeciphered Scripts, Andrew Robinson

Who is Sue Baker

Synopsis

Riddle of the Labyrinth The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code and the Uncovering of a Lost Civilisation by Margalit Fox

The decoding of Linear B is one of the world's greatest stories: from the discovery of a cache of ancient tablets recording a lost prehistoric language to the dramatic solution of the riddle nearly seventy years later, it exerts a mesmerising pull on the imagination. But this captivating story is missing a crucial piece. Two men have dominated Linear B in popular history: Arthur Evans, the intrepid Victorian archaeologist who unearthed Linear B at Knossos and Michael Ventris, the dashing young amateur who produced a solution. But there was a third figure: Alice Kober, without whose painstaking work, recorded on pieces of paper clipped from hymn-sheets and magazines and stored in cigarette boxes in her Brooklyn loft, Linear B might still remain a mystery. Drawing on Kober's own papers - only made available recently - Margalit Fox provides the final piece of the enigma, and along the way reveals how you decipher a language when you know neither its grammar nor its alphabet as well as the stories behind other ancient languages, like the dancing-man Rongorongo of Easter Island.

Reviews

An engrossing detective story of driven personalities, hidden clues, perseverance and intuition [Fox] has uncovered a remarkable woman who had been buried by history - Sunday Times

[Fox's] enthusiasm is compelling when talking about the raw inventive brainpower of the code-breakers, their unswerving passion, and the magical way that a set of lines and curves in clay can be transformed into something with meaning - Observer

The author's triumph lies in her presentation of this complex subject, narrated with the pace and excitement of a detective story - Country Life

Truly memerising. It's also a lovely testament to language and the history of linguistics -- Lesley McDowell Sunday Herald

About the Author

Margalit Fox is a journalist, writing for The New York Times. Originally trained as a linguist, her previous book Talking Hands was about the remarkable 'signing village' of Al-Sayyid where only sign language is used. Previously an editor at The New York Times Book Review, Margalit has written numerous articles on language, culture and ideas for The Times, New York Newsday, Variety and other publications.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st July 2014

Author

Margalit Fox

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Publisher

Profile Books Ltd

Format

Paperback
352 pages

Categories

The Real World
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Writing systems, alphabets

ISBN

9781781251331

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