Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Library of Nineveh

History podcast of the Day- The Library of Nineveh;

In 1849 a young English adventurer called Henry Layard started digging into a small hill. It was on the banks of the River Tigris in Northern Iraq and underneath it was the ancient city of Nineveh.

Layard found extraordinary things - wonderful carved reliefs, ancient palace rooms and great statues of winged bulls. He also found a collection of clay tablets, broken up, jumbled around and sitting on the floor of a toilet. It was the remnants of a library and although Layard didn’t know it at the time, it was one of the greatest archaeological finds ever made.

Further reading
John Malcolm Russell, Sennacherib's Palace Without Rival at Nineveh (1991)

Jean Bottéro, Mesopotamia: Writing, Reasoning, and the Gods (University of Chicago Press, 1992)

John Curtis and Julian Reade, Art and Empire: Treasures from Assyria in the British Museum (British Museum Press, 1995)

David Damrosch, The Buried Book: The Loss and Rediscovery of the Great Epic of Gilgamesh (Henry Holt & Co, 2007)

Francesca Rochberg, The Heavenly Writing: Divination and Horoscopy, and Astronomy in Mesopotamian Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2004)

Matthew Battles, Library: An Unquiet History (Heinemann, 2003)

Lionel Casson, Libraries in the Ancient World (Yale University Press, 2001)

R. MacLeod (ed.), The Library of Alexandria, Centre of Learning in the Ancient World (I B Tauris, 2000) {despite its title, includes essays on other ancient libraries too}

Olof Pedersén, Archives and Libraries in the Ancient Near East, 1500-300 BC (CDL Press, 1998)

James Raven (ed.), Lost Libraries: The Destruction of Great Book Collections Since Antiquity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. ISBN1403921199)

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