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Cracking Ancient Codes: Cuneiform Writing - with Irving Finkel


Cracking Ancient Codes: Cuneiform Writing - with Irving Finkel

Writing is generally agreed to be among the greatest inventions in human history, perhaps the greatest invention, since it made history possible.
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You can read more about Irving's quest to explore the Noah's Ark myth in The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood:
or learn more about cuneiform writing in Cuneiform:

Writing seems to have been invented in the late fourth millennium BC in Mesopotamia in the form of wedge-shaped marks pressed into soft clay with a reed stylus: the script known as cuneiform. Through his work on this ancient language, Irving Finkel, has uncovered amazing secrets from over five thousand years ago, including the story behind Noah’s ark.

Irving Finkel is the curator in charge of cuneiform inscriptions on tablets of clay from ancient Mesopotamia at the British Museum, of which the Middle East Department has the largest collection of any modern museum. This work involves reading and translating all sorts of inscriptions, sometimes working on ancient archives to identify manuscripts that belong together, or even join to one another. He is the author of The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood.

This talk was filmed in the Ri on 18 January 2019.

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Irving Finkel teaches how to write cuneiform I Curator's Corner Season 4 Episode 8

When presented with a meeting-free Friday afternoon we did what any normal person who has access to Irving Finkel would do - we asked him to teach us cuneiform. We're not really sure Nick learned anything, but hopefully you will.

The BP exhibition I am Ashurbanipal: king of the world, king of Assyria
8 November 2018 – 24 February 2019
Book now

Supported by BP
Logistics partner IAG Cargo

#Ashurbanipal #CuratorsCorner #IrvingFinkel

Cuneiform: Irving Finkel & Jonathan Taylor bring ancient inscriptions to life

A brief look into a new book that will bring insight into the world's oldest writing system by authors Irving Finkel and Jonathan Taylor, curators of the world's largest collection of cuneiform tablets at the British Museum.

Cunieform by Irving Finkel and Jonathan Taylor is available here:

Irving Finkel | The Ark Before Noah: A Great Adventure

Irving Finkel, Assistant Keeper I with responsibility for cuneiform in the Department of the Middle East, British Museum.

This talk, illustrated by a PowerPoint, will describe what befell the speaker after one quite remarkable cuneiform tablet was brought for examination to the British Museum in London. The inscription on this four-thousand-year-old tablet led to a series of altogether unexpected discoveries, demanding a whole new look at Noah and his Ark, and culminating in a book and a documentary film.

Our lectures are free and available to the public thanks to the generous support of our members. To become a member, please visit:

Deciphering the world's oldest rule book | Irving Finkel | Curator's Corner pilot

Irving Finkel has possibly the coolest job in the world – he’s curator of cuneiform at the British Museum!

Since 1979 he’s been trawling the Museum’s 130,000 clay tablets for clues about life in ancient Mesopotamia. In this film, he tells us about a particular tablet he found that contains the rules of a board game – a board game that he’s been obsessed with since childhood!

We’re getting ready to make our first YouTube series and we need your help!

We’ve made pilot episodes for four series that we want you to watch. Tell us which one you like by giving the video (or videos) a ‘Like’. The video with the most likes by 23 Dec 2015 will have a series made from January 2016.

This series is Curators' Corner.

The other series are:

Behind the scenes
5 things you didn’t know about…
Love objects

Ancient Demons with Irving Finkel I Curator's Corner season 3 episode 7

Irving Finkel talks Mesopotamian demons, ghosts and sprites and how to deal with them.

To find out more visit the British Museum blog:

#CuratorsCorner #IrvingFinkel #demons

Irving Finkel - Cuneiform Writing, 7 May 2019 @ British Museum

The Artifact That Broke the Code to Understanding Cuneiform Writing

Irving Finkel reveals writing techniques

Irving Finkel, curator at the British Museum, reveals an exclusive extract from his new book The Writing in the Stone.
As seen on Matt & Tom's park bench.

Sumerian Cuneiform Tablet Has Been Decoded and it Tells the Story of the Ark

The recent translation of a Babylonian tablet launches a groundbreaking investigation into one of the most famous stories in the world, challenging the way we look at ancient history.
A world authority on ancient Mesopotamia, Irving Kinkel found himself playing detective when a member of the public arrived at the museum with an intriguing cuneiform tablet from a family collection. Not only did the tablet reveal a new version of the Babylonian Flood Story; the ancient poet described the size and completely unexpected shape of the ark, and gave detailed boat building specifications. Decoding this ancient message wedge by cuneiform wedge, Dr. Finkel discovered where the Babylonians believed the ark came to rest and developed a new explanation of how the old story ultimately found its way into the Bible. In The Ark Before Noah, Dr. Finkel takes us on an adventurous voyage of discovery, opening the door to an enthralling world of ancient voices and new meanings.

Thanks to Cliff Dunning



Exelente documental sobre el Arca de Noe y como este experto en lenguas muertas construlle un arca
Irving Finkel (el más grande especialista del mundo en sumerio y acadio) curador del Museo Británico

No te olvides de unirte a nuestro grupo de face book Agora de Ciencias Biblicas y critica textual

3.3. Demons in Mesopotamia 1: Introduction

Let's enter the world of Demons in Ancient Mesopotamia with Johanne Garny and Jan Tavernier!
In their first video, you will learn more about the world of evil in Mesopotamia and about the demons who acted in groups.

Mesopotamian ghostbusting with Irving Finkel I Curator's Corner +

Is your neighbourhood infested with the ancient Mesopotamian spirits of portly women or wise sages from distant times? Fear not dear viewer! Irving Finkel is here to show you how the exorcists of Assyria drove out those pesky spectral interlopers in another spooktacular episode of Curator's Corner +.

#CuratorsCorner #IrvingFinkel #ghosts

Cradles of Civilization - Cracking the code l Lessons of Dr. David Neiman

This is the first segment of Lecture 2 in the series Cradles of Civilization. Dr. David Neiman explains how the cuneiform texts of ancient languages were deciphered by 19th century scholars.

Visit us for more lessons:

Watch the full playlist here:
Dr. David Neiman (1921-2004) was an internationally renowned scholar, speaker, and writer who inspired many people. His life's work concerned the intricate relations between Christianity, Islam, and Judaism throughout history and in modern times. Dr. Neiman made history come alive through his dramatic presentations and unique interpretations. In light of our current world situation, Dr. Neiman's work is not only extremely relevant but also remarkably prescient. More than anything, Dr. Neiman was a keen observer of the human condition. His words convey our shared history with clarity, humor, and humanity.

Dr. Neiman was the first Jewish scholar appointed to teach Religion at Boston College, one of America's leading Catholic Universities. He served as Professor in the Department of Theology for a quarter of a century. While there he was also invited to teach at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. After retiring from Boston College, Dr.Neiman moved to Los Angeles, where he taught at Loyola Marymount University, St. John' s Seminary in Camarillo and the University of Judaism in Bel Air.

👍 Noah's Ark 2017 HD New Evidence [] ROUND ARK -secrets of

👍 Noah's Ark 2017 HD New Evidence [] ROUND ARK -secrets of


Quand on y pense... Toutes ces précieuses interviews qu'on jette à la poubelle, pour des raisons de rythmes, de timing, de ligne éditoriale à tenir... 😱
Avec les #SansFiltre je suis heureuse de pouvoir vous montrer ce que j'ai choisi de ne pas sélectionner pour le montage final, souvent à regret !
Je vous emmène dans les étages supérieurs du British Museum, pour le début de mon entretien avec Irving Finkel 😉
On y apprend 2-3 trucs intéressants sur la Bible le Mont Ararat et.. les vieux câbles de 4800 ans bien-sûr 😉
Bon visionnage !

The Mystery of Cuneiform, or, Deciphering a Dead Script

The Mystery of Cuneiform, or, Deciphering a Dead Script - how do we know what cuneiform even says, anyway? How did scholars get from complete confusion when confronted with these little wedges to being able to provide complete translations?

Bibliography and Sources:
Archives in Context, Traders, Travellers, Treasure hunters and the birth of Near Eastern Archaeology (
British Museum, Writing (
Burnouf, M. E. 1836. 'Mémoire sur deux inscriptions cunéiformes trouvées près d'Hamadan et qui font maintenant partie des papiers du dr Schulz' (
Cathcart, K. J. 2011. 'The Earliest Contributions to the Decipherment of Sumerian and Akkadian' (
CDLI:wiki, Decipherment of Cuneiform (
Cooper, J. 1991. 'Posing the Sumerian Question: Race and Scholarship in the Early History of Assyriology'.
Finkel, I. and J. Taylor, 2015. 'Cuneiform'.
Foster, B. 2006. 'The Beginnings of Assyriology in the United States' (
Fox Talbot, H. 1861. 'Translation of Some Assyrian Inscriptions', in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. 18 p. 35-105 (
Fox Talbot, W. H., E. Hincks, J, Oppert, and H. C. Rawlinson, 1861. 'Comparative Inscriptions', in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 18 p. 150-219 (
Grotefend, G. F. 1815. 'Des Inschriften von Persepolis', in Ideen uber die Politik, den Verkehr und den Handel der vornehmsten V. Lker der Alten Welt', vol. 1 (
Herbert, T. 1638. 'Some Yeares Travels Into Divers Parts of Asia and Afrique Describing Especially the Two Famous Empires, the Persian and Great Mogull' (
Hincks, E. 1846. 'On the three Kinds of Persepolitan Writing, and on the Babylonian Lapidary Characters', in the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, vol. 21 p. 233-248 (
Hincks, E. 1846. 'On the First and Second Kinds of Persepolitan Writing', in the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, vol. 21 p. 114-131 (
Hincks, E. 1849. 'On the Khorsabad Inscriptions', in the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, vol. 22 p. 3-72 (
Hincks, E. 1849. 'On the Assyrio-Babylonian Phonetic Characters', in the Transations of the Royal Irish Academy, vol. 22 p. 293-370 (
Hincks, E. 1857. 'On the relation between the newly-discovered Accadian Language and the Indo-European, Semitic, and Egyptian Languages; with remarks on the original values of certain Semitic Letters, and on the state of the Greek Alphabet at different periods', in the Report of the Twenty-Seventh Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science p. 134- 143 (
Kuhrt, A. 2007. 'The Persian Empire: A Corpus of Sources from the Achaemenid Period' (
Larsen, M. T. 1996. 'The Conquest of Assyria: Excavations in an Antique Land, 1840-1860'.
Larsen, M. T. 1997. 'Hincks Versus Rawlinson: The decipherment of the cuneiform system of writing: The decipherment of the cuneiform system of writing', in Ultra terminum vagari: Scritti in onore di Carl Nylander. p. 339-356.
Lassen, C. 1836. 'Die altpersischen Keil-Inschriften von Persepolis' (
Meade, C. W. 1974. 'Road to Babylon: Development of U.S. Assyriology' (
Niebuhr, C. 1778. 'Reisebeschreibung nach Arabien und andern umliegenden Ländern, Volume 2' (
ORACC, Lexical Texts (
Pallis, S. A. 1956. 'The Antiquity of Iraq' (
Purchas, S. 1614. 'Purchas his pilgrimage : or Relations of the world and the religions observed in all ages and places discovered, from the creation unto this present. In foure parts' (
Rawlinson, H. C. 1847. 'The Persian Cuneiform Inscription at Behistun, decyphered and translated; with a Memoir on Persian Cuneiform Inscriptions in general, and on that of Behistun in Particular', in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. x, o. 187-349.
Sayce, A. H. 1908. 'The Archaeology of the Cuneiform Inscriptions' (

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Music: Brak Bnei Original Composition

Irving Finkle University of Dundee Christmas Lecture 2014

University of Dundee Christmas Lecture 2014,
In this lecture, Dr Finkel will tell his amazing story of receiving the rare tablet, the discoveries this presented when he started to decode the inscriptions and what happened when he went on to build the Ark.

Prof Irving Finkel The Story of the Ark Before Noah FULL LECTURE

Professor Irving Finkel is Assistant Keeper of Ancient Mesopotamian script at the British Museum. Born in 1951, he is a British archaeologist and Assyriologist in the spirit of nineteenth century Assyriologist George Smith, who translated cuneiform tablets revealing the Mesopotamian version of the story of Noah's Ark and the Great Flood. The appearance recently of a cuneiform tablet on which was a previously unknown version of the ark story has brought the subject back into the news. Following its translation by Professor Finkel, the palm-sized tablet was found to contain previously unknown elements of the Babylonian flood myth, including the fact that the Ark was round, and that the animals went in two-by-two, something previously seen as unique to the Biblical account. The matter is the subject of Irving Finkel's book The Ark Before Noah (Hodder, 2014), and was featured recently on the Channel 4 documentary “The True Story of the Ark”. It is an extraordinary story that Professor Finkel recounts now to the Origins 2014 conference.
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S10 E9 A F*!#ing Genius

Think you're clever? Maybe you are: but are you a GENIUS? Irving Finkel doubts it. There is only one man this curator gives that label to and it is Edward Hincks... upstaged by the evil Rawlinson and with a blue plaque only dogs can see, it seems the only person left to champion him is a swearing beardy man with a passion for Cuneiform.

For any questions suggestions and feedback get in touch via

Edward Hincks 

Dr Irving Finkel isa British philologist and Assyriologist. He is  the Assistant Keeper of Ancient Mesopotamian script, languages and cultures in the Department of the Middle East in the British Museum, where he specialises in cuneiform inscriptions on tablets of clay from ancient Mesopotamia.

Iszi Lawrence is a comedian and podcaster and contributor to BBC's Making History and presenter of The British Museum Membercast.

The Z List Dead List is a podcast about obscure people from History. Created by Iszi Lawrence.

To help support the show please share it with your friends and on social media (PLEEEEEASE). Also leave us a review on iTunes - this makes us more visible so that other people can find us. For any donations please use the paypal button. Thanks very much!

MUSIC All Licenses can be viewed on Theme: Time Trades Live at the WFMU Record Fair - November 24, 2013 by Jeffery Lewis



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