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The Conquest of Assyria: Excavations in an…
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The Conquest of Assyria: Excavations in an Antique Land (1994)

by Mogens T Larsen

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"Conquest of Assyria" came highly recommended by David Damrosch in a footnote in "The Buried Book", so I took the chance. What a discovery! This is a very readable and enjoyable narrative of one of the most romantic and picturesque stories in archeology. Perhaps partly justifying the steep price ($135 list), the book is physically above average in terms of quality - it is large format, the binding is like a tank, the boards are heavy and solid, the paper is heavy gloss, there are full-color plates, maps and drawings throughout (at least every 3rd page). The narrative reads like a novel covering the lives of about half a dozen gentleman "scientists" (more like antiquarian diggers). Layard is the central hero with adventures and tales equal to anything in India Jones, but all real. If it was re-printed in paperback for a mass audience it would probably overshadow books like The Buried Book, but for whatever reason, it remains for a limited audience because of the high price. If you have any interest in learning more about the desert adventures of 19th C archaeologists, this is one book to get lost in, it was hard to put down.

There are some scholarly quibbles. Larsen takes Laylards accounts of his adventures, written for a 19th C popular audience, at face value and in the end tends to have written a hagiography of Laylard. He repeats racists 19th c perspectives about Arabs (stupid, bad workers, etc..). His perspective on the Oriental middle east is likewise outdated calling it "endless, monotonous and flat.. decrepit.. not a nice place to spend the summer or any other time of year." There is no awareness by Larsen of post-colonial views, he seems to favor the 19th c colonial position of superiority. As a story of mystery and adventure it can't be beat, as a scholarly account it repeats old stereotypes that should be retired. ( )
  Stbalbach | Apr 17, 2007 |
"The Conquest of Assyria" tells the story of the rediscovery of a "lost" ancient civilisation, Anglo-French rivalry, larger-than-life characters, and colourful feuds. Everyone had their own Nineveh, their own transliteration scheme, their own dreams of publiction, celebrity and renown.
  NickBrooke | Apr 18, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 041514356X, Hardcover)

The Conquest of Assyria tells what must surely be one of the most romantic tales of archaeological endeavour. The great cities and ancient palaces of Mesopotamia had lain buried for over two millenia, and were all but forgotten, half remembered in the Hebrew Bible and Classical texts. This volume records the dramatic finds, the decipherment of the cuneiform system of writing and the rediscovery of a lost civilisation.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:02 -0400)

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