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4.5 out of 5 stars
97
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 5 March 2014
This was fun. Not only did it tell me things I didn't know, but it did its scholarship with a delightfully light touch. Finkel makes reading cuneiform sound like reading a thriller, and he kept me interested all the way through. Mesopotamian religion might be a niche market, but the general reader is very well catered for in this book. A page turner.
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on 17 June 2017
Superb
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on 14 December 2016
The Brian Cox of Assyriology puts another nail in the coffin of the Abramic religions? No chance. Post-truth? Religion is pre-truth (which, for its adherents, counts as proof). Still, this appeals to my inner mischief-maker and is, besides, a very easy read for such relatively recondite matter. If you caught the author at the time of publication you'll know what a very engaging scholar he is: I'm glad he's found his audience
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on 12 December 2016
An extraordinary story told by an extraordinary scholar. You can also catch Dr Finkel on the British Museum website or on Youtube .After all, how many boyishly enthusiastic Assyriologists with a beard a yard long are you ever going to watch? Restore your faith in human nature and watch this one. Then read his book.
[...]
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on 1 August 2014
Great delivery. Present for husband so have hidden it til birthday
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on 18 March 2014
Engagingly written - and pretty topical at the moment - this book investigates the 'Great Flood' myths that existed before they were adapted into the one we know best.
The impact of deciphering Babylonian Cuneiform writing turns out, in its own way, to be as controversial as Darwin's theories - and the Babylonian 'Noah' myth is a rich, human story. I won't spoil the delight of finding out for yourself what this 'Noah' made his Ark from - but, when you come to his complaints to his gods about the quality of the bitumen tar he's had to use to waterproof it, just try not to think of any builder across all of time whistling through his teeth!
A great read, turning what could be a very 'dry' subject into a detective story!
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on 16 January 2015
I downloaded The Ark Before Noah from Audible in a version which is read by the author, Dr Irving Finkel. For the first few minutes, I found his unpolished narrating style awkward to listen to and wondered if I had made a mistake. However, once his wonderful enthusiasm began to shine through, I was hooked. Finkel discusses his academic life, British Museum career and fabulous fairly-recent discovery of an ancient clay tablet containing details concerning the story of the ark and the flood. He also introduces us to the earliest origins of the story - waaay before the Hebrew Bible - and collects together other tablets with parts of the famous tale and shows how it evolved over some 4000 years into what we know today.
I was particularly fascinated by the comprehensive comparisons of the different tablets and their meshing story versions. As I have only heard the heroes' names, I am not going to attempt to spell them, but it had not previously occurred to me that Noah wasn't always called Noah! The earliest flood version wasn't occasioned by sin either - humans had simply become too noisy for the Gods to endure! Finkel goes into immense detail in his tablet comparions. He examines ark building techniques, mountain landing sites, and intricacies of language in a way that could be too in depth for less nerdy souls. I appreciated his dry humour throughout but am unsure whether this would come across via the printed page. This purely aural version obviously didn't contain images though so I think now a trip to the British Museum is called for so I can see the Ark tablet and Babylonian Map tablet 'in the flesh'. I am so intrigued by their existence that I might visit even if it's not raining!
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on 3 March 2014
A clear explanation of the different sources forming the story of Noah and his flood. The writer's dedication to deciphering the British Museum's collection of clay tablets is impressive and his enthusiasm for the subject is infectious.
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on 5 March 2014
Fascinating stuff, written with wit, enthusiasm and authority. I did get confused now and again about which tablet version was from where and when, but that's my fault not the author's. If you have an interest in the history of the middle eastern flood myths then this book is for you. I know he's been doing this all his working life, but the knowledge and insight of Irving Finkel is mind blowing - it's difficult to imagine that another non-academic book on the subject could surpass it.

And it has a surprising link to the kids TV show The Double Deckers!

Great man. Great book.
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on 9 May 2014
If you like language, and reading baffling documents, trying to figure out what the missing or illegible words might be;
if you’d like to know more about how the Marsh Arabs got around on water (before Saddam drained the marshes);
if you wonder what they Jews did while in exile in Babylon, and how they got a local story about a flood into their religious literature;
if you’d like to know what museum curators actually do and how anyone so apparently dusty and dry could get REALLY excited about old stuff,
then read this book. There is something in it for all of you, even if you skip some bits.
I didn’t want it to end because it posed question after question and then attempted to answer them, through a forensic consideration of what wedges impressed on wet clay so long ago might mean, referring to other documents from even earlier times.
And because I had actually read the Epic of Gilgamesh (a great story), my self-esteem rose greatly.
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