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  • Though much has been learned about the languages of lost cultures such as Ancient Egypt and the Mayans, there remain many scripts that have resisted modern efforts to decipher them. Lost Languages focuses on eight of the most famous examples, whose persistent inscrutability continues to torment would-be decipherers and keeps us from understanding the long-buried cultures they represent. With extraordinary depth and erudition, Robinson examines each of these mysterious scripts in up-to-the-latest detail, at the same time exploring the process of decipherment, and presenting the colorful cast of characters that are currently competing for the glory that cracking these ancient codes would bring. The Meroitic hieroglyphs of ancient Nubia, also known as the Kingdom of Kush; The Etruscan alphabet, which remained bizarrely isolated even as the Etruscans themselves were assimilated into Ancient Rome; Linear A, the script of the Minoan civilization before its conquest by the Greeks in the 15th century BC; The Zapotec Isthmian scripts, believed to be the earliest in the Americas; The Proto-Elamite script, from an ancient culture that thrived in what is now Iran; The Phaistos Disc, an enigmatic "printed" object dated to 1700 BC discovered in Crete in 1908, which some scholars believe is a fake; Rongorongo of Easter Island, which may or may not have been developed before the arrival of Europeans in 1770; The Indus script of ancient India, which appears in exquisitely carved but tantalizingly brief inscriptions; Generously illustrated with the scripts themselves and photos of the artifacts on which they are found, Lost Languages is a stunning package.