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The Penultimate CuriosityHow Science Swims in the Slipstream of Ultimate Questions$
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Roger Wagner and Andrew Briggs

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198747956

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198747956.001.0001

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The Literary Inquest

The Literary Inquest

(p.323) Chapter Thirty-Eight The Literary Inquest
The Penultimate Curiosity

Roger Wagner

Andrew Briggs

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins with a brief description of how a small group, on 20 May 1857, gathered at the rooms of the Royal Asiatic Society in New Burlington Street to determine the results of a dramatic experiment. The group was tasked with comparing the contents of four sealed packets sent by William Henry Fox Talbot, German scholar Dr Julius Oppert, Irish clergyman Dr Edward Hincks, and imperial soldier Sir Henry Creswicke Rawlinson. The discussions then turn to the efforts of Henry Rawlinson and Edward Hincks to decipher Assyrian and Babylonian cuneiform. These texts represent a wealth of information and interest for biblical studies. However, their translations remain uncertain given the rivalry and perpetual disagreements between Hincks, Rawlinson, and other scholars in the field.

Keywords:   Royal Asiatic Society, William Henry Fox, Julius Oppert, Edward Hincks, Henry Creswicke Rawlinson

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