The Writing of the Gods: The Race to Decode the Rosetta Stone by Edward Dolnick

I was very lucky to have friends living in London several years back. Steve and Megan had moved there for a couple years with plans to move back to the States when they had kids. It was my opportunity to stay with them for a week and see the sights. Off they would go to work and I’d head out to a museum or two and then meet them at a pub in the evening. One of my first stops was The British Museum. I was very lucky to have the room holding The Rosetta Stone to myself for a good fifteen minutes. It’s an incredible artifact. I sat down and thought about all the people who used to speak those languages… and the Egyptian pharaohs, and linguists who finally deciphered the text.

After only reading the museum’s description and a tiny bit of my own research, The Writing of the Gods was a very welcomed and thorough explanation of the history of the stone. The book describes the discovery in Rosetta, the politics of the find, and the eventual translation. The history is told with humor and an ear towards helping a modern audience understand the world BC…

People who read my blog know that while I mostly read SFF, I also dabble in nonfiction reviews. A few select book on sports, history, and even a memoir or two a year, but I try to vet these books very carefully. When I saw this book, I knew it was something I would like, especially the section where the two scholars are trying to decode the sections of The Stone. Having a little knowledge of languages helps. My very limited knowledge of Spanish (two yrs in HS) gave me some insight into how the translation worked.

I would recommend The Writing of the Gods to anyone who has an interest in the ancient world, languages, or history in general. My imagination was definitely spurred on Dolnick’s writing. He gave the reader the stepping stones to follow into the sands of the ancient Egyptian world.

4.5 out of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley, Scribner, and the author for an advanced copy for review.

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