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Professor Lyon gave the first of his series of lectures on "The Cuneiform Inscriptions and the Old Testament" yesterday afternoon. The lecture treated of the history of the discovery and decipherment of the inscriptions which are second only to the Old Testament in interest to students. The Old Testament is a history of the Hebrews from their own hands and the cuneiform inscriptions give us the history of the Babylonians and Assyrians with whom the Hebrews came much in contact. From the downfall of their mighty civilization, centuries before Christ, their records were lost till the site of Babylon was identified in 1765. It was not till 1848 that the labors of Botta, Place and Layard brought to light several Assyrian palaces and a mass of sculptures and writings on clay.
In 1872 Mr. Smith of the British Museum found a part of the great epic, in which the deluge is but an episode. Miss Wolfe of New York gave money for an expedition in 1884, and Dr. Peters of Philadelphia is now working near Babylon where he is excavating a temple or palace.
After the inscriptions had been discovered the work of deciphering them was tremendous and would have been impossible if it had not been that in the sixth century before Christ the Persians reduced an alphabet from this Babylonian script. The recurrence of proper names afforded a chance to compare these records with known history, but the greatest advance in decipherment was made when an extensive inscription was discovered written parallel in Persian and Cuneiform characters. Stereopticon views were shown explaining the geography of the Assyria, pictures of the ruins, excavations and restorations, and facsimiles of the inscriptions discovered.
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