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  • Irving Finkel

    Irving Finkel is a very interesting character I hadn't heard of until about a week ago. His day job is as assistant curator in the Department of the Middle East at the British Museum, specialising in ancient Mesopotamian script, languages and cultures.

    He has many interests more or less closely linked to his work. He is an entertaining speaker and a number of his talks can be found on YouTube. Subjects include:

    Cuneiform writing in general and the ancient library of Nineveh:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfYYraMgiBA
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ls9JkxFEB9g
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrMpoqyhXvo
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJHtinZ0tO4

    Mesopotamian deluge narratives, including a recently discovered one according to which the Ark was a gigantic coracle:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_fkpZSnz2I

    The history of board games, including a reconstruction of the rules of the Royal Game of Ur:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZskjLq040I&t
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wQqxUXAz68

    Ancient Mesopotamian beliefs in magic, demons and ghosts:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNNaZ110ee4&t=16s

    He has also written several novels, only one of which concerns Mesopotamia, and has other research interests. One of these is potentially relevant Ripperology - the Great Diary Project, a collection of modern diaries of ordinary people (which in historical terms includes the 19th century) hosted by the Bishopsgate Institute:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0hi2Q3TAK8

    The Diary Project's website is here:
    https://www.thegreatdiaryproject.co.uk/

    There is meant to be a catalogue of the diaries, but I can't see a link to it. I could find only a listing from two years ago, but it sounds as though many more diaries will have been added since then:
    https://www.thegreatdiaryproject.co....hives-List.pdf

  • #2
    Does he have an opinion on the Maybrick Diary?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Scott Nelson View Post
      Does he have an opinion on the Maybrick Diary?
      I can only guess what his opinion might be on that subject. But he is not a man to mince words:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vc34QJ8rrPs&t=4m

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      • #4
        Listening to Finkel I can't help thinking of the William Blake quotation:
        "When thou seest an eagle thou seest a portion of genius; lift up thy head!"

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        • #5
          A Halloween treat for Irving Finkel fans:
          To mark Halloween and the publication of Finkel's latest book, The First Ghosts, [Bettany Hughes and Finkel] consider what was understood by ghosts, the spirits of the dead, especially in ancient Assyria and its region. They explore how a belief in ghosts emerges as a key feature of humanity from its beginning, evident through the earliest writing and archaeology.
          https://www.britishmuseum.org/events...s-first-ghosts

          Finkel's new book, The First Ghosts, is due to be published in just over three weeks' time:
          https://www.amazon.co.uk/First-Ghost.../dp/1529303265

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Chris Phillips View Post
            Listening to Finkel I can't help thinking of the William Blake quotation:
            "When thou seest an eagle thou seest a portion of genius; lift up thy head!"
            He is also hilarious.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Scott Nelson View Post
              Does he have an opinion on the Maybrick Diary?
              Here is the undisguised handwriting of Harry Dam.

              Do you see a resemblance to anything?

              Click image for larger version

Name:	Harry Dam's Handwritiing.JPG
Views:	44
Size:	16.8 KB
ID:	585045

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              • #8
                Well at least it didn't turn into a Lechmere thread.

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                • #9
                  Yet !!

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by R. J. Palmer View Post

                    Here is the undisguised handwriting of Harry Dam.

                    Do you see a resemblance to anything?

                    Click image for larger version  Name:	Harry Dam's Handwritiing.JPG Views:	0 Size:	16.8 KB ID:	585045
                    No RJ, not in the least. But the theory is that Dam was the originator and one of his colleagues was the penman. And, conveniently, the original document Devereux used hasn't been found.

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                    • #11
                      Sorry to go back on topic, but here's a recent Guardian article reporting "oldest drawing of a ghost found in British Museum vault":
                      https://www.theguardian.com/culture/...h-museum-vault

                      It features Finkel commenting in his typical forthright style (for example referring to the "miserable" ghost as "the old bugger"). The article says this ghost has appeared " just in time for Halloween" - and evidently just in time to promote Finkel's new book (see above). But really I think it was discovered a while ago. I've certainly seen it in one of his earlier presentations.

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