The discovery and decoding of ancient languages have expanded our knowledge of ancient history, revealed forgotten literatures, and given new credence to what were previously considered to be myths. James Norman begins his well-documented examination of this relatively new science of ""literary archaeology"" (which ""includes the search for, the study of, and the decipherment of ancient writing"") by describing the development of pictorial writing in its various forms. He then considers the types of problems most likely to be encountered in its decoding. Within this context the author focuses on Egyptian hieroglyphics (emphasizing the significance of the Rosetta Stone), the cuneiform scripts of ancient Mesopotamia, and picture writing of ancient Mexican civilizations. These are placed in the perspective of the movements of ancient peoples and the interrelationships among them and enlivened with the adventures of specific archaeologists in finding and ""cracking"" new codes, often after overcoming extreme natural and/or political obstacles. Mr. Norman writes clearly and readably, never hesitating to illustrate a point either verbally or pictorially. The turned-on reader, and most will be, will be happy to note the section describing mysteries still unsolved and work now in progress, as well as the extensive bibliography for further reading.