Another skillful revival of the buried past by a master ancientologist (and his fine translator). This time it's Sumeria, and Mr. Baumann teaches more than a little ancient history while cataloguing the archaeological expeditions to the capital city of Uruk--the impatient, unscientific ones of the early nineteenth century, then the highly ordered professional ones of the twentieth. . . plus the ""Tricks, Forgeries, and Practical Jokes"" perpetrated on the excavators. He details the decoding of cuneiform and shares some of the stories that appeared on the unearthed tablets, spotlighting the Gilgamesh epic particularly; best of all are the schoolboys' exercises in arithmetic and composition not a bit unlike today's. The book is thoroughly appended (explorers, Mesopotamian chronology, ""Words, Places, and People"") and, like Lion and Labyrinth and The World of the Pharaohs, it's profusely and tastefully photo-illustrated. Together with well-reproduced drawings, the pictures complement and illuminate the sections on gods architecture, and relics. It's a stellar chronicle.