The Atlantis Code (Thomas Lourdes)

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9780141040806: The Atlantis Code (Thomas Lourdes)

An ancient artefact is discovered in a dusty antiquities shop in Alexandria, Egypt - the long forgotten trinket soon becomes the centre of the most deadly archaeological hunt in history.The 20,000 year-old relic is inscribed with what appears to be the long lost language of Atlantis. Only one man would seem to be able to decode its meaning - the world's foremost linguist, Dr Thomas Lourdes - but only if he can stay alive long enough... Meanwhile, an earthquake in Cadiz, Spain, uncovers a most unexpected site - one which the Vatican rush to be the first to explore... Perhaps the lost city of Atlantis is finally ready to be found?But is the world ready for her secrets?

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About the Author:

The author is a well-known figure in the literary community, with many awards and books to his credit. He's been a university professor, a teacher, a little league coach and a rodeo cowboy. He's a frequent speaker who has given lectures at such widely divergent places as the CIA, West Point, and science fiction conventions. He lives in the Midwest with his family.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Feeling as though someone was pulling a fast one on him, Lourds examined the writing more closely, thinking perhaps it had been inscribed recently upon an ancient bell – which would have been foolish under the circumstances because such an act would have destroyed the bell’s huge intrinsic value – to fool him. If it was a forgery, it was a masterpiece. The inscription felt smooth to the touch. In places it was even worn to the point that it was almost faded.

Yep. If it was a fake, it was a damned good one.

Operating by instinct, Lourds reached into his backpack, which was beside his chair, and took out a soft graphite pencil and a tablet containing sheets of onion skin tracing paper. Placing a sheet of paper on the bell, he rubbed the pencil against the surface, creating a negative image of the inscription.

“What are you doing?” Neil asked.

Lourds ignored the question, consumed by the puzzle that was before him. He took a small digital camera from his backpack and took pictures of the bell from all sides. The camera’s flash, especially when used on smooth ceramic, didn’t always allow the image to pick up shallow markings. That’s why he’d done the rubbings.

He was engrossed. He didn’t even notice when Leslie approached and stood on the other side of the desk.

“What’s going on?” Leslie asked.

“Where did you get this?” Lourds asked, turning the bell in his hands. The clapper pinged softly against the side.

“From a shop.”

“What shop?”

“An antiquities shop. His father’s shop.” Leslie nodded toward the man standing against the wall. The man looked a little worried.

Lourds pinned the man with his gaze, not wishing to be trifled with. If that’s what this was, of course. He was halfway convinced that this wasn’t a joke. It felt far too elaborate. The bell felt real.

“Where did this come from?” Lourds asked in Arabic.

“From my father, sir,” the man said politely. “The young lady requested that we put something old in with the other items. To better test you, she said. My father and I told her we could not read what was written on the bell either, so we didn’t know what it said.” He hesitated. “The young woman said this was all right.”

“Where did your father get this bell?”

The man shook his head. “I don’t know. It’s been in his shop for years. He tells me that no one seems to be able to tell him what it is.”

Lourds switched back to English and looked at Leslie. “I want to talk to his father. See the shop where this bell came from.”

Leslie looked surprised. “All right. I’m sure we can arrange that. What’s wrong?”

“I can’t read this.” Lourds looked at the bell again, still not believing what he knew to be true.

“It’s okay,” Leslie told him. “I don’t think anyone’s really going to believe that you can read all those languages. You knew a lot of others. The people who watch our show will still be impressed. I’m impressed.”

Lourds told himself to be patient. Leslie truly didn’t understand the problem.

“I’m an authority in the languages spoken here,” he told her. “Civilization as we know it began not far from here. The languages used here, living and dead, are as familiar to me as my own hand. Given that, this writing should be in one of the Altaic languages. Turkic, Mongolic or Tungusic.”

“I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“It’s a family of languages,” Lourds explained, “that encompassed this area. It’s where all language here sprang from. Although the subject is hotly contested by linguists. Some linguists believe the Altaic language resulted from a genetically inherited language, words and ideas – and perhaps even symbols – that are written somewhere in our genetic code.”

“Genetics predisposes language?” Leslie arched a narrow eyebrow in surprise. “I’ve never heard of anything like that.”

“Nor should you. I don’t believe it’s true. There’s another, more simplistic reason why so many languages at the time shared common traits.” Lourds calmed himself. “All those people, with all their different languages, lived in close proximity. They traded with one another, all of them in pursuit of the same things. They had to have common words in order to do that.”

“Sort of like the computer explosion and the Internet,” Leslie said. “Most of the computer terms are in English since the United States developed much of the technology, and other countries simply used the English words because they had no words in their own language to describe the computer parts and terminology.”

Lourds smiled. “Exactly. A very good analogy, by the way.”

“Thank you.”

“That theory is called the Sprachbund.”

“What is the Sprachbund?”

“It’s the convergence area for a group of people who ultimately end up partially sharing a language. When the Crusades took place, during the battles between the Christians and the Muslims, language and ideas were traded back and forth as much as arrows and sword blows. Those wars were as much about expanding trade as they were about securing the Holy Land.”

“You’re telling me that they ended up speaking each others’ language.”

“The people that fought or traded, yes. Bits of it. We still carry the history of that conflict in words of modern English. Words like assassin, azimuth, cotton, even the words cipher and decipher. They come from the Arabic word sifi, which is the number zero. The symbol for zero was central to many codes. But this artifact shares nothing with the native languages of this area—or with any language I’ve ever heard or seen.” Lourds held up the bell. “In those early years, craftsmen – especially craftsmen who wrote and kept records – would be part of that Sprachbund. That’s a logical assumption. But this bell – ?” He shook his head. “It’s an anomaly. I don’t know where it came from. If it’s not a forgery, and it doesn’t feel like one, what we’re looking at is an artifact from some other place than the Middle East.”

“What other place?”

Lourds sighed. “That’s the problem. I don’t know. And I should know that as well.”

“You think we have a real find here, don’t you?” Excitement gleamed in Leslie’s eyes.

“A find,” Lourds agreed tentatively, “or an aberration.”

“What do you mean?”

“The inscription on that bell could be...humbug, for lack of a better term. Simply nonsense made up to decorate the bell.”

“Wouldn’t you know, if that were the case? Wouldn’t it be easy to spot?”

Lourds frowned. She had him there. Even an artificial language would require a basis in logic. As such, he should be able to spot that as well.

“Well?” she pressed.

“I should be able to tell. This looks authentic to me.”

Leslie smiled again and leaned toward the bell, regarding it with intensity. “If that’s truly written in a heretofore undiscovered language, then we’ve truly made an astonishing find.”

Before Lourds could respond, the door suddenly ripped from its hinges. Armed men burst into the room, aiming their weapons at the people inside.

“Everybody freeze!” a man yelled in accented English.

Everybody froze.

Lourds thought he recognized an Italian accent in the man’s words.

The four armed men pressed into the room. They used their fists and their weapons to drive the whole television crew to the floor. All of Leslie’s people cowered there and remained still.

One of the men, the one who had spoken, crossed the room in long strides and grabbed Leslie by the arm.

Lourds stood instinctively, not able to calmly sit by and watch the young woman get hurt. But he wasn’t trained for this kind of thing. Sure, he’d spent time in rough parts of the world. But he’d been lucky. The worst violence he’d ever experienced personally was a dust-up in soccer.

The man put the machine pistol’s barrel to Leslie’s head. “Sit back down, Professor Lourds, or this pretty young woman dies.”

Lourds sat, but the fact that the man knew his name unnerved him.

“Very good,” the man said. “Put your hands on your head.”

Lourds complied. His stomach turned sour. Even as wild as it had sometimes gotten while he’d been in unsettled lands studying languages, he’d never had a gun pointed at him.

“Down,” the man ordered, dragging Leslie to the ground. When she was down, the man looked at the items on the desk. Without hesitation, he took the bell.

And that’s when the man hade his first mistake. He and his men took their eyes off Leslie.

Before Lourds fully realized what was happening, she pushed herself to her feet and flung herself at one of the men. She knocked him over and took his gun, then dived beneath the heavy desk at the back of the set in a single fluid motion.

Her move took the thieves by surprise. Clearly they weren’t expecting a mere woman to put up much of a fight.

They had underestimated her, but they were clearly professional because it didn’t take long for them to catch up.

The sounds of gunfire filled the room as that desk took punishment it was never intended for. ...

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Book Description Penguin Books Ltd. Paperback. Book Condition: new. BRAND NEW, The Atlantis Code, Charles Brokaw, An ancient artifact is discovered in a dusty antiquities shop in Alexandria, Egypt - the long forgotten trinket soon becomes the center of the most deadly archaeological hunt in history. The 20,000 year-old relic is inscribed with what appears to be the long lost language of Atlantis. Only one man would seem to be able to decode its meaning - the world's foremost linguist, Dr. Thomas Lourdes - but only if he can stay alive long enough! Meanwhile, an earthquake in Cadiz, Spain, uncovers a most unexpected site - one which the Vatican rush to be the first to explore! Perhaps the lost city of Atlantis is finally ready to be found? But is the world ready for her secrets?. Bookseller Inventory # B9780141040806

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