iPlayer Radio What's New?
Image for Irving Finkel

Sorry, this episode is not currently available on BBC iPlayer Radio

Irving Finkel

1 hour
First broadcast:
Sunday 01 June 2014

Assyriologist Irving Finkel talks to Michael Berkeley about his passion for clay tablets, chamber music, and Jimi Hendrix.

Irving Finkel is one of the world's leading experts in the world's oldest, and most impenetrable, system of writing - cuneiform.

Because the scribes of Ancient Mesopotamia imprinted cuneiform with a stylus into clay tablets, lots of it has survived, and indeed Irving Finkel has spent the past 45 years delighting in the company of more than 130,000 cuneiform tablets at the British Museum. But one day a member of the public brought in a clay tablet which changed his life - it was a 4000-year-old blueprint for Noah's Ark - a thousand years older than the story in the Bible.

Irving is also passionate about music - particularly old recordings - and his choices include string quartets by Schubert and Dvorak, 1930s blues and a blast of Jimi Hendrix.

Producer: Jane Greenwood.

Music Played

9 items
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes


Free download

  1. Image for Private Passions

    Private Passions

    Guests from all walks of life discuss the music they love with Michael Berkeley.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss