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H Beam Piper

"Omnilingual" is a science fiction short story written by H. Beam Piper.[1] This short story was first written and published in the year 1957, as part of a collection of short science fiction stories in the collection Astounding Science Fiction.[2] This short story is unusual in focussing on the problem of archaeology on an alien culture.[3]


An expedition from Earth to Mars discovers a deserted city, the remains of an advanced civilization that died out 50,000 years ago. The human scientists recover books and documents left behind, and are puzzled by their contents. Earnest young archeologist Martha Dane deciphers a few words, but the real breakthrough comes when the team explores what appears to have been a university in which the last few civilized Martians made their last stand. Inside, they find a "Rosetta Stone": the periodic table of the elements. The story builds tension from the scepticism of the rest of the team, mostly male, as well as from Ms. Dane's competitive, spotlight-seeking team-mate, Tony Lattimer.

Publication history[edit]

Omnilingual has been reprinted several times since its original publication.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Piper, Henry (1957). Omnilingual. General Books. 
  2. ^ Walton, Jo. "Scientific Language: H. Beam Piper’s "Omnilingual"". Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  3. ^ Wilkins, Alasdair. "Digging Deep: 24 Science Fiction Archaeologists". Io9. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 

External links[edit]