by Andrew Robinson




















Above is the introduction to my feature, "The origins of writing", published the British Museum Magazine in 2020. 

The following, general-interest, reviews of books, art and science exhibitions and films, plus features

including profiles and obituaries, were published in British and American newspapers and magazines.

More specialised reviews and features appear further down the page, under "Science and History of Science", "Archaeology and Scripts", and "Indian History and Culture".




2007: "Einstein on and off the soapbox", New Scientist
--review of Einstein on Politics by David Rowe and Robert Schulmann and Einstein: A Biography by Walter Isaacson


2008: "Rocket man", The Financial Times
--review of Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War by Michael J. Neufeld


2010: "How to behave beyond the grave", Nature
--review of a British Museum exhibition, Journey Through the Afterlife: Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead
2011: "High society", History Today

--review of a Wellcome Collection exhibition, High Society: Mind-Altering Drugs in History and Culture


2011: "The captain and the castaway", The Independent
--review of Crusoe: Daniel Defoe, Robert Knox and the Creation of Myth by Katherine Frank


2014: "The brewer's tale", Current World Archaeology
--review of The Brewer's Tale: A History of the World According to Beer by William Bostwick


2015: "Ringing changes on vital information", Physics World
--review of Information Age: Six Networks That Changed the World edited by Tilly Blyth


2015: "The ascent of English", Nature
--review of Scientific Babel: The Language of Science from the Fall of Latin to the Rise of English by Michael Gordin
--listen to a Nature podcast about the review


2015: "Reality change and check", The Lancet

--review of a film about the co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs

2016: "Artist and empire", History Today
--review of a Tate Britain exhibition, Artist and Empire: Facing Britain's Imperial Past


2016: "In search of Ramanujan", Nature
--review of a film about the mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, The Man Who Knew Infinity 


2016: "Asylums and after", Science

--review of a Wellcome Collection exhibition, Bedlam: The Asylum and Beyond


2016: "Four shakes a second", The Daily Telegraph

--review of Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life by Matin Durrani and Liz Kalaugher


2017: "All around Turing", New Scientist

--review of The Turing Guide by Jack Copeland, Jonathan Bowen, Mark Sprevak and Robin Wilson


2017: "The cradle of humanity", Current World Archaeology

--review of The Cradle of Humanity: How the Changing Landscape of Africa Made Us So Smart by Mark Maslin


2017: "Hipposandals, plague pits and chamberpots", The Lancet

--review of a Museum of London exhibition, Tunnel: The Archaeology of Crossrail


2017: "Prophet of the space age", The Daily Telegraph

--review of Arthur C. Clarke: Odyssey of a Visionary by Neil McAleer


2018: "Einstein goes east", Science

--review of The Travel Diaries of Albert Einstein: The Far East, Palestine, and Spain, 1922-1923 edited by Ze'ev Rosenkranz


2018: "Revisiting the culture wars", Nature

--review of A Future in Ruins: Unesco, World Heritage, and the Dream of Peace by Lynn Meskell


2018: "A physicist's final reflections", Science

--review of Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking


2019: "How Victorian England inspired Vincent van Gogh and his art", The Lancet

--review of a Tate Britain exhibition, Van Gogh and Britain, and film on Van Gogh, At Eternity's Gate


2020: "Apocalyptic archaeology", Nature

--review of Digging Up Armageddon: The Search for the Lost City of Solomon by Eric Cline


2020: "Indian sun", Sight and Sound

--review of Indian Sun: The Life and Music of Ravi Shankar by Oliver Craske


2020: "How did ancient cities weather crises?", Nature

--review of The Life and Death of Ancient Cities: A Natural History by Greg Woolf


2020: "The ascent of Wikipedia", Science

--review of Wikipedia@20 edited by Joseph Reagle and Jackie Koerner


2022: "The first ghosts", Minerva

--review of an archaeological study, The First Ghosts: Most Ancient of Legacies by Irving Finkel


2022: "Human versus machine, in space", Physics World

--review of The End of Astronauts: Why Robots Are the Future of Exploration by Donald Goldsmith and Martin Rees

2023: "Revealing the hidden roots of modern China", The Lancet

--review of a British Museum exhibition, China's Hidden Century



1998: "'I've been in revolt all my life'", The Times

--profile of the photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson on his 90th birthday


1998: "Cutting edge of cinema", The Guardian
--obituary of the film director Akira Kurosawa
2000: "Mayan treasures deep in the jungle", The Times
--feature on visiting Mayan art in Mexico

2002: "'I had no idea that madness in the Islamic world had gone so far'", The Times

--profile of the writer V. S. Naipaul on his 70th birthday

2004: "Henri Cartier-Bresson", The Guardian
--obituary of the photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson

2005: "Ray of light still shines in the dark", The Times
--feature on the 50th anniversary of Satyajit Ray's first film, Pather Panchali


2008: "A century of puzzling", Nature

--feature on the centenary of the discovery of the still-undeciphered Phaistos Disc


2010: "Perspiration, inspiration, and the 10-year rule", The Lancet

--feature on the nature and emergence of genius


2012: "Ravi Shankar", The Independent

--obituary of the musician and composer Ravi Shankar


2014: "How do we know how to measure longitude?", (BBC) Focus
--feature on the history of measuring longitude in the 300th anniversary of the Longitude Prize


2014: "How do we know the nature of light?", (BBC) Focus

​--feature on the long history of trying to understand the science of light


2015: "Restored Apu Trilogy returns Satyajit Ray's humane work to theaters", The New York Times,
--feature on the US re-release of a restored version of Satyajit Ray's Apu Trilogy


2015: "Lost and found", History Today

--feature introducing the ancient Indus civilisation (cover story)


2016: "London shaken and stirred", BBC History Magazine
--feature on the London earthquakes of 1750


2016: "Behind the book: Earth-Shattering Events", London Library Magazine

--feature on some influential London Library books about earthquakes, great and small

2016: "Forgotten Utopia", New Scientist 
--feature (cover story) on the ancient Indus civilisation's absence of warfare


2017: "He wrote the future", Nature
--profile of the science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke on his birth centenary


2018: "Thus spake Albert", Aeon
--feature on why we love to quote, and misquote, Albert Einstein

2018: "Tom Lehrer at 90", Nature
--profile of the mathematician and song-writer Tom Lehrer on his 90th birthday


2019: "The experiment that made Einstein famous", The Wall Street Journal
--feature on the centenary of the 1919 solar eclipse and its confirmation of general relativity


2019: "How Britain saved Einstein", BBC History Magazine

--feature on Albert Einstein's escape to Britain from Nazi death threats in 1933


2020: "The origins of writing", British Museum Magazine

--feature on whether writing had a single geographical origin or many origins around the world


2021: "Shining a light on Satyajit Ray, Financial Times

--feature on the birth centenary of Satyajit Ray

2023: "Thomas Young, 250 years later", Science

--feature on the 250th birth anniversary of Thomas Young


The following, more specialised, reviews and features focus on: Science and History of Science;

Archaeology and Scripts; and Indian History and Culture.




2005: "A polymath's dilemma", Nature

--feature on Thomas Young, and polymathy in science

2007: "Still looking at the stars", New Scientist

--profile of Arthur C. Clarke on his 90th birthday


2014: "How do we know the structure of the periodic table?", (BBC) Focus
--feature on the history of the periodic table of the chemical elements

2014: "Good scientists and honest people", Physics World
--review of Nuclear Dawn: F. E. Simon and the Race for Atomic Weapons in World War II by Kenneth D. McRae​

2016: "The Marconi connection", New Scientist
--review of Marconi: The Man Who Networked the World by Marc Raboy


2016: "Use a toad to catch a quake", New Scientist

--feature on Zhang Heng, inventor of the world's first seismoscope


2017: "Scientist, theologian, and heretic", The Lancet

--review of Priest of Nature: The Religious Worlds of Isaac Newton by Rob Iliffe


2019: "The eclipse that made Einstein famous", Science

--review of Einstein's War: How Relativity Triumphed amid the Vicious Nationalism of World War I by Matthew Stanley and No Shadow of a Doubt: The 1919 Eclipse that Confirmed Einstein's Theory of Relativity by Daniel Kennefick


2020: "The code-breakers who led the rise of computing", Nature

--review of Behind the Enigma: The Authorised History of GCHQ, Britain's Secret Cyber-Intelligence Agency by John Ferris


2021: "Brilliant polymath, troubled person", Physics World

--review of The Man from the Future: The Visionary Life of John von Neumann by Ananyo Bhattacharya


2022: "Shocking discoveries and mysteries", The Lancet

--review of Spark: The Life of Electricity and the Electricity of Life by Timothy Jorgensen

2022: "The Unique Universe of Satyajit Ray", Physics World
--feature on Satyajit Ray, science and science-fiction

2023: "Behind the scenes of science museums", Physics World

--review of Curious Devices and Mighty Machines: Exploring Science Museums by Samuel Alberti

2023: "Books in brief: the best of 2023", Nature

--short reviews of 10 books on diverse subjects



2002: "Cracking the Linear B code", BBC History Magazine

--feature on the 50th anniversary of Michael Ventris's decipherment of Linear B


2006: "Visible marks of the move from sound to stone", The Times Higher Education Supplement 
--review of The First Writing: Script Invention as History and Process edited by Stephen Houston and Ideogram by J. Marshall Unger

2009: "Decoding antiquity: eight scripts that still can’t be read", New Scientist
--feature (cover story) based on my book Lost Languages: The Enigma of the World’s Undeciphered Scripts 

2010: "Corpus of Indus seals and inscriptions", Antiquity
--review of vol. 3 of the Indus seals Corpus edited by Asko Parpola, B. M. Pande and Petteri Koskikallio
2014: "Eight mummies, eight stories", The Lancet
--review of a British Museum exhibition on ancient Egypt, Ancient Lives, New Discoveries
2014: "The ark before Noah", Current World Archaeology
--review of The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood by Irving Finkel​
2017: "Gibberish or code?", The Daily Telegraph
--review of The Voynich Manuscriptwith a foreword by Stephen Skinner and introduction by Rafal T. Prinke and Rene Zandbergen
--review of Giza and the Pyramids by Mark Lehner and Zahi Hawass
2018: "Hero of the hieroglyphs", Minerva
--feature on Jean-François Champollion
2022: "Technology with characters", Physics World
--review of Kingdom of Characters: A Tale of Languages, Obsession, and Genius in Modern China by Jing Tsu

--review of a Bodleian Library exhibition and catalogue, Tutankhamun: Excavating the Archive

2022: "The man who deciphered Linear B", British Museum Magazine
--feature on Michael Ventris

--review of Weavers, Scribes, and Kings: A New History of the Ancient Near East by Amanda H. Podany

--feature on Thomas Young and Jean-François Champollion

1984: "The Jewel in the Crown", Sight and Sound
--feature on the making of a Granada Television series about the British Raj, The Jewel in the Crown 

2011: "Behind India's technological boom", Nature
--review of Dead Ringers: How Outsourcing is Changing the Way Indians Understand Themselves
by Shehzad Nadeem
2013: "Enlightening Ray", The Lancet
--review of a complete retrospective of films by Satyajit Ray at the British Film Institute

2013: "A too-soft critique of India's growth", Science
--review of An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions by Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen
2013: "The scientific Buddha: his short and happy life", Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
--review of The Scientific Buddha: His Short and Happy Life by Donald S. Lopez Jr

2014: "Charm and muddle", The Times Literary Supplement
--review of A Strange Kind of Paradise:India Through Foreign Eyes by Sam Miller

2016: "A people's history", BBC  History Magazine
--review of Incarnations: India in 50 Lives by Sunil Khilnani​

2017: "Little more than tea and cricket", History Today

--review of Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India by Shashi Tharoor


2019: "Unicorns from Utopia", British Museum Magazine

--feature on the Indus civilisation


2020: "Buddhism illuminated", The Lancet

--review of a British Library exhibition, Buddhism


2020: "Satyajit Ray's bona fide Bengali", Sight and Sound

--obituary of Soumitra Chatterjee


​2021: "A century of Ray", Frontline

--feature on the birth centenary of Satyajit Ray

2022: "Journey of a civilization", Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
--review of Journey of a Civilization: Indus to Vaigai by R. Balakrishnan