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The Assyriologist George Smith (1840–76) was trained originally as an engraver, but was enthralled by the discoveries of Layard and Rawlinson. He taught himself cuneiform script, and joined the British Museum as a 'repairer' or matcher of broken cuneiform tablets. Promotion followed, and after one of Smith's most significant discoveries among the material sent to the Museum - a Babylonian story of a great flood - he was sent to the Middle East, where he found more inscriptions which contained other parts of the epic tale of Gilgamesh. In this 1875 work, a bestseller in its day, Smith describes his expedition, the difficulties encountered, and the discoveries, including hundreds of inscriptions which increased knowledge of the Babylonian and Assyrian civilisations but also had a profound effect on traditional biblical studies. Smith died in Aleppo in 1876, having revolutionised understanding of the ancient Near East.