Page:An Essay on the Age and Antiquity of the Book of Nabathaean Agriculture.djvu/4

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iv
PREFACE.

far beyond the earliest records of the Bible and other known sources of information, it has ever since been treated, when not passed over in utter oblivion, more as one of the curiosities of literature than as a valuable record of the past; and though slightly referred to by Salmasius, about two centuries ago, in a way which might have opened up a controversy as to the authenticity and date of its supposed antiquity and authorship, the matter seems to have been allowed to fall still-born from the press. This may in some way be accounted for by the ignorance of scholars before our day of the principles of Comparative Grammar, that ingenious art of criticism which becomes the key by which modern philology is enabled to enter the deep recesses of the past, and expose to view records which, for want of it, were inaccessible to the ancient