The Last Ember

To date, Daniel Levin’s New York Times Bestselling novel The Last Ember has been translated into 27 languages.

About the Novel

From the labyrinth beneath the Colosseum to the Biblical-era tunnels of Jerusalem, The Last Ember is a gripping, thought-provoking thriller set in the deadly world of illicit antiquity excavation and ancient intrigue. ”A terrific achievement.” –The Providence Journal

An Italian antiquities squad discovers a woman’s preserved corpse inside an ancient column. Pages torn from priceless manuscripts litter the floor of an abandoned warehouse. An illegal excavation burrows beneath Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock, ground sacred to three religions.

Jonathan Marcus, a young American lawyer and a former doctoral student in classics, has become a sought-after commodity among less-scrupulous antiquities dealers. But when he is summoned to Rome to examine a client’s fragment of an ancient stone map, he stumbles across a startling secret.  The discovery reveals not only an ancient intelligence operation to protect an artifact hidden for 2000 years, but also a ruthless modern plot to destroy all trace of it by a mysterious radical bent on erasing all remnants of Jewish and Christian presence from the Temple Mount.

With a cutting-edge plot as intricately layered as the ancient sites it explores, The Last Ember is a riveting tale spanning the high-stakes worlds of archaeology, politics, and terrorism, in its portrayal of the modern struggle to define — and redefine — history itself.


Book Trailer

Hear about the inspiration for the novel from the real life story behind it all…


Today’s unrest keeps these ancient ruins unrested. Antinopolis, the skeleton of an ancient Roman city founded by Hadrian the Emperor in the years 117-138 A.D., is, like everything else, caught dangerously in the crosshairs of the Arab Spring.


According to Publilius Syrus, first century BC maximist: “Habet suum venenum blanda oratio.” Roughly meaning ‘Sweet speech has its own venom’, the man must have foreseen the state of Edward Snowden, who had to travel all the way to Hong Kong from the U.S. just to make the sentiment true … More likely, however, Syrus was referring to the sway of his own wit, which freed him from slavery after having “won the favour of his master”* and winning an education (and a post as personal entertainer to Caesar in 46 BC).


Say you wrote something that people enjoy reading. Now, say someone else stamped their name on it and stole your praise. Copyright infringement, right? Punishable by law, right? . . . Wrong – in the first century A.D., at least – specially if you called yourself a poet.


“Not for the proud man apart / From the raging moon I write / On these spindrift pages . . . “

- Dylan Thomas, “In My Craft or Sullen Art”


Check out this raw research footage from the writing of The Last Ember. Hang on tight…

Audio Excerpt

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In the News

A 2000-year old CT exam?

Researchers have found a key that may unlock the only library of classical antiquity to survive along with its documents, raising at least a possibility of recovering vanished works of ancient Greek and Roman authors such as the lost books of Livy’s history of Rome.

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The Last Ember

from the blog

Modern Gladiators? Try a Game of ‘Calico’ – Medics Included

If you live in Florence, Italy, you know the game of calcio storico well. Every year, men from the city’s four historical districts gather together to play something that resembles American football, rugby, and barroom brawling. The goal is simple — get the ball into the other team’s endzone — but the rules are hard to come by. And even though there’s no real prize, men have been playing it since the 15th Century.

“It is like a war — no one does it for the money. You do it because you feel an obligation to fight. So you fight. And if you come back alive, you get drunk and talk about it.”

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