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

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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.

Read More »

The Last Ember

from the blog

Rome’s Coliseum features exhibit of Archaeological Terrorism

ROME — A statue of a human-headed winged bull from the Northwest Palace in Nimrud, Iraq, that was bulldozed by the Islamic State last year to great outcry has been faithfully recreated using modern technology and put on exhibit at the Colosseum in Rome to spur discussion of the possible reconstruction of war-torn archaeological sites.

Full-scale reconstructions were also made of two damaged Syrian sites: the archive room of Ebla and a portion of a ceiling from the Temple of Bel in Palmyra, as examples of how conflict can devastate a nation’s fragile heritage.

“Nimrud was the first place to be destroyed,” said Frances Pinnock, the co-director of the Ebla expedition, the most important Italian archaeological expedition to Syria. “It was a palace known as the Versailles of the ancient Near East, and so it was chosen because it was symbolic.”

“We included Ebla because it represents abandonment, what happens to a site when a mission is no longer present to protect it,” said Ms. Pinnock, who is a member of the scientific committee for the exhibit.

“And Palmyra is a wound” and a place of violent murders, not just of Khalid al-Asaad, the retired chief of antiquities for Palmyra, who was killed in August 2015, three months after the Islamic State took the city, “but of more than a dozen employees, killed in brutal ways only because they tried to protect the heritage,” Ms. Pinnock said.

Though the violence in the Middle East continues, archaeologists and officials from various international organizations continue to explore various options for the reconstruction of archaeological sites in Syria and Iraq once the fighting has abated.

NYT Link

Read More »