Ever wonder what an extinct language sounds like? While it was once commonly used in the Middle East, the Babylonian language has been lost to the sands of time. Now, it’s having a moment again thanks to a professor from Cambridge University. Discover how an ancient Babylonian dialect is making a major comeback in a movie.

An ancient tale

In an effort to restore the historic culture of Babylonia, Dr. Martin Worthington of St. John’s College took it upon himself to bring a dead language back to life. With the assistance of the Mesopotamian members of the University of Cambridge, Worthington created a film that explores the Babylonian language. After 20 years of researching the foreign tongue, it is now coming to a theater near you. Set in 701 BC, the 20-minute-long film is entitled The Poor Man of Nippur and is exclusively spoken in the dead Babylonian language.

The story of Nippur

The Poor Man of Nippur is an ancient Babylonian tale. It’s a classic story of revenge about a man who vows to repay the government official who took away his precious goat. About the movie’s plot, the Daily Mail revealed that “the animal was killed and the scorned owner sought his vengeance by physically assaulting the offending official ‘three times over.’ ”

A Babylonian revival

A predecessor to the fables of Aesop, The Poor Man of Nippur was first told within Mesopotamian cultures more the 2,700 years ago. The story was transcribed in clay, using 160 lines to talk about the adventures of a poor man called Gimil-Ninurta. Since a similar clay fragment was found in the tomb of King Ashurbanipal in Assyria, it may have even been written prior to 701 BC. Although the Babylonian language was previously popularized by kings and pharaohs, it has now officially become defunct.