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Omnilingual

Federation "Omnilingual" is a science fiction short story written by H. Beam Piper. This short story was originally published in the February 1957 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. This short story is unusual in focussing on the problem of archaeology on an alien culture. Also published in the collection Federation and in Ministry of Disturbance and Other SF.

An expedition from Earth to Mars discovers a deserted city, the remains of an advanced civilization that died out 50,000 years before. The human scientists recover books and documents left behind, and are puzzled by their contents. Earnest young archeologist Martha Dane deciphers a few words, but the real breakthrough comes when the team explores what appears to have been a university in which the last few civilized Martians made their last stand. Inside, they find a "Rosetta Stone": the periodic table of the elements. The story builds tension from the skepticism of the rest of the team, mostly male, as well as from Ms. Dane's competitive, spotlight-seeking team-mate, Tony Lattimer.

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