CREWS Research Associate Post


I am pleased to announce that the job advert for the first Research Associate on the CREWS project has gone live today. See here on the Faculty of Classics website:


Faculty of Classics Jobs and Vacancies: Research Associate ‘Contexts of and Relations between Early Writing Systems’ Project (CREWS)


The successful applicant will conduct research on a pre-determined aspect of the project, namely the context of writing in ancient Ugarit, specifically the social and cultural background against which the innovation of a new writing system took place. S/he will also conduct comparative studies, comparing the context of Ugarit with that of other examples of contemporary or near-contemporary written culture (for example in the Near East, Anatolia, Cyprus, the Aegean, Egypt); the choice of comparanda may depend in part on previous research experience. S/he will take up the post on 1st October 2016 or as soon as possible thereafter, and will work on the project for four years.


Ugaritic alphabet


For more information, you may visit the link above or click HERE to visit the University’s job listing.


The closing date for applications is 12.00 noon (BST) on Monday 1st August 2016.

Linear B – Alive and Well!

I have already talked about Linear B a little bit on this blog, for example in the post explaining the first line of the CREWS logo HERE. It was a syllabic writing system, used by the Mycenaean palaces in ancient Greece during the 15th-13th centuries BC, and its surviving inscriptions are predominantly detailed economic records of the palatial centres.

We know that within the palatial centres, the central administration was maintaining close control of a wide range of commodities and personnel through written records (see Figure 1 for a record of sheep, for example). Strikingly, these methods of administration were virtually identical at each of the palaces across Crete and mainland Greece – despite being hundreds of miles apart and sometimes also chronologically distant from each other (e.g. the palace at Knossos on Crete was destroyed perhaps as much as 200 years before the mainland palaces).AN00259220_001_l

Figure 1. Mycenaean clay tablet from Knossos, Crete, written in the syllabic Linear B writing system. It is a bureaucratic document recording numbers of sheep. Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum, no. 1910,0423.2.

Now there isn’t time in this post to talk through the details of the Mycenaean economy, although it’s something of a favourite topic of mine and I am sure we will return to it some day. After all, the economic context in which Linear B  was used is key to understanding the use and development of writing in this period – putting the Context into Contexts of and Relations between Early Writing Systems.

But the real reason for this post was to highlight some wonderful work by my colleague Anna Judson, who has created an ingenious boardgame called Mycenopoly. The game uses Mycenaean sites and concepts – and, delightfully, all the text is written in Linear B. Which just shows you that Linear B is alive and well, over 3,000 years later, and that there is much more you can do with ancient writing systems than just studying them in the abstract!


Figure 2. Anna Judson’s Mycenopoly.

You can read more about Mycenopoly on Anna’s blog HERE, and we will return to the CREWS logo and the Venetic alphabet, as promised, sometime soon.

~ Pippa Steele (Principal Investigator of the CREWS project)

Alphabetical Order (Again)

Since CREWS started up, the issue of alphabetical order has reappeared a few times, starting with the initial press release, which you can read about in more detail here (CREWS in the Press).

The French magazine article that I linked to last time (here) is also related to the concept of alphabetical order – but did you know that there are two different types of alphabetical order?

Continue reading “Alphabetical Order (Again)”