The first CREWS school visit!

There was a lovely opportunity to spread my enthusiasm about ancient writing this week as the CREWS project hosted its first school visit, when a group from Ardingly College came to see us in Cambridge.

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After a talk from me on how we can study ancient writing systems, my colleague Matthew Scarborough showed them some of the inscriptions in Classics Faculty’s Museum of Classical Archaeology (also known as the ‘Cast Gallery’).

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It’s always a pleasure talking about ancient writing and why it matters, and I’m looking forward to future school visits and activities as the project develops. Schools interested in visiting us are very welcome to get in touch to make arrangements!

Look out for further posts in the next few days with some exciting announcements about the project team – and in the near(ish) future some more information on school resources and how you can get involved in the project.

 

~ Pippa Steele (Principal Investigator of the CREWS project)

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Inscription Spotlight: An Etruscan Cockerel

For this post I wanted to focus on just one inscription, and say a little about how it plays into some of the themes I have been highlighting in previous posts – especially how its social context helps us to understand it as an object.

The inscription is on a ceramic vessel in the shape of a cockerel, made from a black glazed ware known as bucchero. This type of pottery is typical of ancient Etruria, an area of Italy to the north of Rome where the now little-understood language Etruscan was spoken. Incised around the body of the vessel is an abecedarium, listing the signs of the alphabet in A,B,C order.

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Bucchero vessel in the shape of a cockerel. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fletcher Fund, 1924. http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/251482.

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Reitia, Venetic goddess of writing

I have been promising for a while to say something about the Venetic goddess of writing. Last term, my colleague Dr Katherine McDonald gave a short seminar series on the Venetic language, which was used in the Veneto area of Italy in the second half of the 1st millennium BC (at least, this is when most of the evidence for it dates from).

The Venetic language has clear affiliations with other Italic languages, which can be seen for example in some words that look very similar to what we find in Latin (such as ego for the first person pronoun “I”). It was written in an alphabet that seems to have been derived from an Etruscan alphabet (itself derived from the Greek alphabet), although it has some peculiarities of its own, including a complex system of punctuation for syllables.

You can see what the Venetic alphabet looks like in the ‘inscription’ shown in Figure 1 – which is not in fact the original inscription but a delicious cake version of it baked by my colleague Dr Anna Judson for the seminar!

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Figure 1. Venetic inscription cake, baked by Anna Judson – see more HERE.

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