Write your name in the Cypriot syllabary picAt the CREWS project we are conducting new research on ancient writing systems, but the research itself is only one aspect of what we do. There’s no point in finding things out if you don’t communicate them after all. And we love passing on our enthusiasm for ancient writing! That is why we are trying to develop our outreach activities and teaching materials (see more below), and we also report on these aspects to our funding body, the European Research Council.

We want to hear from YOU. Have you used CREWS blog posts in a teaching capacity (e.g. in school or university or just with the kids at home)? Have you used our write-your-name sheets? Have you encountered us at an outreach event? Do you have any requests or resommendations for us?

If the answer to any of these is yes, please consider getting in touch to tell us. You can leave a comment on this post or use our contact form or email.


Outreach doesn’t just mean special events to us – I think stopping to chat to someone on Twitter is just as important as arranging a special talk or teaching session. One important aspect is to try to reach new audiences we wouldn’t otherwise meet.

In April, for instance, I gave a lecture to a school group visiting my college (Magdalene College, Cambridge) for an ‘access’ residential – an opportunity for schools in our link areas of Merseyside and NW Wales (areas where we would like to encourage more undergraduate applications) to come and see what Cambridge University is like. As someone who went to school in Merseyside myself, I enjoy these events a lot! I talked about Linear B, the earliest writing system used for the Greek language, which was deciphered in the 1950s by Michael Ventris (you can see one of my powerpoint slides below).


Another fun event this year was the ‘Big Weekend’ in Cambridge in July, where we had a stall in the Fun Lab. We were showing people how to write their name in Linear B, Ugaritic and Babylonian cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphs – especially good fun because we had clay for Linear B and cuneiform and papyrus for the hieroglyphs, which helps to engage with ancient methods of writing as well as their scripts. (It also helps us to explore the challenge of writing names in scripts that are not well suited to the sounds that appear in them – a challenge faced by ancient users of the scripts too, e.g. if they needed to write a foreign name.)


Marie and Philip practising their cuneiform.

Philip, Rob and I were all there and we were very grateful to be helped by some Cambridge colleagues, Marie Besnier, Ester Salgarella and Alex Loktionov. With over 1900 people coming past our stall we needed all the help we could get!

It was a particular pleasure to collaborate with Marie, who is a Cambridge Assyriologist who also regularly works with children to promote understanding of ancient Mesopotamia. She has even created a very successful boardgame, Esagil, set in ancient Babylon – read more about it HERE.


Our table at the Fun Lab (me, Marie and Ester showing off our writing systems).

We are looking forward to lots more chances to share our work (and the wonders of ancient writing!) with audiences old and new, whether that means writing blog posts, chatting on Twitter, hosting school groups, appearing at science festivals – we want to show that the ancient world is a fascinating place that is accessible to anyone.

If you have used any CREWS resources, or if you like our blog or Twitter feed, or if you have ideas for us, please do comment or get in touch! It would help us a great deal to know who we are reaching, and would enable us to explore new content that people would like to see.

Because we often work on issues of literacy and its social context (inevitably in a project focused on writing!), we are also keen to embark on some new adventures by working with literacy charities. If you work with or represent a literacy charity and have some ideas for us, again please do get in touch to let us know.


~ Pippa Steele (Principal Investigator of the CREWS project)

idalion bilingual selfie


5 thoughts on “Reaching out with ancient writing

  1. Hi! Thank you for your great work.
    I’ve used your write-your-name-sheets in an event this July (I posted it on Twitter & someone of your team noticed it already back then). We hosted two workshops called “Writing systems around the world” in the biggest Finnish roleplaying event, called Ropecon, in late July in Helsinki. Our workshop had nothing to do with roleplaying games, but every year Ropecon happily hosts all kind of workshops & lectures which might be some interest to nerdy people. Our workshops were visited by around 40 people all together.

    Mostly we presented Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform, Japanese writing and Mayan hieroglyphs, because those were the most awesome writing systems we organizers knew something about, but because we wanted to broad our scope, we also printed your Ugaritic, Cypriotic and Linear B sheets to our workshops. None of us knew more of those systems than what was stated in the papers. Linear B was the most popular of them, and many people asked difficult questions about it. Maybe you could add to your repertoire another a4 which would explain a bit more about each of the language? Also, IPA version would be helpful for us who are not native English speakers 🙂

    – Aino from Cooleiform, a small group of Assyriology students from Helsinki who post stuff to Twitter and occasionally also do cuneiform workshops

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Aino!

      Thank you so much for writing this, and for the recommendations – this is brilliant. I decided I would write a second blog post to mention your wonderful use of our write your name sheets, if you would be happy with that (that is why I didn’t include it in this blog post). I’m sorry I’m so behind with blog post writing!

      Could I possibly ask you a favour? Would you mind sending me the photos you shared with us on Twitter? I had a catastrophic computer failure recently and that was one of the folders that didn’t survive because I had not yet backed it up.

      ~ Pippa


      1. Hi, sorry I didn’t notice your message earlier! Notifications doesn’t seem to work or I’m blind to those.
        You seems to have found a picture we shared back then to the new blog post, would you still need more? Also, even though we gladly share the pictures we have taken, it would be nice to have credit of those, perhaps just adding to the end of the post “Photo by Cooleiform”. In context of that blog post it is not completely clear the picture is also taken by us: at least in at my computer the tweet quote hasn’t any pictures (only link) so the picture in top of the post seems to be unrelated to it.

        Liked by 1 person

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