At 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)