Aššurbanipal at the British Museum

DgCt-puW0AU9TK6Last weekend I finally got a chance to visit the British Museum’s exhibition on the Assyrian king Aššurbanipal. There’s been a lot of good word-of-mouth about it so I was looking forward to it, and while it wasn’t perfect, the exhibition didn’t disappoint.

Although no-one on the CREWS Project directly works on first-millennium Assyria, Aššurbanipal’s a name that’s cropped up a few times on this blog because of his strong interest in writing and scholarship. He’s one of the few Mesopotamian rulers known to have been literate – in fact, this was a source of great pride for Aššurbanipal, who claims in one inscription:

‘I learnt the lore of the wise sage Adapa, the hidden secret, the whole of the scribal craft. I can discern celestial and terrestrial portents and deliberate in the assembly of the experts. I am able to discuss the series “If the liver is a mirror image of the sky” with capable scholars. I can solve convoluted reciprocals and calculations that do not come out evenly. I have read cunningly written text in Sumerian, obscure Akkadian, the interpretation of which is difficult. I have examined stone inscriptions from before the flood, which are sealed, stopped up, mixed up.’

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Ancient writing at the Festival of Ideas

The last couple of weeks here in Cambridge have been dedicated to the Festival of Ideas, which featured a few events focused on ancient writing.

9017d0f91b10520efc3af725377d9fda.pngCREWS had its own event on Friday 19th October as part of an evening of fun in the Museum of Classical Archaeology (AKA the Cast Gallery) at the Faculty of Classics: Raiders of the Secret Scripts, mostly aimed at an adult audience. Philip and Rob were on hand to guide people through an exercise in reading Ugaritic cuneiform, while anyone interested in Linear B could try their hand at counting animals in a clay tablet, with me and our CREWS-friend colleague Dr Anna Judson there to help with the hard bits.

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Visuality of text, a workshop at Warwick University

pic.jpgLast Saturday 20th October, our colleagues from Warwick University organised the workshop “Visuality of Text: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Display of the Word”, an opportunity that the CREWS project could not miss. What made this workshop especially interesting was the truly interdisciplinary nature of this event, which brought together academics researching material writing and professionals and artists whose work involves the display of texts.

The workshop started with three historical case studies from very different periods that showed the use of text on objects. Archaic Greek sculpture was covered by Nick Brown, Harry Prance presented on Byzantine eucharistic objects and Katherine Cross focused on Anglo-saxon weaponry.

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CREWS in Riga, Helsinki and Cambridge

riga.pngCREWS people have been busy with various conferences this year. In April Rob was involved in organising the conference, “A Corpus and Usage-based approach to Ancient Greek: From the Archaic Period until the Koine”, in Riga, together with colleagues from the University of Leipzig University and the University of Latvia (see here).

The aim was to bring together scholars working on all aspects of Greek language in the way it was actually used, rather than just focusing on an idealised presentation of the language, as has often been the case in more traditional approaches. This approach has, of course, been made possible in the last few decades with the phenomenal increase in computing power and data-storage, making large-scale corpus studies feasible that simply would not have been possible a century or even half a century ago. Continue reading “CREWS in Riga, Helsinki and Cambridge”

Reaching out with ancient writing

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. Continue reading “Reaching out with ancient writing”

Come and see the CREWS display!

Natalia and Philip have made a video about our special display on ancient writing at the Fitzwilliam Museum, to explain what it is about – and to encourage you to come and have a look while you can if you have a chance to visit Cambridge!

The display is free and is on until 10th June, and you can find it in the Cypriot Gallery at the Fitzwilliam Museum. Continue reading “Come and see the CREWS display!”

When Ancient Writing Is an Art, Science, and Snack

Philip has just given an interview for Atlas Obscura, all about his adventures in making Ugaritic cookies. As regular readers will know, this is more than just baking – this is a lovely opportunity to work on replica Ugaritic cuneiform tablets, think about how they were inscribed, and then eat the results afterwards!

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You can read the article here:

When Ancient Writing Is an Art, Science, and Snack

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Non-administrative writing in the ancient Aegean and Cyprus

A new published article based on my CREWS project research has just appeared in print, with a focus on non-administrative documents written in Linear A.

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Here is a link to a PDF copy:

• ‘Writing ‘systems’: Literacy and the transmission of writing in non-administrative contexts’ in Jasink, E.M., Weingarten, J. and Carraro, F. (eds.) Non-scribal Communication Media in the Bronze Age Aegean and Surrounding Areas: The semantics of a-literate and proto-literate media, Periploi 9, Firenze 2017, 81-100.

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A CREWS-themed display at the Fitzwilliam Museum: installation day

We have been dying to tell you all about a new display at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, focusing on some of the writing systems we are working on in the CREWS project. It started today (Tuesday 16th January) and will run until Sunday 10th June, which gives you plenty of time to come and see it! Here is the Fitzwilliam’s web page on the display: Writing in Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean.

The objects in the display are written in a number of different ancient writing systems, with Egyptian Hieroglyphic and Demotic, Babylonian and Ugaritic cuneiform, Cretan Hieroglyphic, Linear A, Cypro-Minoan, the Cypriot Syllabary, Phoenician and the Greek alphabet.

display Continue reading “A CREWS-themed display at the Fitzwilliam Museum: installation day”