Research Associate on Contexts of and Relations between Early Writing Systems (CREWS)

Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge


CREWS research

I work on the social context of writing at Ugarit in the Late Bronze Age. Several languages and writing systems were used at Ugarit, including a distinctive cuneiform alphabet. I’m interested in how social factors informed choices of writing system and scribal practices, and how these in turn contributed to wider social change within Ugarit. An important aspect of this is how Ugarit took up or rejected practices drawn from its neighbours, including Mesopotamian cuneiform culture, the burgeoning Levantine linear alphabet, or other influences such as Cypriot, Egyptian and Hittite writing. By situating choices at Ugarit within this context we can explore how its people negotiated their position and identities relative to international networks. Alongside this regional, comparative work, I am also interested in more fine-grained analysis of the context internal to Ugarit – how different groups used (or responded to) writing differently, and in different contexts. I am also extremely interested in methodological questions; in particular, the archaeology and materiality of writing systems, and how we can integrate epigraphic and philological research more closely into disciplines such as archaeology, anthropology and social history without merely telling text-based narrative histories.


Previous roles

Open Access Research Officer, Cambridge University Library (2013-2016)

Research Assistant to the Senior Tutor (Prof. Robin Osborne) at King’s College, Cambridge (2013)

PhD, Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge (2009-2013)

Invigilator, Museum of Classical Archaeology (2010-2013)


Archaeological Fieldwork

Isola Sacra and Ostia Antica (2011)

Aldborough (2010)

Commercial Archaeologist, Wessex Archaeology (2007-2008)

Kilise Tepe (2007)

Thwing (2006)

Carthage (2003, 2004)


Other interests

The Aegean and East Mediterranean in the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age, especially Phoenicia.

The archaeology of social change.

The archaeology of cultural contact: trade, identity, diplomacy.

In a non-academic capacity, I have written extensively on how archaeology and the ancient world have influenced and been depicted by modern science fiction and fantasy (see my blog), and video games (on both my blog and the popular video games website Eurogamer).

I’m also interested in board games, baking (especially ancient-themed), Lego (I’ve written for the popular fansite Brickset) and digital art. My art was included in the Doctor Who non-fiction book Whoniverse, by Lance Parkin (Aurum Press, 2015).



‘Negotiating Imperialism and Resistance in Late Bronze Age Ugarit: The Rise of Alphabetic Cuneiform’, (Forthcoming).

Understanding Relations Between Scripts II: Early Alphabets (editor, with Philippa M. Steele), Oxford (Forthcoming).

‘Introduction: Issues in studying Early Alphabets’ (with Philippa M. Steele) in Boyes, P. J. and Steele, P. M. (eds.) Understanding Relations Between Scripts II: Early Alphabets, Oxford (Forthcoming).

‘Variation in Alphabetic Cuneiform: Rethinking the “Phoenician” inscription from Sarepta’ in Boyes, P. J. and Steele, P. M. (eds.) Understanding Relations Between Scripts II: Early Alphabets, Oxford (Forthcoming).

Section 4: Level II in H19 and I19’ (with Sarah Blakeney and Yaǧmur Heffron) in Postgate, J. N. (ed.) – Excavations at Kilise Tepe 2007-2011: The Late Bronze and Iron Ages, (2017) 48-61.

Review of “The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Levant c.8000-332 BCE, edited by Margreet L. Steiner & Ann E. Killebrew, 2014”’. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 26.3 (2016), 527-528.

Review of Maria Eugenia Aubet: Commerce and Colonization in the Ancient Near East (CUP 2013)’. American Journal of Archaeology 118.2 (2014).

Social Change in ‘Phoenicia’ in the Late Bronze/Early Iron Age Transition. PhD thesis, University of Cambridge (2013).

‘“The King of the Sidonians”, Phoenician Ideologies and the Myth of the Kingdom of Tyre-Sidon.’ Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 365 (2012), 33-44



Faculty web page

Personal blog – Ancient Worlds

Eurogamer articles