Multilingual Syro-Anatolian Iron Age inscriptions – my research as a CREWS Project Visiting Fellow: Guest post by Claudia Posani

Hello, I am Claudia Posani and I am very glad to write an article for the CREWS blog. I am interested in Hittitology, with a particular focus on Syro-Anatolian Iron Age history and on hieroglyphic Luwian inscriptions.

I spent two months as a Visiting Fellow with the CREWS project. During May and June 2022, I worked on multilingual inscriptions of the so-called Neo-Hittite states (around 11th-8th centuries BC). These inscriptions include bilingual and also trilingual texts written on different supports, such as statues, steles and orthostats. They belong to the textual category of “royal inscriptions”, namely they express the voice of kings or rulers who speak in first person in the texts narrating their enterprises.

The main feature of these documents consists of offering the same text written in two or more languages. The texts I was dealing with were written in Hieroglyphic Luwian, Phoenician, Aramaic and Assyrian. These different languages (Luwian belonging to the Indo-European, the other to the Semitic language family) were written adopting different writing systems. Consequently, we can read on the same support the same text written in hieroglyphic script, cuneiform characters and alphabetic signs.

Multilingualism in Syro-Anatolian states is certainly connected to the historical background of these polities, which were strongly characterised by mutual contacts and cultural hybridity. Nevertheless, one point captured my interest: could textual multilingualism/multiscriptalism be connected to royal propaganda and to the intention of presenting a specific image of the king?

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CREWS Display: The Idalion Bilingual

Welcome to the first in a series of posts on the objects taking part in our display at the Fitzwilliam Museum. You can read more about the setting up of the display, which is an exciting collaboration with the Fitzwilliam and the British Museum, in our previous post. The idea is to use a small set of objects from these museums (plus two replicas made by the CREWS team) to highlight what we are working on and to tell some of the stories behind writing in the ancient eastern Mediterranean.

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One of the stars of the show is this limestone statuette base found in the remains of a religious complex at Idalion in Cyprus, known as the Idalion Bilingual, which is on loan from the British Museum for our display (you can see its BM listing HERE). This is inscribed with a dedication written in Phoenician (Phoenician consonantal alphabet) and Greek (Cypriot syllabic script). The Idalion Bilingual was the inscription that provided the vital key needed to decipher with Cypriot syllabic writing system, and is sometimes thought of as the ‘Rosetta stone’ of Cyprus. Continue reading “CREWS Display: The Idalion Bilingual”

Punic in Wales? An intriguing inscription

Punic is the name we give to a language spoken in north Africa, a continuation of the earlier Phoenician language (originating in the Levant, around modern Syria and Lebanon), and written for the most part in a developed form of the same writing system. Punic inscriptions have surfaced in several areas around the Mediterranean, but one of the furthest-flung examples comes from a less exotic location – Holt, a town on the Welsh border, a bit to the south of Chester. So what was Punic doing there?

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Image from A. Guillaume ‘The Phoenician Graffito in the Holt Collection of the National Museum of Wales’, Iraq 7 (1940), 67-8.

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