Dr Willemijn Waal (Leiden; January/March 2019)

Waal fotoWillemijn is a classicist and Hittitologist. Since her PhD (2010) she has held several post-doctoral positions at the University of Leiden, the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich and the Institute for Aegean Prehistory (INSTAP). She currently works as university lecturer at the Department of Classics and Ancient Civilizations at Leiden University. Her research interests include early writing systems, orality and literacy in the ancient world and the interaction between the Aegean and the Near East in the Late Bronze Age. Recently, she has been working on the introduction of the alphabet to Greece, suggesting that this may have happened much earlier than is generally assumed.

During her CREWS visiting fellowship she is working on early writing in Anatolia and the Aegean. In both regions, pictorial writing systems emerge in the second millennium BCE: Cretan Hieroglyphs (and later Linear A and B) in the Aegean and the Anatolian (or Luwian) Hieroglyphs in Anatolia. As has often been pointed out, these scripts share some interesting similarities. Since close contacts existed since at least the Neolithic period, it is very well possible that they did not emerge in complete isolation. The project explores the possibility that these writing systems share a common origin. It further investigates to what extent these writing systems may be seen as the result of independent regional developments: though they are usually considered to be secondary inventions, many of the characteristics of the Aegean and Anatolian writing systems are in fact more typical for primary inventions.

Since she completed her visit at CREWS, Willemijn has been appointed Director of the Netherlands Institute for the Near East from 1st January 2020 (read more here).

Read a guest blog post by Willemijn here: Anatolian hieroglyphs, and our first CREWS Visiting Fellow


Cassandra Donnelly (UTexas; May-July 2019)

DSC_8806_2Cassandra Donnelly is a PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin in the Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory (PASP) program established by Dr Thomas Palaima in 1986. There, she is engaged in two main projects, her dissertation, “Writing and Economy in the Late Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean,” and the Palace of Nestor 4 project. The Palace of Nestor team is in the editing stages of publishing an RTI (Reflectance Transformation Imaging) and analog corpus of the Pylos tablets. Cassie’s job is editing the tablet drawings. Her dissertation work explores the interaction between Late Bronze Age writing systems through a close study of the Cypro-Minoan script, the Late Bronze Age script of Cyprus, which has also appeared on the Greek and Syro-Palestinian mainlands.

During her visit to Cambridge with the CREWS project she is looking at the interaction between the Cypro-Minoan and the poorly attested Reduced Cuneiform alphabetic script of Syro-Palestine. She will do so by focusing on the medium of the inscribed metal bowls, which are found throughout the Eastern Mediterranean. She’s incredibly excited to be surrounded by the great group of scholars that make up the CREWS team and to have her scholarship enriched by them.


Dr Giorgos Bourogiannis (NHRF, Athens; April-June 2019)

gbGiorgos Bourogiannis is an archaeologist and postdoctoral research associate at the National Hellenic Research Foundation in Athens. Since his PhD (2008) he has worked as a curator for the Naukratis project at the British Museum, Department of Greece and Rome, and has held the A.G. Leventis postdoctoral position at the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities (Medelhavsmuseet) in Stockholm, studying the unpublished evidence from the sanctuary of Ayia Irini on Cyprus (you can see a video about his work HERE). He is currently the principal investigator of the CyCoMed research project (Cypriot Connectivity in the Mediterranean from the Late Bronze Age to the end of the Classical Period), hosted by the National Hellenic Research Foundation, Institute of Historical Research. The project has received funding from the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (HFRI) and the General Secretariat for Research and Technology (GSRT) under grant agreement no. 481.

CyCoMed studies Cypriot archaeological, textual, and when applicable, numismatic evidence from carefully-selected case studies in the Mediterranean, in order to investigate how Cypriot activity and perhaps presence overseas is reflected by and on material and epigraphic evidence. During his CREWS Visiting Fellowship he will work on writing systems of ancient Cyprus and the attestation of Cypriot inscriptions at extra-insular sites, and the possible role of material and epigraphic evidence discovered abroad as a possible statement of a Cypriot cultural identity. He will also look at how different types of Cypriot evidence relate to each other, what is their source, context and distribution over a long period of time, with due consideration of how patterns of interaction in the ancient Mediterranean changed over time and what was the Cypriot role in them.


Dr Kathryn E. Piquette (UCL, January-March 2020)

Piquette_profile_picKathryn E. Piquette is working on early writing in Egypt and the Middle East from the perspective of its consumption – through both sensory perception and practical embodied use. Focussing on the scripts developing in the late 4th to mid-3rd millennium in the lower Nile Valley and lower Mesopotamia, Kathryn will be comparing the range of materials used by script producers and evidence for different tools and techniques across artefact and written content types. The aim of her project is to examine the diverse conditions presented by these facets of materiality for script consumers. She will be employing a multiscalar approach in her analysis, aided by ATLAS.ti (a workbench for the qualitative analysis of large bodies of multi-media data), in order to provide a situated account of reader experience and other cognitive acts of meaning making. The questions underlying her research therefore revolve around the implications of the material and environmental contexts for embodied acts of perception by readers and other users of written artefacts.

In her research, Kathryn has worked primarily on art and writing of Egypt and the ancient Middle East. Her PhD thesis examined the earliest evidence for writing in Egypt from the perspective of its composition and material practice. More recently, Kathryn has been conducting research at the intersection of ancient text and advanced digital imaging. In addition to previous study of the production technologies of early Egyptian and Mesopotamia scripts, she has been applying, developing, and integrating digital techniques for elucidating difficult-to-read Greek, Latin, and Aramaic writing on papyri (e.g. carbonised papyri from Herculaneum), and in lead and other metals, wax tablets (e.g. from Vindolanda) and stone. She has held research and teaching posts at Trinity College Dublin, University of Oxford, UCL, Free University Berlin, University of Cologne, and the University of Reading. Among her various publications is the co-edited open access volume “Writing as Material Practice: Substance, surface and medium”. Dr Piquette’s monograph “An Archaeology of Art and Writing: Early Egyptian labels in context” has recently appeared, also as an open access ebook, with a supporting online database of early Egyptian graphical culture.


Martina Polig (Ghent University / Cyprus Institute Nicosia, February-March 2020)

martinaMartina Polig is currently research assistant at The Cyprus Institute (Cyprus), as well as PhD student in a joint doctoral program between The Cyprus Institute and Ghent University (Belgium) under the supervisions of Sorin Hermon and Joachim Bretschneider respectively. Her research interests relate to 3D approaches for the study of archaeological artefacts and Heritage sites.

Her PhD research focuses on the Cypro-Minoan syllabary and the documentation and characterisation of its signs by means of 3D approaches. This entails a homogenous state of the art 3D documentation of as much of the Cypro-Minoan corpus (over 90%) as possible and the creation of a sign repository. This new documentation is going to digitally reunify the material dispersed over various museums, capture information, such as depth and angle, which could not be documented through traditional means and improve the readability of ambiguous signs by enabling a dynamic interactive 3D visualization (see the slideshow of 3D scans below). Based on the 3D documentation a palaeographic analysis will be carried out, investigating the variability of sign rendition in a diachronic and synchronic way, which will hopefully lead to a better definition of the signs, the identification of temporal and spatial trends and groups, as well as patterns related to the support.

In order to reach such ambitious goals, she receives the scientific support of Massimo Perna, an expert in Aegean palaeography and director of the International Centre for Research on Aegean Civilisations (C.I.R.C.E.) of the University Sassari in Oristano (Italy) and Gerfrid G.W. Müller from Würzburg University and the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz, expert in Ancient Near Eastern Philology and leader of a large-scale 3D cuneiform project.

During her Visting Fellowship (Feb-March 2020) she will be working on defining the structure and content of the sign repository. In particular the different factors that impact the shape of a sign, the relationship among signs and their support have to be identified and described.


Dr Brent Davis (University of Melbourne, February 2020)

PhotoBrent Davis is the author of Minoan Stone Vessels with Linear A Inscriptions (Aegaeum 36, Peeters 2014). Over the past several years, he has been developing a new linguistics-based method of comparing the languages behind undeciphered Aegean scripts, called syllabotactic analysis; applying this method to two scripts in tandem produces metrics expressing the likelihood that the same language underlies both scripts.

In a recent article in OJA (37: 373-410, 2018), he used this new method to demonstrate that Linear A and the script on the Phaistos Disk are very likely to encode the same language; this research led to the 2019 Michael Ventris Award for Mycenaean Studies. With the assistance of the Ventris Award, Brent is now at work on a series of new syllabotactic analyses aimed at comparing the languages behind Linear A, Cretan Hieroglyphic, and Cypro-Minoan. He will be a CREWS Visiting Fellow during the first half of February next year, when he will present on and workshop the interim results of these new analyses.


You can read about the other visiting fellows coming later in 2020 here.