It was my birthday last Monday, and I was lucky enough to spend it behind the scenes at the Fitzwilliam Museum. Together with my fellow members of the CREWS Project, we were helping with the installation of a new temporary exhibition on ancient writing, a collaboration between our project and the Museum.
Things have been a little quiet round here recently. Sorry about that – term kind of got in the way. But hopefully now things aren’t quite so busy I’ll be able to get a few things written, starting now.
Let’s talk about mermaids, shall we? Well, not just mermaids but mermen and fish-people of all stripes. I’ve been meaning to write something on this for a while, but a discussion on Twitter this morning about Dagan prompted me to actually get started. Dagan has often been seen as a fish-deity because in Hebrew dag means fish. These Mesopotamian images of mermen and priests dressed as fish are often linked with Dagan.
The lovely people at Eurogamer have let me get my archaeology and linguistics all over their website again. Here’s an article on invented writing-systems in video games and the window-dressing vs puzzle approaches:
Also, if you enjoyed this, a reminder that I did an in-depth thing on the writing-systems of Zelda right here on Ancient Worlds.
Around the end of my PhD I wrote several articles for the Cambridge Classics Faculty’s postgraduate blog, Res Gerendae. I’ve now imported these into Ancient Worlds so all my stuff is available in one place.
Please check out the archives from before 2016 to read about everything from sea-monsters and mummies to making bronze swords.
Please note, I’ll be working through these to fix tags and categories and make sure they fit the Ancient Worlds template, but for now some things may be a little messy. Please bear with me.
About a year ago I posted a series following my attempts to write Ugaritic cuneiform, first in plasticine and then in clay. I ended up using the square end of a chopstick for a stylus, and this is what I’ve been doing ever since, including in my cuneiform baking. It works, but it’s fiddly – the stick has to be held just right to make the wedge-shaped prints, and it takes practice to stop them being large and clumsy.
Last weekend I took part in a Prehistory and Archaeology Day as part of Cambridge University’s Festival of Ideas. Hosted by Cambridge Archaeological Unit, this offered hundreds of members of the public – mostly children – the chance to try their hands at a wide range of archaeology-related activities, from spear-throwing and archery to excavation and osteology. The ancient writing systems stall was particularly eclectic, with academics from the Faculty of Classics and the Division of Archaeology showing visitors how to write in Akkadian, Ugaritic, Phoenician, Egyptian hieroglyphics, Linear B and alphabetic Greek.
Rounding out a busy week for the blog (who would have thought that Aegean stuff in Doctor Who would have been so popular?), I have another article up on Eurogamer. This one’s a bit of a sequel to my one looking at the afterlife of Ba’al and traces the sea monster Leviathan from Ugaritic poem to triple-A video-game.
Most people probably don’t associate Doctor Who with the Aegean Bronze Age. I mean, why would you? They’ve only done two stories set there and one is entirely missing from the archives. But when you delve a bit more closely, there’s a thread of Bronze Age stuff running through from the very first episode and lasting at least until the end of seventies.
Here’s the TARDIS in the very first episode of Doctor Who, in November 1963. Isn’t it lovely?
And that funny-looking chair is a replica of the stone one found in the ‘throne room’ at the Bronze Age palace of Knossos on Crete. Continue reading