CREWS Exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum: Writing in Cyprus and the Ancient Mediterranean

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.

DSC_0179b

Continue reading

Advertisements

Mermaids and Merfolk of the Ancient World

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.

Dagon-the-fish-god-380x240oannes

Continue reading

Imagining and Deciphering Writing Systems for Games

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:

550px-TWW-Legend19

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2017-11-04-imagining-and-deciphering-writing-systems-for-games

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.

Where do Monsters Come From? Tracing the Leviathan from Ugarit to Final Fantasy

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.

Leviathan

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2017-09-30-where-do-monsters-come-from

A Visual Guide to the Aegean Bronze Age in Doctor Who

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?

doctor_who_original_tardis_console_room_from_first_ever_episode_an_unearthly_child

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

Breath of the Wild and telling stories through archaeology

I’ve been planning to write something about the archaeology of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for a while now (ever since my post on cyclical time in Zelda), and recently Eurogamer asked me to write something for their website. So here’s my debut as a freelance games feature writer. Enjoy!

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2017-07-27-zelda-breath-of-the-wild-archaeology

Untitled

Ancient Sages and Arcane Texts: The Myth and Magic of the Phoenician Alphabet

When ancient accounts of writing take you to some unexpected places: I’ve written a post over on the CREWS Project blog about how ancient accounts of the origins of the Phoenician writing system link into Hellenistic cultural contacts and the emergence of western esotericism.

Hermes_mercurius_trismegistus_siena_cathedralLet me tell you a story of the forgotten wisdom of the ancients, preserved in secret libraries of elder ages and deciphered by visionary sages, let me tell you about men who became gods and gods who became men. Let me tell you the strange mythology linking the origins of the Phoenician alphabet with the birth of the Western occult tradition.

The origins of writing systems are fascinating, but sometimes it can be just as interesting to lay the reality to one side and look at where the people of the ancient world thought their writing systems came from. My colleague Natalia has been doing this with her series of blog-postslooking at myths about writing. Here, though, I want to look in a bit more depth at the stories told about the development of the Phoenician alphabet.

Because they get a bit weird.

View original post 1,924 more words