Cambridge Festival of Ideas: the Ancient Worlds Highlights

ideasfestThe Cambridge Festival of Ideas runs from 17th to the 30th October. It’s one of the University’s biggest outreach events and has a wide range of talks, workshops and events open to everybody. A lot of them are specifically design to be family- or child friendly. If you’re in or around Cambridge, I highly recommend checking it out.

The full events list is available on the website, but here are a few things that might be of particular interest to this blog’s readers:

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Making Ugaritic tablets 1

I’m about to start a research project into the context of the emergence and use of the Ugaritic writing system in the Late Bronze Age city of Ugarit, on the coast of what’s now Syria. This will be a very interdisciplinary undertaking, blending linguistics, epigraphy, ancient history and archaeology, and is something I’m very excited about. The Ugaritic language and script, though, is not one I currently know (though I do have some experience with Phoenician, which is a related language, but uses a different writing system). What this means is that I have the happy task of learning Ugaritic and its alphabetic cuneiform script (and a bit of Akkadian, just for a bonus).

It quickly became apparent as I practised writing out the cuneiform that it’s slow and cumbersome to have to keep drawing the little triangles on paper and that it would be much more efficient – and authentic – to use a stylus and clay. For my first attempt I used plasticine and a makeshift stylus made out of Lego.


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