Beyond El Dorado: Power and Gold in Ancient Colombia – Review

This British Museum exhibition certainly lived up to its name, with a stunning collection of golden artefacts – plus some equally nice if less shiny ceramics and textiles – created by the various different peoples who lived in what is now Colombia before the Spanish conquest in the 16th century C.E. As expected from the title, the focus was mainly on the use of these golden objects as part of these societies’ rituals and ceremonies. So there were items of jewellery to be worn during rituals, figurines of people or animals which may have had special spiritual meanings, and objects like ‘dipping pins’ for use in ceremonies (to be dipped into the coca-and-lime mixture used as a stimulant). There was also some explanation of the different techniques used in creating these objects, and in the different styles of gold-working found amongst the various different societies (such as the┬áMuisca, Quimbaya, Calima and Tairona). In my opinion this was the most interesting part of the exhibition – the craftsmanship involved in making these golden objects was astounding, and both of these sections highlighted that very well.

Continue reading “Beyond El Dorado: Power and Gold in Ancient Colombia – Review”

Linguistics Baking Part VI: The Labyrinth

Pylos labyrinth tabletJust for a change, I thought this time I’d do a cake that isn’t strictly speaking linguistic, though it’s still epigraphic: the labyrinth tablet from Pylos.

This drawing is actually found on the back of a tablet listing female goats (PY Cn 1287). Apparently the scribe found this list pretty boring, or perhaps they were kept hanging around waiting for whoever was bringing the information about the goats in question. Either way, they doodled this labyrinth on the back. It’s actually a reasonably complicated design – I had to trace it out on the icing to be sure of getting it to work, and the 1965 Cambridge Mycenaean Colloquium even featured a paper on how it could have been constructed* – and yet is drawn pretty neatly, so perhaps this was this scribe’s regular doodle of choice…? This isn’t unique as a doodle, by the way; there’s the odd drawing of a person or animal, plus a couple of tablets with a sequence that might (possibly) be the Mycenaean equivalent of an abecedary, giving the order of the first few syllabic signs in the sequence the scribes learned them. Continue reading “Linguistics Baking Part VI: The Labyrinth”

New Faculty project: Greek in Italy

Just thought I should share a link to the Faculty’s new AHRC-funded project on ‘Greek in Italy’ for those of you who missed the launch last night – you can read all about the project’s aims and follow its progress on their blog, There are already some interesting posts (with nice pictures) up, so take a look!