Phaistos Discuits!

Probably the best linguistics baking ever – Phaistos Discuits! (via the CREWS Project)

We all love a good pun. And by ‘we’, I mean ‘I’, and by ‘good’ I mean ‘terrible’. So for a long time I’ve wanted to make ‘Phaistos Discuits’ – biscuit versions of the famous Phaistos Disc.

The Phaistos Disc is probably the most controversial inscription from ancient Crete, showing a ‘writing system’ (if that is what it is) that is almost unparalleled – a one-off as far as ancient inscriptions go. Despite some (really very unconvincing) attempts at decipherment, our understanding of this object remains extremely limited. However, it is just the perfect shape to turn into a biscuit!

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Barefaced Greek: Lysistrata

Another great video from the team behind the Cambridge Greek Play, whose new ‘Barefaced Greek‘ project is creating a series of short films with extracts from ancient Greek plays in the original language (with subtitles!). After doing the opening speech from a tragedy, Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, for their first film, now they’ve turned to comedy, with an extract from Aristophanes’ Lysistrata. The eponymous heroine explains to the men of Athens how she and the other women aren’t going to put up with the men fighting wars any more – or as Barefaced Greek’s description puts it, ‘why patriarchy is pants’. Enjoy!

Sensational new Linear B tablet discovery in Athens

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Linear B tablet (replica)

Archaeologists working on a rescue excavation in Athens city centre have just announced the discovery of a series of clay tablets inscribed in the Linear B script, the first to be found in the city. The tablets date from the end of the Bronze Age, c.1200 BCE, and provide exciting new evidence for ritual practices in Mycenaean Greece. According to the excavation director, Professor Ilithios Apriliou, the texts refer to a ritual taking place on the first day of the month Apate, tentatively identified as the fourth month of the Mycenaean year. Participants in the ritual are recorded as receiving varying quantities of barley, while other tablets list offerings of wine and olive oil to the god Hermes (Hermahas in Mycenaean Greek). The most enigmatic of the tablets appears to act as an introduction to the whole series; while much of its text is currently obscure, Prof. Apriliou believes it describes a part of the ritual in which participants compete to tell the most outrageous stories in honour of the trickster god Hermes. The tablet is, however, badly damaged, and this interpretation relies heavily on Prof. Apriliou’s suggested restorations; an alternative reading, in which the festival is simply opened by a council of elders, is equally possible, and only close further study – and, it is to be hoped, further discoveries of tablets – will reveal the true nature of this mysterious ancient celebration.

Update: some helpful explanations (and a few more classical news items from April 1st) here!

Survey: Employment in Classics in UK universities

My friend Katherine is running a survey on employment in Classics in UK universities – if you are currently employed as a teacher and/or researcher in Classics or Ancient History in a university in the UK (including graduate students employed to teach), please take a few minutes to fill it in!

Source: Survey: Employment in Classics in UK universities

Time to Talk (about mental health)

Content advice: this post does not contain any detailed discussions of specific mental health issues, but linked sites may contain such discussions (these are provided with content warnings where possible).

tttd17-social-post-im-going-toToday (February 2nd) is ‘Time to Talk Day’: a day for talking about mental health problems, for reaching out to those who are currently experiencing such problems, and for educating people about the realities of mental health conditions to tackle the stigma that is still unfortunately often attached to these conditions.

Statistically, one in four people will experience a mental health problem every year, meaning that whether you know it or not, someone (probably several people) in your family, or your friendship group, or your workplace, will have or have previously had a mental health condition. From my own perspective as an academic, academia is very far from being an exception to this, with mental health problems being increasingly prevalent amongst university students and staff alike.

Continue reading “Time to Talk (about mental health)”