This evening, when it’s dark outside, you’re alone in the house, and beginning to wonder just what it is that’s making the mysterious creaking noise somewhere above your head…well, that would be the perfect time to have a read of some Halloween-themed blog posts!
This might sound like the set-up for a bizarre crime novel set in the medieval period, but it’s entirely non-fictional: this week’s UK archaeology news is that archaeologists excavating a medieval religious site on a tidal island called Chapelle Dom Hue, just off Guernsey, found what was clearly a grave cut into the ground — and excavated it to find, not the remains of a monk who might have lived on the island, but the skeleton of a porpoise:
As you can imagine, the archaeologists are feeling pretty perplexed right now – was this porpoise actually buried for some kind of religious reason, or for the more mundane purpose of preserving it in salt to eat later? Personally, I like the suggestion given in this article that it’s “possible that a monk hid the body of the porpoise because he was not supposed to have it” – I can just see some poor medieval monk who’s sick and tired of living off bread and water sneaking out in the middle of the night to make a secret food cache. Hopefully further excavation and analysis of the bones might tell us some more, but in the meantime, what’s your theory about the Mysterious Medieval Porpoise?
For fans of reconstructions of ancient music, here’s a post by a friend about a recent reconstruction of an ancient Greek tragic chorus – complete with a link to a podcast of the piece’s first performance!
Greek Tragedies were as much musical as theatrical performances. Much of the text uttered by the Chorus, and some by individual characters as well, was sung. The ancient tragedians were as much composers as writers, creating both the texts and the musical settings. Indeed, in Aristophanes’ Frogs, when the ghosts of Aeschylus and Euripides fight […]
For any teachers who might be readers of this blog, the Faculty is taking bookings now for school visits during the next academic year – groups of Key Stages 3-5 students from maintained schools can visit the Museum of Classical Archaeology, listen to a talk by a Classics lecturer, and tour a college, plus there’s a free lunch on offer! (and help with travel expenses is available too). Students don’t have to be studying any particular topics, just to be interested in learning more about the ancient world.
Check out the Faculty’s outreach site here, and if you’re a teacher interested in bringing your students, talk to our outreach co-ordinator Jennie Thornber (jlt39 [a] cam.ac.uk; 01223 767044).
I’ve just been introduced (via a post shared by our Faculty library) to the European Music Archaeology Project, who are reconstructing all sorts of different ancient musical instruments and then playing them. Check out their Youtube channel for a long list of videos of instruments from prehistoric and classical Europe and the Middle East – or here are a couple of classical ones, an ancient Greek aulos (double flute) and some Etruscan trumpets!
Another fantastic short video from Barefaced Greek, this one from Euripides’ Trojan Women, set in the aftermath of the Greek army’s sack of Troy: Poseidon and Athena agree to destroy the Greek fleet on its way home:
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!