Overheard in the Common Room

“Hobbits and archaeologists basically have the same meals…They’re equally hairy, too.”

(Before anyone starts accusing me of anti-archaeologist prejudice, it was an archaeologist who said this…)

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The Lost Books of the Odyssey

I’ve been meaning to write a review of this book for ages, since it’s not only one of my favourite Classics-based books, but also definitely has a place in my (long) list of favourite books ever – as the many of you to whom I’ve recommended it already know!

‘The Lost Books of the Odyssey’ is the literary debut of Zachary Mason, a computer scientist from California who wrote it in his spare time after work (don’t you just hate some people?). It’s a collection of forty-four stories, most of which are loosely constructed around episodes, characters and themes from the Odyssey (there are also a few based on the Iliad, and on other Greek myths) – the premise being that these are remnants of the epic tradition as it was before the canonisation of the Homeric versions of these stories. (The preface claims it to be a translation of a papyrus found at Oxyrhynchus, which ties in quite nicely with all our discussions last term about creating authority through ‘translation’.)

Continue reading “The Lost Books of the Odyssey”

Antiquity À-la-carte

My latest find of incredibly-useful-tools-I-wish-someone-had-told-me-about-earlier is “Antiquity À-la-carte“, an application developed by the Ancient World Mapping Centre which allows the user to create customised maps of any part of the classical world:

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Linguistics Baking Part II: Cypro-Minoan

Following on from my Linear B tablet cake, the mission to raise the profile of obscure Bronze Age scripts through the medium of baked goods continues — this time with Cypro-Minoan, which was used on Cyprus from the 16th century B.C.E. until at least the 11th century. It has also been found at Ras Shamra, Syria (ancient Ugarit), from where this tablet comes:

Cypro-Minoan tablet RASH Atab 001.A
Cypro-Minoan tablet RASH Atab 001.A

Continue reading “Linguistics Baking Part II: Cypro-Minoan”

The Faculty of Classics: An Anthropologist’s Report

Editor’s note: A copy of this report was found this morning pushed under the door of the Mycenaean Epigraphy Room; it is reproduced here in its entirety, including the original illustrations. It is unsigned, and the author is unknown; presumably he or she wishes to remain anonymous in order not to jeopardise future fieldwork.

Many an explorer, anthropologist, or documentary-maker has attempted to enter the mysterious land known as the Faculty of Classics in order to study its inhabitants (termed Classicists). Living so long in isolation from the influence of the outside world, this uncontacted tribe must, it is often speculated, have developed its own, completely unique, culture, such as every anthropologist would dream of studying. It was, therefore, a great privilege for me not only to gain access to the Faculty of Classics just a few days ago, but also to witness first-hand one of the most important events of the Classicists’ ritual calendar: the festival known as Graduate Tea.

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Participants in the celebration of Graduate Tea. See below on the ritual significance of the headdresses.

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Bronze at the Royal Academy

Bronze at the RA: the Chimaera of Arezzo

The Royal Academy’s current exhibition is, unusually, devoted not to a particular artist, period, or culture, but to a single material: bronze. Choosing to display works from so many different cultures in a thematic arrangement was certainly a bold move on the part of the RA, but it has produced a spectacular exhibition, incorporating works from ancient Egypt, classical antiquity, the Etruscans, Bronze Age Europe, the medieval and Renaissance periods, the Middle East, China, South-East Asia, and Western Africa, alongside 19th-and 20th-century and contemporary art; the sheer visual impact of so many bronzes collected in a single place is quite stunning. Continue reading “Bronze at the Royal Academy”

Mycenaean baking

I was recently inspired by this blog to do some Mycenology-themed baking – in other words, to make a Linear B tablet cake. The result:

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This is a replica of a tablet from Knossos, KN Fp 1. I chose this particular tablet for two reasons. Firstly, it’s an extremely interesting document, listing ritual offerings of olive oil to various recipients – including Diktaian Zeus (line 2, di-ka-ta-jo di-we – Diktaiōi Diwei), the shrine of Daidalos (line 3, da-da-re-jo-de – Daidaleionde, ‘to the Daidaleion’), the Erinys (line 8, e-ri-nu), and the Priestess of the Winds (line 10, a-ne-mo , i-je-re-ja – anemōn hiereiāi).

Secondly, and more importantly, it was the first tablet I could think of that’s approximately the same proportions as my traybake tin.

If anyone else feels similarly inspired to create a Classics-themed cake, please post the results!