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!

The Search for Immortality: Tomb Treasures of Han China

The Search for Immortality — Fitzwilliam Museum

The Fitzwilliam Museum’s current exhibition showcases the treasures found in the royal tombs of the Han Dynasty, rulers of a vast empire encompassing much of what is now modern China, from the 2nd-1st century B.C. (i.e. contemporary with the late Roman Republic).* The Han emperors and kings were buried in tomb complexes containing everything they might need in the afterlife, from food supplies and cooking facilities to tomb guardians and vast quantities of jade, believed to offer protection from evil spirits after death. Continue reading “The Search for Immortality: Tomb Treasures of Han China”

A Classicist in Verona

Like a true Classicist, on a recent trip to Verona I spent most of my time attempting to avoid the city’s never-ending “Romeo e Giulietta” obsession (not an easy task) and instead visiting as many Roman sites as I could. Obviously the first port of call was the Arena, home of Verona’s famous summer opera festival, whose stage sets were actually under construction at the time.

It’s nice to see an ancient amphitheatre still being used for performances, even if Aïda and Carmen aren’t exactly what its builders had in mind. Continue reading “A Classicist in Verona”

Overheard in the Common Room: A Play

Scene: The Graduate Common Room. Lunchtime.

Two LINGUISTS are sitting in the Common Room. The FIRST LINGUIST is producing a series of incomprehensible noises.

A NON-LINGUIST enters, hears the FIRST LINGUIST, and assumes an alarmed expression.

The SECOND LINGUIST attempts to reassure the NON-LINGUIST that the FIRST LINGUIST is not, in fact, suffering from some kind of fit.

SECOND LINGUIST: Don’t worry; it’s Bactrian.

The NON-LINGUIST unaccountably fails to look reassured.

ORBIS: Google Maps for the Roman Empire

I’m sure many of you have often felt frustrated at the inability of Google Maps to accurately represent journey times within the ancient Roman Empire. Happily, a new online resource has been created for just such a purpose.

ORBIS, the Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World, will calculate the fastest, shortest, or cheapest route between any two major cities across the empire, based on a range of factors such as time of year, whether you are a member of the military or merely a civilian, and your chosen mode(s) of transport (options range from “rapid military march” to “horse relay” by way of “ox cart”, “fully loaded mule”, “private travel (routine, vehicular)” and a host of others. It even tells you the price (in denarii) per kilogram of wheat transported via your chosen route. Continue reading “ORBIS: Google Maps for the Roman Empire”