Start of term news: board games, exhibitions, and playing with clay!

It’s the beginning of term here in Cambridge, so time for meeting new students, organising teaching for the term, and generally filling up the diary. It also seems like a good time to share various upcoming events that Cambridge-based readers may be interested in, plus a piece of board-game-related news!

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Me writing a cuneiform tablet.

On October 21st, the Cambridge Archaeological Unit is hosting a ‘Prehistory and Archaeology Day’ (10.30-4pm, 34 Storey’s Way). There’ll be plenty of different activities to try out, from rock-art-painting to pottery-making – and of course, there’ll be several researchers from Classics and Archaeology there to teach people to write on clay in ancient scripts like Linear B, cuneiform, and Egyptian hieroglyphs! The event is free and there’s no need to book, just drop in — more information here. Continue reading “Start of term news: board games, exhibitions, and playing with clay!”

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More classical board games: Cyclades

2017-02-12-17-19-45Not a game that I’ve made this time, but one I bought some time ago: when I found out there was a board game called ‘Cyclades‘ about a bunch of Greek cities fighting for control of the Cycladic islands with the help of various gods and mythical creatures, I pretty much had to get a copy and give it a go. I finally just got around to trying it out with my usual crew of fellow-Classicist-board-game-fans and can report it was a great success (and not just because I won. OK, a little bit because I won.)

Continue reading “More classical board games: Cyclades”

Halloween blog round-up

Only a day late, a round-up of some Halloween-related posts to enjoy!

Firstly, here’s a collection of spooky stories from ancient Rome: ‘Zombies, Witches, and Werewolves, Oh My!

And here is yet another post for the board game fans about a game that’s good fun to play on Halloween (or any other time of year when you have several hours to spare for fighting Lovecraftian monsters): Eldritch Horror.

UK readers can help out with some spooky historical research: historians are trying to track down examples of ‘witch marks’ – lines, geometric designs, or letters carved into doors and windows of houses, churches, etc to keep witches away. Details at the Historic England site, where you can also submit pictures of any marks you spot!

Finally, a bonus link: pictures of some very grumpy looking cats in ridiculous Halloween costumes.

Some more Mycenopoly news…

…the game (which was tMycenopoly 2he subject of an earlier blogpost) is featured in this week’s edition of ‘Coins Weekly‘ (despite not containing any coins). The English version is here and German version here. Just a reminder to say that I am happy to distribute copies free of charge to any teachers wishing to use it specifically for teaching purposes – please send me an email (‘apj31’, then the ‘at’ symbol, then ‘cam.ac.uk’) letting me know who you are and where/what you teach! (Unfortunately I can’t distribute it for any other purposes – please don’t email if you just want a copy to play as I’m afraid I will have to disappoint. But in that case, why not try making your own ancient version of Monopoly…)

Esagil: a Babylonian board game

Some more board-game-related news: next week I’m going to be helping out with an event in the Cambridge Festival of Ideas called “Esagil: Treasure Hunt in Babylon“. It’s a board game designed by Marie-Franรงoise Besnier, a researcher studying ancient Mesopotamia – here’s the event details and blurb:

Tuesday 25 October: 11:00am – 4:00pm
Wednesday 26 October: 11:00am – 4:00pm
Thursday 27 October: 11:00am – 4:00pm
Friday 28 October: 11:00am – 4:00pm

Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Downing Street, CB2 3DZ

Discover ancient Babylon! Seek a treasure for the great god Marduk in the maze of the city. Every encounter may change your fate… Will the odds be in your favour?

“Esagil” is a game for 2-6 players aged 8+, which approximately lasts 20-25 min. It is set in the ancient city of Babylon (1st mill. BC). The aim is to make an offering to the main god of Babylon, Marduk, in his temple, called Esagil. The offerings are sacred objects, “treasures” (all real Mesopotamian objects). The players will seek them in one of the numerous temples of the city. The winner is the first to bring his offering back to the Esagil.

The search is determined by the “if- cards” which tell the players what their next step will be. The “if- cards” are based upon real Babylonian omens. All of them were introduced by the word shumma, “if”: they recorded all kinds of signs and events that could happen in everyday life, which were understood as messages from the gods, such as a black cat crossing the road or the fall of a meteorite. “Esagil” is thus a fun way to learn about ancient Babylonian culture, especially religion and divination.

Come along and have a go at playing it (no need to book)! The Festival of Ideas is going on until October 30th and has a huge range of other events – talks, activities, exhibitions, performances, and more – check out the full event listing here, there’s pretty much guaranteed to be something for everyone!

Blog round-up: from PhDs to SF

A quick round-up of some recent blog posts by friends and colleagues that I think are worth checking out! I recently linked to some good advice for new graduate students from Res Gerendae; here’s another similar post from Katherine McDonald (featuring some more good advice re work/life balance, and a cute picture of a mouse).

Fans of Mycenopoly, or of board games in general, will enjoy this post by Daniel Unruh about the ‘gods playing games’ motif – when gods are depicted as playing board games to control human lives (as frequently seen in the Discworld, for example, or the classic film Jason and the Argonauts).

Finally, one for the SF fans: an interesting pair of posts by Philip Boyes on the close but problematic relationship between science fiction and archaeology: Part 1 and Part 2.

Oh, and here is a picture of a cat, because every blog post is improved by a picture of a cat:

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Happy reading!

Some start-of-term news

Just a quick post with a few things I wanted to share for the start of term! Firstly, a couple of posts over on the Cambridge Classics graduate blog, Res Gerendae: some handy tips for new PhD students (mostly just as relevant to students in other universities!), and an exciting exhibition that’s currently on in the Faculty’s Cast Gallery (but finishing on October 15th). By the way, I encourage any readers who haven’t checked out Res Gerendae yet to do so – it has a lot of great posts on a huge range of topics, and I’m sure there are many more interesting posts to come this term! (Any new Cambridge classics grads reading this – I also encourage you to sign up to write for RG – see my previous post on why this is a useful and fun thing to do!) Continue reading “Some start-of-term news”