It’s a WRAP: moving from Athens to Durham

Nearly two years ago, I was preparing to move to Athens to start a new research project ‘Writing at Pylos’ (acronym: WRAP), funded by the EU’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, at the British School at Athens. It’s hard to believe that I’m now in the final stages of wrapping up the project (pun very much intended) before starting a new job in just a couple of days’ time: from September 1st I will officially be an Assistant Professor (Teaching) in the Department of Classics & Ancient History at Durham, teaching mostly classical Greek and Latin language, with a bit of epigraphy too (and yes, even some Linear B!).

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Playing with (real) clay

“Clay play day” was a pretty regular feature of my time as a researcher in Cambridge – we’d get some modelling clay and try making and writing tablets in various ancient writing systems, or run activities for school students and families to do the same. As part of my new research project in Athens, I’m aiming to do a more systematic version of this, working in the Fitch Laboratory with researchers who are experienced in experimental work with ceramics, to understand more about how the Linear B tablets were made. The Fitch provided samples of a few clays of different levels of fineness/coarseness for me to try out, so the first stage was to prepare them to work with. Recipe: break up dry clay with a pestle and mortar, put in beaker, add water, stir. Wait for several days, realise you’ve put far too much water in, pour a lot of it out, wait several more days. After that, I finally had four different clays ready to play with.

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Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships

Latest updates: July 2021, to incorporate information about changes to the MSCA under the new ‘Horizon Europe’ programme.

September 2021: the slides from my talk about MSCA fellowships at the Institute of Classical Studies Professional Development Workshop are available here.

Black and white portrait of Marie Curie
Scientist Marie Skłodowska-Curie

As I said in my previous post, I’m just starting a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship, and I wanted to say more here about what these fellowships actually are and what the process for applying for them is like. The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) are part of the European Union’s Horizon research funding scheme; the specific type of fellowship I have, an MSC Individual European Fellowship, provides funding for 1-2 years for postdoctoral researchers who are moving to or within Europe (for information on other kinds of MSC fellowships, see here: e.g. there are fellowships to support spending time outside of Europe or returning from a career break).

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Next stop, Athens…

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Sunset view of the Acropolis from Mt Lykavittos

I’m delighted to be able to share some exciting news about the next stage of my research into Linear B and the Mycenaean scribes – after my current postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge comes to an end in the autumn, I’ll be moving to the British School in Athens on a two-year Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship. These EU fellowships are designed to promote movement to and around Europe by postdoctoral researchers so they can go to whatever institution is best placed to support their research – I’m thrilled to be able to benefit from the vast range of knowledge and experience at the BSA, in particular that of Mycenaean archaeologist and Linear B specialist Professor John Bennet, who will act as my research mentor, and of members of the Fitch Laboratory, with whom I plan to collaborate. I’m equally excited, of course, at the prospect of spending two years living and working in Athens!

Tripod tablet
Linear B tablet from Pylos listing tripods and other ceremonial vessels

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