Historiai: a belated explanation

Having given my blog a new name and style (what we hip media academics call 'rebranding') I realized it might be worth explaining what the new name means. Historiai is the plural of the word historiê (ἱστορίη); this is, of course, the term from which English 'history' is derived.  And in Greek and Latin, from the fourth... Continue Reading →

Lost Wax

I came across this video by the National Geographic, which explains the Lost Wax technique of creating ancient bronze sculpture.  I found it riveting, and indeed it's the first time the process was explained in a way that made sense to me.

The Music of Tragedy

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... Continue Reading →

Words that Last: Clay, Papyrus, and Computers

Two articles recently published on the BBC website recently caught my eye. The first was a discussion of the earliest known writing on Earth, as part of a series on ‘50 things that made the modern economy’. These earliest written texts were economic texts: inventories of goods, sale contracts, IOUs, written in Sumerian Cuneiform more... Continue Reading →

The Byzantine Republic

I recently finished reading a book on an aspect of the Classical world that neither I, nor many other Classicists likely have thought much about. The book is Anthony Kaldellis’ The Byzantine Republic, which deals with the Eastern Roman Empire (called by modern scholars “Byzantine”) which ruled a fluctuating area centred on Anatolia and the... Continue Reading →

The Afterlife of Baʿal

My friend and colleague Philip Boyes writes about the strange evolution of an ancient Near Eastern deity. Well worth checking out!

Ancient Worlds

(or, What This Ugaritian Storm-God Looks Like Now Will Astound You!)

1200px-Baal_thunderbolt_Louvre_AO15775 Ba’al on a stele from Ugarit, now in the Louvre

Callot 2011 Reconstruction 2 Reconstruction of the Temple of Ba’al on the acropolis of Ugarit. From Callot 2011

Ever since excavations began at the Syrian city of Ugarit in 1929, the importance of the god Baʿal has been clear. Among the first Ugaritic texts discovered at the site were mythological tablets recounting the legends of this god; Baʿal’s temple was excavated in prime position on the city’s acropolis, close to that of his father Dagan. While the supreme god El occupied the pinnacle of the Ugaritian pantheon, as more and more ritual and religious documents have been recovered from Ugarit, it’s become unquestionable that the city’s people felt a particular fondness and affinity for Baʿal, the archetypal king who had his palace on Mount Saphon overlooking the city.

But Baʿal was not solely…

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Essay Advice

I've been working on a handout that gives some broad principles and tips for essay writing, and I thought I'd share it here.  While some of it applies specifically to Cambridge, quite a lot I think applies to good essay-writing anywhere.  Thoughts are most welcome!  I'm also posting a PDF version on my Teaching page. ... Continue Reading →

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