(photo credit: William Unruh) Something is happening to the Sun. Though the sky is clear and cloudless, and the Sun far above the horizon, the light has been slowly dimming, until it seems as dark as a cloudy day in winter. The air is feeling wintry too - it's been getting steadily colder for a... Continue Reading →
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 →
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.
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 →
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 →
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 →
My friend and colleague Philip Boyes writes about the strange evolution of an ancient Near Eastern deity. Well worth checking out!
(or, What This Ugaritian Storm-God Looks Like Now Will Astound You!)
Ba’al on a stele from Ugarit, now in the Louvre
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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Content warning: Cults, Sexual Abuse, Snakes One of the strangest stories from the ancient world comes from the pen of the Second Century CE writer Lucian of Samosata. Lucian, a Greek-speaking Syrian, was part of the great flowering of Greek culture under the Roman Empire that we refer to as the Second Sophistic. To generalize... Continue Reading →
In honour of International Women's Day, Pippa Steele of Cambridge's CREWS project (Contexts and Relationships between Early Writing Systems) has blogged about two women who had a massive influence on the study of Ancient Greek writing systems. https://crewsproject.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/celebrating-women-epigraphists/