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 Balkans from the fall of Rome to the Goths in 476 CE until the final capture of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453 CE. Kaldellis’ work represents an intriguing attempt to reconnect the Byzantines to their Roman heritage, something which he argues has all-too-often been ignored and/or denied by scholars.
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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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.
I’m working on a longer post, but for the moment I thought I’d do some quick links to showcase the work of my friends and colleagues. Boardgames and ancient times seems to be a major point of intersection in the circles I move in, and two Cambridge classicists have done some amazing work adapting pre-existing boardgames to the ancient world.
First up, several months ago Anna Judson, a linguist studying Bronze-Age writing systems and a Junior Research Fellow of Gonville and Caius College produced Mycenopoly, a re-imagining of Monopoly set in the Aegean of the late Bronze-Age. You can read about her efforts on her blog here:
More recently, another Cambridge Classicist, Postdoctoral Researcher in Ugaritic and Bronze-Age archaeologist Philip Boyes adapted an even more complex game, the Lovecraftian co-operative boardgame Eldritch Horror, to create Ancient Horror, which combines the weird fiction of H. P. Lovecraft with the turbulent world of the late Bronze Age Near East and Aegean. Philip describes his massive undertaking here:
I have played both games, and can testify to the incredible effort and creativity that both involve, and indeed to just how much fun they are to play!
And indeed, it’s just possible that this classicist has also been inspired to contribute something in the boardgame department. I will say nothing and promise nothing, because life has an annoying habit of intervening, but suffice it to say that you may see another boardgame-related post on this blog sometime soon.