Ancient writing systems in the Mediterranean

A critical guide to electronic resources


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    Isut - A tool for collaborative annotation and computational analysis of Hieratic texts

    Isut is a tool, created by Mark-Jan Nederhof, Julius Tabin, and Christian Casey with the support of the University of Liège, which collects fully annotated Hieratic facsimiles of some well-known Egyptian texts. Its main purpose is to compare different shapes of Hieratic signs, distinguishing periods, provenances, and genres, which can be useful for dating and for identifying scribes.
    The Guesser is a feature that allows the user to draw a Hieratic sign, and the tool will return the normalized hieroglyphs and Gardiner names of the shapes in the database that are most similar to it.
    (D. Salvoldi)
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    The Legacy of Michael Ventris: Progress and Perspectives in the Field of Aegean Scripts and Mycenaean Studies, edited by F. Aura Jorro, M. Del Freo, J. Piquero (Incunabula Graeca CVIII), Roma, CNR Edizioni, 2023, XVIII+350 pp.

    The volume, published with the contribution of the Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovacion y Universidades (Spain), brings together 14 contributions on the impact that the decipherment of the Linear B script had on the study of the origins of Greek civilisation and is divided into three sections: one on Linear B and other Aegean scripts, one on Mycenaean Greek, and one on Mycenaean documents as historical sources. In the first section, some unresolved questions concerning the Aegean writing systems of the Bronze Age are discussed; in the second section, the Mycenaean Greek is analysed in the light of its phonetic, morphological, syntactic and lexical characteristics with particular reference to its relations with the Greek dialects of the 1st millennium BC; finally, the contributions in the third section focus on the significance of Linear B documents for the reconstruction of the social, religious and material history of Greece in the Late Bronze Age.
    More information here.
    (M. Del Freo)
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    The New Documents in Mycenaean Greek, 2 vols., ed. by J. T. Killen, Cambridge, CUP, 2024, pp. xxviii (vol. 1) + xxvi (vol. 2) + 1145.

    In 1952 Michael Ventris deciphered the script found on the Linear B tablets from Crete and the Greek mainland, therefore revealing the earliest known form of Greek. In 1956 he and John Chadwick published Documents in Mycenaean Greek, which gave an account of the decipherment, of the language of the tablets, of the society and economy revealed by the documents and a series of chapters giving texts, translations and commentary of the most important tablets. Though partially updated in 1973, Documents is now very much outdated: there has been a vast accrual of bibliography on the subject since 1973, and discoveries of tablets at new sites. This new survey, written by fourteen of the world's leading experts, will bring the reader fully up-to-date with developments in all aspects of Mycenaean studies, concluding with a new, full glossary of all the most recently discovered words.
    (M. Del Freo)
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    On Thursday February 22nd, starting at 10 a.m., the Seminar "Confini, terre di frontiera, limiti nel mondo antico e tardoantico" will be held within the PhD in Studi Storici. Storia e civiltà del mondo antico e del Vicino Oriente (Dipartimento di Storia, Archeologia, Geografia, Arte e Spettacolo. Storia, Archeologia, Geografia, Arte e Spettacolo. Dipartimento di Lettere e Filosofia) at the Sala Orbatello, via della Pergola 60 in Florence.

    The Seminar is organized by G.A. Cecconi, A. Magnelli and G. Torri.

    Poster with the seminar program
    More information
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    One State, Many Worlds: Crete in the Late Minoan II-IIIA2 Early Period, Proceedings of the International Conference held at Khania, Megalo Arsenali, 21st – 23rd November 2019 (SMEA NS Suppl. 2), ed. by A. L. D’Agata, L. Girella, E. Papadopoulou, D. G. Aquini, Roma, Edizioni Quasar, 2022, 452 pp. (ISBN: 978-88-5491-273-1).

    This volume contains the proceedings of an international conference held at Khania, November 2019. Its aim is to resume the discussion on LM II-IIIA2 early Crete, one of the most crucial periods in the history of the island, which marked its inclusion in the political and cultural orbit of mainland Greece. The contributions, which are organized on a geographical basis, begin with Knossos and central Crete, include western and eastern Crete, and end with a few mainland case studies. Two contributions are of particular interest to epigraphists: one on the Linear B from Knossos (J. Driessen - O. Mouthuy) and one on the beginning of Linear B administration in mainland Greece (V. Petrakis).
    (M.Del Freo)
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    Digital paleography of hieratic and cursive hieroglyphs

    The site AKU-PAL has been updated. The new features include many new signs, enriched bibliographic information, improved image quality and the addition of very granular filters for searching (epoch, dynasty, ruler and more).
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    Mnamon update

    Two new sections have just been published in Mnamon: Meroitic and Nubian. The author is the specialist Daniele Salvoldi (American University of Cairo).

    Also the sections for Etruscan, Faliscan and Lemnian were carefully reviewed and enriched by the specialists.
    (A. Russo)
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    Mnamon Seminars

    On Monday October 23rd at 3 p.m. the following seminar will be held online:

    Alan Bowman (University of Oxford)

    "Writing on Wood in Roman Britain: the Vindolanda Tablets"

    Abstract. The wooden writing-tablets from the fort of Vindolanda, to the south of Hadrian’s Wall, date to the period between 90 and 130 and and make a unique contribution to our knowledge of writing materials, documentary practices and literacy in the first century AD. The formats of the hundreds of tablets and the writing practices demonstrate the flexibility with which the materials were used for administrative documents and personal letters. The content and the variety of identifiable individual hands, the range of subject-matter and the palaeographical features of the texts afford a unique insight into writing practices and the literate environment across the Roman empire as a whole. These features will be illustrated by a number of individual examples which attest new and in some cases very surprising phenomena.

    Live video streaming here.
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    New Indo-European language

    Excavations at Hattusa (Boğazköy, Republic of Turkey), the Hittite capital , led by a German (DAI - Istanbul) and Turkish (Istanbul University) archaeological mission, have brought to light a fragment of ritual text in cuneiform script that contains a recitation in a hitherto unknown Indo-European language.
    Among the thousands of tablets found over 100 years of archaeological activity, most are written in the Hittite language, and many others hand down evidence in the Luwian and Palaic languages, also belonging to the Proto-Anatolian group of the Indo-European family. The found text preserves evidence of the language of the Land Kalasma, probably located in northwestern Anatolia. The text will be published by mission philologist Prof. D. Schwemer (University of Würzburg, Germany) and will add a new piece to the cultural and linguistic complexity of the Bronze Age Anatolian world.

    Maggiori informazioni
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    Mnamon Seminars

    On Thursday October 12th at 3 p.m. the following seminar will be held online:

    Giulia Torri (University of Florence)

    "Uso simbolico delle parti del corpo nei rituali magici ittiti"

    Abstract. Tra i testi in grafia cuneiforme ritrovati nella capitale ittita, Hattuša (XVII-XIII sec. a.C.) un ampio numero contiene la descrizione di rituali magici eseguiti per la purificazione di pazienti da diversi tipi di calamità e malattie. I rituali magici si compongono di numerose pratiche che spesso coinvolgono il corpo del paziente che viene trattato, pulito e purificato al fine di ripristinare il suo stato originario di salute. Visto che spesso il paziente è il sovrano, la purificazione del suo corpo si estende simbolicamente al ripristino dell’ordine nel regno da lui controllato. Il punto di partenza di questa presentazione è un rituale di scongiuro antico-ittita per il re Labarna (XVII-XVI sec.?), CTH 412.3, che conserva la purificazione dettagliata delle parti del corpo del sovrano, elencate una per una, attraverso il contatto con le arti del corpo equivalenti di un piccolo animale. Partendo da questo rituale saranno analizzati motivi simili in altri testi al fine di mostrare l’uso e il trattamento simbolico del corpo del sovrano nella magia ittita e la possibile origine di tale pratica in ambito anatolico.

    Live video streaming here.

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