Monthly Archives: January 2019
The Phaistos Disc – see below
Every so often a news article will make the rounds of the internet – or, for that matter, a paper will be published in an academic journal – presenting a new ‘decipherment’ of an undeciphered ancient writing system. Obviously, such decipherments have taken place in the past – probably most famously that of Egyptian hieroglyphs – and it’s certainly possible that more will take place in the future; but when it comes to the undeciphered writing systems of the Bronze Age Aegean, at least, there’s good reason to be extremely sceptical about any such claims of decipherment. This post is a quick guide to some key facts about the various related writing systems found in Bronze Age Crete and mainland Greece, starting with the one deciphered writing system, Linear B, and then surveying the undeciphered ones roughly in order of how much we know…
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Translation of Linear B tablet KN 525 R l 24 by Rita Roberts It is to be noted that the supersyllabogram TE, which appears in the text tagged 2. refers to the Linear B word TETUKUOWA = tetu/xu#oa, which literally translated means “well prepared” or “ready”, in other words “finished” cloth or textile, in this case “finished wool”.
A magnificent but sad story. Please leave comments on the original post.
On 11 January 1879, a British Army crossed the Buffalo River, the boundary between the British Natal province and the independent native African kingdom of the Zulus. After the refusal by the Zulu king Cetshwayo of an insulting British ultimatum, a British army prepared to march on the Zulu capital, Ulindi with the goal of defeating and annexing the Zulu kingdom.
The Zulu War of 1879 was not officially sanctioned by the government of British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. It was instead the work of an ambitious colonial official, Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere, High Commissioner for Southern Africa. In an effort to compel the various states of South Africa into a British confederation (which would be comprised of British-run Cape Colony, Natal, and the Boer republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State), Frere had initiated a policy of annexation of local African…
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The Iliad tells the story of the Greek hero Achilles’ anger after Briseis, a woman he’s taken captive as his ‘prize’ after sacking her city, is taken away from him by Agamemnon, and the disasters that strike the Greek army after Achilles withdraws from the fighting over this slight. Briseis herself doesn’t feature much in the poem; she’s only mentioned ten times, and only speaks once, to mourn the death of Patroclus, who, she says, was kind to her after her capture by Achilles (19.282ff). Pat Barker‘s The Silence of the Girls (2018) gives us Briseis’ version of the Iliad: the story of the war told from the point of view of one of the many women who lose their homes, families, and freedom at the hands of the Homeric ‘heroes’. It’s a wonderful novel, beautifully written in mostly very simple language that manages to shift seamlessly…
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AN UNUSUAL POST. BUT THE CLASSICS WILL LOVE IT.
“It was winter and it was snowing”
χειμὼν δὲ ἦν καὶ ὑπένειφεν…
Homer, Il. 3.222-3
“Yet, then a great voice came from his chest And [Odysseus’] words were like snowy storms”
ἀλλ’ ὅτε δὴ ὄπα τε μεγάλην ἐκ στήθεος εἵη καὶ ἔπεα νιφάδεσσιν ἐοικότα χειμερίῃσιν,
Hermippus, 37 (Athenaeus 650e)
“Have you ever seen a pomegranate seed in drifts of snow?”
ἤδη τεθέασαι κόκκον ἐν χιόνι ῥόας;
Pindar, Pythian 1. 20
“Snowy Aetna, perennial nurse of bitter snow”
νιφόεσσ᾿ Αἴτνα, πάνετες χιόνος ὀξείας τιθήνα
Plutarch, Moralia 340e
“Nations covered in depths of snow”
καὶ βάθεσι χιόνων κατακεχωσμένα ἔθνη
Herodotus, Histories 4.31
“Above this land, snow always falls…
τὰ κατύπερθε ταύτης τῆς χώρης αἰεὶ νίφεται
Diodorus Siculus, 14.28
“Because of the mass of snow that was constantly falling, all their weapons were covered and their bodies froze in the chill in the air. Thanks to the extremity of their…
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