Venetic seminar week 1

Yesterday we had the first of two introductory seminars on Venetic. The high point was, of course, the excellent cake by Anna Judson, shown here with Anna holding it up next to a picture of the inscription itself for comparison. As you can see, it was both tasty and highly accurate! Epigraphy-themed cakes have become…

The demos of Roccagloriosa

Today’s inscription is a fantastic example of linguists getting a huge amount of information about ancient societies out of very short texts. How short? Well, about two letters actually. Buxentum 2 (c. 300 BC) reads <ΔΗ>, or <DE> to transcribe it into the Roman alphabet. The two letters are joined by one of their lines, to make…

I, Sicily

I’ve recently started on a very exciting new collaboration with the I.Sicily project, which is building a fully searchable, freely available online corpus of the inscriptions of Sicily. (In my head I keep turning this project into “I, Sicily” in the manner of “I, Claudius” – this sounds quite dramatic, so I’m sticking with it.) To…

Vanishing names on healing amulets

I’m reviewing a book this week called Vanishing Acts On Ancient Greek Amulets by Christopher A. Faraone. It’s a short monograph that’s incredibly rich in detail, using magical amulets in Greek, Latin and other languages to trace developments in how healing spells were spoken and written from the first century to the sixth century AD. In particular,…

Words for “alphabet” in ancient languages

I remember when I first realised that the English word “alphabet” came from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet – alpha and beta – and somehow I felt like I’d cracked a kind of etymological code. But the list of brilliant names for alphabet terms just goes on. The word “alphabet”  is of…

Umbrian in Tolstoy

My holiday reading this year was Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, which I had been meaning to read for a while. For the first three hundred pages, it was a total escape from work – but then what should pop up in Part III but a reference to Umbrian: Alexei Alexandrovich ordered tea to be served in…