skip to content

Faculty of Classics

 

CREWS Logo

Contexts of and Relations between Early Writing Systems (CREWS) is a European Research Council funded project based in the Faculty of Classics. Beginning in April 2016, it will run for five years, until 2021.

The project

The aim of the CREWS project is to take an innovative and interdisciplinary approach to the history of writing, developing new methodologies for studying writing systems and their social context. The project researchers will be working on specific case studies relating to inscriptions of the ancient Aegean, Eastern Mediterranean and Levant (c.2000-600 BC). By looking at the ways in which writing systems were developed and used, we can study not only the systems themselves and the languages written in them, but also the cultural settings in which they were adapted and maintained.

Two central research questions underpin the project:

1) How can we tell how different writing systems are related to each other?

and

2) What effect does the social context in which it is used have on writing?

By focusing on the Mediterranean in 2nd and 1st millennia BC, the project will be able to investigate writing during a period when we know there were high levels of contact between different areas. Against this backdrop of linguistic and cultural interconnections, a study of how writing was passed on and adapted for new uses has the potential to give new insights into social history.

Writing systems under investigation

- The Aegean scripts: Cretan Hieroglyphic, Linear A and Linear B

- Ugaritic cuneiform (and its relationship with other cuneiform systems such as Akkadian)

- The Phoenician ‘alphabet’ or ‘abjad’ (and its relationship with other systems such as the Aramaic and Hebrew alphabets)

- The Greek alphabet (and its development from the Phoenician system and relationships with other early alphabets in e.g. Anatolia and Italy)

Find out more

You can find out more about the researchers working on the CREWS project by visiting our ‘members’ page.

To follow the project’s progress, visit the CREWS blog at https://crewsproject.wordpress.com/.

Latest news

Ancient Greek ‘pop culture’ discovery rewrites history of poetry and song

8 September 2021

New research into a little-known text written in ancient Greek shows that ‘stressed poetry’, the ancestor of all modern poetry and song, was already in use in the 2 nd Century CE, 300 years earlier than previously thought.

Roman York beneath the streets: Research Associate

17 August 2021

The Faculty invites applications for a Research Associate on the new AHRC funded Roman York beneath the streets project. The closing date is Monday 20 September 2021. See here for more details .

Open letter on anti-racism: a response from the Faculty Board of Classics

16 July 2021

The response to the Open Letter on anti-racism, together with an action plan outlining the Faculty’s strategy, is now available online. Read here for more details

Martin Millett elected as President of the Society of Antiquaries of London

7 July 2021

Professor Martin Millett FBA, Laurence Professor of Classical Archaeology and Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, has been elected as President of the Society of Antiquaries of London (2021-24). Founded in 1707, the Society of Antiquaries of London is an educational charity that promotes the understanding of the human past and...