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Faculty of Classics

 

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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.

Onassis Foundation endowing a fellowship for the creation of a new post in Classics

12 October 2021

A new University post linked to Newnham will continue a College tradition of teaching, research, and taking Classics out into the wider world that goes back more than a century to Jane Harrison. Newnham College, Cambridge is launching the Onassis Classics Fellowship in order to secure a permanent position for the teaching...

Roman York beneath the streets

12 October 2021

Martin Millett, Laurence Professor of Classical Archaeology, University of Cambridge, and Dr John Creighton, Department of Archaeology, University of Reading, have been awarded a grant of £718,598 from the AHRC for a new project on Roman York (which will run from November 2022 to April 2024). The nature and topography of...

Dr Philippa Steele is the Latest Cambridge Academic to be honoured in Lego

11 October 2021

Dr. Philippa (Pippa) M. Steele, Senior Research Associate and Principal Investigator of the Contexts of and Relations between Early Writing Systems (CREWS) Project at the University, has been made into a Lego figure by the group Lego Classicists in honour of all her work in Classics and Outreach (and Lego!). As Principal...