New Crimean Gothic Graffiti

January 2, 2016

I just saw yesterday on Roland Schumann’s blog Altgermanistik that there have been recently recognised new Crimean Gothic graffiti.  The objects on which the graffiti were found are not new discoveries — many of them also bear Greek graffiti which have already been published in the corpora that are the forerunners of the current Ancient Inscriptions of the Northern Black Sea Project.  These, however, give the newly discovered Crimean Gothic graffiti a clear context, and they appear to be datable to the second half of the ninth or first half of the tenth centuries AD.

The graffiti were edited and published by Andrey Vinogradov and Maxim Korobov in an article Готские граффити из мангупской базилики in Средние века 76 (2015), S. 57-75, which has also been made available to download online at here.  The article provides transcriptions, reconstructed texts, and Russian translations of the graffiti.  Sadly my knowledge of Russian is not up to the task of providing accurate translations of their interpretations here, but hopefully someone else will be up to the task eventually.

More Book News: Documents in Mycenaean Greek

June 9, 2015

I heard yesterday that as of last month Cambridge University Press has made available a paperback print-on-demand reprint of Ventris and Chadwick’s Documents in Mycenaean Greek (2nd ed., 1973), and it has been long overdue.  Documents in Mycenaean Greek (or Docs.² as many affectionately call it), despite its age with much of the text still unchanged from the 1956 original, still remains one of the most important handbooks on the subject.  But it’s been long out of print for a long time and if you didn’t have access to an academic library and/or wanted to obtain a personal copy you would have to either be very, very lucky in an antiquarian bookshop, or shell out large amounts of cash on the online market.  (As I write this prices start around £76 (~$116 USD) a for a used copy of the first edition, around £156 (~$240 USD) for the second edition, which is much rarer, and only one copy is currently listed on AbeBooks at all.).  I was lucky enough to buy a copy of Docs.² in a G. David’s Bookshop here in Cambridge for £75, which was reasonably good, as when I showed it to my own Ph.D. supervisor he showed me his copy and its purchase receipt for around $300+ USD made some years before that.

Anyway, those troubles are now long over, if you want a copy of Docs.² it’s now at long last available for the low, low price of £26.99 GBP or $40.00 USD—well, quite low compared to what the originals go for on the open market.

John Killen and the late Anna Morpurgo Davies have been for long working on a new, completely revised and reworked third edition of Documents in Mycenaean Greek (Docs.³), and hopefully that will also see the light of day soon, but for its historical importance as the foundational handbook for the study of Mycenaean texts written by the decipherers immediately following the decipherment, it is unlikely that Docs.¹ or Docs.² will ever be replaced.  Students and scholars of the Aegean Bronze Age are well served by CUP’s new reprint.

Laws of Indo-European Twitter

June 6, 2015

I must have reached peak Ph.D. writeup procrastination, since I have just founded a new Twitter account @Laws_of_IE dedicated to tweeting linguistic ‘laws’ of Indo-European for my own self-amusement.  The idea is to try to tweet about one sound-law or other proposed law a day.  For the last three days so far, I’ve done PIE *du̯- > -rk- in Armenian, the ‘satəm’ treatment of PIE */k̑/ in the ‘Luwic’ sub-branch of Anatolian, and the questionable fate of PIE */p/ in Proto-Celtic.  I imagine some branches of Indo-European will feature more heavily than others, given my general ignorance of Balto-Slavic, complete ignorance of Insular Celtic, and very little knowledge of the Tocharian languages (and Albanian), but I’ll try to do my best to give representative coverage to as many branches as I can.

It’s also a lot more low-pressure blogging than trying to think of things to write on this page at the moment.  I’ll try to do better in the future, but first I have a dissertation to finish.

ICGL11 Proceedings

June 2, 2015

coverI just got word the other day that the Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Greek Linguistics is finally out.  Fortunately for everyone, it’s completely open access and free to download from the University of the Aegean – Department of the Humanities‘s website.  The papers in the volume are in Greek and English.  I have a paper in it (pp.1535-1548) on the development of the long vowels in the ancient epichoric dialect of Thessaly, but there’s lots more on all aspects of Greek linguistics.  Ancient and modern, historical, dialectological, and theoretical—even stuff about bagpipes—there’s something for everyone.

Anyway, here you go internet.  Have some free Greek linguistics (the best kind).

(Full bibliographical reference: Kotzoglou, G., K. Nikolou, E. Karantzola, K. Frantzi, I. Galantomos, M. Georgalidou, V. Kourti-Kazoulis, Ch. Papadopoulou & E. Vlachou (eds) 2014. 11th International Conference on Greek Linguistics (Rhodes, 26-29 September 2013): Selected Papers / Πρακτικά. Rhodes: Department of Mediterranean Studies, University of the Aegean.)

New Book: Language and Society in the Greek and Roman Worlds

May 9, 2015

James Clackson has just published a new book in the CUP Key Themes in Ancient History series, Language and Society in the Greek and Roman Worlds.  I have only read the first chapter and a half so far, and just from that I can tell that on the whole it’s done a remarkable job of synthesising and making accessible much of the work done on sociolinguistics in Greek and Roman antiquity that has been booming in recent years.  From the blurb:

Texts written in Latin, Greek and other languages provide ancient historians with their primary evidence, but the role of language as a source for understanding the ancient world is often overlooked. Language played a key role in state-formation and the spread of Christianity, the construction of ethnicity, and negotiating positions of social status and group membership. Language could reinforce social norms and shed light on taboos. This book presents an accessible account of ways in which linguistic evidence can illuminate topics such as imperialism, ethnicity, social mobility, religion, gender and sexuality in the ancient world, without assuming the reader has any knowledge of Greek or Latin, or of linguistic jargon. It describes the rise of Greek and Latin at the expense of other languages spoken around the Mediterranean and details the social meanings of different styles, and the attitudes of ancient speakers towards linguistic differences.

As I said, I haven’t finished reading it yet, but I can already tell that it is definitely worth checking out if you want a readable introduction and up-to-date account of current perspectives in ancient sociolinguistics.

It’s out!

March 26, 2015

I’ve been pretty bogged down with dissertating the last while, but I noticed in the Cambridge University Library catalogue the latest issue of Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik had arrived, so I thought it might make a nice writing break to go and check out the new issue.

2015-03-26 15.45.46

Behold, the Inhaltsverzeichnis:

2015-03-26 15.46.11Oh, what’s that?  “A New Edition of IG IX,2 69″?

2015-03-26 15.46.33My first article!

(Technically it’s under open-access embargo until 2016 but I’ve got a digital offprint that I can email to people and I’m sure there’s nothing really preventing me from sharing these artistic pictures of one of the reading benches of UL North 6 with a book on it…)

2015-03-26 15.46.452015-03-26 15.46.55I think I’m just going to quietly revel at home with the withdrawn periodical volume…

Murty Library

February 1, 2015

Hat recently drew attention a couple of weeks back to the fact that the Murty Classical Library of India has recently published its first five volumes.  As Hat details in his post, the series can be thought of as something of a successor to the short-lived Clay Sanskrit Library which folded in 2010.  Though the concept, in my opinion, has been much improved by expanding the Murty Library to include works in other classical languages of India, and indeed the of the first five volumes, not one volume is actually originally Sanskrit, but rather the languages of the first batch of volumes range from Panjabi to Persian, Pāli, Old Hindi, and Telugu.

I recently had the opportunity to stop by Foyles Booksellers when I had to go down to London last week to apply to renew my passport at the Canadian High Commission.  As one expects from such a quality bookseller as they, they had a whole display dedicated to the volumes and I had my first chance to peruse them.

2015-01-27 11.28.53

Harvard University Press has put the same level of quality into the physical production of the books as you might find in the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library or the I Tatti Renaissance Library, and they were a joy to browse.  Unfortunately I didn’t buy any at that time, but I must admit resistance was quite difficult.

The typography of the series is brilliant, as it must be for the variety of scripts needed to typeset the original languages of such a multilingual collection.  The Murty Library website has an entire section dedicated its discussion, and has even made its in-house fonts, developed specially for the series by Tiro Typeworks, freely available.  I admit I don’t usually have much need for a Panjabi typeface, but it is quite pretty to look at.

I digressed a bit on their page of current volumes to notice that they have a future volume of a Sanskrit epic, the Kirātārjunīya (किरातार्जुनीय, Of Arjuna and the Kirāta) forthcoming in the series.  I hadn’t heard of this poem before, but Wikipedia informs that “[i]t is an epic poem in eighteen cantos describing the combat between Arjuna and lord Shiva at Indrakeeladri hills in present day Vijayawada in the guise of a kirāta or mountain-dwelling hunter.” and “[i]t is noted among Sanskrit critics both for its gravity or depth of meaning, and for its forceful and sometimes playful expression. This includes a canto set aside for demonstrating linguistic feats, similar to constrained writing.”  There are a number of amusing examples given on the page, one of which resembles a great Sanskrit tongue-twister:

न नोननुन्नो नुन्नोनो नाना नानानना ननु ।
नुन्नोऽनुन्नो ननुन्नेनो नानेना नुन्ननुन्ननुत् ॥

na nonanunno nunnono nānā nānānanā nanu ।
nunno’nunno nanunneno nānenā nunnanunnanut ॥

“О ye many-faced ones (nānānanā), he indeed (nanu) is not a man (na nā) who is defeated by an inferior (ūna-nunno), and that man is no man (nā-anā) who persecutes one weaker than himself (nunnono). He whose leader is not defeated (na-nunneno) though overcome is not vanquished (nunno’nunno); he who persecutes the completely vanquished (nunna-nunna-nut) is not without sin (nānenā).”

(The translation is credited to Monier Monier-Williams, in his commentary to the Nala Episode of the Mahābhārata.)

Anyway, I will look forward to reading this upcoming Sanskrit epic which I had hitherto not known about at all when it comes out in the series soon enough – and the others too if I can find the time to read a volume of Buddhist Women’s Poetry or Sufi Lyrics in the near future.

More on the Provenance of the New Sappho Papyri

January 17, 2015

While the Society for Classical Studies (formerly the American Philological Association) conference was going on in New Orleans last week, I got reports via Twitter that Dirk Obbink, the publisher of the new Sappho fragments in ZPE last year, gave a paper wherein he discussed the provenance of the new fragments.  The paper has been put up online at and I imagine there will be another forthcoming ZPE article in which a fuller account will be published.  The current story of their provenance, as detailed in the paper is given as follows:

As reported and documented by the London owner of the ‘Brothers’ and ‘Kypris Poems’ fragment, all of the fragments were recovered from a fragment of papyrus car tonnage formerly in the collection of David M. Robinson and subsequently bequeathed to the Library of the University of Mississippi.  The Library later de-accessed it in order to purchase Faulkner materials.  It was one of two pieces flat inside a sub-folder (folder ‘E3’) inside a main folder (labelled ‘Papyri Fragments; Gk.’), one of 59 packets of papyri fragments sold at auction at Christies in London in November 2011.  They contained texts ranging from the 2nd to the 4th century AD, probably originally from the Arsinoite nome where many of Robinson’s other papyri were purchased or originated.  The collection was documented by William H. Willis in a 1961 article, in which the folder labeled ‘Papyri Fragments; Gk.’ (and folders numbered ‘E1’ to ‘E12’ within it) are part of the ‘third group’ of Robinson papyri described by Willis.  The ‘Egyptian dealer’ from whom Robinson, then a professor at the University of Mississippi, acquired the papyri [in] 1954 is now known to have been Sultan Maguid Sameda of the Art Gallery Maguid Sameda, 55 Gambhouria Street in Cairo.  Other papyri, both literary and documentary are now either in or have sister pieces in several US and European collections (due to de-accession by Mississippi or through original acquisition through the same dealer), among them Duke, Cologne, the Chester Beatty Library, Dubline, and the Bodmer Foundeation, Geneva.  Their dispersal has been documented in a fascinating study by James Robinson.

The study of James Robinson in question is The Story of the Bodmer Papyri: From the First Monastery’s Library in Upper Egypt to Geneva and Dublin (Cambridge, 2011).  I am relieved that the papyri were not on the market today as a result of recent looting, and I hope this explanation is found satisfactory to those watchers of the antiquities trade who were critical of the unmentioned provenance in the editio princeps.

The rest of the paper deals with some textual problems and the issue of the content of the first (missing) stanza from the point of view of a Horace intertext, which is also worth a read.

This Year in Philology 2014

December 30, 2014

It occurs to me that music bloggers typically make year-end ‘best of’ lists for the best new music they’ve heard this year.  Why shouldn’t I make a post to highlight the most interesting things I’ve read this year that were published this year?  Thanks to my obsessive cataloging of my reading with EndNote, compiling a list is actually not so hard, so without further adieu, and in no particular order (aside from alphabetically, as every good bibliography should be) is my selective list of my philological favourites of 2014:

Colvin, Stephen. 2014. A Brief History of Ancient Greek. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

I did blog earlier about Stephen’s book closer to the time it was published.  I wrote then that “the chapter giving an explanation of Greek dialect ecologies in the Classical period is one of the clearest treatments of the topic I’ve ever read”.  In general it’s a very good introduction to the prehistory and the early development of the Greek language.  I’m going to be eagerly waiting the paperback version.

Duhoux, Yves & Anna Morpurgo Davies (eds) 2014. A Companion to Linear B: Mycenaean Greek Texts and their World. Volume III. Louvain-la neuve: Peeters.

The latest instalment of the Linear B Companion was somewhat disappointing, as it ended up not having the long-awaited chapter on Mycenaean language and dialect and it appears that it will have to be relegated to yet another (previously unplanned) fourth volume in the series. (The sad passing of Anna Morpurgo Davies earlier this year has likely complicated the publication schedule of this series).  Nevertheless there’s an enormous chapter by José Melena about the script, and John Bennet has a very good chapter about Linear B and Homer, focusing on the archaeology.

Dunkel, George. 2014. Lexikon der indogermanischen Partikeln und Pronominalstämme. Band 1: Einleitung, Terminologie, Lautgesetze, Adverbialendungen, Nominalsuffixe, Anhänge und Indices. Band 2: Lexikon. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter.

I don’t care what people have to say about the irreconstructability of PIE particles because of their essentially pragmatic function, it’s still quite impressive to see George Dunkel’s longterm project to collect all the comparative data on PIE particles, pronominal stems, suffixes, and adverbial endings finally out in published form.  I wrote a little bit about this book earlier when I finally found out that it had been published, and the more time I spend with the book, even if I may disagree with come aspects of reconstruction, I keep being more impressed at the enormous amount of work and analysis that has gone into the lexicon.  And, at €120 for two thick well-produced volumes, I hesitate to say it, it’s actually rather affordable compared to the average of €230+ per individual volume in the Leiden IE Etymological Dictionary Series.  (We’re speaking comparatively here, but I was shocked to hear a certain Professor of Comparative Philology call that a bargain price in this day and age.  Oh, how we’ve become so desensitised to Brill-iant prices…)

Falluomini, Carla. 2014. “Zum gotischen Fragment aus Bologna” Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum und deutsche Literatur 143:281-305.

Although it was actually published for the first time in 2013, I only recently discovered that a new Gothic palimpsest was discovered in a codex of Augustine in Bologna.  It’s always exciting to find new material for a language with a corpus as restricted as Gothic.  Falluomini’s article is a second, critical edition of the text, with commentary.

Hintze, Almut. 2014. “Avestan Research 1991–2014. Part I: Sources and Phonology” Kratylos 59:1-52.

Kratylos is normally a journal for book reviews of new works in Indo-European philology, but from time-to-time it has the occasional Forschungsbericht or review article.  In the latest issue Almut Hintze has put together a critical review of the last 14 years of Avestan scholarship following up on similar surveys written covering 1900-1990 by John Kellens and Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.  I’ve found it useful to catch up on the state of research, and also thanks to Almut putting it on, it’s also available online – although you might need an account on the website to download it.

Mayor, Adrienne, John Colarusso & David Saunders. 2014. “Making Sense of Nonsense Inscriptions Associated with Amazons and Scythians on Athenian Vases” Hesperia 83:447-93.

This article gained a good deal of media attention earlier this year – from LanguageHat to National Geographic, and so the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, which publishes the journal Hesperia, has made it open access.  I’m afraid I haven’t read it in detail myself, but I’m sure I’ll get around to it sometime soon.

Obbink, Dirk. 2014. “Two New Poems of Sappho” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 189:32-49.

For me, this was probably the highlight of the philological year. It’s not every day that six-to-seven near-complete stanza’s of Sappho’s poetry gets published, nor every day that new papyrological finds get press attention in The Guardian.  I wrote a short piece for the Cambridge Graduate blog, Res Gerendae, about it back in February.

Thompson, Rupert J. E. 2014. “Orations for Honorary Degrees” Cambridge University Reporter 6353:653-62.

Finally to close with something fun, this document contains the texts of the Latin orations given for honorary degrees granted in Cambridge this last June.  Among the awards was an honorary doctorate for Magneto (or Gandalf, whomever you prefer), and for the first time Elvish was publicly uttered in the Senate House of the University of Cambridge.

Happy Holidays from Memiyawanzi

December 26, 2014

Merry Christmas and חַג חֲנֻכָּה שָׂמֵחַ!

I’ve done well with a modest haul of Christmas loot this year; there hasn’t been much on the linguistic/historical front, where where I have received, it’s been quite good; my sister and my brother-in-law were very kind to get me a copy of Alex Mullen’s Southern Gaul and the Mediterranean: Multilingualism and Multiple Identities in the Iron Age and Roman Periods for Christmas, and Mark Mazower’s Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews 1430-1950 for my birthday, which was about a week or so before.  I look forward to reading both with great relish.

In other news, Exodus: Gods and Kings opens today.  Although I’ve heard that the reviews are middling to quite poor in the reviews, but if anyone goes please let me know how it is.  A little bird (😉 ) has told me that there’s a small amount of some spoken Hittite in it in a Battle of Qadesh scene, and I’ve heard (perhaps) it’s the picture’s most redeeming feature.

Happy Holidays, hopefully I’ll be able to write more later in the next year.


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