The project, called Contexts of and Relations between Early Writing Systems (CREWS for short), is to focus on exploring how writing developed during the 2nd and 1st millennia BCE in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, and will investigate how different writing systems and the cultures that used them were related to each other.The Daily Mail also covers the story and includes some nice photos of Ugaritic and other ancient inscriptions.
The project is led by Dr Philippa Steele of the University’s Faculty of Classics. Described as an “innovative and interdisciplinary approach to the history of writing” the CREWS project aims to enrich our understanding of linguistic, cultural and social aspects of the use, borrowing and development of writing in the ancient world – which can uncover some often surprising links to our modern-day written culture.
For example, today the notion of “alphabetical order” is used to arrange everything from dictionaries to telephone books, but why is the alphabet organised the way it is?
[A discussion of the Ugaritic and Phoenician writing systems follows.]
The origin of the alphabet is just one of the areas that the CREWS project will explore, along with the social and political context of writing, and drivers of language change, literacy and communication. Because of the high level of interconnectedness in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, ideas could be spread widely as people moved, traded and interacted with different cultures.
Cross-file under Phoenician Watch.
UPDATE: Wrong link now fixed. Sorry about that!