Saturday, May 13, 2023

The VIEWS project

The five-year project, Visual Interactions in Early Writing Systems (VIEWS), is based at the Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge and run by Principal Investigator Pippa Steele (UKRI Frontier Research Grant, no. EP/X028240/1). The project will employ a research team working on writing systems from Linear A and B and cuneiform to Egyptian hieroglyphs and Mayan.

Writing is, and always has been, a highly visual and visible phenomenon. Traditional ways of classifying writing systems have concentrated on their linguistic properties, such as whether they have separate signs for individual sounds or for whole words or syllables – but these approaches have tended to overlook similarities and differences in their visual properties. For example, the linguistically very different types of system employed in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and Mayan writing share some striking visual features, such as their highly decorative and often monumental contexts and the use of signs as visual complements to make meaning clearer. Meanwhile, closely related systems like Cretan Hieroglyphic and Linear A and B can employ strikingly different features in the way they lay out text and employ logographic signs that are visual depictions of what they represent.




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