Euripides (c. 484-407 BCE) was one of the greatest authors of Greek tragedy. In 5th century BCE Athens his classic works such as Medeia cemented his reputation for clever dialogues, fine choral lyrics and a gritty realism in both his text and stage presentations. The writer of some 90 plays, Euripides was also famous for posing awkward questions, unsettling his audience with a thought-provoking treatment of common themes, and spicing up the story with thoroughly immoral characters. This is probably why Euripides won only a few festival competitions compared to his great tragedian rivals Aeschylus and Sophocles, although he was tremendously popular with the public. The popularity of Euripides’ work has never diminished and his plays continue to be performed in theatres today.


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Ancient Greek Comedy

Ancient Greek comedy was a popular and influential form of theatre performed across ancient Greece from the 6th century BCE. The most famous playwrights of the genre were Aristophanes and Menander and their works, and those of their contemporaries, poked fun at politicians, philosophers, and fellow artists. In addition to maintaining their comic touch, the plays also give an indirect but invaluable insight into Greek society in general and provide details on the workings of political institutions, legal systems, religious practices, education, and warfare in the Hellenic world. Uniquely, the plays also reveal to us something of the identity of the audience and show just what tickled the Greeks’ sense of humour. Finally, Greek comedy and its immediate predecessor Greek tragedy would together form the foundation upon which all modern theatre is based.


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A Brief History of Tragedy

Tragedy begins in ancient Greece, of course, and the first great tragedies were staged as part of a huge festival known as the City Dionysia. Thousands of Greek citizens – Greek men, that is, for no women were allowed – would gather in the vast amphitheatre to watch a trilogy of tragic plays, such as Aeschylus’ Oresteia. Going to the theatre in ancient Greece was, socially speaking, closer to attending a football match than a modern-day theatre.

Because audiences were so vast, actors wore masks which symbolised their particular character, so even those sitting towards the back of the amphitheatre could tell who was who. In Latin, the word for such a mask was persona, which is to this day why we talk about adopting a persona whenever we become someone else – we are, metaphorically if not literally, putting on a mask. This is also the reason why the list of characters in a play is known as the ‘Dramatis Personae’. The Romans were the first civilisation we know of to allow women to act in plays. Although women would not be allowed on the English stage until after the Restoration in 1660, the Romans got there first. In Roman plays, the colour of characters’ robes would often signify their role, so a yellow robe signified that a character was a woman, a purple robe that he was a young man, a white robe an old man, and so on. However, the Romans are more celebrated for their comedies – witness the very different styles of Terence and Plautus – than for their tragedies.


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Some Epistemic and Methodological Challenges within an Intercultural Experience

My experience with the Intercultural Indigenous System of Learning and Studies (SIIDAE) in Chiapas gave rise to a dialogue on two different levels: intercultural and interdisciplinary. I understand dialogue here as a very complex model of translation that, at the same time, challenges the unilateral conception of translation. This article reports the decolonial challenges raised by SIIDAE during our dialogue and responds to these challenges by proposing an intercultural reflection on nthropological practice and on its geohistorical context, and by showing the need of an intercultural transformation of society and of anthropology itself.


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Big Data on the Roman Table

In archaeological terms, the Roman period is exceptionally data rich. Most people are familiar with iconic monuments like Hadrian’s Wall and the city of Pompeii. Yet infinitely more important for understanding people’s lives across the Roman world are millions of artefacts unearthed during excavations. A great proportion of these artefacts, especially pottery vessels, are objects used by almost everyone from senator to slave to eat and drink from, and so hold essential information on the diversity of such practices among different social and cultural groups. However, this wealth of data is under-utilised due to its very complexity. For decades it has served to provide chronological sequences for individual excavations and to develop region-wide understandings of economic networks, rather than to answer socio-cultural questions. E.g., how can differing combinations of differing sizes, shapes and types of vessels, excavated from different contexts, provide more nuanced understandings of how individuals and communities throughout the Roman world used them and socialised around food and drink?


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Tracing Networks

  1. investigates the network of contacts across and beyond the Mediterranean region, between the late bronze age and the late classical period (c.1500-c.200 BCE) by interrogating material objects ü seven archaeological case studies fully integrated with computer science projects
  2. seven archaeological case studies fully integrated with computer science projects
  3. programme sets technological networks in their greater social, economic and political contexts to expand our understanding of wider cultural developments
  4. these networks from the past can help us devise new and more effective ways of transmitting knowledge and information in our digital world
  5. How does technical knowledge move from one person/group/society to another?
  6. How do people choose which particular knowledge to use from the repertoire available?
  7. In what kinds of contexts does innovation appear?


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Prehistoric Art and Ornaments from Indonesian ‘Ice Age’

“Scientists have long been curious about the cultural lives of the first Homo sapiens to inhabit the lands to the immediate north of Australia sometime prior to 50,000 years ago — part of the great movement of our species out of Africa,” Associate Professor Brumm says, “Some have argued that Pleistocene human culture declined in sophistication as Homo sapiens ventured beyond India into the Southeast Asian tropics and the island chains east of continental Eurasia, known as ‘Wallacea’. “However, the onset of new research programs in Wallacea is steadily dismantling this view.” Adding to the 2014 breakthrough discovery of 40,000-year-old cave art on the Wallacean island of Sulawesi, which is said to be some of the world’s oldest, is a unique assemblage of previously unknown symbolic objects excavated from a Sulawesi cave site called Leang Bulu Bettue.


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Etruscan Civilization

The Etruscan civilization flourished in central Italy between the 8th and 3rd century BCE. The culture was renowned in antiquity for its rich mineral resources and as a major Mediterranean trading power. Much of its culture and even history was either obliterated or assimilated into that of its conqueror, Rome. Nevertheless, surviving Etruscan tombs, their contents and their wall paintings, as well as the Roman adoption of certain Etruscan clothing, religious practices, and architecture, are convincing testament to the great prosperity and significant contribution to Mediterranean culture achieved by Italy’s first great civilization.


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Neanderthals are an extinct group of fossil humans that appeared in Western Eurasia in the mid-Middle Pleistocene. They shared the stage with the first modern humans arriving in Europe from around 45,000 years ago, before disappearing from the fossil record between c. 40,000 – c. 30,000 years ago. Neanderthals were a highly successful group, having adapted well to the unpredictable climate of a region in which advancing and retreating ice sheets were no strangers. Their short, stocky build made them sturdy and powerful, while their large brains fuelled their capability of hunting even the biggest Ice Age creatures such as mammoths or woolly rhinoceros.

We – modern humans – are tied to Neanderthals in many ways, from sharing a common ancestor down the line, back in Africa, to coexisting in Europe for some time. There, the two must have competed for resources, but are also known to have interbred with each other, causing the Neanderthals to have had a genetic impact on us still visible in our DNA today.


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Homo Heidelbergensis

Homo heidelbergensis is an extinct species of human that is identified in both Africa and western Eurasia from roughly 700,000 years ago onwards until around 200,000 years ago – fitting snugly within the Middle Pleistocene. Named for a piece of jawbone found near Heidelberg, Germany, these hominins occupy an intriguing and much-discussed spot in the jumble of human evolution; they are most commonly seen to have developed from Homo erectus and to have given rise to Homo sapiens in Africa and to the Neanderthals in Europe. However, exactly how or why (and even if) this happened, is the subject of much debate, and the same goes for the precise definition of this species – for instance, which fossils should be included and which should not.

Following the general view, though, Homo heidelbergensis is recognised as a distinct species that was a bit more brainy and inventive than its predecessors; fairly complex tools are associated with them, allowing us to catch a glimpse of possibly quite daring hunting strategies involving larger prey animals, which hints at the potential presence of social cooperation.


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