This page provides resources concerning Ancient Texts, New Testament Studies, Inscription Resources, Papyri Resources, Dictionaries and Lexicons, and Modern Texts.
- Perseus Digital Library
- The Internet Classics Archive
- Theoi Greek Mythology
- Leuven Database of Ancient Books
- The Latin Library
- IntraText Digital Libary – Latin
- Thesaurus Linguae Graecae
- Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae
New Testament Studies
- New Testament Tutorials Online
- Biblion 2000
- The Bible Tool
- Wescott-Hort New Testament
- Bible Study Tools
- The Apostolic Bible
- PDF Bibles
- SBL Greek New Testament
- Catalogue of New Testament Papyri and Codices: 2nd-10th Centuries
- Papyri Info
- Oxyrhynchus Online
- Yale Papyri Collection Database
- Arabic Papyri Database
- Duke Papyrus Archive
- Advanced Papyrological Information System (APIS)
- Images of parchment and papyrus documents from Dura-Europos
Dictionaries and Lexicons
- Sorbonne Latin to French Lexicon
- Academic Encyclopedias and Dictionaries
- Perseus Digital Library
- Numen – The Latin Lexicon
- Thesaurus Linguae Graecae
Women and Gender
- Plans of Ancient and Medieval Buildings and Archaeological Sites (Bryn Mawr College)
- Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology
- British Museum Research Database
Modern Texts and ebooks
- Electronic Books Australia
- Library.nu: Free ebooks
- WorldCat.org: The World’s Largest Library Catalogue
- British Library Catalogues
- Ancient biblical manuscripts being digitised in Dublin (christiantoday.com)
- Three Unpublished Papyri of the New Testament (mattmcmains82.wordpress.com)
- Chester Beatty Papyri: New Digital Photographs (larryhurtado.wordpress.com)
- Huge News: The CSNTM Have Digitized the Chester Beatty Papyri (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
- Classics Resource of the week – Perseus Digital Library (davidallsopclassics.wordpress.com)
When you first enter an ancient history or archaeology degree you are introduced to several sets of material evidence. Notably, the archaeology, material evidence, and philological evidence. But the philological side is more often than not rarely mentioned again. This is quite a shame considering some of the most interesting and revealing information comes from the ancient written sources. People generally fall into the trap of ignoring the writing in favour of the archaeology and artefacts and frankly you can’t really blame them because humans are naturally attracted to pretty visual things. I see this every day with the likes and shares on my Facebook page. But philology is all important too and if students can learn even a little about ancient writing and textual criticism, a whole new side to history and analysis opens up to them as it should.
Philology is derived from the Greek terms φίλος (love) and λόγος (word, reason) and literally means a ‘love of words’. It is the study of language in literary sources and is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics. Philology is generally associated with Greek and Classical Latin, in which it is termed philologia. The study of philology originated in European Renaissance Humanism in regards to Classical Philology but this has since been combined to include in its definition the study of both European and non-European languages. The idea of philology has been carried through the Greek and Latin literature into the English language around the sixteenth century through the French term philologie meaning also a ‘love of literature’ from the same word roots.
Generally philology has a focus on historical development. It helps establish the authenticity of literary texts and their original form and with this the determination of their meaning. It is a branch of knowledge that deals with the structure, historical development and relationships of a language or languages. This makes it all the more significant to study as language is one of the main building blocks of civilisation.
There are several branches of philological studies that can also be undertaken:
Comparative philology is a branch of philology which analyses the relationship or correspondences between languages. For instance, the commonalities between Latin and Etruscan or further flung languages of Asian or African provinces. It uses pre-determined techniques to discover whether languages hold common ancestors or influences. It uses comparison of grammar and spelling which was first deemed useful in the 19th century and has developed ever since. The study of comparative philology was originally defined by Sir William Jones‘ discovery in 1786 that Sanskrit was related to Greek and German as well as Latin.
Decipherment is another branch of philology which looks at resurrecting dead languages and previously unread texts such as done and achieved by Jean-Francois Champollion in the decipherment of Hieroglyphs with the use of the Rosetta Stone. And more recently by Michael Ventris in the decipherment of Linear B. Decipherment would be key to the understanding of still little understood languages such as Linear A. Decipherment uses known languages, grammatical tools and vocabulary to find and apply comparisons within an unread text. By doing so more of the text can be read gradually as similarities and grammatical forms become better understood. The remaining text can then be filled in through further comparison, analysis, and elimination of incorrect solutions.
Textual philology editing is yet another branch of philology with includes the study of texts and their history in a sense including textual criticism. This branch was created in relation to the long traditions of Biblical studies; in particular with the variations of manuscripts. It looks at the authorship, date and provenance of the text to place it in its historical context and to produce ‘critical editions’ of the texts.
The importance of philology is exhibited in its use and achievements. Without philology the bible translation would be even more wrong, trust me read it in the original Greek. We would not be able to translate hieroglyphs, Linear B, Linear A, Sanskrit, any ancient language. Our entire written past would be blank, we would not have the information we have now on mathematics, social structure, philosophy, science, medicine, civilisation, transport, engineering, marketing, accounting, well anything really, knowledge would not have been rediscovered or passed on without the ability to study texts and language. Understand the love of words.
- The unsung heroine who helped decode Crete’s ancient script (bbc.co.uk)
- Rediscovering Philology (sites.tufts.edu)
- The Open Philology Project and Humboldt Chair of Digital Humanities at Leipzig (sites.tufts.edu)
- Genes and Languages: Not So Strange Bedfellows? (23andme.com)
- Bavinck on Comparative Religion and Comparative Philology (calvinistinternational.com)
- How to Teach yourself Ancient (and Modern) Languages (graecomuse.wordpress.com)
- Welcome to GraecoMuse (graecomuse.wordpress.com)
- Alice Kober: Unsung heroine who helped decode Linear B (adafruit.com)
- The Unsolved Mysteries of the World (secretsofthefed.com)
- Macquarie Ancient Languages School – Winter Session (graecomuse.wordpress.com)
One of the stranger ancient scripts one might come across, Ogham is also known as the ‘Celtic Tree Alphabet’. Estimated to have been used from the fourth to the tenth century AD it is believed to have been possibly named after the Irish god Ogma but this is debated widely. Ogham actually refers to the characters themselves, the script as a whole is more appropriately named Beith-luis-nin after the order of alphabet letters BLFSN.
The script originally contained twenty letters grouped into four groups of five. Five more letters were later added creating a fifth group. Each of these groups was named after its first letter. There are some four to five hundred surviving ogham inscriptions throughout Britain and Ireland with the largest number appearing in Pembrokeshire. The rest of the inscriptions were located around south-eastern Ireland, Scotland, Orkney, the Isle of Man and around the border of Devon and Cornwall. Ogham was used to write in Archaic Irish, Old Welsh and Latin mostly on wood and stone and is based on a high medieval Briatharogam tradition of ascribing the name of trees to individual characters. The inscriptions containing Ogham are almost exclusively made up of personal names and marks of land ownership.
There are four popular theories discussing the origin of Ogham. The differing theories are unsurprising considering that the script has similarities to ciphers in Germanic runes, Latin, elder futhark and the Greek alphabet.
The first theory is based on the work of scholars such as Carney and MacNeill who suggest that Ogham was first created as a cryptic alphabet designed by the Irish. They assert that the Irish designed it in response to political, military and/or religious reasons so that those with knowledge of just Latin could not read it.
The second theory is held by McManus who argues that Ogham was invented by the first Christians in early Ireland in a quest for uniqueness. The argument maintains that the sounds of the primitive Irish language were too difficult to transcribe into Latin.
The third theory states that the Ogham script from invented in West Wales in the fourth century BC to intertwine the Latin alphabet with the Irish language in response to the intermarriage between the Romans and the Romanized Britons. This would account for the fact that some of the Ogham inscriptions are bilingual; spelling out Irish and Brythonic-Latin.
The fourth theory is supported by MacAlister and used to be popular before other theories began to overtake it. It states that Ogham was invented in Cisalpine Gaul around 600 BC by Gaulish Druids who created it as a hand signal and oral language. MacAliser suggests that it was transmitted orally until it was finally put into writing in early Christian Ireland. He argues that the lines incorporated into Ogham represent the hand by being based on four groups of five letters with a sequence of strokes from one to five. However, there is no evidence for MacAlisters theory that Ogham’s language and system originated in Gaul.
Mythical theories for the origin of Ogham also appear in texts from the eleventh to fifteenth centuries. The eleventh century Lebor Gabala Erenn tells that Ogham was invented soon after the fall of the tower of Babel, as does the fifteenth century Auraicept na n-eces text. The Book of Babymote also includes ninty-two recorded secret modes of writing Ogham written in 1390-91.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)”]
- Right side/downward strokesB beith [b] (*betwias)
- L luis [l]
- F fearn [w] (*wernā)
- S saille [s] (*salis)
- N nuin [n]
- Left side/upward strokes
- H úath [j]?
- D duir [d] (*daris)
- T tinne [t]
- C coll [k] (*coslas)
- Q ceirt [kʷ] (*kʷertā)
- Across/pendicular strokes
- notches (vowels)
- A ailm [a]
- O onn [o] (*osen)
- U úr [u]
- E edad [e]
- I idad [i]
Carney, James. The Invention of the Ogam Cipher ‘Ériu’ 22, 1975, pp 62 –3, Dublin: Royal Irish Academy
Macalister, Robert A.S. The Secret Languages of Ireland, pp27 – 36, Cambridge University Press, 1937
Macalister, Robert A.S. Corpus inscriptionum insularum celticarum. First edition. Dublin: Stationery Office, 1945-1949.
McManus, Damian. Ogam: Archaizing, Orthography and the Authenticity of the Manuscript Key to the Alphabet, Ériu 37, 1988, 1-31. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy.
McManus, Damian. A Guide to Ogam, Maynooth 1991.
MacNeill, Eoin. Archaisms in the Ogham Inscriptions, ‘Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy’ 39, pp 33–53, Dublin
Note that this website can be followed by pressing the ‘Follow by Email’ option on the right hand side of the screen
- Celtic Gods. (irishmediaman.wordpress.com)