Portrait of Jon Taylor

My name is Jon Taylor. I’m an expert in the cultures of the ancient Middle East, with more than 20 years’ experience. I’ve been Curator of Cuneiform Collections in the Department of the Middle East at the British Museum since 2006. Before that I was a researcher at the University of Oxford and University of Birmingham. I studied ancient history and archaeology at the University of Birmingham, and got my PhD from there in 2000. Trust me: I’m a doctor. No, not that kind of doctor.

I started learning cuneiform with Sumerian, before moving onto Akkadian. I have since dabbled with some other languages written in cuneiform. Early in my career I worked on education and literacy. More recently I’ve work extensively on the materiality of cuneiform. I’m also interested in the Library of Ashurbanipal, palaeography, provenance studies, and data analysis. My main area of expertise is the languages and texts of ancient Iraq, but I also have experience of fieldwork in the Middle East.

You may have noticed that I’m not a professional podcaster. Thin End of the Edge started as a one-man operation, run out of my back room on a shoe-string budget, and with a dodgy internet connection. That’s still largely how it works. I’m learning everything as I go along. I’ve made plenty of mistakes. Some of them I’ve already noticed, and will try to correct them for future episodes. I’m sure there are plenty more that I just haven’t realised yet. Please bear with me. I’ve always wanted to open this out to bring in other voices, so I’m delighted that in 2024, Ellie joined me as co-host.

My name is Ellie Bennett. I’m an Assyriologist and member of the Centre of Excellence in Ancient Near Eastern Empires at the University of Helsinki. My research interests are gender, identity, and digital approaches to ancient Near Eastern material.

I’ve published previously on both the ‘Queens of the Arabs’, the subject of my new book, and masculinities in the Neo-Assyrian period. I’m currently part of the project ‘Embodied Emotions: Ancient Mesopotamia and Today’ (funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation, PI Saana Svärd), where I utilise digital methods to compare how Akkadian, English, and Finnish texts embody emotions. I love talking about all aspects of Mesopotamian history and research.