Thursday, March 25, 2021

LiBER (Linear B Electronic Resources)

[First posted in AWOL 6 November 2013, relainched 25 March 2021]

LiBER (Linear B Electronic Resources)


At the beginning of the 20th century, during the excavation of the palace of Knossos, the British archaeologist Arthur Evans found a large number of archival documents written in three different scripts. In his book Scripta Minoa I (Oxford 1909) he called these scripts “Cretan Hieroglyphic”, “Linear A”, and “Linear B”, where the term linear alluded to the stylized and cursive shape of the signs compared to the more decorative and calligraphic form of the Cretan Hieroglyphics. Subsequently, Linear B texts were brought to light also in various palatial sites of mainland Greece, including Pylos and Mycenae.

The decipherment of Linear B, which is a logo-syllabic script, is due to the British architect Michael Ventris. Based on the study of sign frequencies and alternations (made possible by the work of Emmett Bennett), Ventris gradually developed a phonetic grid, until, in his last work note, dated 1 June 1952, moving from some observations previously made by Alice Kober, he suggested the possibility that Linear B was used to write Greek.


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