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[Linear A & Linear B symbols]

Michael Ventris

British linguist, known for his translation of previously undecipherable scripts and the theory that Linear B was an archaic form of the Greek language.
Although born in Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, he grew up in Switzerland and was therefore able to speak French and German as well as English. From his Polish mother he acquired Polish and he was known to have a talent for learning languages, including the ancient Greek and Latin he studied at school. He had no formal linguistics training and started out as an architecture student.
As a schoolboy, Ventris attended a lecture by Sir Arthur Evans on undeciphered Minoan scripts and he became fascinated by their decipherment and the study of similar ancient texts. The script in question, called Linear B, was found on tablets dating from the middle of the 2nd millennium bc that were discovered by Evans in 1900 in Crete.
While Evans ruled out any possibility that Linear B could have been connected with Greek, Ventris noticed some possible similarities in the word endings and, pursuing this clue, he began to outline the structure of the
language, which he believed seemed similar to Greek.
He was able to decipher much of the text and show that it was Mycenaean. In doing so he upended Evans`s theory that the scripts (and civilization in Crete at the time they were written) were Minoan.
The Arcado-Cyprian dialect, about which very little is known, is the descendant of a form spoken in Mycenaean times in at least the Peloponnese and some of the southern islands. The deciphering (1952) of the so-called Linear B script (by British linguist Michael Ventris), examples of which were found on tablets during the excavations made in Crete and on the mainland of Greece after 1900, revealed it as an ancestor (1500-1400 bc) of Arcado-Cyprian.
These researches indicate that the Greeks were a literate people many hundreds of years before the period of the first Greek poet, Homer (probably the 9th century bc). Most scholars of today accept Ventris theory that Linear B was related to the Greek language.
Ventris`s life was cut short when he died in a car accident, shortly before a collaboration with John Chadwick, Documents in Mycenaean Greek (1956), was published.


Linear B
The Linear B script was already identified by A. Evans, who found the majority of the tablets in the palace at Knossos but jealously guarded the right of publication for himself, it was only in 1951, after the discovery in the meantime of other texts in mainland Greece, mainly at Pylos, that it became possible to study them. They were finally deciphered by M. Ventris and J. Chadwick. The Linear B script was used in Minoan and Mycenaean palaces during the LM II, LM III and LH III periods (1450-1200 BC). About 5,500 tablets and other objects inscribed with this script come from six palaces and palace centres: about 4,000 tablets or fragments of tablets come from the palace at Knossos, dating from its final phase (1450-1350BC) and 1,250 tablets from the palace at Pylos. Only a few dozen or so inscriptions come from the palaces at Thebes, Mycenae, Tiryns, and Kydonia (Chania). Other Inscriptions have been found on vases at Eleusis and Orchomenos. The tablets containing Linear B inscriptions were preserved purely by accident. The only ones to survive were those that were baked during the fires that destroyed the palaces. It is reckoned that only one tenth of the total number of written documents survived. A. Evans correctly supposed from the very beginning that they contained accounts and records. Despite the external similarities between Linear A and Linear B, the latter has several points of difference in terms of its internal structure, and also the external form of the symbols. In terms of structure, Linear B makes use of groups of phonetic symbols followed by an ideogram and a number, referring to the same item. With regard to form, both Linear A and Linear B use virtually the same number of syllabograms, about 100. Some of these are common to both scripts. From the above it may be deduced that the three main forms of Minoan script, though closely connected with each other, do not represent stages in a simple development, with Linear A replacing the pictorial script, and being replaced in turn by Linear B. This was noted by Evans.
   It is certain that there was some overlapping of the scripts, and different schools of scribes worked at different speeds, though in the same general direction of simplifying and standarddisign the symbols. Linear B inscriptions are found on four categories of object: clay page-shaped tablets, clay 'palm-leaf' tablets clay seal impressions, and vases. The same method of writing incising with a sharp point on a piece of wet clay -was used for inscriptions on tablets inscriptions on tablets and seal impressions, all of which were part of the palace archives. They were kept in wooden boxes. Inscriptions on vases were painted, however, and probably relate to the place of origin or possibly the owner of the vases. Tablets occur in two shapes: long narrow 'palm-leaves', and rectangular 'pages'. The first type was suitable for lists, and the second for individual transactions and calculations. The texts are written breadthways on the surface, which is usually divided by ruler incised lines. They were composed by professional scribes following certain rules. The texts on the tablets are calligraphically written and well arranged. The basic elements used in Linear B are sylabograms, ideograms, symbols for measures and weights, and number groups. Quite irrespective of the system used to organize the archives by the scribes who wrote Linear B, modern scholars have classified the texts under eighteen categories, depending on the object to which they refer. These consist of tablets referring to personnel, domestic animals, sheep, corn, quantities of foodstuffs, (offerings and distributions of olive-oil), the registering or distribution of metals, vases, fabrics, lists of weapons, chariots and panoplies, vessels, various supplies, lists with no ideograms, 'palm-leaf tablets, seal impressions, fragments of tablets, and inscriptions on vases. The decipherment of the texts, published in detail in 1956, and the study of the language of the texts are both of great interest. Only a very general account can be given here. It was assumed at the outset that the language of the tablets was Greek and that the words had inflection, with cases and gender. The signs had a syllabic phonetic value and followed a particular orthography that was difficult and had innovative rules. There were precise correspondences between the syllabic script and ideograms, which later con-firmed the correctness of the decipherment. The decipherment was accepted by the majority of scholars of Greek prehistory, and many continue to study and attempt to improve the method and find further evidence to confirm it. At the same time, systematic attempts are continuing to decipher the Linear A script. The reading of the Mycenaean script shed considerable light on the economic and social life of the Late Bronze II and III periods in the Aegean.
(Excerpt taken from the book MINOAN CRETE from myth to history Adonis Vasilakis Adam editions 1999)

Clay seal impressions indicating  the rank  of the official,  the 4 symbols
Χ, Ξ, E, Υ

deciphering the above abbreviation of the activities of works involving:
=Earth excavations, pile up=Ξ,  works=E, ceramic pipes for water and sewerage=Υ.
(From the palace at Knossos)
A tablet with the ideogrammatic script.
(From the Knossos archive)
Stone ladle a heart-shaped cult vessel of translucent  alabaster Linear A symbols are incised on the rim. (From the Troulos district at Archanes).

[Linear A & Linear B many of this symbols are included in the Alphabet]

Linear A

Poetry in papyrus scroll 8th century BC

The Greek writing is older since or before the appearance of Zeus and the muses, long before the appearance of the Phoenicians. MUSE ΚΑΛΛΙΟΠΗ (=CALLIOPE) KALLI (=good, right, brilliant, etc., OPE=open eye, broad vision. The many dialects of Greece Achaea, Crete, Dorea, Cydon, Pelasgia originating from Zeus era  causing confusion. The muse =museum CALLIOPE considered as the greatest offer, sorting out the many words of the seamen to be understood by the people of the mountains and vice versa and in all regions and trades, and to create a common dictionary.
ΓΛΩΣΣΑ (=GLOSSA=tongue=language=knowledge) the knowledge of many words to rise the level of civilization.

This wooden plaque on the left, found in Kastoria Greece aging 7,250 years old, according the radiocarbon,14c (C14) examination, proving the prehistoric existence of the Greek writing, unquestionable about the myth that the Greeks where not autochthon (natives) from their own country.

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