Cretan Hieroglyphic and Linear A

Helena Tomas

in The Oxford Handbook of the Bronze Age Aegean

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199873609
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

Cretan Hieroglyphic and Linear A

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Classical Studies
  • Ancient Greek History
  • Historical Archaeology



The existence of Bronze Age literacy in the Aegean was first recognized thanks to Arthur Evans's insightful study of seals and other inscribed objects that he saw or purchased while traveling through Crete. The seals bore signs of a script thereafter called Hieroglyphics or Pictographs—the name was based on Evans's interpretation of the appearance of the signs but was also influenced by his awareness of other Bronze Age hieroglyphics known at the. Evans established the existence of two other linear-looking scripts, Linear A and Linear B. Although the very first inscriptions are of Prepalatial date and may have had symbolic value which enhanced power of élites, wider use of Cretan Hieroglyphics and Linear A is best explained as a result of expanding economic activities that accompanied the growth of Cretan palatial centers and a consequent need for a well-structured administrative system.

Keywords: Bronze Age; literacy; Arthur Evans; seals; Crete; hieroglyphics; Linear A; Linear B

Article.  6455 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Ancient Greek History ; Historical Archaeology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribeRecommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »