Linear B

Thomas G. Palaima

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

 Linear B

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  • Classical Studies
  • Greek and Roman Epigraphy
  • Historical Archaeology


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Unlike the other Bronze Age scripts in this tradition, Linear B has been deciphered—by British architect Michael Ventris. The Linear B texts, therefore, give us information about an important formative stage of the Greek language and how it was affected by language contact with surrounding cultures. They also provide the earliest primary written evidence about all facets of Mycenaean civilization. Finally, because what this article calls the Mycenaean Linear B script is an adaptation of Minoan Linear A, Linear B texts give insights into how speakers of the still undeciphered Minoan language(s) and of early Greek analyzed spoken language and how they represented it in writing as “visible speech.” The first scientifically excavated Linear B tablets were uncovered by Sir Arthur Evans at the site of Knossos on Crete in 1900. Many more texts were uncovered in the succeeding years of excavation.

Keywords: Bronze Age; Linear B; Michael Ventris; Mycenaean civilization; language; Arthur Evans

Article.  7343 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Greek and Roman Epigraphy ; Historical Archaeology

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