Linear B Script #54/100: A Journey Through 100 Writing Systems of the World

Cracking the Code of Linear B: Unraveling the Ancient Script of Mycenaean Greece

Linear B script character chart

Script type: The Linear B script is a syllabic writing system that represents syllables through a combination of simple linear signs. It is classified as a syllabary.

Writing direction: Linear B is typically written from left to right, following the linear arrangement of its symbols. It was inscribed on clay tablets using a stylus.

Creator and invention time: The Linear B script was not invented; rather, it evolved from an earlier script called Linear A. Its exact origins remain shrouded in mystery, but it was adapted and used by the Mycenaean civilization of ancient Greece around the 15th century BCE.

Time period of use: Linear B was in use during the Late Bronze Age, primarily between the 15th and 12th centuries BCE. It is associated with the Mycenaean civilization, one of the earliest advanced civilizations in Europe.

Usage area: Geographically, Linear B was used primarily in the Mycenaean palaces and administrative centers across the Aegean region. The script was employed for recording administrative, economic, and religious texts.

Languages associated with the script: The Linear B script was used to write Mycenaean Greek, an early form of the Greek language. It was primarily employed for official and administrative purposes, including records of palace activities, inventories, and religious offerings.

Interesting Facts:

  1. Rediscovery: The Linear B script was rediscovered in the early 20th century by archaeologist Arthur Evans during excavations at the ancient site of Knossos in Crete. The decipherment of the script opened a window into the Mycenaean civilization's history and culture.
  2. Michael Ventris: The successful decipherment of Linear B is credited to Michael Ventris, a British architect and linguist. In 1952, Ventris, along with John Chadwick, cracked the code, unveiling the script's Greek origins.
  3. Bilingual Script: Linear B tablets often had parallel inscriptions in both Linear B and a still-undeciphered script called Linear A. This suggests that the Mycenaeans used multiple scripts for different purposes.
  4. Economic Records: Linear B tablets provide detailed economic records, including lists of commodities, inventories, and distributions. These texts offer valuable insights into the economic activities of the Mycenaean civilization.
  5. Minoan Influence: The Linear B script shows evidence of being adapted from the earlier Minoan script, Linear A, which was used by the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete.

The Linear B script stands as a remarkable archaeological puzzle that has been pieced together over the last century. It provides a unique glimpse into the administrative and linguistic aspects of the Mycenaean civilization, shedding light on an ancient world that shaped the foundations of European civilization. As we decode the enigmatic symbols, we embark on a journey through time, connecting with the lives and stories of a lost civilization that has left an indelible mark on human history.

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