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Linear Scripts

Linear Scripts, forms of Minoan writing. The earliest Minoan writing consisted of pictographs, called Cretan hieroglyphs, which date from about 2000 B.C. The first linear script, Linear A, dates from about 1700 B.C. and was also partly pictorial in nature. It appears on clay tablets written between 1750 B.C. and 1400 B.C. and has been classified as a West Semitic script. Linear A was replaced by Linear B, a new script, about 1450 B.C. Since Linear B also appeared on the Greek mainland, many scholars believed it to be an early form of Greek. This hypothesis was verified in 1952 when Linear B was finally deciphered by Michael Ventris, a British architect. The content of the Minoan texts that have been unearthed is predominantly economic and religious.

See D. W. Packard, Minoan Linear A (1974); J. Chadwick, Decipherment of Linear B (1970) and, with others, Corpus of Mycenaean Inscriptions from Knossos (4 vol., 1987–99).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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