Because I am learning how to read and write the ancient scripts of Crete I thought it appropriate to write about this subject on my blog. Maybe some of you out there would be interested also in learning how to read the scripts which is useful when visiting museums. The script was written on clay tablets and first discovered by Sir Arthur Evans while excavating the great palace of Knossos, Crete in l900. It was Arthur Evans who named them Linear B. Other tablets were discovered at Knossos known as Linear A but these have not as yet been deciphered.
Several scholars had attempted to decipher the tablets but it was Michael Ventris along with John Chadwick and Alice Kober who eventually cracked the code in l952
ABOUT MICHAEL VENTRIS
Michael Ventris studying one of the Linear B Tablets
Michael Ventris spoke European languages fluently. He studied Latin and Greek at Stowe and at the age of fourteen he questioned Sir Arthur Evans about the Linear B tablets.
Michaels interests were split, should he follow his artistic beliefs and become an architect, or should he become a classist and follow his dreams of deciphering the unknown script. He decided to become an architect and enrolled in the Architectural Association but the war intervened and he joined the RAF.After the war he returned to architecture but gradually his interest in the script reasserted itself. Ventris was again gripped by the lure of the ancient tablets, he decided to give up architecture and live off his private income for a year or so and devote himself entirely to decipherment of the tablets.
The scripts had originally been discovered by Arthur Evans, but as he grew older Evans kept these discoveries, hoping to decipher them himself. Later more tablets were discovered by the American, Carl Blegan, at Pylos. Now was the time for the scripts to be further investigated.
Michael Ventris resumed his work on the Linear B script and had two main methods of working, the first was that of ‘ group working ‘ where he established a system of work notes, which he sent out to colleagues and possible rivals around the world.
It seemed clear to Ventris that Linear B was a syllabary- that is, each sign represented a combined consonant and vowel. He devised a grid which were drawn up with architectural precision, and lettered with his superb lettering ability, he worked day and night producing work notes at the rate of about one a month.
The break through was made in March l952 when he was about to produce work note 20. He began to realize that some of the signs seemed to indicate place names. Gradually through his constant vigilance names of towns began to emerge such as Knossos, Phaestos and Luktos.
On June 1st Michael Ventris sat down to type what would turn out to be his final work note, No 20, rapidly more and more words began to fit in on his grids and work notes, carpenters, wainwrights , chair makers, and bakers as did pa- te meaning (Father) .
A pioneering book ” Documents in Mycenaean Greek’, was written jointly by Michael Ventris and John Chadwick and published by the Cambridge University Press. However, Ventris was becoming disenchanted with the Academic world and on the 5th September l956 he left his home late at night, driving fast down the Barnett by- pass, and crashed into a stationary lorry and was instantly killed, he was only 34. Such a tragic death for one so young. Who knows ! if he had lived maybe he would have cracked the code for Linear A also.
READING THE ( LINEAR B ) TABLETS TODAY.
Whilst surfing the Internet I recently came across a website that looked extremely interesting as it was about learning how to read and write ancient script, which at that time I was not at all familiar with. I carried on reading only to find myself becoming interested in the subject, better still as I perused further I discovered that the person whose blog I was reading was Richard Vallance and was offering to teach online, the Linear B. script .I therefor contacted him on his blog which is as follows- http://linearbknossosmycenae.wordpress.com to say I would like to attempt the course.
Richard was delighted to accept me as his first student because he had only just started his own blog where he is approaching the study of Linear B Progressive Grammar and Vocabulary from an entirely new prospective never before done.
ABOUT RICHARD VALLANCE JANKE
Richard as a young Student. Richard now Retired
Although Richard is Canadian he speaks English and French Fluently, reads Latin fluently, Greek and Italian very well also Spanish competently, and has a smattering of Japanese kanji. He is also familiar with both German and Russian. As well as being a linguist, Richard is also a widely published poet and poetry publisher.
Even as an adolescent Richard was fascinated by languages ancient and modern, learning Russian himself at the age of l7 ( which unfortunately he has allowed to lapse.) . Much like Michael Ventris whom Richard admires immensely, frequently reminding us that Ventris was a genius of the first order, Richard has taken it upon himself to take an entirely novel approach to the study of Linear B in his own now familiar Wordpress blog. Linear B Knossos & Mycenae, http://linearbknossosmycenae.wordpress.com and his PINTEREST board, Mycenaean Linear B: Progressive Grammar & Vocabulary: http://www.com/vallance22/mycenaean-linear-b-progressive-grammer-and-vocabul/ where he has set about simplifying the study of the practical application of Mycenaean Linear B Progressive Grammar and Vocabulary in such a way that anyone interested in this fascinating script such as myself for instance, may more easily and more comfortably go about learning it and I have to say since taking on this course that is exactly how I feel. Richard’s tuition is excellent in as much that he allows you to explain some of the ways in which you can work best with him. I am really enjoying learning this subject and have almost completed Level 2.
Above left is an example of my script writing in comparison with the Ancient script on the right.
Professional Linguists of course will be interested in this new approach to an ancient language quite unlike any other, Mycenaean Linear B, the earliest of the Greek dialects (ca. l450-l200 BCE).
In around the year 20l6, Richard will be publishing his book, Mycenaean Linear B Progressive Grammar and Vocabulary.
Please Note:- Richards most recent Anthology, ‘ The Phoenix Rising from the Ashes ‘. an international multilingual anthology of sonnets in English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese and Farsi, can be ordered in hardcover, softcover or as an e book from the Friesen Press bookstore : http://www.friesenpress.com/bookstore/browse/all/6