Linear B

By Elizabeth, Kate and Zander

Welcome to our page. You will see our Power Point and our work here. We hope you enjoy it and learn a lot!

Linear B Tablet Picture found on google
Linear B Tablet Picture found on google

Picture by Salimeti

Linear B was spoken and written by the people in Crete in 1,450-1,375 B.C. Much later, after Knossos (a huge palace on Crete with lots of Linear B tablets) was destroyed, the clay tablets were discovered by Sir Arthur Evans in an expedition. Sir Arthur had no idea what the tablets said, and neither did anyone else. Linear B was thought to be a language impossible to read –until Alice Kober and Michal Ventris deciphered/figured out what it said. If you want to learn more about Linear B, please watch our slide show.

Bibliography found at the end of Power Point

More information about the decipherment of Linear B:

The decipherment of Linear B started when Sir Arthur Evans found some clay tablets with Linear B writing on them. Two people together deciphered Linear B. Those people were Alice Kober and Michal Ventris. Before they deciphered it, Linear B was considered a language impossible to crack. Alice Kober started the deciphering by figuring out that the alphabet of Linear B was made of syllables, not letters. Alice also figured out that the syllables were made up of either one vowel or one consonant and then a vowel and also some rules of the language. This is Alice Kober's chart of Linear B syllables. She made this when she was just starting to grasp Linear B. It shows how Linear B words have different endings. Without this chart, Linear B might never have been discovered. Alice Kober died soon after she started the decipherment of Linear B. However, Michal Ventris was able to continue her work and it was he who finished the decipherment. Michal Ventris made new discoveries about the language, like that there are sometimes silent 'I's is the word has an odd number of letters. Eventually, Michal Ventris deciphered a few words. His vocabulary grew until he had it fully deciphered. Both Alice Kober and Michal Ventris made it possible for us to be able to read what was on those tablets, today.

Here is some reading material from The Code Book By Simon Singh (p. 218-219):

"The story of Linear B begins with excavations by Sir Arthur Evans, one of the most eminent archaeologists at the turn of the century. Evans was interested in the period of Greek history described by Homer in his twin epics, the Iliad and the Odyesey. Homer recounts the history of the Trojan War, the Greek victory at Troy and the ensuing exploits of the conquering hero Odysseus, events which supposedly occurred in the twelfth century B.C. Some nineteenth-century scholars had dismissed Homer's epics as nothing more that legends, but in 1872 the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann uncovered the site of Troy itself, close to the western coast of Turkey, and suddenly Homer's myths became history. Between 1872 and 1900, archaeologists uncovered further evidence to suggest a rich period of pre-Hellenic history, predating the Greek classical age of Pythagoras, Plato and Aristotle by some six hundred years. The pre-Hellenic period lasted from 2,800 to 1100 B.C., and it was during the last four centuries of this period that the civilization reached its peak. On the Greek mainland it was centered around Mycenae, where archaeologists uncovered a vast array of artifacts and treasures. However, Sir Arthur Evans had become perplexed by the failure of archaeologists to uncover any form of writing. He could not accept that such a sophisticated society could have been completely illiterate, and became determined to prove that the Mycenean civilization had some form of writing."

Here is the Linear B alphabet:

external image linearb.gif

Now that you've watched our slideshow, try to write a message in Linear B! Remember, the symbols shown are syllables –not letters. If you want to find a combination of a consonant then vowel, look at the consonant row and vowel column, like coordinates. For example, to find ma, look along the m row and the a column. If you want to use just a vowel, look at the top row of any vowel column. If there is a letter/syllable that isn’t in the alphabet, write it in English. If you need to write two consonants next to each other, or a word that ends in a consonant, put an i after each consonant. For example, if you want to write it, you would use the a alone and then a ti.

Linear A and pictures are very confusing languages. No one has figured out what they say. Maybe you will figure it out. This work sheet will display a picture of Linear A and your job is to try and guess what this picture is. I do not know so anyone can guess right, we just won’t know. I thought it was a piece of a throne in a castle. Check out the link to the picture and try to guess!

Here is the Picture of the Linear A tablet.

If you would like to learn more about Linear B, here are some links to websites: Odyssey Online Ancient Scripts Map of Crete
See the Power Point for the bibliography. Thank you for looking at our page!