The Interpretation of Mycenaean Greek Texts

The Interpretation of Mycenaean Greek Texts

The Interpretation of Mycenaean Greek Texts

The Interpretation of Mycenaean Greek Texts

Excerpt

Objects inscribe with what later came to be known as 'Minoan' writing came to the notice of Sir Arthur Evans from 1889 onwards in the shape of bead seals engraved with hieroglyphic characters. Evans succeeded in tracing them all to Crete, and in 1893 he announced to the Hellenic Society the existence of a Cretan system of hieroglyphics comprising some sixty symbols. Further discoveries enabled him to distinguish a linear phase of the same script, which he later subdivided into an earlier phase Linear 'A' and a later Linear 'B'. In March 1900 Evans began to excavate on the Hill of Kephala, the site of the ancient Knossos, and within a matter of weeks he had unearthed hundreds of inscribed tablets, some still embedded in the charred remains of the wooden box which had presumably contained them. Subsequent discoveries brought the number of tablets to close on 3,000, most of which are inscribed in the second or 'B' phase of the linear script.

Evans has described his discovery of the successive types of Minoan writing in Scripta Minoa I 8-18, which besides the hieroglyphic and Linear A material included fourteen Linear B tablets. Another 120 figured in Palace of Minos iv, but complete publication was not achieved until after Evan's death, in Scripta Minoa ii (1952).

Indispensable as this edition is for showing the structure and lay-out of the tablets, the authoritative text is that in transliterated form: The Knossos Tablets, by E. L. Bennett, J. Chadwick, and M. Ventris (ed.), 1956 = KT; revised ed. 1959).

Until 1939 Mainland use of the script was known only from inscribed jars. The largest find was made in 1921, when twenty-eight stirrup-jars painted with Linear B signs were found in the Mycenaean palace in the Kadmeion at Thebes. Similar finds have been made at Eleusis, Mycenae, Orchomenos, and Tiryns. They have been published with photographs by G. P. Carratelli (1945). The fact that so many of these vessels bear . . .

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