- Series: Reading the Past (Book 1)
- Paperback: 64 pages
- Publisher: University of California Press (May 22, 1987)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0520060199
- ISBN-13: 978-0520060197
- Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.8 x 0.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #599,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Linear B and Related Scripts (Reading the Past, Vol. 1)
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Top Customer Reviews
This is, strictly speaking, not a book from which one learns the language as much as it is a primer to learn about the language, with a little technical and translation information thrown in for good measure. In the course of such a short book, however well written, one could not expect otherwise. However, the depth of material is impressive given the limited number of pages.
In the first chapter, Chadwick deals with the history of the discovery of Linear B. He talks of Schleimann's Troy expeditions, and the various nineteenth century discoveries and excavations around Turkey, Greece and Crete that enabled the archaeologists to uncover civilisations long forgotten, seemingly even by their successors, the ancient Greeks and other Aegeans. The second chapter describes the process of initial decipherment, covering both basic ideas in solving such a puzzle, as well as a bit of narrative history relating the people involved. The deciphering of Linear B is a relatively recent enterprise, coming to fruition really in the middle of the twentieth century.Read more ›
Chadwick starts to get interesting in the later chapters where he examines the form of Linear B in far greater depth - how it was used and the sounds and its relationship to the ancient Greek language. He also discusses the advances which have been in made in deciphering the older, and as yet not fully understood writing, also found on Crete and called "Linear A". It is a short, pithy book, but a good further step for those interested in reading more on these languages but with no technical training in the subject (like me) - an enthusiastic amateur.
Chadwick takes the reader through the discoveries of clay tablets on Crete, Knossos, and Greece and attempts to decipher them. Linear B was written on clay tablets, which were not kept for more than a year, and they were never baked. The tablets that are preserved are those that were accidentally exposed to fire. Even so, there are enough that Chadwick and his colleagues were able to compile a syllabary of 87 signs for the script and to translate it. This volume is one of the most enjoyable of the "Reading the Past" series, because it tells the reader how to decipher the writing, although you would have to know Greek to understand its meaning.
Once we have learned how Linear B works, Chadwick discusses what historical information can be deduced from Linear B tablets, considering that the information they contain is limited to a certain type. He discusses Linear A, an earlier script used by the Minoans that is closer to hieroglyphs and has yet to be translated. Though it has similar symbols to Linear B, they appear to represent a different language.Read more ›