Linear font B
Linear font B (as opposed to the older linear font A ) is the syllabary of the Mycenaean culture of Greece . It was built from the 15th century BC. Until the 12th century BC Used starting from Knossos on Crete and the Greek mainland. Their use is attested from the periods SM II to SM III B of the Bronze Age Minoan culture .
About 90 syllable characters , 160 characters with word meanings and various numerals are known. It was written from left to right.
The writing became known in 1878 through a find in Crete . The designation "Linear B" was coined by Sir Arthur Evans , the excavator of Knossos , and describes the appearance of the characters scratched with individual lines in clay tablets . Because of the close relationship with the linear script A, found clay tablets and the like were initially thought to be Minoan .
Finds of clay tablets (the Sigle ) come mainly from the palace archives of Pylos (PY), which were uncovered by Carl Blegen . Other tablets that indicate a palace administration come from the sites of Iklaina in Messenia (IK), Agios Vasilios in Laconia (HV), Mycenae (MY) and Tiryns (TI) in Argolis, Thebes (TH) in Boeotia, Volos (VOL) in Thessaly and Chania (KH) in Crete. In addition, vases with painted characters were found in several places, so u. a. in Tiryns, Midea , Mycenae, Eleusis , Kreusis , Orchomenos and in Thessaly Dimini on the mainland as well as Chania, Knossos, Malia and Prinias on Crete.
Outside of Greece, an unsecured vase inscription comes from Sidon (Lebanon). On the small Italian island of Vivara in the Gulf of Naples , where many imports from the early Mycenaean period were found, both clay seals with individual characters and fragments of a tablet made of tuff with numerical notes were discovered, which have strong similarities to the palm-leaf-shaped Linear-B -To show clay tablets from Greece. There are also two amber amulets found in 2000 from the Bronze Age fortifications near Bernstorf, each with three characters from an early linear B script. Should the authenticity of this find be clearly proven, it provided important evidence for the trade routes of the 15th century BC. Chr.
The foundations of deciphering were laid by the classical philologist Alice Kober between 1940 and her untimely death in 1950. Building on their systematic preparatory work, the British architect and linguist Michael Ventris succeeded in deciphering it together with John Chadwick in 1952 . It turned out that the texts found had been written in an early form of the Greek language ( Mycenaean Greek ). This represented a scientific sensation, as it had previously been assumed that it was the non-Indo-European language of the Minoans , which had previously been written with Linear A. Apparently, Linear B is an adaptation to the language of the Mycenaean conquerors. Moreover, it had previously been assumed that the Mycenaeans had not yet spoken Greek and that carriers of this language did not immigrate to Hellas until the Iron Age . When the Mycenaeans established their power in Crete after the Thera volcanic eruption (around 1625 BC), they had already begun to develop the Linear B syllabar from Linear A using some old European symbols and new creations.
The finds are not literary texts, but mainly notes for economic and administrative purposes that were not intended for permanent storage. The clay tablets only survived by chance because they were burned in disasters and thus made durable for a long time. Therefore they only report on the economic situation and the administration in the last months before the respective fire. Once a year a revision was carried out in which the contents of all the clay tablets were summarized and then most likely recorded on another, perishable material.
The characters of the linear fonts with their complicated structures and small details are not very suitable for scratching in clay. It is therefore assumed that writing was mainly carried out on other, but not very durable, materials such as papyrus or parchment .
|? a||? e||? i||? o||? u|
|d-||? there||? de||? di||? do||? you|
|j-||? yes||? each||? jo||? ju|
|k-||? ka||? ke||? ki||? ko||? ku|
|m-||? ma||? me||? mi||? mo||? mu|
|n-||? na||? ne||? ni||? no||? nu|
|p-||? pa||? pe||? pi||? po||? pu|
|q-||? qa||? qe||? qi||? qo|
|r-||? ra||? re||? ri||? ro||? ru|
|s-||? sa||? se||? si||? so||? see below|
|t-||? ta||? te||? ti||? to||? do|
|w-||? wa||? we||? wi||? where|
|z-||? za||? ze||? zo|
Some characters with special rules of reading (ai, rya, tya, dwe, twe, dwo, nwa, etc.) are not included in the table . A dozen syllable characters have not yet been deciphered (* 34, * 35 etc.).
??? = ko-no-so / Knōsos /, the palace of Knossos
???? = a-mi-ni-so / Amnīsos /, Amnissos , the port of Knossos
??? = pa-i-to / P h aistos /, Phaistos on Crete
?? = pu-ro / Pulos /, the palace of Pylos
?? = te-qa / T h ēg w ai /, the palace of Thebes
??? = e-ma-a 2 / Hermahās /, the god Hermes
??? = wa-na-ka / wanaks / "king" (ancient Greek ἄναξ )
???? = qa-si-re-u / q w asileus / "a kind of official" (in later Greek βασιλεύς "king")
??? = e-ra-wo / elaiwon / " olive oil "
?? = pe-mo / spermo / "Saat, Same"
??? = ti-ri-po / tripos / " tripod "
??? = pa-ra-jo / palaios / "old"
Since only simple syllables (either vowel or consonant + vowel) can be written in Linear B, the orthography does not reflect the sound shape poorly. A Greek word written in Linear B often has several possible readings. The spelling, on the other hand, is quite clear and in the majority of cases follows the following rules:
- Vowel length is not specified: The two O-vowels in KNOSOS (classical Κνωσός ) are not distinguished.
- Diphthongs on U (AU, EU) are written with a syllable plus the vowel U (LEU is re-u). There is a special syllable symbol for AU at the beginning of a word.
- In diphthongs on I, the I is omitted (PHAI becomes pa; however, the irregular spelling pa-i-to ??? is also found for the example word PHAISTOS ). At the beginning of the word, AI can be written either with a or a special character ai.
- If further vowels follow U or I, then a sliding sound w or j is inserted. This also applies to diphthongs from U or I, although the I is not written in the latter (LAIO is written as ra-jo, KUA results in ku-wa).
- Double consonants (geminals) are written as single consonants (SSO becomes so)
- Consonant clusters, the first component of which is a plosive , are resolved into two syllables with the same vowel (KNO results in ko-no).
- Clusters of continuant + plosive, on the other hand, are shortened to a simple syllable by leaving out the continuant (STO results in to).
- In clusters of two continuants, both consonants are always written (MNI becomes mi-ni). There are exceptions to this, however, in which the first consonant is omitted from the spelling. This is systematically always the case when the second consonant is S, but there are also cases that cannot be predicted with a simple rule.
- The distinction between voiced, unvoiced and aspirated plosives can usually not be reproduced in writing (KA / KHA / GA are written with ka and PA / PHA / BA with pa). Only for the voiced Dental D there is a separate series of syllables, so that DA is written with da and TA / THA with ta.
- No distinction is made between L and R.
- Consonants at the end of a word are usually dropped. In the rare cases where a word ends in -qs, -ps or -ks, the plosive is written with the vowel of the penultimate syllable: In the last example word, the word final QS is written with the preceding vowel as qo.
- Aegean writing systems
- Mycenaean Greek
- Mycenaean culture
- Mycenaean palace period
- List of well-known mycenologists
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Emmett Leslie Bennett : The Pylos Tablets. A Preliminary Transcription. Princeton UP, Princeton 1951.
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- Linear B . Ancient Scripts
- The Linear B Tablets and Mycenaean Organization
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