Daily Archives: April 5, 2015

One Hundred and Fifteen Years Ago Today

The Linear B script was formally rediscovered in an excavation in Knossos, Crete. While evidence of the script was discovered as early as 1886, when Arthur Evans of the Ashmolean Museum was presented with a sealstone from Crete by Greville Chester that displayed signs similar to those discovered by Heinrich Schliemann in his work, but that were never identified as writing, until the treasure trove of tablets was discovered it was just a hunch that the language existed. However, after Evans obtained more in 1893, he began to suspect that the stones he obtained evidenced various phases in the development of a writing system and that there might be another lost language.

Linear B is an early syllabic script used for writing Mycenaean Greek, the earliest attested form of Greek that predates the Greek alphabet by several centuries. As it is likely that it influenced development of the later Greek alphabet, which would have been designed to simply the script (as a syllabic script requires a lot more base characters than an alphabet script) — which was used to record the works of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle — it was a very important development in the history of written communication and one that should not be forgotten.