For example, in The Silmarillion by J. Tolkien , a Golden Age exists in Middle-earth legendarium. Arda the part of the world where The Lord of the Rings is set , was designed to be symmetrical and perfect. Another kind of 'Golden Age' follows later, after the Elves awoke; the Eldar stay on Valinor , live with the Valar and advance in arts and knowledge, until the rebellion and the fall of the Noldor , reminiscent of the Fall of Man. Eventually, after the end of the world , the Silmarilli will be recovered and the light of the Two Trees of Valinor rekindled.
Arda will be remade again as Arda Healed. In The Wheel of Time universe, the "Age of Legends" is the name given to the previous Age: In this society, channelers were common and Aes Sedai — trained channelers — were extremely powerful, able to make angreal , sa'angreal , and ter'angreal , and holding important civic positions. The Age of Legends is seen as a utopian society without war or crime, and devoted to culture and learning.
Aes Sedai were frequently devoted to academic endeavours, one of which inadvertently resulted in a hole — The Bore — being drilled in the Dark One's prison. The immediate effects were not realised, but the Dark One gradually asserted power over humanity, swaying many to become his followers. This resulted in the War of Power and eventually the Breaking of the World.
Another example is in the background of the Lands of Lore classic computer game, where the history of the Lands is divided in Ages. One of them is also called the Golden Age, a time when the Lands were ruled by the 'Ancients', and there were no wars. This age ended with the 'War of the Heretics'.
The Golden Age may also refer to a state of early childhood. Herbert Spencer argued that young children progress through the cognitive stages of evolution of the human species and of human civilization, thereby linking pre-civilization and infancy. Barrie's further works about Peter Pan   depict early childhood as a time of pre-civilised naturalness and happiness, which is destroyed by the subsequent process of education. Usually, the term "Golden Age" is bestowed retroactively, when the period in question has ended and is compared with what followed in the specific field discussed.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about a period in Greek mythology. For other uses, see Golden Age disambiguation. This article needs additional citations for verification.
Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. This lead may be in need of reorganization to comply with Wikipedia's layout guidelines. Please help by editing the article to make improvements to the overall structure. August Learn how and when to remove this template message. See also: Golden age metaphor. Rose's "Handbook of Greek Mythology" , p.
The Greek Myths. London: Penguin Books. Aratus says that she is thought to be the daughter of Astraeus and Aurora, who lived at the time of the Golden Age of men and was their leader. On account of her carefulness and fairness she was called Justice, and at that time no foreign nations were attacked in war, nor did anyone sail over the seas, but they were wont to live their lives caring for their fields.
But those born after their death began to be less observant of duty and more greedy, so that Justice associated more rarely with men. Finally the disease became so extreme that it was said the Brazen Race was born; then she could not endure more, and flew away to the stars. Lovejoy and G. MISBN Archived from the original on 15 December Retrieved Retrieved 15 December The Golden Age. UK: The Bodley Head. The Little White Bird. UK: Hodder and Stoughton. Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. Hodder and Stoughton. Peter and Wendy. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Ancient Greek religion and mythology. Dragons in Greek mythology Greek mythological creatures Greek mythological figures List of minor Greek mythological figures. Hecate Hesperus Phosphorus. Aphrodite Aphroditus Philotes Peitho. Hermanubis Hermes Thanatos. Empusa Epiales Hypnos Pasithea Oneiroi.
Angelia Arke Hermes Iris. But in this period foreign merchants came to Egypt more often than Egyptian ones travelled overseas; the sailors depicted on reliefs at Sahure, dating to about , are mostly Asiatic, and the design of sea-going vessels seems to have been copied from Levantine models — some may have been able to navigate upriver as well, functioning as warships as well as trading vessels. The overall impression is that the Egyptians relied on outside agents to build, manage and sail their ships, at least across the Mediterranean.
The Mediterranean did not have such significance for them that it was assigned its own distinctive name. Turquoise adorns much Egyptian jewellery of this period. But Tjaru also functioned as a base for trade with the outside world, as is demonstrated by finds of pottery originating in Syria and Cyprus, lands rich in the timber the Egyptians craved.
More important, though, was Avaris, also in the eastern Delta. As early as the eighteenth century BC the population included many settlers of Canaanite origin, including soldiers, sailors and artisans. The Hyksos made it into their capital, and under their rule it occupied a space measuring over square kilometres.
The end of Hyksos rule did not spell the end of Avaris. Another port, one which grew in importance, was Tanis; from here an Egyptian emissary from Karnak in the deep south was sent on a frustrating mission to the Canaanite king of Byblos in the early eleventh century. This man, Wenamun, left a report of his journey of which a copy on papyrus survived in an Egyptian tomb; there he described setting out from Tanis on 20 April Wenamun went to the governor to complain; of course, the governor said, if the thief had been a man of Dor, he would have indemnified Wenamun, but all he could do was launch an investigation.
This investigation lasted nine exasperating days, but nothing was found, and Wenamun decided his only option was to continue his journey northwards. The ruler of Byblos, Zekerbaal, was even more unhelpful than that of Dor. September arrived; Wenamun was worried that he would not be able to leave until sailings resumed in the spring so evidently there was a close season, which applied even to coast-hugging journeys along the coast of Canaan.
Later on, the king reminded Wenamun that he had once kept similar emissaries waiting for seventeen years! Wenamun decided to reserve space on a ship that was ready to leave, for Mengebet had moved on to his next port of call and had left him behind. This, at least, was the official explanation, but Wenamun thought the aim was to separate him from his property, miss his sailing, and pillage his silver while he was in the royal presence. The king insisted that twenty ships of Byblos traded with Egypt, and as many as fifty ships of Sidon, though Wenamun expressed the official Egyptian view that, by trading with Egypt, they were not really foreign vessels but ships sailing under the protection of Pharaoh.
Thus there were constant attempts to score points, and the king clearly relished the opportunity to insult Egypt and its rulers at a time when they were weak. He admitted that earlier kings had supplied wood just as requested, but he expected payment; he ordered the accounts of the kingdom to be brought to him — an interesting sign of the sophistication of administration — and he proved from the accounts that the Egyptians had sent large quantities of silver in the past.
Wenamun knew, though, that angry words would achieve nothing, and sent a message to Egypt asking for handsome gifts for Zekerbaal.
The Egyptians took his request seriously. They sent a mixture of luxury items such as gold and silver vases and supplies of basic materials such as ox-hides, linen, fish, lentils, rope and rolls of papyrus, on which Zekerbaal would be able to record yet more financial accounts. The king assigned men and as many oxen to fell and move the timber. Zekerbaal processed down to the shore to watch it being loaded, and sent Wenamun signs of his new goodwill: wine, a sheep and a female Egyptian singer to console him.
Wenamun was allowed to depart on a ship manned by sailors from Byblos. He escaped pirates from Dor who tried to capture his vessel, but then it was driven by storms to Cyprus, where the inhabitants pounced upon him, and he was only saved from death by the kindly queen. However, the whole tale has the flavour of a series of excuses for a mission that ended in failure — it is far from clear whether the wood arrived in Egypt. Of course, this account does not portray everyday trading contacts across the eastern Mediterranean; but it is extraordinarily precious as the first account of a trading voyage, and of the political difficulties which would ever after ensnare those who tried to conduct business at the courts of foreign rulers.
For it was the revelation of the wealth and artistry of the civilization he unearthed that convinced scholars of the essential truth behind the legends. Pre-Hellenic archaeology, as it has been called until the last few years, distinguishes three phases of the Bronze Age in Greece: Early Bronze, roughly b. On the mainland it took place rather later, beginning with the Late Bronze Age and lasting until the twelfth century, when one after another all the important centres of Greece were sacked and left in ruins.
It is this last period which is called, after the first site to be excavated and its chief centre, Mycenaean. His appreciation of the high level of civilization reached by these Mycenaeans led him to speculate on the economic structure of a kingdom wealthy enough to produce such art and monuments. Mycenae has no natural wealth—no gold or silver mines, or any other exploitable commodity.
Yet the craftsmanship of her products implied intense specialization, and this in turn an economic system in which the means of life were available to specialized workers. Did not this demand a system of writing which should serve at least for the book-keeping of the palace 7 The Decipherment of Linear B secretariat? Evans thought for this and similar reasons that the Mycenaeans must have been able to write; but no inscriptions had been found in their graves and palaces; and the Greek alphabet was generally considered to have been borrowed from Phoenicia two or three hundred years after the fall of Mycenae.
They showed a style of composition clearly different from those known in the Near East, and some had arbitrary collocations of signs which might represent a kind of script. Evans traced these to Crete, and while the island was still under Turkish rule aijd in a state of ferment, he traversed it from end to end with another young man, who was later to share with him the honour of a knighthood, John Myres. From their study Evans first identified the earliest script of Greece. But this was not enough. A few characters engraved on gems were no evidence of the book-keeping needed to run a civilized country.
He determined to dig himself, and in , as soon as the liberation of Crete from Turkish rule opened the way, he began the excavation of a site already well known as that of Knossos, a classical town of importance and, if Homer could be trusted, the royal seat and capital of a legendary empire. His first object, the discovery of writing, was rapidly accomplished; the first tablets were found on 30 March, only a week after he had started to dig.
Legend told of the tribute of maidens and youths sent annually to satisfy the monster of the labyrinth; rationalization demanded that the labyrinth should be only a vast and complex palace, the monster Minos, the cruel monarch. So was bom the theory of an un-Greek Cretan civilization, named from its legendary ruler, Minoan. The similarities between its art and Kg. Mycenaean sites, and places mentioned on the Linear B tablets. The third clue was even more difficult to follow correcdy, and even today it is all too often overlooked: it is the study of the Greek language.
When the earliest alphabetic inscriptions were made, in the eighth century B. It is as if each English county had its own form, not only 9 The Decipherment of Linear B of spoken, but of written language. But all the Greeks could, more or less, make themselves understood throughout the country; the local dialects were all fragments of one language, split up into pockets by the mountains and the sea.
From these facts two conclusions could be drawn: at one time all these Hellenic peoples had ancestors who spoke alike; their unity was broken, and the main groups developed separately. Finally, just before the historical period, each local dialect must have developed out of its group. Now we can apply these facts to the archaeological picture with some confidence. It used to be thought that at least three of the main groups of dialects had evolved outside Greece and been brought in by successive waves of invaders.
This theory has lately been modified by new research, and it now seems more likely that the break-up of the dialects began only after the entry of the Greeks into the Balkan peninsula. This has been plausibly equated with the archaeological break between the Early and Middle Bronze Age cultures, about b. At most sites there is evidence of destruction at this period, and the new culture shows some radically different features from the old.
The final stage of the movements of the Hellenic peoples is even better defined. The chief areas of Mycenaean power, the sites of the palaces destroyed about the thirteenth to twelfth centuries, were in historical times occupied by one of the major linguistic groups, the Dorians. Starting from north-west Greece Epirus , these dialects lay in a great arc running down the west coast of the Peloponnese, through Crete, and up to Rhodes and Cos in the Dodecanese.
Inside the arc, the Dorians penetrated central Greece as far as Delphi, and absorbed the whole of the Peloponnese except its mountainous core, Arcadia, which remained a separate linguistic enclave. But they never penetrated to the islands of the central 10 The Minoati Scripts Aegean, or to the east coast of the mainland north of the Isthmus. This, combined with legends about the Dorian conquest, makes it extremely probable that it was this movement that caused the fmal collapse of Mycenaean power; though the possibility must still be considered that the collapse was due to some external force, and that the Dorians simply moved into a political vacuum.
Linguistically therefore there was good reason to regard the Mycenaeans as Greeks, as Schliemann had done. The experts, however, were more cautious, and a variety of theories of their origin were current. What was especially significant about the dialects was that the isolated dialect of the central Pelo- 11 The Decipherment of Linear B ponnese, Arcadian, was closely related to that of a very remote area, Cyprus.
Thus it was almost certain that Arcadian and Cypriot together represented the relics of a Mycenaean dialect, spoken all over the pre-Dorian Peloponnese. This deduction supplied a very important control on the attempts to decipher a Mycenaean script as Greek. Any solution seriously out of line with Arcadian would have little chance of being right. We must now describe in some detail the writing which Evans found in Crete, and related discoveries elsewhere.
Evans was soon able to distinguish three phases in the history of Minoan writing, Fig. Hieroglyphic tablet from Phaistos. In the earhest phase, dated very roughly to b. This was the script of the seal-stones, but Evans also found a few examples on lumps of clay used as sealings and clay bars. A hieroglyphic tablet from Phaistos is illustrated in Fig.
Comparison with similar Linear B tablets suggests that it records quantities of four commodities, probably wheat, oil, olives and figs. No attempt can be made at a real decipherment, because 12 The Minoati Scripts there is too little material, but the similarities make it clear that the system is closely allied to, and presumably the origin of, the next stage. This dates roughly from to b.
Since the pictorial signs are now reduced to mere outlines, Evans named it Linear A. The direction of writing is from left to right. There are a number of inscriptions on stone and bronze objects—a feature strangely lacking in Linear B. It is quite clear that these are mainly records of agricultural produce.
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One is illustrated in Fig. At some date, which cannot yet be precisely determined, Linear A was replaced by a modified form of the script which Evans named Linear B. The date of this change would be highly significant; but unfortunately Linear B has so far been found at only one site in Crete, and although the documents using it are firmly dated to the destruction of the Late Minoan II palace, about b. It has been suggested that Linear A at Phaistos overlaps Linear B at Knossos; but comparative dating by archaeological means is impossible with the accuracy required. As far as the available evidence Fig.
Linear A tablet from Hagia Triada no. The relationship between the two systems is perplexing. It is not simply a matter of reducing the early pictorial signs to simpler and more easily written forms, for in some instances the Linear B forms are more elaborate than their Linear A counterparts. This theory is now disproved by the discovery of Linear B in mainland Greece, and we can now see that Linear B is the result of adapting the Minoan script for the writing of Greek—though this could not be guessed at the time of its discovery.
Even so this is only a partial explanation. There is no reason to change the form of a sign in order to write a new language, though it may be necessary to add or subtract, or change the values of some signs. French is written with basically the same alphabet as English, though there are certain additional letters tf, e, etc. The differences make some of the identifications conjectural, and suggest that Linear B had a history of development between the original adaptation and the earliest texts.
The fact that the earliest known texts are actually the Cretan ones may well be a false scent. Though superficially alike, differences between the scripts are clear to a practised eye; a very obvious difference is that the guide lines or rules that separate the lines of writing on Linear B tablets are usually absent in Linear A.
A further difference concerns the 14 The Minoan Scripts numerical system: in general this is very similar, but the treatment of fractional quantities is quite different. Linear A has a system of fractional signs, not yet fully worked out; Linear B has no signs of this type, but records fractional quantities in terms of smaller units, like pounds, shillings and pence, or dollars and cents, or tons, hundredweights, quarters and pounds.
The divergence of the systems of measurement was demonstrated with admirable clarity by Professor E. Bennett Jr. In calling attention to these differences between A and B, Bennett was in effect attacking a view propounded by Evans and supported by the Italian scholar Professor G. Pugliese Carratelli, who published the most important series of Linear A texts in The evidence of identity of language, however, was exceedingly meagre.
Not one word of any length was identical in the two scripts, though a small number of two- or three-sign words appeared to repeat, and others had similar beginnings and endings. Almost all the clay tablets found at Knossos were in Linear B, and the total number of tablets now known, including of course many small fragments, is between three and four thousand.
All these tablets apparendy came from the palace built in the period called by the archaeologists Late Minoan II, which was destroyed by fire at the end of the fifteenth century b. Minoan architecture made use of large quantities of timber, and even masonry walls were tied together by a system of timber baulks, rather like medieval timbering in structure; it is thought that the use of wood in this way gives a building flexibility to withstand earthquakes.
The disadvantage, however, is that if it catches fire it bums 15 The Decipherment of Linear B fiercely; but this heat served to bake many of the clay tablets to the hardness of pottery, and so made them durable. There is no doubt that, contrary to the practice in Anatolia and farther East, the tablets in the Aegean area were never deliberately fired. The clay was moulded to the required shape, inscribed and left to dry; in summer, at least, a few hours would suffice to render them hard enough to store and no further writing could then be added.
The physical appearance of the tablets is unattractive. They are flat lumps of clay, usually dull grey in colour, though in some cases sufficient oxygen penetrated to the tablet while it was being burnt to cause oxidation, giving a pleasant red brick colour. They vary in size from small sealings and labels little more than an inch across to heavy page-shaped tablets as much as io inches by 5 inches.
Many were found in a crumbly condition, and Evans had an unfortunate experience once when he left a freshly excavated batch in a storeroom overnight, the rain came through the roof, and there was nothing left in the morning but muddy lumps of clay. Such things were not, we may hope, allowed to happen again; but tablets are not easy to recover from the earth, and it is not impossible that some of the early excavators may have thrown them away as useless clods.
The abundance of tablets found at Knossos gave Evans high hopes of solving the riddle. In his earliest report, written in , he noted the obvious facts about the script: From the frequency of ciphers on these tablets it is evident that a great number of them refer to accounts relating to the royal stores and arsenal.
The general purport of the tablet, moreover, is in many cases supplied by the introduction of one or more pictorial figures. Among other subjects thus represented were human figures, perhaps slaves, houses or bams, swine, ears of com, various kinds of trees, saffron flowers, and vessels of clay 16 The Minoatx Scripts of various shapes Besides these were other vases of metallic forms— implements such as spades, single-edged axes, and many indeterminate objects In the present incomplete state of the material it is undesirable to go beyond a very general statement of the comparison attainable.
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The inscriptions are invariably written from left to right. His suggestions were in many cases sound, but they were disjointed observations and he never laid down any methodical procedure. Although subsequent additions were made to this fount it never became a wholly satisfactory means of printing Linear B; many of the characters in it are simple variants of one character without any significance, and the discovery of new texts outside Crete increased the repertoire.
The first volume of Minoan inscriptions, entitled ScriptaMinoa I, was published in This was devoted to the hieroglyphic script, though it contained some allusions to the Linear scripts which were to form the subject of a second and a third volume. Of this story the scripts formed only a minor part—and an unsatisfactory part, since no real progress had been made in their decipherment. But it is certain that some progress could have been made, and much of the unprofitable speculation of the next fifty years saved by a rapid publication.
A few tablets had been published in the initial dig reports and other articles. A total of became available when the vast work on the Palace of Minos reached its fourth volume in About the same time the Finnish scholar Professor Johannes Sundwall visited Crete and succeeded in copying thirty-eight more; these he published, together with some interesting speculations on their significance.
It is an unwritten law among archaeologists that the discoverer of any object has the right to be the first to publish it; equitable as it seems, it can become absurd if an excavator refuses to delegate the task of publication and delays it himself unduly. Such cases are rare, but not entirely unknown, even in the more co-operative international spirit which happily prevails among archaeologists today. Evans eventually died, at the age of ninety, in , just in time to be spared the news of the German occupation of Crete.
His own house, the Villa Ariadne at Knossos, became the headquarters of the German command on the island. In the difficult post-war years the Clarendon 18 The Minoatt Scripts Press could not be expected to relish the prospect of printing an extremely difficult book in a script and language no one could read. The design of publishing the Linear A inscriptions was dropped, since this had already been admirably done by Professor Pugliese Carratelli. But the Linear B tablets were in Iraklion, and Myres was now too old and infirm to visit Greece again.
In any case it was not until that conditions there became normal enough to permit the re opening of museums; in Iraklion itself the new Museum had to be built, and some of the contents had suffered damage during the war. Bennett generously put their work at his disposal. But no systematic check was possible until it was too late.
It was not until some time after the publication of Scripta Minoa II in that it became clear how vital this check was. Evans again is not wholly to blame; it is exceedingly difficult to copy accurately an inscription in unfamiliar characters, and in any case the work seems usually to have been done by one of his draughtsman assistants. But by this time the problem had been transformed by new discoveries.
A full account of these must wait until the next chapter; in the meantime we must complete this account of the various Minoan scripts. No account of writing in Crete would be complete without a mention of the famous Phaistos Disk. The signs are pictorial and number forty-five; the direction of writing 19 The Decipherment of Linear B is from right to left. But the most remarkable feature of the disk is its method of execution. Each sign was separately impressed on the soft clay by means of a punch or type cut for the purpose.
The Decipherment of Linera B - John Chadwick
Moreover, the skill with which all the available space is filled argues some practice in the maker. But the disk remains so far unique. Attempts have been made to identify the signs with those of the hieroglyphic script, and some likenesses can be detected; it is more often, however, considered an import, from Anatolia according to Evans.
But nothing like it in form or technique has yet been found anywhere in the ancient world. The possibility of decipherment therefore remains beyond our grasp, though this has not deterred a long succession of scholars and amateurs from producing their own versions, some of which will be quoted in the next chapter. There is yet another ramification of the Minoan script proper. Between the two wars the accumulation of finds made it clear that during the Bronze Age a related script was in use in Cyprus, and it was therefore named Cypro-Minoan.
The chief site of this period so far explored is a large and important city on the east coast of the island called by the modem name Enkomi. Material of very different dates has come to light; the oldest is a small scrap of a tablet dated to the early fifteenth century b. The signs are different from any other form of the Minoan script, but suggest affinities with Linear A. Then come a group of tablets, mostly badly preserved, dated about the twelfth 20 The Minoati Scripts century B. These show a script in which the simplest signs are almost identical with the two Cretan scripts, but all the more complicated signs have been greatly modified, the elegant fine lines and curves of Linear A and B being abandoned in favour of heavy bars and dots.
Now it requires some skill and a needle- sharp stylus to write Linear B on a clay surface; no people who habitually wrote on clay and nothing else would be likely to maintain the script in this form for long; it must have kept this form in Crete and Greece because it was also written with a pen or brush on a material such as paper. A precisely similar development can be seen in the history of the cuneiform script in Babylonia; the early characters, which are recognizable picto- grams, later become reduced to formalized patterns consisting of only three wedge-shaped strokes see Fig.
It is consistent with this theory of a change in the normal writing material that the clay tablets of Cyprus were baked, not merely sun-dried as those of Greece. In form, too, they resemble much more closely the Oriental type. The development of cuneiform script.
It must be emphasized that most of the evidence for these scripts has only been found in the last few years, and played no part in the decipherment of Linear B. They are still undeciphered and likely to remain so until more texts are found. This is the classical Cypriot script, which was used to write Greek from at least the sixth century down to the third or second century b. There are a number of inscriptions written in it which are clearly not Greek, but an unknown language. The system revealed is illustrated in Fig. Such a system is most inconvenient for Greek.
The stops k , p and t have each to do duty for three sounds represented by separate letters of the Greek alphabet: thus k represents k 9 g and kh , p—p 9 h and ph , t — t 9 d and th.
Secondly, there is no means of showing groups of consonants or final consonants. Now classical Cypriot was obviously related to Linear B. The Cypriot syllabary. For instance, in the table drawn up by Myres in Scripta Minoa II, out of thirty-two Linear B signs only eleven are right or nearly right. None the less, almost all who approached Linear B started by transferring the Cypriot values to the Linear B signs, though even the most elementary 23 The Decipherment of Linear B study of the history of writing shows that the same sign, even in related systems, may stand for different sounds.
The Cypriot clue was confusing in another way too. It was too readily assumed that the spelling conventions of Linear B would be similar to those of Cypriot; this led to an important deduction. The most common final consonant in Greek is s. Comparison of signs in Linear B and Classical Cypriot. Now se is one of the few signs immediately recognizable in Linear B see Fig. It could thus be argued that the language of Linear B could hardly be Greek.
Here was the internal evidence to support the conclusion drawn by Evans from the archaeological record, that the culture of Minoan Crete was totally different from that of Mycenaean Greece, whether or not the latter was Greek in the sense of speaking the Greek language. The influence of Evans and his 24 The Minoati Scripts followers was immense. Only a very few archaeologists dared to question the orthodox doctrine, and the most courageous, the late A. Wace, who was to become Professor of Classical Archaeology in the University of Cambridge, paid dearly for his heretical views; he was excluded from digging in Greece for a considerable period.
How much is needed depends upon the nature of the problem to be solved, the character of the material, and so forth. Where, as in this case, no bilingual exists, a far larger amount of text is required. There are two methods by which one can proceed. One is by a methodical analysis, and this approach will form the subject of the next chapter; the other is by more or less pure guesswork. Intelligent guessing must of course play some part in the first case; but there is a world of difference between a decipherment founded upon a careful internal analysis and one obtained by trial and error.
A cool judgement is also needed to discriminate between what a text is likely or unlikely to contain. This faculty was notably lacking among those who risked their reputations on the conjectural method. Evans and the more cautious of his followers had observed that with few apparent exceptions all the documents were lists or accounts. The reasons for this will be discussed later on.
In most cases these would-be decipherers 2 6 Hopes and Failures began by guessing the language of the inscriptions—most of them treated A and B and even the Phaistos Disk as all specimens of the same language. Some chose Greek, though the Greek which they obtained would not stand philological examination.
Others chose a language with obscure affinities or one imperfectly known: Basque and Etruscan were proposed as candidates. Others again invented languages of their own for the purpose, a method which had the advantage that no one could prove them wrong. One attempt, by the Bulgarian Professor V. Georgiev, presented an ingenious melange of linguistic elements, which resembled Greek when it suited his purpose and any other language when it did not. Almost all decipherers made resemblances with the Cypriot script their starting-point.
The other essential for the success of this method was that the language should turn out to be a kind of Indo- European language akin to Hittite. Without some such assumption the mere substitution of phonetic values would have been useless. Here is his version of a Pylos text given in English translation of the French of his publication : Place of administration Hatahua: the palace has consumed all?
Place of administration Sahur i ta is a bad? It is a sad story which recurs too often in the world of scholarship: an old and respected figure produces in his dotage work unworthy of his maturity, and his friends and pupils have not the courage to tell him so. Its author was F. The choice of Basque was dictated by the reasoning that Minoan was probably not Indo-European, and Basque is the only non-Indo-European language surviving in Europe which was not introduced in historical times. His method is a popular one among the dilettanti.
Each sign is first identified as an object, however vague the resemblance; this object is then given its name in the language assumed, and the sign is solved. Gordon was content to stay at this stage, regarding each sign as meaning a word. But when he turned to the Phaistos Disk he excelled himself. Here are a few lines from his translation The same year saw another similar venture, by Miss F.
Using the acrophonic principle mentioned above, she dealt with a great deal of the hieroglyphic script, the Phaistos Disk and some Linear A inscriptions. Little effort was made to interpret the Linear B tablets, except for a few formulas; she recognized that these were inventories and wisely kept to inscriptions whose sense was not obvious.
She started with the assumption that Evans was wrong and the Minoan language was in fact Greek. She named the objects in Greek, using some odd and even invented words, and extracted a syllabic value by abbreviating these. Each sign-group in the Phaistos Disk obviously a word is expanded to form a phrase, thus: an-sa-kd-te-re. Listen, Goddess, Rhea! She admitted the Greek was hardly archaic enough; clearly she knew litde of what archaic Greek would look like.
It is only fair to say at once that he has also done some very useful statistical work on sign frequency in the Linear scripts. But here is part of his translation of the Disk, which he interprets as a Semitic language: Supreme—deity, of the powerful thrones star, supreme—tenderness of the consolatory words, supreme—donator of the prophecies, supreme—of the eggs the white..
Four years earlier an expedition under his direction had found in a late Mycenaean tomb at Asine, near Nauplia in the north-east of the Peloponnese, ajar yrith what appears to be an inscription on the rim. He compared these signs with those of the classical Cypriot syllabary, and on this basis transcribed a few words. With one exception these looked little like Greek; but po-se-i-ta-wo-no-se was a plausible form, assuming the Cypriot spelling rules, for the Greek Poseidawonos , genitive of the name of the god Poseidon. Unfortunately, those expert in the Minoan scripts have been unable to share Persson's confidence in his identifications.
The signs on the jar are quite unlike Linear B or any other known Bronze Age script, and it requires a good deal of imagination to see the resemblance to the classical Cypriot syllabary. In fact Ventris after a careful examination of the original came to the conclusion that the marks are not writing at all; they may be a kind of doodling, or possibly an attempt by an illiterate person to reproduce the appearance of writing.
It is interesting to observe that the form of the 1 Paper submitted to the Academy of Athens, 27 May Of a very different character was the work of the Bulgarian V. Georgiev, who summed up a series of earlier publications in a book endded in Russian Problems of the Minoan Language published in Sofia in He dealt somewhat scornfully with his critics, but recognized that his theory would take a long time to perfect and could not convince everyone at once.
The Minoan language was, he believed, a dialect of a widespread pre-Hellenic language spoken in Greece before the coming of the Greeks and possibly related to Hittite and other early Anatolian languages. Georgiev believed that the language of the tablets was largely archaic Greek, but containing a large number of pre-Hellenic elements.
This gave him liberty to interpret as Greek, or quasi- Greek, any word which suited him, while anything that did not make sense as Greek could be explained away. Not a single sign has the same value. In about a new method was tried by the German scholar Professor Ernst Sittig. He took the Cypriot inscriptions which are not in Greek and analysed the frequency of the signs; then, assuming the affinity of this Cypriot language with Minoan, he identified the Linear B signs on a combination of their statistical frequency and their resemblance to the Cypriot syllabary.
The idea was good, but unfortunately the basic assumption that the languages w T ere related was wrong; and it would have needed more material than he had available to establish accurate frequency patterns. Of fourteen signs that he considered certainly identified by this means, we now know that only three were right.
This method can in suitable circumstances offer valuable help; but there must be no doubt about the identity of the language and the spelling conventions. Evans himself set a high standard. Believing as he did that the Minoan language was not Greek and unlikely to resemble any hitherto known, he was not tempted by rash theories. He was sufficiendy acquainted with other ancient scripts not to fall into some traps, though in one respect this led him astray. These are signs which do not represent a sound but serve to classify the -word to which they are added; thus the name of every town begins with the 32 Hopes and Failures determinative sign meaning town, of every man with that for man; similarly, all objects of wood have a special sign, and so forth.
In a complicated script this is a very important clue to the meaning of a word; by classifying it the possible readings are narrowed down and it is much easier to identify. A very simple form of determinative survives in English in our use of capital letters to mark out a proper name. Evans thought he had detected this system of determinatives in Linear B. Even more words began with V, which in a stylized form was plainly descended from the double-axe sign of the hieroglyphic script.
This is a frequent motif in cult scenes, and had some religious significance. It depended upon mere guesswork, and a full analysis of the use of the signs would have shown a much more likely theory. The true explanation will appear in the next chapter. A remarkable tablet, illustrated on Plate II, showed on two lines horse-like heads followed by numerals. The left- hand piece was not recorded by Evans; I identified it myself in Iraklion Museum in and joined it to the rest.
These were both simple signs which could fairly safely be equated with similar Cypriot signs, reading 1 See below, pp. The coincidence was striking; but so convinced was Evans that Linear B could not contain Greek that he rejected this interpretation, though with obvious reluctance. It is now fashionable to give him credit for having interpreted this word; what a pity he was unwilling to follow up the clue on which he had stumbled. Another sound piece of work was done in an article by A.
Cowley published in Following a suggestion of Evans he discussed a series of tablets which dealt with women, since they were denoted by a self-evident pictogram. In a new name appears for the first time in the literature of the subject: Michael Ventris, then only eighteen years old.
Full text of "Chadwick John The Decipherment Of Linear B "
The basic idea was to find a language which might be related to Minoan. Ventris attempted to see how the Etruscan language would fit with Linear B. The most valuable contribution came a little later , from the American Dr Alice E. She died at the early age of forty-three in , just too soon to witness and take part in the decipherment for which she had done so much to prepare the way.
She was the first to set out methodically to discover the nature of the language through the barrier of the script. The questions she asked were simple ones. Did it distinguish genders? She was able to demonstrate, for instance, that the totalling formula, clearly shown by summations on a number of tablets, had two forms: one was used for men and for one class of animals, the other for women, another class of animals, and also for swords and the like.
This was not only clear evidence of a distinction of gender; it also led to the identification of the means by which the sex of animals is represented that is, by adding marks to the appropriate ideograms. Even more remarkable was her demonstration that certain words had two variant forms, which were longer than the simple form by one sign.