Minoan Writing

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Minoan Writing


types of writing discovered on the island of Crete and on mainland Greece, which are indicative of the culture (see) that preceded the classical culture of Greece. Minoan writing was first studied by the British archaeologist A. Evans during excavations at the palace of Cnossus (Knossos) in 1900. He noted three stages in its development: (1) pictographic, or hieroglyphic, writing (first half of the second millennium B.C.), later differentiated by some scholars as hieroglyphic writings A (c. 2100-1900 B.C.) and B (c. 1900-1700 B.C.); (2) Linear Script A (1800-1500 B.C.); and (3) Linear Script B (1500-1400 B.C.).

Hieroglyphic writings A and B have not been deciphered. The British scholars M. Ventris and J. Chadwick deciphered Linear B and established that all the tablets were written with a syllabic script in the archaic Achaean dialect of Greek, which did not correspond to its classical rules. Linear A, also undeciphered, has 55 symbols in common with Linear B. The syllabic Cyprian writing system developed on the basis of Minoan writing.


Doblhofer, E. Znaki i chudesa. Moscow, 1963. (Translated from German.)
Lur’e, S. la., and I. D. Amusin. “K voprosu o iazyke lineinogo A.” Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1963, no. 4.
Kondratov, A. M., and V. V. Shevoroshkin. Kogda molchat pis’mena. Moscow, 1970.
Evans, A. The Palace of Minos, vols. 1-4 and Index. London, 1921-36. Ventris, M., and J. Chadwick. Documents in Mycenaean Greek. Cam-bridge, 1956.
Chadwick, J. The Decipherment of Linear B. Cambridge, 1959.
Brice, W. G. Inscriptions in the Minoan Linear Script of Class A. Oxford, 1961.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.