In 1900 the archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans (1851-1941) discovered a
large number of clay tablets inscribed with mysterious symbols at Knossos
on Crete. Believing he had discovered the palace of King Minos, together with
the Minotaur's labyrinth, Evans dubed the inscriptions and the language
they represented as 'Minoan'.
Evans spent the rest of his life trying to decipher the inscriptions, with
only limited success. He realised that the inscriptions represented three
different writing systems: a 'hieroglyphic' script, Linear A and
Linear B. The hieroglphic script appears only
on seal stones and has yet to be deciphered. Linear A, also undeciphered,
is thought to have evolved from the hieroglyphic script, and Linear B
probably evolved from Linear A, though the relationship between the two
scripts is unclear.
- Linear A was used between about 1800 and 1450 BC.
- Linear A is mixed script consisting of 60 phonetic symbols representing
syllables and 60 sematographic symbols representing sounds and concrete
objects or abstract ideas.
- Many of the symbols resemble those used in Linear B and have been
assigned the same pronunciation.
- Linear A was written in horizontal lines running from left to right
on clay tablets which were probably used for keeping records of transactions.
There is no concensus on how to transliterate the Linear A symbols -
the method shown below is one possible transliteration.
Information about Linear A
Linear A texts in phonetic transcripts