Tag Archives: Crete

Linear B

Some Cretan jumping over a bull

Linear B is a writing system that they call a syllabary. The symbols stand for syllables. It also has some symbols for words (logograms) and ideas (ideograms). All told there are over 100 characters in Linear B. If you don’t speak Mycenaean, you won’t make head or tail of it. Linear B symbols stand for pieces of one particular language and that’s it.

Do you see how the Phoenician alphabet had an advantage over other writing systems like Linear B? Linear B, Sumerian cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphics were the written forms of their own language only. As the Phoenician alphabet was adopted around the Mediterranean, it worked well as the written form of any language.

Look at these gorgeous ruins! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhDrRJacZDE

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.

Whatever happened to Linear A?

Did you see what I did there? I seamlessly transitioned back to the story of the alphabet by referencing the Greek letter ‘epsilon’ when we were talking about battle-axes. Pretty slick, right? You know, I amaze even myself sometimes.

Anyhoo, Linear B was used by people in the town of Mycenae (my-SEE-nay). Mycenaeans spoke Mycenaean, an early form of Greek. They may have borrowed and adapted an even older writing system from the Minoans who lived on the island of Crete (KREH-teh). That system is called (by the historians) Linear A. Nobody knows what Linear A says anymore. The Greeks went through a Dark Age and forgot how to write in it. It’s lost—gone.

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.