Linear B

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Linear B
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{{About|the ancient syllabary|the JavaScript engine|linear b (script engine)}}{{Distinguish|Linear Pottery culture}}{{short description|Syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek}}{{Use British English|date=December 2012}}{{Use dmy dates|date=May 2017}}

U+10080–U+100FF {{smaller>Ideograms}}}}|iso15924=Linb|sample=NAMA Linear B tablet of Pylos.jpg|imagesize=250px}}Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, the earliest attested form of Greek. The script predates the Greek alphabet by several centuries. The oldest Mycenaean writing dates to about 1450 BC.WEB,weblink New Linear B tablet found at Iklaina, Comité International Permanent des Études Mycéniennes, UNESCO, 29 April 2012, It is descended from the older Linear A, an undeciphered earlier script used for writing the Minoan language, as is the later Cypriot syllabary, which also recorded Greek. Linear B, found mainly in the palace archives at Knossos, Cydonia,WEB, C. Michael, Hogan, Cydonia, The Modern Antiquarian, 2008, Julian Cope,weblink 12 January 2009, Pylos, Thebes and Mycenae,BOOK, Wren, Linnea Holmer, Wren, David J., Carter, Janine M., Perspectives on Western Art: Source Documents and Readings from the Ancient Near East Through the Middle Ages, 1987, Harper & Row, 978-0-06-438942-6, 55, disappeared with the fall of Mycenaean civilization during the Late Bronze Age collapse. The succeeding period, known as the Greek Dark Ages, provides no evidence of the use of writing. It is also the only one of the Bronze Age Aegean scripts to have been deciphered, by English architect and self-taught linguist Michael Ventris.WEB,weblink Cracking the code: the decipherment of Linear B 60 years on, Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge, 13 October 2012, 31 May 2017, Linear B consists of around 87 syllabic signs and over 100 ideographic signs. These ideograms or "signifying" signs symbolize objects or commodities. They have no phonetic value and are never used as word signs in writing a sentence.The application of Linear B appears to have been confined to administrative contexts. In all the thousands of clay tablets, a relatively small number of different "hands" have been detected: 45 in Pylos (west coast of the Peloponnese, in southern Greece) and 66 in Knossos (Crete).BOOK, J.T., Hooker, Linear B: An Introduction, Bristol Classical Press UK, 1980, 978-0-906515-69-3, It is possible that the script was used only by a guild of professional scribes who served the central palaces.{{Citation needed|date=March 2017}} Once the palaces were destroyed, the script disappeared.Ventris and Chadwick 1973, p. 60.


Linear B has roughly 200 signs, divided into syllabic signs with phonetic values and ideograms with semantic values. The representations and naming of these signs have been standardized by a series of international colloquia starting with the first in Paris in 1956. After the third meeting in 1961 at the Wingspread Conference Center in Racine, Wisconsin, a standard proposed primarily by Emmett L. Bennett, Jr., became known as the Wingspread Convention, which was adopted by a new organization, the Comité International Permanent des Études Mycéniennes (CIPEM), affiliated in 1970 by the fifth colloquium with UNESCO. Colloquia continue: the 13th occurred in 2010 in Paris.WEB, Palaima, T.G., Melena, Josē L., A Brief History of CIPEM, Comité International Permanent des Études Mycéniennes,weblink 28 March 2008, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 10 February 2009, Many of the signs are identical or similar to those in Linear A; however, Linear A encodes an as-yet unknown language, and it is uncertain whether similar signs had the same phonetic values.Ventris and Chadwick (1973), page 37, quotes Bennett: "where the same sign is used in both Linear A and B there is no guarantee that the same value is assigned to it."

Syllabic signs

The grid developed during decipherment by Michael Ventris and John Chadwick of phonetic values for syllabic signs is shown below.Ventris and Chadwick (1973), Fig. 4 on page 23 states the "Proposed values of the Mycenaean syllabary", which is mainly the same as the table included in this article. The "grid" from which it came, which was built up in "successive stages", is shown in Fig. 3 on page 20. (Note that "q" represents labilized velar stops [É¡Ê·, kÊ·, kÊ·Ê°], not a uvular stop as in IPA)Initial consonants are in the leftmost column; vowels are in the top row beneath the title. The transcription of the syllable (it may not have been pronounced that way) is listed next to the sign along with Bennett's identifying number for the sign preceded by an asterisk (as was Ventris' and Chadwick's convention).In the Unicode character names, Bennett's number has been rendered into a three-digit code by padding with initial zeros and preceding with a B (for "Linear B"). In cases where the transcription of the sign remains in doubt, Bennett's number serves to identify the sign.Ventris and Chadwick (1973), Fig. 9 on page 41 states Bennett's numbers from 1 through 87 opposite the signs being numbered. The table includes variants from Knossos, Pylos, Mycenae and Thebes opposite the same numbers. The signs on the tablets and sealings often show considerable variation from each other and from the representations below. Discovery of the reasons for the variation and possible semantic differences is a topic of ongoing debate in Mycenaean studies.{| class="wikitable" style="text-align:center;"! colspan=11 | Recognised signs of shape V, CVIn linguistics C and V in this type of context stand for consonant and vowel.!! colspan=2 |-a! colspan=2 |-e! colspan=2 |-i! colspan=2 |-o! colspan=2 |-u! (File:Linear B Syllable B008 A.svg)|a*08 (File:Linear B Syllable B038 E.svg)|e*38 (File:Linear B Syllable B028 I.svg)|i*28 (File:Linear B Syllable B061 O.svg)|o*61 (File:Linear B Syllable B010 U.svg)|u*10!d- (File:Linear B Syllable B001 DA.svg)|da*01 (File:Linear B Syllable B045 DE.svg)|de*45 (File:Linear B Syllable B007 DI.svg)|di*07 (File:Linear B Syllable B014 DO.svg)|do*14 (File:Linear B Syllable B051 DU.svg)|du*51!j- (File:Linear B Syllable B057 JA.svg)|ja*57 (File:Linear B Syllable B046 JE.svg)|je*46 (File:Linear B Syllable B036 JO.svg)|jo*36!k- (File:Linear B Syllable B077 KA.svg)|ka*77 (File:Linear B Syllable B044 KE.svg)|ke*44 (File:Linear B Syllable B067 KI.svg)|ki*67 (File:Linear B Syllable B070 KO.svg)|ko*70 (File:Linear B Syllable B081 KU.svg)|ku*81!m- (File:Linear B Syllable B080 MA.svg)|ma*80 (File:Linear B Syllable B013 ME.svg)|me*13 (File:Linear B Syllable B073 MI.svg)|mi*73 (File:Linear B Syllable B015 MO.svg)|mo*15 (File:Linear B Syllable B023 MU.svg)|mu*23!n- (File:Linear B Syllable B006 NA.svg)|na*06 (File:Linear B Syllable B024 NE.svg)|ne*24 (File:Linear B Syllable B030 NI.svg)|ni*30 (File:Linear B Syllable B052 NO.svg)|no*52 (File:Linear B Syllable B055 NU.svg)|nu*55!p- (File:Linear B Syllable B003 PA.svg)|pa*03 (File:Linear B Syllable B072 PE.svg)|pe*72 (File:Linear B Syllable B039 PI.svg)|pi*39 (File:Linear B Syllable B011 PO.svg)|po*11 (File:Linear B Syllable B050 PU.svg)|pu*50!q- (File:Linear B Syllable B016 QA.svg)|qa*16 (File:Linear B Syllable B078 QE.svg)|qe*78 (File:Linear B Syllable B021 QI.svg)|qi*21 (File:Linear B Syllable B032 QO.svg)|qo*32!r- (File:Linear B Syllable B060 RA.svg)|ra*60 (File:Linear B Syllable B028 RE.svg)|re*27 (File:Linear B Syllable B053 RI.svg)|ri*53 (File:Linear B Syllable B002 RO.svg)|ro*02 (File:Linear B Syllable B026 RU.svg)|ru*26!s- (File:Linear B Syllable B031 SA.svg)|sa*31 (File:Linear B Syllable B009 SE.svg)|se*09 (File:Linear B Syllable B041 SI.svg)|si*41 (File:Linear B Syllable B012 SO.svg)|so*12 (File:Linear B Syllable B058 SU.svg)|su*58!t- (File:Linear B Syllable B059 TA.svg)|ta*59 (File:Linear B Syllable B004 TE.svg)|te*04 (File:Linear B Syllable B037 TI.svg)|ti*37 (File:Linear B Syllable B005 TO.svg)|to*05 (File:Linear B Syllable B069 TU.svg)|tu*69!w- (File:Linear B Syllable B054 WA.svg)|wa*54 (File:Linear B Syllable B075 WE.svg)|we*75 (File:Linear B Syllable B040 WI.svg)|wi*40 (File:Linear B Syllable B042 WO.svg)|wo*42!z- (File:Linear B Syllable B017 ZA.svg)|za*17 (File:Linear B Syllable B074 ZE.svg)|ze*74 (File:Linear B Syllable B020 ZO.svg)|zo*20

Special and unknown signs

In addition to the grid, the first edition of Documents in Mycenaean Greek contained a number of other signs termed "homophones" because they appeared at that time to resemble the sounds of other syllables and were transcribed accordingly: pa2 and pa3 were presumed homophonous to pa. Many of these were identified by the second edition and are shown in the "special values" below.Ventris and Chadwick (1973), page 385. The second edition relates: "It may be taken as axiomatic that there are no true homophones." The unconfirmed identifications of *34 and *35 as ai2 and ai3 were removed. pa2 became qa.Ventris and Chadwick (1973), pages 391-392.{| class="wikitable" style="text-align:center;"! colspan=30| Special values! Character (File:Linear B Syllable B025 A2.svg) (File:Linear B Syllable B043 A3.svg) (File:Linear B Syllable B085 AU.svg) (File:Linear B Syllable B071 DWE.svg) (File:Linear B Syllable B090 DWO.svg) (File:Linear B Syllable B048 NWA.svg) (File:Linear B Syllable B062 PTE.svg) (File:Linear B Syllable B029 PU2.svg) (File:Linear B Syllable B076 RA2.svg) (File:Linear B Syllable B033 RA3.svg) (File:Linear B Syllable B068 RO2.svg) (File:Linear B Syllable B066 TA2.svg) (File:Linear B Syllable B087 TWE.svg) (File:Linear B Syllable B091 TWO.svg)!Transcription| a2 (ha)| a3 (ai)| au| dwe| dwo| nwa| pte| pu2 (phu)| ra2 (rya)| ra3 (rai)| ro2 (ryo)| ta2 (tya)| twe| two! Bennett's Number| *25| *43| *85| *71| *90| *48| *62| *29| *76| *33| *68| *66| *87| *91Other values remain unknown, mainly because of scarcity of evidence concerning them.Sign *89 is not listed in Ventris & Chadwick's (1973) tables but it does appear in the appendix of Bennett (1964) as part of the Wingspread convention. Note that *34 and *35 are mirror images of each other but whether this graphic relationship indicates a phonetic one remains unconfirmed.{| class="wikitable" style="text-align:center;"! colspan=30| Untranscribed and doubtful values! Character (File:Linear B Symbol B018.svg) (File:Linear B Symbol B019.svg) (File:Linear B Symbol B022.svg) (File:Linear B Symbol B034.svg)| (File:Linear B Symbol B047.svg) (File:Linear B Symbol B049.svg) (File:Linear B Symbol B056.svg) (File:Linear B Symbol B063.svg) (File:Linear B Symbol B064.svg) (File:Linear B Syllable B065 JU.svg) (File:Linear B Symbol B079.svg) (File:Linear B Symbol B082.svg) (File:Linear B Symbol B083.svg) (File:Linear B Symbol B086.svg) (File:Linear B Symbol B089.svg)!Transcription| *18| *19| *22| *34| *35| *47| *49| pa3?| *63| swi?| ju?| zu?| swa?| *83| *86| *89! Bennett's Number| *18| *19| *22| *34| *35| *47| *49| *56| *63| *64| *65| *79| *82| *83| *86| *89In recent times, CIPEM inherited the former authority of Bennett and the Wingspread Convention in deciding what signs are "confirmed" and how to officially represent the various sign categories. In editions of Mycenaean texts, the signs whose values have not been confirmed by CIPEM are always transcribed as numbers preceded by an asterisk (e.g., *64). CIPEM also allocates the numerical identifiers, and until such allocation, new signs (or obscured or mutilated signs) are transcribed as a bullet-point enclosed in square brackets: [•].

Spelling and pronunciation

The signs are approximations―each may be used to represent a variety of about 70 distinct combinations of sounds, within rules and conventions. The grid presents a system of monosyllabic signs of the type V/CV. Clarification of the 14 or so special values tested the limits of the grid model, but Chadwick in the end concluded that even with the ramifications, the syllabic signs can unexceptionally be considered monosyllabic.Ventris & Chadwick (1973), pages 385-391.Possible exceptions, Chadwick goes on to explain, include the two diphthongs,  (ai) and  (au), as in , ai-ku-pi-ti-jo, for Aiguptios (, "Egyptian") and , au-ke-wa, for Augewās ( "Augeas").Ventris and Chadwick use Roman characters for the reconstructed Mycenaean Greek and give the closest later literary word in Greek characters. Often the phonetics are the same, but equally as often the reconstructed words represent an earlier form. Here the classical Greek was formed by dropping the w and lengthening the e to ei. However, a diphthong is by definition two vowels united into a single sound and therefore might be typed as just V. Thus  (rai), as in , e-rai-wo, for elaiwon (),The w is dropped to form the classical Greek. is of the type CV. Diphthongs are otherwise treated as two monosyllables: , a-ro-u-ra, for arourans (accusative plural of , "tamarisk trees"), of the types CV and V.Ventris and Chadwick (1973), page 43. Lengths of vowels and accents are not marked. (Twe),  (two),  (dwe),  (dwo),  (nwa) and the more doubtful  (swi) and  (swa) may be regarded as beginning with labialized consonants, rather than two consonants, even though they may alternate with a two-sign form: o-da-twe-ta and o-da-tu-we-ta for Odatwenta; a-si-wi-jo and a-swi-jo for Aswios (). Similarly,  (rya),  (ryo) and  (tya) begin with palatalized consonants rather than two consonants: -ti-ri-ja for -trja (-).The one sign Chadwick tags as the exception to the monosyllabic rule is  (pte), but this he attributes to a development pte

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