THE EARLIEST CRETAN SCRIPTS
Fred C. Woudhuizen
The island of Crete is characterized by three different
scripts during the Bronze Age period, Cretan hieroglyphic, Linear A and
Linear B. In this book, it will be shown how these scripts were deciphered
and what languages are encoded in them.
As far as the deciphering processes are concerned, it will be argued that
the combination of internal and external evidence is vital for all of them,
though the emphasis on either category of evidence may vary per case, now
internal clues taking the brunt of the argument, as in case of Linear B,
then external ones, as in case of Linear A and Cretan hieroglyphic.
Considering the fact that Linear B has been intruduced to the island of
Crete from the Greek mainland c. 1450 BC, it is little informative on the
language or languages of the indigenous Minoans: it only reveals us that
the vernacular of the newly arrived Mycenaean ruling cast was a form of
Greek. If we want to know, however, what the Minoans themselves once spoke
and wrote, we have to rely solely on the evidence from Linear A and Cretan
hieroglyphic. As the author argues at length, the majority of the documents
in both these latter scripts are mainly conducted in a Semitic dialect, but
from frequent slips of the pen it turns out that this was used only as a lingua
franca and that the mother tongue of the Minoan scribes happened to be
Luwian—a language of southwest Anatolia. In accordance with this analysis,
it comes as no surprise that the longest texts in Cretan hieroglyphic,
those of the double-axe of Arkalokhori and the discus of Phaistos, are
entirely conducted in the Luwian language.
At last, then, the longstanding mystery of who were the Minoans is
The author, Fred C. Woudhuizen, is one of the world’s
leading experts in Luwian hieroglyphic and has been engaged in the field of
Cretan Bronze Age scripts for more than 25 years.
Beiträge zur Kulturwissenschaft, Sonderheft 129.
€ 40.00. ISBN 3-85124-219-X.