Linear B is an ancient script, used to write Mycenaean Greek, as the oldest known form of Ancient Greek. This was proved by Michael Ventris in the early 1950s. Linear B came before the Greek alphabet by several centuries.
The script is based on Linear A, a script which cannot be read today. The oldest texts written in Linear B date from about 1450 BC. Linear B was found mainly in the palace archives at Knossos, Cydonia, Pylos, Thebes and Mycenae. The writing of Linear B language disappeared with the fall of the Mycenaean civilization.
There are about 87 signs in Linear B that represent syllables. In addition, there are many ideographic signs: These represent objects or commodities. They do not represent sounds, and are never used as word signs in writing a sentence.
Linear B seems to have only been used for administration. In all the thousands of clay tablets, a relatively small number of different "hands" (or writers) have been detected: 45 in Pylos (west coast of the Peloponnese, in southern Greece) and 66 in Knossos (Crete). The script may have only been used by a guild of professional scribes. These scribes worked at the different palaces: when the palaces were destroyed, the script disappeared.
- Ventris, Michael & Chadwick, John 1973. Documents in Mycenaean Greek. 2nd ed, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-08558-6
- "New Linear B tablet found at Iklaina". Comité International Permanent des Études Mycéniennes, UNESCO. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
- Hogan, C. Michael (2008). "Cydonia". The Modern Antiquarian. Julian Cope. Retrieved 2009-01-12.
- Wren, Linnea Holmer; David J. Wren and Janine M. Carter (1986). Perspectives on western art: source documents and readings from the ancient Near East through the Middle Ages. Westview Press. p. 55. ISBN 978-0-06-430154-1.
- Hooker, J.T. (1980). Linear B: an introduction. Bristol Classical Press UK. ISBN 0-906515-69-6.