The Man Who Deciphered Linear B: The Story of Michael Ventris

Andrew Robinson

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Linear B is Europe’s oldest readable writing, dating from the middle of the second millennium BC. This book, newly available in paperback, tells the life story of Michael Ventris, interlaced with that of his decipherment of Linear B. First discovered in 1900, on clay tablets among the ruins of the Palace of Minos at Knossos, Crete, it remained a mystery for over fifty years until 1952, when Michael Ventris discovered that its signs did not represent an unknown language as previously believed, but an archaic dialect of Greek, more than 500 years older than the Greek of Homer. Dubbed the ‘Everest of archaeology’, the decipherment was all the more remarkable because Ventris was not a trained classical scholar but an architect by profession, who had first heard of Linear B as a schoolboy. An initial fascination became a lifelong obsession for this intriguing and contradictory man, a gifted linguist but a divided soul. ‘Excellent: well researched and clearly presented … compelling reading’ – The Times Literary Supplement ‘Excellent … Robinson understands how to make the complexities of pictograms clear to the non-expert. The book gives many examples, and would appeal to anyone interested in crosswords, codes and cyphers, but it also tells a fascinating human story’ – The Independent ‘A wonderfully swift and clear biography, written for the nonspecialist’ – The Economist ‘A superb biography of Michael Ventris, combining a warm account of his life with just enough technical details to satisfy those who have knowledge of linguistics or indeed of the classics. It is a splendid read, and a fine memorial to the split personality that enabled Ventris to decipher Minoan Linear B so triumphantly’ – Current World Archaeology

Publisher
Thames and Hudson Ltd
ISBN
9780500289983
Binding
Paperback
Page Extent
168
Weight (kg)
0.26
Height (in)
8.46
Width (in)
5.31
Subject
History , Ancient History & Archaeology
Published Date
20 / 02 / 2012

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