Linear A

Linear A is a writing system used by the Minoans (Cretans) from 1800 to 1450 BC that belongs to an independent group that is distinct from Egyptian and Babylonian systems. During the second millennium, there were four major branches: the Cretan Hieroglyphic Script, Linear A, Linear B, and Cypro-Minoan.[3] Along with Cretan hieroglyphic, it is one of two undeciphered writing systems used by ancient Minoan and peripheral peoples. Linear A was the primary script used in palace and religious writings of the Minoan civilization. It was discovered by archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans. It is related to the Linear B script, which succeeded the Linear A and was used by the Mycenaean civilization.

In the 1950s, Linear B was largely deciphered by Michael Ventris and found to encode an early form of Greek. Although the two systems share many symbols, this did not lead to a subsequent decipherment of Linear A. Using the values associated with Linear B in Linear A mainly produces unintelligible words. If Linear A uses the same or similar syllabic values as Linear B, then its associated language, dubbed "Minoan", appears unrelated to any known language.

All assumptions and hypotheses about Linear A and Minoan (their underlying language) are based primarily on comparison with the well-known Linear B, the famous child system developed by Linear A.

Linear A
Linear A cup
Undeciphered (presumed syllabic and ideographic)
Languages'Minoan' (unknown)
Time period
MM IB to LM IIIA 1800–1450 BC[1]
Child systems
Linear B, Cypro-Minoan syllabary[2]
Sister systems
Cretan hieroglyphs
ISO 15924Lina, 400
Unicode alias
Linear A
Final Accepted Script Proposal


Linear A has hundreds of signs, believed to represent syllabic, ideographic, and semantic values in a manner similar to Linear B. While many of those assumed to be syllabic signs are similar to ones in Linear B, approximately 80% of Linear A's logograms are unique;[4][3] the difference in sound values between Linear A and Linear B signs ranges from 9% to 13%.[5] It primarily appears in the left-to-right direction, but occasionally appears as a right-to-left or boustrophedon script.

Linear A may be divided into four categories: numerals and metrical signs, phonetic signs, ligatures and composite signs, and ideograms. Numbers follow a decimal system, units are represented by vertical dashes, tens by horizontal dashes, hundreds by circles, and thousands by circles with rays. Specific signs that coincide with numerals are regarded as fractions.[6]

An interesting feature is the recording of numbers in the script. The highest number that has been recorded is 3000, but there are special symbols to indicate fractions and weights.


Linear A: signary and numbering according to E. Bennett. Reading of signs is based on Linear B analogs.
*01-*20 *21-*30 *31-*53 *54-*74 *76-*122 *123-*306
Linear A Sign A001.svg DA


Linear A Sign A021.svg QI


Linear A Sign A031.svg SA


Linear A Sign A054.svg WA


Linear A Sign A076.svg


Linear A Sign A123.svg


Linear A Sign A002.svg RO


Linear A Sign A021f.svg


Linear A Sign A034.svg


Linear A Sign A055.svg


Linear A Sign A077.svg KA


Linear A Sign A131a.svg


Linear A Sign A003.svg PA


Linear A Sign A021m.svg


Linear A Sign A037.svg TI


Linear A Sign A056.svg PA3


Linear A Sign A078.svg QE


Linear A Sign A131b.svg


Linear A Sign A004.svg TE


Linear A Sign A022.svg MI?


Linear A Sign A038.svg E


Linear A Sign A057.svg JA


Linear A Sign A079.svg WO2?


Linear A Sign A131c.svg


Linear A Sign A005.svg


Linear A Sign A022f.svg


Linear A Sign A039.svg PI


Linear A Sign A058.svg SU


Linear A Sign A080.svg MA


Linear A Sign A164.svg


Linear A Sign A006.svg NA


Linear A Sign A022m.svg


Linear A Sign A040.svg WI


Linear A Sign A059.svg TA


Linear A Sign A081.svg KU


Linear A Sign A171.svg


Linear A Sign A007.svg DI


Linear A Sign A023.svg MU


Linear A Sign A041.svg SI


Linear A Sign A060.svg RA


Linear A Sign A082.svg


Linear A Sign A180.svg


Linear A Sign A008.svg A


Linear A Sign A023m.svg


Linear A Sign A044.svg KE


Linear A Sign A061.svg O


Linear A Sign A085.svg


Linear A Sign A188.svg


Linear A Sign A009.svg S


Linear A Sign A024.svg NE


Linear A Sign A045.svg


Linear A Sign A065.svg JU


Linear A Sign A086.svg


Linear A Sign A191.svg


Linear A Sign A010.svg


Linear A Sign A026.svg RU


Linear A Sign A046.svg


Linear A Sign A066.svg TA2


Linear A Sign A087.svg TWE


Linear A Sign A301.svg


Linear A Sign A011.svg


Linear A Sign A027.svg RE


Linear A Sign A047.svg


Linear A Sign A067.svg KI


Linear A Sign A100.svg


Linear A Sign A302.svg


Linear A Sign A013.svg ME


Linear A Sign A028.svg I


Linear A Sign A049.svg


Linear A Sign A069.svg TU


Linear A Sign A118.svg


Linear A Sign A303.svg


Linear A Sign A016.svg QA2


Linear A Sign A028b.svg


Linear A Sign A050.svg PU


Linear A Sign A070.svg


Linear A Sign A120.svg


Linear A Sign A304.svg


Linear A Sign A017.svg ZA


Linear A Sign A029.svg


Linear A Sign A051.svg DU


Linear A Sign A073.svg MI


Linear A Sign A120b.svg


Linear A Sign A305.svg


Linear A Sign A020.svg ZO


Linear A Sign A030.svg NI


Linear A Sign A053.svg


Linear A Sign A074.svg ZE


Linear A Sign A122.svg


Linear A Sign A306.svg



Linear A tablets filt
Linear A incised on tablets found in Akrotiri, Santorini.
Sitia Museum Linear A 02
Linear A tablet from the palace of Zakros, Archeological Museum of Sitia.

Linear A has been unearthed chiefly on Crete, but also at other sites in Greece, as well as Turkey and Israel. The extant corpus, comprising some 1,427 specimens totalling 7,362 to 7,396 signs, if scaled to standard type, would fit easily on two sheets of paper.[7] Linear A has been written on various media, such as stone offering tables, gold and silver hairpins, and ceramics.[8] The earliest inscriptions of Linear A are found in Phaistos, in a layer dated at the end of the Minoan II, which provides us with c. 1700 BC as a term before it. Linear A can be found throughout the island of Crete and is even exported to the Aegean islands (Kythera, Kea, Thera, Melos), the mainland of Greece (Ayos Stephanos), the west coast from Asia Minor (Miletos, Troia) and the Levant (Tel Haror).[9]


According to Ilse Schoep, the main discoveries of Linear A tablets have been at three sites on Crete:[10]

Haghia Triadha in the Mesara with 147 tablets; Zakro/Zakros, a port town in the far east of the island with 31 tablets; and Khania/Chania, a port town in the northwest of the island with 94 tablets.

Discoveries have been made at the following locations on Crete:[11]

Outside Crete

Until 1973, only one Linear A tablet was known to have been found outside Crete (on Kea).[12] Since then, other locations have yielded inscriptions.

According to Margalit Finkelberg, most—if not all—inscriptions found outside Crete were made locally. This is indicated by such factors as the composition of the material on which the inscriptions were made.[12] Also, close analysis of the inscriptions found outside Crete indicates the use of a script that is somewhere in between Linear A and Linear B, combining elements from both.

Other Greek islands

Mainland Greece


Linear A became eminent during the Middle Minoan Period, specifically from 1625–1450 BC. It was a contemporary and possible child of Cretan hieroglyphs and the ancestor of Linear B. The sequence and the geographical spread of Cretan hieroglyphs, Linear A, and Linear B, the three overlapping but distinct writing systems on Bronze Age Crete and the Greek mainland, can be summarized as follows:[14]

Writing system Geographical area Time span[a]
Cretan Hieroglyphic Crete c. 2100 – 1700 BC
Linear A Crete, Aegean islands (Kea, Kythera, Melos, Thera), and Greek mainland (Laconia) c. 1800 – 1450 BC
Linear B Crete (Knossos), and mainland (Pylos, Mycenae, Thebes, Tiryns) c. 1450 – 1200 BC


Archaeologist Arthur Evans named the script "Linear" because its characters consisted simply of lines inscribed in clay, in contrast to the more pictographic characters in Cretan hieroglyphs that were used during the same period.[15]

Several tablets inscribed in signs similar to Linear A were found in the Troad in northwestern Anatolia. While their status is disputed, they may be imports, as there is no evidence of Minoan presence in the Troad. Classification of these signs as a unique Trojan script (proposed by contemporary Russian linguist Nikolai Kazansky) is not accepted by other linguists.

Egyptian evidence

Egyptian evidence related to the Keftiu (Cretan/Crete) language consists of a spell against Asian chickenpox and a writing name exercise called Keftiu. The spell, probably originated from the reign of Amenhotep III (1390-1352 BC), evolves as follows: sntÈk|pwpyw| yÈymªntÈÈrk|k|r, or, in the vocal transliteration adopted by Wolfgang Helck: sa-n-ta-ka-pu-pi-wa-ya-’a-ya-ma-n-ta-ra-kú-ka-ra[9].
Egyptian writing of Keftiu (Cretan/Crete) names such as mÈd|d|m, or, mi-da gives Egyptian evidence of Keftius' language essentially indicate that the words of the vocabulary are Semitic (see below).

Linear A and Linear B comparison

Minoan inscriptions, Linear A script, Phaistos, 1850-1450 BC, AMH, 144886
Minoan Inscriptions, Linear A script

In 1945, E. Pugliese Carratelli first introduced the classification of Linear A and Linear B parallels. However, in 1961 W.C. Brice modified the Carratelli system that was based on a wider range of Linear A sources, but Brice did not suggest Linear B equivalents to the Linear A signs. Louis Godart and Jean-Pierre Olivier introduced in the 1985 Recueil des inscriptions en linéaire A (GORILA), based on E.L Bennett's standard numeration of the signs of Linear B, introduced a joint numeration of the Linear A and B signs.[16] The Egyptian exercise in writing the names keftiu even informs us of another Minoan ethnic identity in the form of mÈd|d|m whose first element cannot be associated with the name Midas, since it was already labeled by a linearly inscribed Hagia Triada (or HT 41.4) dating to c. 1350 BC. This Egyptian evidence of Keftius' language essentially indicate that the words of the vocabulary are Semitic, but in the language predominantly of the Luwians. One might conclude from this that the Semitic in Minoan Crete is used as a lingua franca for a largely Luwian population.


The majority of signs in the Linear A script appear to have graphic equivalents in the Linear B syllabary. Comparing the Hagia Triada tablets HT 95 and HT 86 contain identical lists of words and some kind of phonetic alteration. Scholars that approached Linear A with the phonetic values of Linear B produced a series of identical words. The Linear B- Linear A parallels: ku-ku-da-ra, pa-i-to, ku-mi-na, di-de-ro →di-de-ru, qa-qa-ro→qa-qa-ru, a-ra-na-ro→a-ra-na-re.[16]

Theories regarding language

Linear A vase filt
Linear A incised on a vase, also found in Akrotiri.

It is difficult to evaluate a given analysis of Linear A as there is little point of reference for reading its inscriptions. The simplest approach to decipherment may be to presume that the values of Linear A match more or less the values given to the deciphered Linear B script, used for Mycenaean Greek.[17] However, recently, Peter Z. Revesz identified the Cretan Hieroglyphs, Linear A, Linear B, the Cypriot syllabary, and the Greek, Old Hungarian, Phoenician, South Arabic and Tifinagh alphabets as members of an unknown writing system from western Anatolia.[18]

A characteristic of Minoan consonance is the lack of distinction between voice and voiceless the velar and labial series. The distinction t / d reflected in the Linear A, Linear B and Cypriot is an example of speech stops.[12]


In 1957, Bulgarian scholar Vladimir I. Georgiev published his Le déchiffrement des inscriptions crétoises en linéaire A ("The decipherment of Cretan inscriptions in Linear A") stating that Linear A contains Greek linguistic elements.[19] Georgiev then published another work in 1963, titled Les deux langues des inscriptions crétoises en linéaire A ("The two languages of Cretan inscriptions in Linear A"), suggesting that the language of the Hagia Triada tablets was Greek but that the rest of the Linear A corpus was in Hittite-Luwian.[19][20] In December 1963, Gregory Nagy of Harvard University developed a list of Linear A and Linear B terms based on the assumption "that signs of identical or similar shape in the two scripts will represent similar or identical phonetic values"; Nagy concluded that the language of Linear A bears "Greek-like" and Indo-European elements.[21] Michael Ventris decipherment in 1952 suggests an old form of Greek: it is derived from the Linear A. Therefore, we can assume that the signs related to the linear A express the same value as the Linear B. In all Linear B values for related words give a large number of identical forms or identical root forms, but alternate with the final vowel, or almost identical forms among linear texts, mainly those of Hagia Triada.

Extracting conclusions or arguments from a simple morphology can hardly be considered methodologically satisfactory. Yves Duhoux in the "Linear A as Greek" discussion at AEGEANET in March 1998[16]:

I would like to remind you of some basic facts related to the Greekness of Linear A's language: (1) The word for "total" is different in Linear A and in Linear B: LB to - so(- de); LA > B ku-ro. (2) The Linear B language is significantly less "prefixing" than Linear A. (3) Votive Linear A texts, where we are pretty sure to have variant forms of the same "word", show morphological (I mean: grammatical) features totally different from Linear B. The conclusion must be that even if one can find some casual resemblances between words in both languages (remember this MUST statistically happen: e.g. English and Persian use the same word "bad" to express the meaning of BAD, although it is proven that both words have no genetic relation at all), they are probably structurally different.

Anatolian languages

Since the late 1950s, some scholars have suggested that the Linear A language could be an Anatolian language.[22] Cyrus H. Gordon first proposed in 1966-69 that the texts contained Semitic vocabulary that was based on the lexical items such as kull -. meaning 'all' (Akkadian kalu, kullatu, Hebrew kol).[23][3] Gordon uses morphological evidence to suggest that u- serves as a prefix in Linear A like Semitic copula u-. However, Gordon's copula u- is based on an incomplete word, and even if some of Gordon's identifications were true, there is still no complete case for a Semitic language that has not yet been built.[3]


Palmer (1958) put forward a theory, based on Linear B phonetic values, suggesting that Linear A language could be related closely to Luwian.[22] The theory, however, failed to gain universal support for the following reasons:

  • There is no remarkable resemblance between Minoan and Hitto-Luwian morphology.
  • Luwian Hieroglyphs from Karatepe
    Luwian Hieroglyphs
    None of the existing theories of the origin of Hitto-Luwian peoples and their migration to Anatolia (either from the Balkans or from the Caucasus) are related to Crete.
  • There was a lack of direct contact between Hitto-Luwians and Minoan Crete; the latter was never mentioned in Hitto-Luwian inscriptions. Small states located along the western coast of ancient Asia Minor were natural barriers between Hitto-Luwians and Minoan Crete.
  • Obvious anthropological differences between Hitto-Luwians and the Minoans may be considered as another indirect testimony against this hypothesis.
Luwian Hieroglyphs from Karatepe
Luwian Hieroglyphs

There are recent works focused on the Luwian connection, not in terms of the Minoan language being Anatolian, but rather in terms of possible borrowings from Luwian, including the origin of the writing system itself.[24]


In an article from 2001, Professor of Classics (Emerita) at Tel Aviv University, Margalit Finkelberg, demonstrated a "high degree of correspondence between the phonological and morphological system of Minoan and that of Lycian" and proposed that "the language of Linear A is either the direct ancestor of Lycian or a closely related idiom."[25]


In 2001, the journal Ugarit-Forschungen published the article "The First Inscription in Punic — Vowel Differences in Linear A and B" by Jan Best, claiming to demonstrate how and why Linear A notates an archaic form of Phoenician.[26] This was a continuation of attempts by Cyrus Gordon in finding connections between Minoan and West Semitic languages.


Another recent interpretation, based on the frequencies of the syllabic signs and on complete palaeographic comparative studies, suggests that the Minoan Linear A language belongs to the Indo-Iranian family of Indo-European languages. Studies by Hubert La Marle include a presentation of the morphology of the language, avoid the complete identification of phonetic values between Linear A and B, and also avoid comparing Linear A with Cretan Hieroglyphs.[27] La Marle uses the frequency counts to identify the type of syllables written in Linear A, and takes into account the problem of loanwords in the vocabulary.[27] However, the La Marle interpretation of Linear A has been rejected by John Younger of Kansas University showing that La Marle has invented erroneous and arbitrary new transcriptions based on resemblances with many different script systems at will (as Phoenician, Hieroglyphic Egyptian, Hieroglyphic Hittite, Ethiopian, Cypro-Minoan, etc.), ignoring established evidence and internal analysis, while for some words he proposes religious meanings inventing names of gods and rites.[28] La Marle rebutted in "An answer to John G. Younger's remarks on Linear A" in 2010.[29]


Italian scholar Giulio M. Facchetti attempted to link Linear A to the Tyrrhenian language family comprising Etruscan, Rhaetic, and Lemnian. This family is reasoned to be a pre-Indo-European Mediterranean substratum of the 2nd millennium BC, sometimes referred to as Pre-Greek. Facchetti proposed some possible similarities between the Etruscan language and ancient Lemnian, and other Aegean languages like Minoan.[30] Michael Ventris who, along with John Chadwick, successfully deciphered Linear B, also believed in a link between Minoan and Etruscan.[31] The same perspective is supported by S. Yatsemirsky in Russia.[32]

A distinct, otherwise unknown branch of Indo-European

According to Gareth Alun Owens, Linear A represents the Minoan language, which Owens classifies as a distinct branch of Indo-European potentially related to Greek, Sanskrit, Hittite, Latin, etc.[33][34] At "The Cretan Literature Centre", Owens stated:

Beginning our research with inscriptions in Linear A carved on offering tables found in the many peak sanctuaries on the mountains of Crete, we recognise a clear relationship between Linear A and Sanskrit, the ancient language of India. There is also a connection to Hittite and Armenian. This relationship allows us to place the Minoan language among the so-called Indo-European languages, a vast family that includes modern Greek and the Latin of Ancient Rome. The Minoan and Greek languages are considered to be different branches of Indo-European. The Minoans probably moved from Anatolia to the island of Crete about 10,000 years ago. There were similar population movements to Greece. The relative isolation of the population which settled in Crete resulted in the development of its own language, Minoan, which is considered different to Mycenaean. In the Minoan language (Linear A), there are no purely Greek words, as is the case in Mycenaean Linear B; it contains only words also found in Greek, Sanskrit and Latin, i.e. sharing the same Indo-European origin.[35]


In 2016, Peter van Soesbergen published a two-part series Hurrians and Hurrian in Minoan Crete alleging that most of the Linear A inscriptions could be understood as a dialect of Hurrian.[36] Among the equations he makes are Linear A uminasi enasi with Hurrian umminnaši ennaši "of the lands of the gods"; Linear A ataijowaja with the absolutive of Hurrian attaiwwašuuš "our father"; Linear A potokuro, seeming to mean "total," with Hurrian puttukuru, "value again"; Linear A sukiriteia with a nickname for Hurrian Šukri-tešup "blessed Teshub"; api on an entrance to a tomb with Hurrian abi "pit (especially for communicating with the netherworld)"; turusa with Hurrian turu "man"; and dupure with tuppuleš "may (he) be strong."

Attempts at decipherment of single words

Some researchers suggest that a few words or word elements may be recognized, without (yet) enabling any conclusion about relationship with other languages. In general, they use analogy with Linear B in order to propose phonetic values of the syllabic sounds. John Younger, in particular, thinks that place names usually appear in certain positions in the texts, and notes that the proposed phonetic values often correspond to known place names as given in Linear B texts (and sometimes to modern Greek names). For example, he proposes that three syllables, read as KE-NI-SO, might be the indigenous form of Knossos.[37] Likewise, in Linear A, MA+RU is suggested to mean wool, and to correspond both to a Linear B pictogram with this meaning, and to the classical Greek word μαλλός with the same meaning (in that case a loan word from Minoan).[4]


The Linear A alphabet (U+10600–U+1077F) was added to the Unicode Standard in June 2014 with the release of version 7.0.

Linear A[1][2]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+1060x 𐘀 𐘁 𐘂 𐘃 𐘄 𐘅 𐘆 𐘇 𐘈 𐘉 𐘊 𐘋 𐘌 𐘍 𐘎 𐘏
U+1061x 𐘐 𐘑 𐘒 𐘓 𐘔 𐘕 𐘖 𐘗 𐘘 𐘙 𐘚 𐘛 𐘜 𐘝 𐘞 𐘟
U+1062x 𐘠 𐘡 𐘢 𐘣 𐘤 𐘥 𐘦 𐘧 𐘨 𐘩 𐘪 𐘫 𐘬 𐘭 𐘮 𐘯
U+1063x 𐘰 𐘱 𐘲 𐘳 𐘴 𐘵 𐘶 𐘷 𐘸 𐘹 𐘺 𐘻 𐘼 𐘽 𐘾 𐘿
U+1064x 𐙀 𐙁 𐙂 𐙃 𐙄 𐙅 𐙆 𐙇 𐙈 𐙉 𐙊 𐙋 𐙌 𐙍 𐙎 𐙏
U+1065x 𐙐 𐙑 𐙒 𐙓 𐙔 𐙕 𐙖 𐙗 𐙘 𐙙 𐙚 𐙛 𐙜 𐙝 𐙞 𐙟
U+1066x 𐙠 𐙡 𐙢 𐙣 𐙤 𐙥 𐙦 𐙧 𐙨 𐙩 𐙪 𐙫 𐙬 𐙭 𐙮 𐙯
U+1067x 𐙰 𐙱 𐙲 𐙳 𐙴 𐙵 𐙶 𐙷 𐙸 𐙹 𐙺 𐙻 𐙼 𐙽 𐙾 𐙿
U+1068x 𐚀 𐚁 𐚂 𐚃 𐚄 𐚅 𐚆 𐚇 𐚈 𐚉 𐚊 𐚋 𐚌 𐚍 𐚎 𐚏
U+1069x 𐚐 𐚑 𐚒 𐚓 𐚔 𐚕 𐚖 𐚗 𐚘 𐚙 𐚚 𐚛 𐚜 𐚝 𐚞 𐚟
U+106Ax 𐚠 𐚡 𐚢 𐚣 𐚤 𐚥 𐚦 𐚧 𐚨 𐚩 𐚪 𐚫 𐚬 𐚭 𐚮 𐚯
U+106Bx 𐚰 𐚱 𐚲 𐚳 𐚴 𐚵 𐚶 𐚷 𐚸 𐚹 𐚺 𐚻 𐚼 𐚽 𐚾 𐚿
U+106Cx 𐛀 𐛁 𐛂 𐛃 𐛄 𐛅 𐛆 𐛇 𐛈 𐛉 𐛊 𐛋 𐛌 𐛍 𐛎 𐛏
U+106Dx 𐛐 𐛑 𐛒 𐛓 𐛔 𐛕 𐛖 𐛗 𐛘 𐛙 𐛚 𐛛 𐛜 𐛝 𐛞 𐛟
U+106Ex 𐛠 𐛡 𐛢 𐛣 𐛤 𐛥 𐛦 𐛧 𐛨 𐛩 𐛪 𐛫 𐛬 𐛭 𐛮 𐛯
U+106Fx 𐛰 𐛱 𐛲 𐛳 𐛴 𐛵 𐛶 𐛷 𐛸 𐛹 𐛺 𐛻 𐛼 𐛽 𐛾 𐛿
U+1070x 𐜀 𐜁 𐜂 𐜃 𐜄 𐜅 𐜆 𐜇 𐜈 𐜉 𐜊 𐜋 𐜌 𐜍 𐜎 𐜏
U+1071x 𐜐 𐜑 𐜒 𐜓 𐜔 𐜕 𐜖 𐜗 𐜘 𐜙 𐜚 𐜛 𐜜 𐜝 𐜞 𐜟
U+1072x 𐜠 𐜡 𐜢 𐜣 𐜤 𐜥 𐜦 𐜧 𐜨 𐜩 𐜪 𐜫 𐜬 𐜭 𐜮 𐜯
U+1073x 𐜰 𐜱 𐜲 𐜳 𐜴 𐜵 𐜶
U+1074x 𐝀 𐝁 𐝂 𐝃 𐝄 𐝅 𐝆 𐝇 𐝈 𐝉 𐝊 𐝋 𐝌 𐝍 𐝎 𐝏
U+1075x 𐝐 𐝑 𐝒 𐝓 𐝔 𐝕
U+1076x 𐝠 𐝡 𐝢 𐝣 𐝤 𐝥 𐝦 𐝧
1.^ As of Unicode version 12.0
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points

See also



  1. ^ Beginning date refers to first attestations, the assumed origins of all scripts lie further back in the past.


  1. ^ Daniels & Bright 1996, pp. 132.
  2. ^ Palaima 1997, pp. 121–188.
  3. ^ a b c d Packard 1974, Chapter 1: Introduction.
  4. ^ a b Younger, John (2000). "Linear A Texts in Phonetic Transcription: 7b. The Script". University of Kansas.
  5. ^ Owens 1999, pp. 23–24 (David Packard, in 1974, calculated a sound-value difference of 10.80% ± 1.80%; Yves Duhoux, in 1989, calculated a sound-value difference of 14.34% ± 1.80% and Gareth Owens, in 1996, calculated a sound-value difference of 9–13%).
  6. ^ Packard, David W. (1974). Minoan Linear A. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press. pp. 23–24. ISBN 978-0-520-02580-6.
  7. ^ Younger, John (2000). "Linear A Texts in Phonetic Transcription: 5. Basic Statistics". University of Kansas. Younger: "if there are 4002 characters (font Times, pitch 12, no spaces) on an 8 1/2 x 11 inch sheet of paper with 1 inch margins, all extant Linear A would take up 1.84 pages." (14.34 pages for Linear B).
  8. ^ Winterstein, Gregoire; Cacciafoco, Francesco Perono; Petrolito, Ruggero; Petrolito, Tommaso. "Minoan linguistic resources: The Linear A Digital Corpus". Proceedings of the 9th SIGHUM Workshop on Language Technology for Cultural Heritage, Social Sciences, and Humanities (LaTeCH).
  9. ^ a b Woudhuizen, Fred C. (Frederik Christiaan), 1959- (2016). Documents in Minoan Luwian, Semitic, and Pelasgian. Nederlands Archeologisch Historisch Genootschap. Amsterdam. ISBN 9789072067197. OCLC 1027956786.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ Schoep 1999, pp. 201–221.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i Cacciafoco, Francesco Perono (January 2014). "Linear A and Minoan. The Riddle of Unknown Origins": 3–4. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  12. ^ a b c Finkelberg 1998, pp. 265–272.
  13. ^ Book review by Daniel J. Pullen (Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2009) of W. D. Taylour, R. Janko, Ayios Stephanos: Excavations at a Bronze Age and Medieval Settlement in Southern Laconia. British School at Athens, 2008. "Its location on the Laconian coast, easily accessible from Kythera, undoubtedly encouraged early contacts with Crete whether directly or indirectly (see the Linear A sign catalogued in chapter 11)."
  14. ^ Olivier 1986, pp. 377f.
  15. ^ Robinson 2009, p. 54.
  16. ^ a b c Finkelberg, Margalit (March 2000). "Greater Anatolia and the Indo-Hittite Language Family". Indo-European Series Monograph Studies. No. 38: 83 – via
  17. ^ Younger, John (2000). "Linear A Texts in Phonetic Transcription". University of Kansas. See "1. List of Linked Files" for a comprehensive list of known texts written in Linear A.
  18. ^ Revesz, Peter Z. (2017). Mastorakis, N.; Mladenov, V.; Bulucea, A. (eds.). "The Cretan Script Family Includes the Carian Alphabet". MATEC Web of Conferences. 125: 05019. doi:10.1051/matecconf/201712505019. ISSN 2261-236X.
  19. ^ a b Nagy 1963, p. 210 (Footnote #24).
  20. ^ Georgiev 1963, pp. 1–104.
  21. ^ Nagy 1963, pp. 181–211.
  22. ^ a b Palmer 1958, pp. 75–100.
  23. ^ Rendsburg, Gary A. (2001). "Cyrus H. Gordon (1908-2001): A Giant among Scholars". The Jewish Quarterly Review. 92 (1/2): 137–143. ISSN 0021-6682. JSTOR 1455617.
  24. ^ Marangozis, John (2006). An introduction to Minoan Linear A. LINCOM Europa.
  25. ^ Finkelberg, Margalit, "The Language of Linear A: Greek, Semitic, or Anatolian?", in: Drews, Robert (ed.), Greater Anatolia dnt eh Ind-Hittite Language Family, Journal of Indo-European Studies, Monograph 38, Washington, DC, 2001.
  26. ^ Dietrich & Loretz 2001.
  27. ^ a b La Marle, Hubert. Linéaire A, la première écriture syllabique de Crète. Paris: Geuthner, 4 Volumes, 1997–1999, 2006; Introduction au linéaire A. Geuthner, Paris, 2002; L'aventure de l'alphabet: les écritures cursives et linéaires du Proche-Orient et de l'Europe du sud-est à l'Âge du Bronze. Paris: Geuthner, 2002; Les racines du crétois ancien et leur morphologie: communication à l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, 2007.
  28. ^ Younger, John (2009). "Linear A: Critique of Decipherments by Hubert La Marle and Kjell Aartun". University of Kansas. According to Younger, La Marle "assigns phonetic values to Linear signs based on superficial resemblances to signs in other scripts (the choice of scripts being already prejudiced to include only those from the eastern Mediterranean and northeast Africa), as if 'C looks like O so it must be O.'"
  29. ^ La Marle, Hubert (September 2010). "An answer to John G. Younger's remarks on Linear A".
  30. ^ Facchetti & Negri 2003.
  31. ^ Yatsemirsky 2011.
  32. ^ Owens 2007, pp. 3–4: "Η έρευνα απέδειξε ότι η μινωική γλώσσα σχετίζεται με την ελληνική περισσότερο από κάθε άλλη ινδοευρωπαϊκή γλώσσα, χωρίς να αποτελεί μια άλλη ελληνική διάλεκτο αλλά ένα χωριστό παρακλάδι της ινδοευρωπαϊκής οικογένειας...υπάρχουν λέξεις που εντοπίζονται και στην ελληνική γλώσσα αλλά και σε άλλες, όπως τη σανσκριτική και τη χεττιτική, τη λατινική, της ίδιας οικογένειας.".
  33. ^ Owens 1999, pp. 15–56.
  34. ^ "The Language of the Minoans". Crete Gazette. 2006.
  35. ^ van Soesbergen 2016
  36. ^ Younger, John (2000). "Linear A Texts in Phonetic Transcription: 10c. Place Names". University of Kansas.


Further reading

  • Best, Jan G. P. (1972). Some Preliminary Remarks on the Decipherment of Linear A. Amsterdam: Hakkert.
  • Marangozis, John (2007). An introduction to Minoan Linear A. LINCOM Europa, ISBN 3-89586-386-6
  • Montecchi, Barbara (January 2010). "A Classification Proposal of Linear A Tablets from Haghia Triada in Classes and Series". Kadmos. 49 (1): 11–38. doi:10.1515/KADMOS.2010.002.
  • Nagy, Gregory (October 1965). "Observations on the Sign-Grouping and Vocabulary of Linear A". American Journal of Archaeology. 69 (4): 295–330. doi:10.2307/502181. JSTOR 502181.
  • Palmer, Ruth (1995). "Linear A Commodities: A Comparison of Resources" (PDF). Aegeum. 12.
  • Thomas, Helena. Understanding the transition from Linear A to Linear B script. Unpublished PhD dissertation. Supervisor: Professor John Bennet. Thesis (D. Phil.). University of Oxford, 2003. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 311–338).
  • Woodard, Roger D. (1997). Greek Writing from Knossos to Homer. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-510520-9. (Review)

External links

Aegean numerals

Aegean numbers was the numeral system used by the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations. They are attested in Linear A and Linear B scripts. They may have survived in the Cypro-Minoan script, where a single sign with "100" value is attested so far on a large clay tablet from Enkomi.

Arkalochori Axe

The Arkalochori Axe is a 2nd millennium BC Minoan bronze votive double axe excavated by Spyridon Marinatos in 1934 in the Arkalochori cave on Crete, which is believed to have been used for religious rituals. It is inscribed with fifteen symbols.

It has been suggested that these symbols might be Linear A, although some scholars disagree.The labrys and the Phaistos Disc are conserved in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. They share some symbols.

Cretan hieroglyphs

Cretan hieroglyphs are generally considered undeciphered hieroglyphs found on artefacts of early Bronze Age Crete, during the Minoan era. It predates Linear A by about a century, but the two writing systems continued to be used in parallel for most of their history.

Cypriot syllabary

The Cypriot or Cypriote syllabary is a syllabic script used in Iron Age Cyprus, from about the 11th to the 4th centuries BCE, when it was replaced by the Greek alphabet. A pioneer of that change was king Evagoras of Salamis. It is descended from the Cypro-Minoan syllabary, in turn a variant or derivative of Linear A. Most texts using the script are in the Arcadocypriot dialect of Greek, but also one bilingual (Greek and Eteocypriot) inscription was found in Amathus.

Cypro-Minoan syllabary

The Cypro-Minoan syllabary (CM) is an undeciphered syllabary used on the island of Cyprus during the late Bronze Age (ca. 1550–1050 BC). The term "Cypro-Minoan" was coined by Arthur Evans in 1909 based on its visual similarity to Linear A on Minoan Crete, from which CM is thought to be derived. Approximately 250 objects—such as clay balls, cylinders, and tablets and votive stands—which bear Cypro-Minoan inscriptions, have been found. Discoveries have been made at various sites around Cyprus, as well as in the ancient city of Ugarit on the Syrian coast.

Eteocretan language

Not to be confused with Minoan, the language written in Linear A a millennium earlier than Eteocretan.Eteocretan ( from Greek: Ἐτεόκρητες, translit. Eteókrētes, lit. "true Cretans", itself composed from ἐτεός eteós "true" and Κρής Krḗs "Cretan") is the non-Greek language of a few alphabetic inscriptions of ancient Crete.

In eastern Crete about half a dozen inscriptions have been found which, though written in Greek alphabets, are clearly not Greek. These inscriptions date from the late 7th or early 6th century down to the 3rd century BC. The language, which is not understood, is probably a survival of a language spoken on Crete before the arrival of Greeks and is probably derived from the Minoan language preserved in the Linear A inscriptions of a millennium earlier. Since that language remains untranslated, it is not certain that Eteocretan and Minoan are related, although this is very likely.

Ancient testimony suggests that the language is that of the Eteocretans, i.e. "true Cretans". The term Eteocretan is sometimes applied to the Minoan language (or languages) written more than a millennium earlier in so-called Cretan 'hieroglyphics' (almost certainly a syllabary) and in the Linear A script. Yves Duhoux, a leading authority on Eteocretan, has stated that "it is essential to rigorously separate the study of Eteocretan from that of the 'hieroglyphic' and Linear A inscriptions".

Eteocypriot language

Eteocypriot was a pre-Indo-European language spoken in Iron Age Cyprus. The name means "true" or "original Cypriot" parallel to Eteocretan, both of which names are used by modern scholarship to mean the pre-Greek languages of those places. Eteocypriot was written in the Cypriot syllabary, a syllabic script derived from Linear A (via the Cypro-Minoan variant Linear C). The language was under pressure from Arcadocypriot Greek from about the 10th century BC and finally became extinct in about the 4th century BC.

The language is as yet unknown except for a small vocabulary attested in bilingual inscriptions. Such topics as syntax and possible inflection or agglutination remain a mystery. Partial translations depend to a large extent on the language or language group assumed by the translator, but there is no consistency. It is conjectured by some linguists to be related to the Etruscan and Lemnian languages, and by others to be Northwest Semitic. Those who do not advocate any of those theories often adopt the default of an unknown pre-Greek language. Due to the small number of texts found, there is currently much unproven speculation.

Latin alphabet

The Latin or Roman alphabet is the writing system originally used by the ancient Romans to write the Latin language.

Linear B

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. 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, Pylos, Thebes and Mycenae, 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.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). It is possible that the script was used only by a guild of professional scribes who served the central palaces. Once the palaces were destroyed, the script disappeared.

Minoan civilization

The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that flourished primarily on the island of Crete in the 3rd and 2nd millenia BC. It is widely considered the first advanced civilization in Europe. The Minoan civilization produced massive building complexes, tools, sophisticated artwork, seafaring ships and ship building technology, and writing systems. The Minoans were instrumental in bringing early Greek culture and mythos to many neighboring peoples.

The Minoan civilization is particularly notable for its large and elaborate palaces, some of which were four stories high, featured elaborate plumbing systems, and were decorated with frescoes. The most notable Minoan palaces are, first, the one in Knossos, followed by that of Phaistos. The Minoan period saw extensive trade routes spanning most of the territory in or bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Through their traders and artists, the Minoans' cultural influence reached beyond Crete to the Cyclades, the Old Kingdom of Egypt, copper-bearing Cyprus, Canaan and the Levantine coast and Anatolia. Some of the best Minoan art is preserved in the city of Akrotiri on the island of Santorini, which was destroyed by the volcanic eruption that may in turn have been a major contributor to the decline of the larger Minoan civilization.

The Minoans primarily wrote in the undeciphered Linear A and also in Cretan hieroglyphs, encoding a language labelled Minoan. The reasons for the decline of the Minoan civilization remain a cause for speculation, as do the mystery and inconsistencies in the "rediscovery" and other research heritage.

Minoan language

The Minoan language is the language (or languages) of the ancient Minoan civilization of Crete written in the Cretan hieroglyphs and later in the Linear A syllabary. As the Cretan hieroglyphs are undeciphered and Linear A only partly deciphered, the Minoan language is unknown and unclassified: indeed, with the existing evidence, it seems impossible to be certain that the two scripts record the same language, or even that a single language is recorded in each. The Eteocretan language, attested in a few alphabetic inscriptions from Crete 1,000 years later, is possibly a descendant of Minoan, but it is itself unclassified.


In Greek mythology, Minos (; Greek: Μίνως, Minōs) was the first King of Crete, son of Zeus and Europa. Every nine years, he made King Aegeus pick seven young boys and seven young girls to be sent to Daedalus's creation, the labyrinth, to be eaten by the Minotaur. After his death, Minos became a judge of the dead in the underworld.

The Minoan civilization of Crete has been named after him by the archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans.

Nabataean alphabet

The Nabataean alphabet is an abjad (consonantal alphabet) that was used by the Nabataeans in the second century BC. Important inscriptions are found in Petra (now in Jordan), the Sinai Peninsula (now part of Egypt), and other archaeological sites including Avdat (now in Israel).

Phaistos Disc

The Phaistos Disc (also spelled Phaistos Disk, Phaestos Disc) is a disk of fired clay from the Minoan palace of Phaistos on the island of Crete, possibly dating to the middle or late Minoan Bronze Age (second millennium B.C.). The disk is about 15 cm (5.9 in) in diameter and covered on both sides with a spiral of stamped symbols. Its purpose and meaning, and even its original geographical place of manufacture, remain disputed, making it one of the most famous mysteries of archaeology. This unique object is now on display at the archaeological museum of Heraklion.

The disc was discovered in 1908 by the Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier in the Minoan palace-site of Phaistos, and features 241 tokens, comprising 45 distinct signs, which were apparently made by pressing hieroglyphic "seals" into a disc of soft clay, in a clockwise sequence spiraling toward the center of the disk.

The Phaistos Disc captured the imagination of amateur and professional archaeologists, and many attempts have been made to decipher the code behind the disc's signs. While it is not clear that it is a script, most attempted decipherments assume that it is; most additionally assume a syllabary, others an alphabet or logography. Attempts at decipherment are generally thought to be unlikely to succeed unless more examples of the signs are found, as it is generally agreed that there is not enough context available for a meaningful analysis.

Although the Phaistos Disc is generally accepted as authentic by archaeologists, a few scholars believe that the disc is a forgery or a hoax.

Presto (browser engine)

Presto was the browser engine of the Opera web browser from the release of Opera 7 on 28 January 2003 until the release of Opera 15 on 2 July 2013, at which time Opera switched to using the Blink engine that was originally created for Chromium. Presto was also used to power the Opera Mini and Opera Mobile browsers.

Presto is a dynamic engine. Web pages can be re-rendered completely or partially in response to DOM events. Its releases saw a number of bug fixes and optimizations to improve the speed of the ECMAScript (JavaScript) engine. It is proprietary and only available as a part of the Opera browsers.

Roland DJ-70

The Roland DJ-70 is a 16-bit linear A/D Conversion & 20-bit linear D/A Conversion sampling workstation and was released in 1992 by Roland Japan.


A stylus, plural styli or styluses, is a writing utensil or a small tool for some other form of marking or shaping, for example, in pottery. It can also be a computer accessory that is used to assist in navigating or providing more precision when using touchscreens. It usually refers to a narrow elongated staff, similar to a modern ballpoint pen. Many styluses are heavily curved to be held more easily. Another widely used writing tool is the stylus used by blind users in conjunction with the slate for punching out the dots in Braille.

Styluses were first used by the ancient Mesopotamians in order to write in cuneiform. They were mostly made of reeds and had a slightly curved trapezoidal section. Egyptians (Middle Kingdom) and the Minoans of Crete (Linear A and Cretan Hieroglyphic) made styluses in various materials: reeds that grew on the sides of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and in marshes and down to Egypt where the Egyptians used styluses from sliced reeds with sharp points; bone and metal styluses were also used. Cuneiform was entirely based on the "wedge-shaped" mark that the end of a cut reed made when pushed into a clay tablet; from Latin cuneus = wedge. The linear writings of Crete in the first half of the second millennium BC which were made on clay tablets that were left to dry in the sun until they became "leather" hard before being incised by the stylus. The linear nature of the writing was also dictated by the use of the stylus.

In Western Europe styluses were widely used until the late Middle Ages. For learning purposes the stylus was gradually replaced by a writing slate. From the mid-14th century improved water-powered paper mills produced large and cheap quantities of paper and the wax tablet and stylus disappeared completely from daily life.

Undeciphered writing systems

An undeciphered writing system is a written form of language that is not currently understood.

Many undeciphered writing systems date from several thousand years BC, though some more modern examples do exist. The term "writing systems" is used here loosely to refer to groups of glyphs which appear to have representational symbolic meaning, but which may include "systems" that are largely artistic in nature and are thus not examples of actual writing.

The difficulty in deciphering these systems can arise from a lack of known language descendants or from the languages being entirely isolated, from insufficient examples of text having been found and even (such as in the case of Vinča) from the question of whether the symbols actually constitute a writing system at all. Some researchers have claimed to be able to decipher certain writing systems, such as those of Epi-Olmec, Phaistos and Indus texts; but to date, these claims have not been widely accepted within the scientific community, or confirmed by independent researchers, for the writing systems listed here (unless otherwise specified).


Writing is a medium of human communication that represents language and emotion with signs and symbols. In most languages, writing is a complement to speech or spoken language. Writing is not a language, but a tool used to make languages be read. Within a language system, writing relies on many of the same structures as speech, such as vocabulary, grammar, and semantics, with the added dependency of a system of signs or symbols. The result of writing is called text, and the recipient of text is called a reader. Motivations for writing include publication, storytelling, correspondence, record keeping and diary. Writing has been instrumental in keeping history, maintaining culture, dissemination of knowledge through the media and the formation of legal systems.

As human societies emerged, the development of writing was driven by pragmatic exigencies such as exchanging information, maintaining financial accounts, codifying laws and recording history. Around the 4th millennium BC, the complexity of trade and administration in Mesopotamia outgrew human memory, and writing became a more dependable method of recording and presenting transactions in a permanent form. In both ancient Egypt and Mesoamerica, writing may have evolved through calendric and a political necessity for recording historical and environmental events.

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