Code-breakers: deciphering the languages and writing systems of the ancient world Writing systems • Hieroglyphs: Egypt, Anatolia, Crete • Cuneiform (Wedge-shaped script): Sumerian, Akkadian, Old Persian, Babylonian, Elamite, Luwian. • Linear A (Syllabograms?) Unknown language Minoans not Greek • Linear B (Syllabograms for Greek) Mycenaeans were Greek • Ogham (Irish system): Gaelic/Irish Hieroglyphic Scripts • Hieros - sacred • Glyphein - to carve • Egyptian • Anatolian or Hittite or Luwian • Cretan • Mayan Egyptian Hieroglyphs • • • • 3,300 bc Logograms (word) Ideograms (idea) Alphabetic letters The Rosetta Stone • Napoleon in Egypt 1798-1801 • Jean-François Champollion 1822 Translation • 3 scripts – Greek – Hieroglyphic Egyptian – Demotic Egyptian (easier to write on papyri) Luwian Language • Hittites • Hieroglyphs & Cuneiform • Trojans? Seal with Luwian Hieroglyphics From Pictogram to Cuneiform Cuneiform Technique Cuneiform Texts Deciphering Cuneiform The Behistun Inscription • Old Persian, Elamite, Babylonian • Darius I (521-486 bc) • Henry Rawlinson, Edward Hincks Interlude… • Stop it, you little monster, or I’ll go out to the barn, and tell your father! • Pasiphae and Minotaur • RF vase, Etruria, c.340bc Cretan Hieroglyphics: The Phaistos Disk Related scripts, partly syllabic, partly logographic: – Linear A – Anatolian hieroglyphs – Egyptian hieroglyphs. The Minoans: Linear A • Arthur Evans • Unknown language (NOT Greek) • Minoan, Eteocretan? • Linear B syllabograms derived from Linear A • Linear A = Luwian? • Linear A = Phoenician? • John Younger The Mycenaeans: Linear B • Arthur Evans effect • Linear B & Etruscan? • Syllabograms & Logograms • Total of 200 signs Michael Ventris • Michael Ventris 1922-1956 • John Chadwick • Inflected Language Declensions Conjugations • Cretan Place names? • Greek! Greek in Syllabograms Linear B & Mycenaean Social Order • WA-NA-KA [wanax] The King • RA-WA-KE-TA [lawagetas] Leader of the People = Prince? • E-QE-TA [heqetas] Companion or Member of Warrior Caste? • KE-RO-SI-JA [geronsia] Council of Elders? • DA-MO [damos] village • KO-RE-TE, PO-RO-KO-RE-TE [koreter, prokoreter] Official & Deputy • DO-E-RO, DO-E-RA [doeros, doera] Slave/Servant (doulos=slave) Phoenician Alphabet • Semitic letter names • Aleph - ox - alpha • Bet - house - beta Greek Alphabet Alphabet in History… • Herodotus: “The Phoenicians who came with Cadmus introduced into Greece …a number of accomplishments, of which the most important was writing, an art till then, I think, unknown to the Greeks. Or Is it Pure Myth? • Cadmus, brother of Europa • Founder of Thebes • Date? Family Tree of Danaos & Cadmus POSEIDON_____________LIBYA I __________I__________ I I AGENOR BELUS I __________I______ CADMUS I I AEGYPTUS DANAOS I I I I 50 SONS 50 DAUGHTERS Cadmus Myth • Cadmus, founder of Thebes, preceded Trojan War by several generations • Conventional date of Trojan War: early C12th bc • Cadmus C14th bc • Cadmeian alphabet not found in Greece before about the middle of C8th bc. Writing in Homer: Iliad 6.197-202 • He (Proetus, King of Argos) balked at killing the man (Bellerophon) - he’d some respect at least. • But he quickly sent him off to Lycia, gave him tokens, • Murderous signs, scratched in a folded tablet, • And many of them, too, enough to kill a man. • He told him to show them to the father of Antea (wife of Proetus, false accuser of B): • That would mean his death… Baleful Signs • When the tenth dawn shone with her rose-red fingers, • He began to question him, asked to see his credentials, • But then, once he received that fatal message • Sent from his own daughter’s husband, first • He ordered Bellerophon to kill the Chimaera Memory of Linear B or New Phoenician Alphabet? • Uluburun shipwreck writing tablets • late C14th bc • Cypriot or Levantine Origin? • LHIIIA2 pottery • Cargo from entire Aegean world: Mycenaean, Cypriot, Canaanite, Kassite, Egyptian, and Assyrian. Ogham carved & read from bottom to top • 5th century Ireland (Wales, Cornwall, Scotland, Isle of Man, Shetland Islands). • letters consist of 1-5 perpendicular or angled strokes, meeting or crossing a center line. • letters easily carved on wood or stone objects, with edge of object forming the center line. • Irish had no other written alphabet until Christian missionaries introduced Latin (C8th) • Ogham died after first few centuries of Christian era, as use of inscription languages was reviled as a pagan practice.