Exciting news from Greece:

Archeologists in Crete have found an important trove of archeological treasures containing some of the earliest known examples of Greek writing.
The culture ministry said the finds were excavated at a long-abandoned site on a hill overlooking the port of Chania in Western Crete, which has been identified with the Minoan city of Kydonia.
Among the discoveries was an amphora containing an intact text written in linear B, the language of the court at Mycenae where the legendary Agamemnon ruled.
Also found were two terracotta tablets containing texts in Linear A, an even older alphabet—used around 1,700 years before the common era—which has not yet been deciphered…

It pleases me that the discoveries were made at Khania, a city of which I have fond memories; you can read more about the archeological digs in this interview with Maria Andreadaki-Vlasiki. (Via ilani ilani.)


  1. Thanks. Great map of the city.

  2. It would be interesting to know how close ancient Cretan was to the ancient languages of Anatolia Carian (Mysian, Lydian, Lycian, Pisidian). Some linguists claim that it belonged to this family. It would also be interesting to finally fin out whether Anatolian was Indo-European (even though maybe a very primitive Indo-European) or a language just outside the Indo-European family. Linguists have wavered over Hittite in this regard.

  3. David Marjanović says

    What? Why shouldn’t the Anatolian languages (including Hittite) be Indo-European???
    Linear A is _very_ similar to Linear B. Basically it’s just another font. The same holds for the “Cretan hieroglyphs” (which are simply less linear) and the script of the Phaistos Disk (which can afford to consist of meticulous “drawings” because it is stamped rather than handwritten). The language is a divergent variant of Greek, comparable to the situation of Swiss “German”.
    Stephen Roger Fischer: Glyphbreaker, Copernicus/Springer 1997
    (If only the guy weren’t _that_ bad at generating publicity. It’s a pity — the book is great.)

  4. Brian, the “Indo-Hittite” concept (that Hittite split off early from a family that only later became Indo-European) is passed from the scene with the (untimely) death of Warren Cowgill. Most Indo-Europeanists believe nowadays that Hittite is squarely descended from Proto-Indo-European, although indeed possibly the first to break away.

  5. Huh. Having studied with Cowgill, I’ll probably never get Indo-Hittite out of my head. Indo-European keeps changing…

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