The Man Who Deciphered Linear B

The Story of Michael Ventris



ISBN: 9780500289983 Category:

Andrew Robinson


First discovered in 1900, on clay tablets among the ruins of the Palace of Minos at Knossos in Crete, Linear B, Europe’s oldest writing, remained a mystery for over fifty years. In 1936 Michael Ventris – then a fourteen year-old schoolboy – visited an exhibition at the Royal Academy where the tablets were displayed and heard Sir Arthur Evans, the archaeologist who had discovered them, confirm that the tablets had not yet been deciphered. Ventris was a talented linguist and decided then and there that he would be the one to find the key to Linear B.

Dubbed the ‘Everest of archaeology’, the decipherment was all the more remarkable because Ventris was not a trained classical scholar but an architect whose first, youthful, introduction to Linear B became a lifelong obsession. In 1952 he finally decoded the symbols, finding 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.

Additional information

Weight 268 g
Dimensions 13.5 x 21.6 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 1 February 2012
Number of pages 168
Format Paperback / softback
Dimensions 13.5 x 21.6 cm
Weight 268 g


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Andrew Robinson has written more than 25 books on the arts and sciences. They include Lost Languages: The Enigma of the World's Undeciphered Scripts, India: A Short History and Earthshock, which won the Association of Earth Science Editors Outstanding Publication Award, plus Earth-Shattering Events . A regular contributor to such magazines as Current World Archaeology, History Today, The Lancet, Nature and Science, he has also been literary editor of The Times Higher Education Supplement and a visiting fellow at the University of Cambridge.