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Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology



Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
[email protected]

Linear A

Linear A is the first of two linear scripts which were used on Minoan Crete. While Linear A was discovered along with Linear B by Arthur Evans, it has yet to be deciphered. It can be somewhat understood, though, through comparisons with Linear B.

Linear A was used during the New Palace Period on Crete and has been found mostly on clay tablets. Chronologically Linear A originated before Linear B, however both scripts along with the Cretan hieroglyphic script are thought to have been used alongside one another for a long period of time in certain areas.

Linear A contains 75 symbols each representing a syllable as well as some ideograms, representing a word or idea. The script shares eighteen symbols with Linear B however it represents a truly Minoan set of words which show little connection to the Greek language developed later on the mainland.

There are many sites where Linear A inscriptions have been found, including Knossos, Mycenae, Tiryns and Chania.

Uploaded Image

Linear A tablet from Chania - from Archaeological Museum of Chania


Hooker, J.T. The Origin of the Linear B Script. Salamanca: Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca, 1979.

Biers, William R. The Archaeology of Greece. 2nd Ed. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1980.

Caitlin Howitt

Posted at Dec 13/2007 11:38PM:
Harry Anastopulos: The caveat of "yet untranslated" makes the allure of Linear A's mystery all the more intriguing! If someday we are eventually able to read these, think of all of the new insight we'll be able to gather about the ancient Minoans...