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posted by janrinok on Thursday May 19, @05:24PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the something-to-write-home-about dept.

https://greekreporter.com/2022/04/20/minoan-language-linear-a-linear-b/

The Minoan language known as "Linear A" may finally be deciphered with the help of the internet which can be used to uncover previously-hidden links to the much-better understood Linear B language. Linear B developed later in the prehistoric period.

The puzzle of Linear A has tormented linguists for many decades, as they attempted to link it somehow to Linear B, which was translated successfully for the first time in the 1950s. Linear B was used on the Greek mainland and Crete 50-150 years later than Linear A.

Understanding the link between them and decoding the secrets of Linear A would allow experts to paint a much more complete picture of Minoan civilization going back as far as 1,800 BC.

Linear A, which was used by the Minoans during the Bronze Age, exists on at least 1,400 known inscriptions made on clay tablets. The language has baffled the world's top archaeologists and linguistic experts for many years.

Professor Tim Whitmarsh, the A.G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture and Fellow of St. John's, had high praise for Salgarella's work and said that "cracking Linear B was a huge post-war triumph for Classics, but Linear A has remained elusive."

"Dr. Salgarella has demonstrated that Linear B is closely related to its mysterious and previously illegible predecessor. She has brought us one step closer to understanding it. It's an extraordinary piece of detective work," praises Whitmarsh.


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19, @06:43PM (16 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19, @06:43PM (#1246350)

    Butter
    Milk
    Eggs
    Brocoli
    Onions...

    Just a shopping list

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by RamiK on Thursday May 19, @06:53PM (4 children)

      by RamiK (1813) on Thursday May 19, @06:53PM (#1246358)

      ...Eggs...

      Eine halbe Tasse Staubzucker
      Ein Viertel Teeloffel Salz
      Eine Messerspitze turkisches Haschisch
      Ein halbes Pfund Butter
      Ein Teeloffel Vanillenzucker
      Ein halbes Pfund Mehl
      Einhundertfunfzig Gramm gemahlene Nusse
      Ein wenig extra Staubzucker
      ... und keine Eier!!!

      --
      compiling...
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19, @09:24PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19, @09:24PM (#1246393)

        Your uncle's favorite recipe?

      • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Friday May 20, @09:49PM (1 child)

        by Phoenix666 (552) on Friday May 20, @09:49PM (#1246713) Journal

        Thanks for the link. I hadn't heard of that band before, but like their music. It reminds me a little of the KMFDM we used to listen to in college.

        --
        Washington DC delenda est.
        • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Saturday May 21, @12:05PM

          by RamiK (1813) on Saturday May 21, @12:05PM (#1246818)

          It's a very poor representative of Tool's music. Basically, it's Tool's satire of certain Rammstein fans being completely clueless to just how sentimental and progressive Lindemann's lyrical content is and missing the whole point of Neue Deutsche Härte. Anyhow, you know Tool from their popular tunes like Sober [youtube.com] and you're also likely familiar with Rammstein from Du Hast [youtube.com].

          reminds me a little of the KMFDM

          Just the industrial instrumentation. Otherwise, it's metal vs. rock / hard rock. But yeah, there's common origins, influences and cross pollination going around for sure.

          Anyhow, Tool has a new album on the way and Rammstein/Lindemann is active in general with band/solo albums coming out every couple of years or so so they're not quite Minoan-level script worthy :D

          --
          compiling...
    • (Score: 4, Informative) by zocalo on Thursday May 19, @07:34PM (2 children)

      by zocalo (302) on Thursday May 19, @07:34PM (#1246367)
      Funnily enough, a lot of the tablets containing the examples of Linear B used to decipher it were not far from being just that. They turned out to be tallies of things like livestock or people, often associated with placenames, and the repetition of the latter was the crack that was used to not only decipher the language but also to get a pretty good handle on what it might have sounded like.
      --
      UNIX? They're not even circumcised! Savages!
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 20, @03:55AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 20, @03:55AM (#1246489)

        turned out to be tallies of things like livestock or people, often associated with placenames

        Ah, so they were ancient punch cards then? I would love to see the machine that ran them

        • (Score: 2) by driverless on Friday May 20, @01:13PM

          by driverless (4770) on Friday May 20, @01:13PM (#1246558)

          turned out to be tallies of things like livestock or people, often associated with placenames

          Ah, so they were ancient punch cards then? I would love to see the machine that ran them

          Here you go [wikipedia.org].

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19, @10:23PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19, @10:23PM (#1246404)

      Terra Atlantus

    • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Thursday May 19, @10:24PM

      by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 19, @10:24PM (#1246405) Journal

      Pound pastrami, can kraut, six bagels--bring home for Emma

      --
      --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
    • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Friday May 20, @03:32AM (2 children)

      by Reziac (2489) on Friday May 20, @03:32AM (#1246483) Homepage

      Probably more like

      Cain is taxed two sheep
      Abel is taxed one bushel of wheat
      Moses is taxed one barrel of beer

      Yeah, not fair to Cain. Life was already hard!

      • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Friday May 20, @09:51PM (1 child)

        by Phoenix666 (552) on Friday May 20, @09:51PM (#1246714) Journal

        Nah, Moses got the short end of the stick. Give up a barrel of beer? Hmm, mind if he passes it through his kidneys first?

        --
        Washington DC delenda est.
        • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Friday May 20, @10:37PM

          by Reziac (2489) on Friday May 20, @10:37PM (#1246724) Homepage

          LOL, so that's where Paddy got the idea...

    • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Friday May 20, @11:27AM (2 children)

      by Thexalon (636) on Friday May 20, @11:27AM (#1246540)

      That sort of thing is in fact pretty common: It seems like the primary early use of writing was accounting and later contracts, as in "Person A owes Person B 500 sheep", that sort of thing. It took a while for anyone to think of using that technology for leisure and entertainment purposes, because it costs money to hire a decent scribe and nobody wants to do that just to write down a good story, especially if they can make a buck telling that story to audiences.

      A good parallel for the modern age is to think about what information was typically being stored in computer systems from, say, 1970-1995 when computing storage was difficult and fairly expensive, versus what's being stored now when magnetic drives storing gigabytes are relatively cheap.

      --
      The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 20, @03:50PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 20, @03:50PM (#1246602)

        Low quality porn, and high quality porn?

        • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Friday May 20, @09:53PM

          by Phoenix666 (552) on Friday May 20, @09:53PM (#1246716) Journal

          You jest, but that is often what it was. I remember reading about an ancient inscription that was discovered on a boulder on top of a Greek isle not too long ago. It read (I'm paraphrasing): "Dmitri boned Phil here."

          --
          Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19, @07:13PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19, @07:13PM (#1246365)

    "the prehistoric period" - uh, at the point where we have writing and it's being decyphered, it is literally not prehistoric any more.

    Still, nifty - glad to see ML being leveraged for nerdy good.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19, @07:56PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19, @07:56PM (#1246372)

      Internet experts can go F themselves.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by pTamok on Thursday May 19, @09:04PM (1 child)

      by pTamok (3042) on Thursday May 19, @09:04PM (#1246387)

      "the prehistoric period" - uh, at the point where we have writing and it's being decyphered, it is literally not prehistoric any more.

      Actually, it is. We have the writing, but we have no idea of the date when it was written. History requires accurate dates to give a timeline, so we can determine if events are simultaneous, or what duration separates them. The dates of Ancient Egyptian history are still a subject of much debate. A date of the 7th year of Pharoah doesn't place the date in the context of the Gregorian dating system used today. So it is recorded, but without a Gregorian date. There's a great deal of debate over what the earliest accurately dated human event is - many cite the Battle of Halys [wikipedia.org]"The Battle of the Eclipse", but if you read the linked Wikipedia article, you can see there is much uncertainty about it. Something being recorded doesn't make it history - it needs a date that meshes with our current dating system. Dates posited before certain dates are prehistoric for that part of the world. Prehistory varies by geography - for example, in Papua New Guinea, there are places with no recorded dates before the 20th century.

      We can give estimates for prehistoric dates, which can be as accurate as carbon dating, and relative dates according to a local dating system that isn't connected in some way to the Gregorian calendar can give an idea of the chronology of the period, but we have no way of knowing if a Linear A tablet was written in 1800 BCE, or 1805 BCE, whether it was in March or April, or which day of the month it was written on.

      For an even more in depth view of historical dates and chronology, this unlikely source of somebody's view on the use of the <time> element in HTML [quirksmode.org] outlines the problems. In that author's view, the earliest accurately known date is 300 BC

      300 BC is the earliest year that we can map with complete accuracy; i.e. we can say with certainty that the consulate of M. Valerius Maximus Corvus for the fifth time and Q. Appuleius Pansa occurred exactly 2308 [the article was written in 2009] years before the present time.

      Go far enough away from the present and planetary orbits and their satellites become chaotic, so even astronomical events are clouded with uncertainty - see Fred Espernaks (now hosted by NASA) excellent resources on this, but to quote just one web-page: NASA: Fred Espernak: Eclipse Predictions and Earth's Rotation [nasa.gov]

      The uncertainty in delta-T means that reliable eclipse paths prior to about 1500 BCE are not possible. Similarly, all future values of delta-T are simple extrapolations of current values and trends. Such estimates are prone to growing uncertainty as one extrapolates further and further into the furure[sic]. By the year 3000 CE, the value of delta-T could be on the order of one hour with an extrapolated uncertainty of about ten minutes or several degrees in longitude.

      tl;dr - prehistory varies by geography. At the time Linear A was being written, there are no dates that connect to the currently used Gregorian calendar, so recorded events, even using a local dating system, are outside of the current historical timeline. We simply cannot know when they were written.

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