The Man Who Deciphered Linear B, By Andrew Robinson


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Predating Homer by 500 years, Linear B was the "fairly primitive" script on clay tablets discovered at Knossos by Arthur Evans around 1900. They fascinated a "pleasant and humorous" if solitary boy at Stowe school in the late Thirties.

The story of how the brilliant linguist and architect Michael Ventris discovered Linear B was an archaic dialect of Greek rather than a separate language is told here with exemplary clarity.

Announced on the same day that Edmund Hilary hit the heights in 1953, the decipherment became known as "the Everest of Greek archaeology" - much to the embarrassment of the "modest" Ventris.

Sadly, this offbeat genius died in a mysterious accident three years later.