Minoan Script by
Middle Minoan period the pictorial
symbols employed on seals, and called
hieroglyphic after the early Egyptian
script, were systematized to form a
developed at the end of the period and in the
Late Minoan I into a system known as Minoan
Linear A, in which pictorial elements are
reduced to outline patterns.
than 100 signs were in use, without counting
the frequent ligatures of two signs. They occur
mainly in groups separated by small
In view of their number and evident
connection with the Linear B script of the Mycenaean civilization, it can be
inferred that most signs had the values of simple syllables, usually consonant
Other signs represented the people,
animals, and commodities listed on the documents, and these signs are frequently
accompanied by numerals, which have a simple notation on a base of 10. The signs
are written horizontally from left to right.
The documents are of two classes. Most are
clay tablets, which were inscribed with a sharp stylus while the clay was still
wet, and then sun-dried. These were used to keep day-to-day accounts, and no
tablets so far known appear to contain continuous texts.
objects—mainly of a religious nature, such as offering-tables—were sometimes
inscribed. Here the signs were engraved on stone or metal.
These texts appear to be dedicatory, and
repeating groups found in them may be the names of deities.
Since the majority of the
signs have close parallels in the Linear B
script, their phonetic values are likely to be
though the meaning of a few words can be
deduced from their use, the underlying language
has proved impossible to
scholars regard the language as of Semitic
type, others as Anatolian, a branch of
consistent pattern has emerged, and these
claims must be treated as premature. However,
it can confidently be asserted that the
language is not Greek.
Disk, from a Middle Minoan context, is a unique example
of an otherwise unknown script. Each sign was impressed from a separate stamp.
It is possible that the disk was imported into