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Faculty of Classics

 
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The decipherment of Linear B was of fundamental importance for the disciplines of Aegean archaeology and Indo-European linguistics: it completely altered our understanding of the early civilisations of Greece and Crete. Moreover, it pushed the earliest known examples of written Greek back to more than 3000 years ago, making Greek the oldest known European language that is still spoken today.

     Michael Ventris            John Chadwick 

The decipherment was achieved in 1952 by a young British architect, Michael Ventris. Within weeks of his discovery he was in touch with John Chadwick, a young philologist just appointed to a lectureship at Cambridge. Chadwick was the first scholar to accept the decipherment as correct; in his first letter to Ventris he made some further suggestions helping to confirm it. Ventris gladly welcomed Chadwick’s contributions and invited him to collaborate on the first scholarly publication of the decipherment, which came out in the Journal of Hellenic Studies in 1953. The two worked closely together for the next four years, until Ventris’s tragically early death in 1956, within weeks of the publication of their monumental joint work, Documents in Mycenaean Greek.

Latest news

Publication of the Cambridge Greek Lexicon

13 April 2021

The much-anticipated Cambridge Greek Lexicon will be published by Cambridge University Press (CUP) on 22nd April 2021. Written by an editorial team based in the Faculty, the Cambridge Greek Lexicon , which has been twenty years in the making, covers the most widely read ancient literary texts, from Homer to the Hellenistic...

Professor Paul Cartledge receives one of Greece’s highest honours

13 April 2021

Professor Paul Cartledge, Emeritus A.G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture, received the Commander of the Order of Honour (Ταξιάρχης τῆς Τιμῆς), for his 'contribution to enhancing Greece's stature abroad'. One of the highest honours the Greek state can give, Paul received the honour from the H. E. Ambassador to London...

Teaching Classics in the time of Covid-19

24 February 2021

Dr Renaud Gagné, Director of Undergraduate Studies, discusses the on-going challenges and adaptations made by the Faculty as the Covid-19 crisis continues and Lent term began under a renewed lockdown.

Research in Lockdown: fieldwork postponed

24 February 2021

Rachel Phillips describes some of the challenges faced during the pandemic by doctoral students engaged in full time research.