skip to primary navigationskip to content

The Decipherment of Linear B: Introduction

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.

RSS Feed Latest news

Professor Beard's new series, Inside Culture, broadcasts on 24 September

Sep 23, 2020

Professor Mary Beard is starting a new series of her Arts and Culture programme, now called "Inside Culture" on BBC2 (7.30 pm Thursday 24 Sept).

UK universities 2021 – Guardian league table

Sep 09, 2020

Cambridge Classics maintains its place at the top of the Guardian league table

Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies: Professor Cartledge

Jul 27, 2020

The Faculty congratulates Professor Paul Cartledge on becoming President of the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies (the Hellenic Society) in June. Among his predecessors are Professor Easterling, Professor Osborne, and Professor Schofield.

Cambridge Classical Studies Series & Gold Open Access

Jul 01, 2020

The Faculty of Classics is delighted to have reached an agreement with Cambridge University Press by which, for the next three years, five volumes a year in the Cambridge Classical Studies Series (monographs on Classical topics written by academics working in or recently trained in Cambridge) will be published Gold Open Access without charge to the author or the Faculty. This is a significant initiative, designed to maximise the impact of the excellent Classical research being done in Cambridge.

View all news