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

Faculty Archivist (part-time)

Oct 10, 2017

The Faculty wishes to recruit a part-time Archivist who will be responsible for the management and care of its archive collections

Kenyon Medal awarded to Joyce Reynolds

Sep 28, 2017

The Kenyon Medal in 2017 has been awarded to Joyce Reynolds FBA for her lifetime's contribution to the research and study of Roman epigraphy.

Postgraduate Open Day Saturday 18 November 2017

Sep 22, 2017

Details of the 2017 Faculty of Classics Postgraduate Open Day are now available online:

Major archaeological discovery near Orchomenos in Boeotia, central Greece

Sep 12, 2017

The Times newspaper reports on excavations this summer at Prosilio near Orchomenos in Boeotia, central Greece, conducted by the Ministry of Culture & Sports of Greece/Ephorate of Antiquities of Boeotia and of the British School at Athens/University of Cambridge

View all news