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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.

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Details of this conference, being held in the Fisher Building, St John's College, 31 January - 1 February, are now available online

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The Faculty is very sorry to have to report the death, aged 95, of Ted Kenney, Kennedy Professor of Latin (from 1974 to 1982), on December 23rd 2019.

Byvanck Chair of Classical Archaeology/Art History

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The Faculty is delighted to announce that Professor Caroline Vout has been appointed to the Byvanck Chair of Classical Archaeology/Art History, a visiting professorship at the University of Leiden. The appointment is for five years from Michaelmas 2019.

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Professor Beard's Gifford Lectures (University of Edinburgh), on The Ancient World and Us: From Fear and Loathing to Enlightenment and Ethics, are now available on line.

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