Alice Kober & linear b

Linear B is an ancient European Bronze Age script, dating back 3,500 years. When a British architect finally cracked it in the 1950s, he was hailed as a genius – but he may never have succeeded had it not been for a woman on the other side of the Atlantic.

This is the woman who spent two decades of her life trying to crack Linear B – a script dating 3,500 years old, from the Bronze Age, an unknown script in an unknown language. This guy named Ventris – Michael Ventris – is usually credited fully with deciphering it, but Alice Kober probably had a large part to do with it.

She was the one who figured out that Linear B was an inflected language – like Spanish, or Latin, or German – but tragically, desperately sadly, she fell ill and died suddenly soon after, at the age of 43.

In a lecture after he had cracked Linear B, and before his death, Ventris did however give substantial credit to Kober for her contribution – but this acknowledgement went largely unnoticed.

But Linear B was deciphered, together with Kober and Ventris – to be revealed as a form of ancient Greek. The thing is, it’s Linear ‘B’ – because Linear ‘A’ is another, older Cretan writing system, with not enough for anyone to have deciphered it – yet.

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1 comment
  1. Yes, I certainly agree. Alice Kober deserves far more credit than she usually gets, and she certainly contributed to Michael Ventris’ astounding achievement in the decipherment of Linear B. You may also be interested in my own WordPress Blog, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae, where I am trying to illustrate the principles of the syllabary to folks. Thanks.
    Richard. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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