Mysterious Minoan: Crete and Linear A

Among the many memories of a recent trip to Crete are two different scripts that were developed there. Linear B is an early form of Greek, but Linear A, which seems to use the same characters – or at least some of them – has never been deciphered.  That suggests that it’s a different – at this point unknown — language!  Minoan civilization (roughly 2700-1450 b.c.) is presumed to have been the first European civilization – based on evidence it has left behind, these people were gifted, resourceful, joyous, accomplished, outgoing — not agressive or defensive.  What we don’t know about the language and writing they used leaves a huge space for speculation. Presumably it’s “our” habits of thinking, our models of language and writing that have effectively thwarted efforts to decipher it.

John Younger maintains a website on Linear A at http://people.ku.edu/~jyounger/LinearA/ The characters appear be drawn from a syllabary rather than an alphabet, that is, each character refers to a sound made up of a consonant followed by a vowel. Cherokee script is a prominent example of this kind of writing. 

Flusser would surely understand Linear A as a puzzle, a specie of game. But to me, Linear A presents a “real” puzzle, and he makes no absolute difference between such a game and the vast range he refers to as “digital semblances,” or “alternative worlds”.

Author: Nancy Roth