Examples of the preliminary steps by our second full-time student, Thalassa Farkas (Canada) to set out on the exciting journey of learning Mycenaean Linear B

Examples of the preliminary steps by our second full-time student, Thalassa Farkas (Canada) to set out on the exciting journey of learning Mycenaean Linear B:

Here we see the first truly remarkable steps Thalassa Farkas of Canada has taken in just the first few days of her apprenticeship in learning Mycenaean Linear B:

Linear B korete governor

basic Mycenaean Linear B syllabograms & vocabulary

I am particularly impressed by her keyboard template of the Mycenaean Linear B keyboard layout, which she has designed to fit right on top of the standard keyboard:

Thalassa Farkas Linear B keyboard overlay

Thalassa Farkas workstation and Linear B keyboard overlay

While I designed the Mycenaean Linear B keyboard layout back in 2013, it never dawned on me to cut a Linear B keyboard template to fit my own keyboard. What a clever little elf Thalassa is!

She is off to a great start. Let us all wish her the best in her exciting quest to master Linear B.  Although she doesnt yet realized it, she will have to decipher hundreds of Linear B tablets to meet her eventual goal. And that will take at least two years. But we all know she will attain it.

PS to all our visitors, what does Thalassa, which is written as tarasa in Mycenaean Linear B, mean? Easy, if you know any Greek at all. 


Our Star Student, Rita Roberts, has scored 89 % on her Final Examination at Levels 1 & 2 (Basic)!

Our Star Student, Rita Roberts, has scored 89 % on her Final Examination at Levels 1 & 2 (Basic)!

Congratulations are in order! Rita first came on board with us here at Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae just 2 short months after the blog was brought online, in May 2013. So now, in just less than a year, she has mastered all of the 70 or so basic syllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B. Having passed the Final Examination at Levels 1 & 2 with flying colours, Rita is now at a crossroads. In May she begins Mycenaean Linear B Level 3 (Intermediate), which will seem like a cake-walk after the tortuous path she (and I and anyone) would have to follow to master the most challenging part of the Linear B syllabary, i.e. the entire Basic Syllabary, especially in those instances where the student has no prior knowledge of Greek at all, as Rita did when she first approached me in May 2013. Now, not only has Rita mastered the Basic Syllabary of Mycenaean Linear B, she has a vocabulary of at least 1,500 words under her belt, and she is more than ready (and willing, I dare say!) to tackle Level 3 (Intermediary)... and beyond!, which will allow her to master all the remaining syllabograms, most of them homophones, plus a few other bizarre ones, raising her total to some 90+ syllabograms by the time she has finished with Level 3. After Level 3 come Levels 4 & 5 (Advanced), which deal almost exclusively with Ideograms, which we have already covered in great detail in our Blog. In fact, almost the lessons at all five levels are already posted on the blog, so if you are willing to take a stab at yourself, please feel free to do so.

In the meantime, Rita has graciously permitted me to share with you the results of her final examination. First, we see her answers to Questions 1-8 (Multiple Choice), in which Rita scored 100 %, partially due to an egregious mistake on my part, for which I could not possibly mark her down. Here are her answers to Questions 1-8 (Click to ENLARGE):

My Final Exam Linear B (levels l & 2

In Question 9, I randomized all the basic characters in the Linear B syllabary, and of course, Rita got them all bang on (Click to ENLARGE):

Linear B Characters and Tablet

In Question 10,  I asked Rita to translate a tablet which teachers routinely ask introductory students to Linear B to translate, and here again, Rita aced it (see above).

Rita scored 100 % in the first 10 Questions.

Questions 11-20 involved the translation of 10 sentences in Linear B, some of which were fairly easy to translate, others moderately difficult, and 3 of which were real brain-crunchers. I knew perfectly well when I asked her to translate these 3 sentences, she would find her skills stretched to the utter limits. The point was, after all, to make absolutely certain that Rita was to prove herself more than ready to advance to Level 3 (Intermediate). In fact, the 3 most difficult sentences are so hard to master that even students with a decent grasp of Linear B would be hard pressed to translate them. As it turns out, Rita had to struggle valiantly with 2 of the 3, but to my great astonishment, she got the most difficult one of them all absolutely correct!  That was the one with a verb in the aorist or past tense. I did not expect her to get that one at all. But she did. Surprise, surprise. I stress that this sentence (19) is difficult even for students with a decent grasp of Linear B, so if Rita got this one right, let me tell you, she will breeze right on through Level 3.  Even at Level 3, no sentence could possibly be more difficult than this one (19).  Click to ENLARGE: 

Questions11-20 3 best translations
On a final note, I am delighted to inform you all that from here on in, Rita and I will be sharing the responsibilities for (a) bringing new Show & Tell flashcards to the blog for the learning pleasure of any of you who would just like to be able to identify a few Mycenaean Linear B words by sight & (b) we will henceforth also be working together as a team to post our translations of several hundred of Sir Arthur Evans’ Scripta Minoa Linear B fragments and tablets, which we shall be posting on a regular basis indefinitely.

So keep posted, since you will be hearing a lot more from my research colleague, Rita Roberts, throughout 2014 and beyond.


Our Star Student Studying Linear B in Preparation for the Final Exam at Levels 1 & 2


Our Star Student Studying Linear B in Preparation for the Final Exam at Levels 1 & 2 (Click to ENLARGE):

Studying Linear B

Lest anyone think that the Final Examination even at Levels 1 & 2 (Basic) is easy, it would be wise to disabuse oneself of such notions, as will become perfectly clear when I post the 20 questions in the Final Examination once our student has taken it. She is already extremely proficient at this level, and has even managed to translate parts of some Linear B tablets, and can in fact translate at least one of them in its entirety, if she puts her mind to it... which I am sure she will. Considering that she was not greatly familiar with Greek, ancient or modern, prior to taking our course, I am simply astonished at how quickly and methodically she has mastered the basic syllabary of Linear B in 10 short months, hence Mycenaean Greek itself, which is after all, the earliest ancient Greek dialect.  It takes guts and more than the usual perseverance to tackle a task as formidable as this.

She has scored extremely high marks in 24 practice sentences, some of which are very hard to translate, and I have no doubt whatsoever that she will excel in her final examination at Levels 1 & 2, after which Level 3 (Intermediate) will seem like a breeze in comparison... because it is. I expect our friend to be able to move onto Level 4 (Advanced I) by the autumn of this year, and Level 5 (Advanced II) early in 2015, at which point she will be (almost) as proficient as I am in deciphering and translating Linear B tablets. In fact, even at the end of Level 3 (Intermediate) she will be able to easily translate quite a few tablets. Every one of her translations of Linear B tablets, regardless of source (Knossos, Pylos, Iklaina, Mycenae etc.) will be posted here on our Blog, even when they differ from my own translations... which they sometimes will. No-one has a monopoly on “correct” translations of Linear B tablets, which are, more often than not, open to fairly wide interpretations. I look forward with great anticipation to our friend's decipherments later this year and throughout 2015 and beyond, as her expertise grows and matures.  Sooner or later, she and I shall be sharing the limelight in deciphering Linear B tablets, which is just fine with me.


LESSONS: Level 3 (Intermediate) Vocabulary: Level 3.1

LESSONS: Level 3 (Intermediate) Vocabulary: Level 3.1:

Progressive Linear B Vocabulary: Level 3.1 (Intermediate). Since there are 4 sub-levels at Level 3, our selective vocabulary will increase by at least 100 words at this level. (CLICK to enlarge):

Progressive  Linear B Vocabulary Intermediate Level 3.1

Since there are far more words at Level 3 in the Linear B glossaries on the Internet than are reflected in this table, it would be impractical and utterly pointless to list even the majority of them, without overwhelming you, if you are a student of Linear B at the Intermediate Level.  On the other hand, by the time you reach the end of Level 3, you will have mastered ALL of the 59 basic syllabograms, as well as some of the more important homophones.  I will define the term “homophone” as it applies to Linear B in the next post.

The standard dictionary definition of a “homophone” does not apply to Mycenaean Linear B.  It is necessary to make the clear distinction required to differentiate the notion of “homophone” in Linear B from its generally accepted usage, and to bear this specialized definition of the word in mind at all times in your advancing study of Linear B.

I will be posting a selective vocabulary for the next 3 sub-levels at Level 3: 3.2, 3.3 & 3.4   (Intermediate) throughout this autumn.  If you are still at Level 2, it is inadvisable to attempt to proceed to Level 3, since doing so would almost certainly result in information overload, and place far too much stress on you as a student.  The most important thing to keep in mind as you progress in your lessons through each Level, from Levels 1 & 2 (Elementary) to Level 3 (Intermediate) and on to Levels 4 & 5 (Advanced) is this: master all the syllabograms and all the vocabulary at each Level before proceeding to the next.  Otherwise, you will have great difficulty translating the Linear B Tablets which I will assign to you at the end of each Level, starting with Level 3 (Intermediate). By the end of Level 3, you will be in a solid position to translate a number of major Linear B tablets, including the very first one ever translated in its entirety by the great Michael Ventris in July 1952, viz. Tablet Pylos 641-1952 (Ventris).  This tablet is the keystone for reliable translation of subsequent tablets, some of which are easily in the range of the skills you will have already acquired at Level 3.  Others, however, are so complex, containing a number of special syllabograms and ideograms (to be defined later) as to require a thorough and minute analysis of the tablets in question.

Final NOTE: if you are now approaching the end of your study of syllabograms at Levels 1 & 2, you have already mastered 53 of the 59 basic syllabograms.  But I urge to review your syllabograms  and your vocabulary you have already acquired at Levels 1 & 2 (some 200 words) for the rest of this year, since I would very much like to test you on your acquired knowledge at the end of the year, before we proceed to Level 3 in the winter of 2014.  And always remember, proceed at your own pace.  I am a patient “teacher”, and I am more than willing to tailor all your lessons to your own particular needs and expectations.  So take your sweet time, and really enjoy the learning experience.  For those of you who have been following our lessons right from the beginning, even if you feel you are not yet quite ready to proceed to Level 3 in January 2014, so be it.  We will take the next step, or perhaps we might say, leap, to Level 3 when you are ready, and not before.

And for those of you who are visiting our Blog for the first few times, and have it in mind that you would really like to learn Linear B, once again, we’ll start right from scratch, and I promise you that I will keep pace with your learning curve, rather than expect you to follow mine, which would be patently unfair to you as a student.  As a matter of fact, I estimate that it would take around two years for any of us to master enough Linear B to be able to competently translate most the the largely intact extant Linear B Tablets.  I say “largely intact”, since the vast majority of the some 5,900 Tablets already unearthed are (extremely) fragmented at best, while some are so fragmented that they are for all intents and purposes illegible.