The Man Who Deciphered Linear B
The Story of Michael Ventris
- ISBN 9780500289983
- 21.50 x 13.50 cm
- With over 40 illustrations
- First published 2012
‘A superb biography of Michael Ventris, combining a warm account of his life with just enough technical detail to satisfy those who have knowledge of linguistics or indeed of the classics. It is a splendid read, and a fine memorial to the split personality that enabled Ventris to decipher Minoan Linear B so triumphantly’ – Current World Archaeology
‘A wonderfully swift and clear biography’ – The Economist
‘Excellent: well researched and clearly presented … compelling reading’ – The Times Literary Supplement
Linear B is Europe’s oldest readable writing.
This book, now available in paperback, tells the life story of Michael Ventris, an intriguing and contradictory man, a gifted linguist but a divided soul, together with that of his remarkable decipherment of Linear B.
First discovered in 1900, on clay tablets among the ruins of the Palace of Minos at Knossos, Crete, Linear B remained a mystery for over fifty years until 1952, when Michael Ventris discovered that its signs did not represent an unknown language as previously believed, but an archaic dialect of Greek, more than 500 years older than the Greek of Homer.
Dubbed the ‘Everest of archaeology’, the decipherment was all the more remarkable because Ventris was not a trained classical scholar but an architect who had first heard of Linear B as a schoolboy. An initial fascination became a lifelong obsession.
Andrew Robinson was a King’s Scholar of Eton College, where he won the headmaster’s Greek grammar prize, and holds a degree from Oxford University; he was also a visiting fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge. His many books include The Story of Writing: Alphabets, Hieroglyphs and Pictograms, Lost Languages: The Enigma of the World’s Undeciphered Scripts, The Story of Measurementand biographies of Thomas Young The Last Man Who Knew Everything and Jean-François Champollion Cracking the Egyptian Code.