Mycenaean Greek

Mycenaean Greek is the oldest documented form of the Greek language. It was during the Mycenaean era, that is, BC spoken between the 16th and 11th century on the Greek mainland and on Crete. Narrated she is by inscriptions in Linear B syllabic script, mainly on clay tablets from the palace archives of Knossos, Pylos (see Palace of Nestor ) and other Mycenaean strongholds.


The Mycenaean Greek is known only since 1952. The Linear B tablets were discovered in the early 20th century, but could not long be read, and it was not known in what language the lyrics were written. In addition to numerous speculations you went, as most tablets were found on Crete, assuming that it was probably vorindogermanische language of the Minoans. It was not until Michael Ventris and John Chadwick deciphered the Linear B, showed that it was an early form of Greek.

The knowledge of the Mycenaean Greek is limited due to the nature of the traditional texts. The clay tablets are mainly to inventory lists and other notes on economic and administrative purposes. Literary or other prose texts are not delivered.


The Mycenaean text corpus is mainly on clay tablets (also Tonetiketten and Tonklümpchen ) handed down (about 5730 ), the other inscriptions are on Tonvasenscherben (ca. 170), on ivory (1 ) and pebble (1). It has been found to sixteen different locations Greece:

The most important sites are:

The clay tablets on the shape of two types can be distinguished:

Orthography and phonology

The Linear B is a syllabic script with just over 90 syllabic signs and about 150 logograms and pictograms ( single character word meaning). 73 syllabic signs of the phonetic value is established by some other this is more or less generally accepted, by some unknown. The Linear B is descended from the as yet undeciphered Linear A script that was used for the unrelated Minoan language. According to the Greek state can only reproduce inaccurate with this font because the characters represent either mere vowels or syllables with the phonetic value of consonant vowel. Only in a few cases coming before the phonetic value of consonant vowel consonant. Consonant clusters can therefore generally bad, consonants in Silbenauslaut not be reproduced: The word for " stable ", * Stathmos was written ta -to- mo ( 𐀲 𐀵 𐀗 ). In addition, (eg b ) voiceless ( eg p) and aspirated (eg pH ) differed closure sounds neither between r and l still between voiced.

The inaccuracy of the writing makes the reading of the Mycenaean texts. For example, the word pa - te ( 𐀞 𐀳 ) either pantes for * (" all " ) or * are pater ( " father ").

Of the remaining Greek dialects, the Mycenaean differs in phonological terms:

Mycenaean and Greek

The Mycenaean Greek is much more ancient than the classical Greek and is the Indo-European proto-language in more detail:

  • The labiovelars are still preserved and are reproduced in the Linear B script with the symbol q
  • The w - sound ( digamma ) is still preserved. In ancient Greek, he has disappeared in most dialects.

The language of Homer is the Mycenaean Greek closer in some respects.

  • Morphology: The genitive of the o -declension ends in- o -jo or - οιο
  • Vocabulary: Mycenaean wa -na- ka ( 𐀷 𐀙 𐀏 ), in Homer ἄναξ anax ( " Prince " )

Since the Dorian migration of the Doric dialect was spoken in most of the earlier Mycenaean areas. Only in Arcadia and Cyprus is considered the Arcadian - Cyprian dialect, which is close to the Mycenaean Greek.