The Man Who Deciphered Linear B

by Andrew Robinson. This slim volume is a biography of one of the stranger linguists of the 20th century, Michael Ventris. An architecht by training, he was obsessed for most of his life by the problem of deciphering Linear B, a script used in ancient Crete (and, as it turns out, elsewhere in the Aegean). This book is simultaneously a biography and description of how Ventris came upon his astonishing discovery — namely, that Linear B was used to write an archaic form of Greek (now known as Mycenean Greek). It’s written for a general audience, although some familiarity with how languages work (declension and conjugation) helps. All in all, a fascinating little book, one of the most interesting biographies I’ve read.

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