Cycladic, Minoan, Mycenaean, and Archaic Greek Mythology

The Cyclades and Crete

What language did the Minoans speak and write?

We know little of the Minoan language. It was not in any sense a written language until the development of hieroglyphs, perhaps as early as the ninth century B.C.E. The hieroglyphs, possibly influenced by systems in Mesopotamia and Egypt, were essentially pictograms used for lists and commerce. Very soon after the development of hieroglyphs, the Minoans developed a script based on arranged lines representing symbols, sounds, objects, and ideas. Scholars call this script Linear A, and to this day it remains indecipherable. Later the Linear A system would be used by Mycenaean Greeks, beginning in about 1400 B.C.E., to write their own language. This writing was decoded in the early 1950s by Michael Ventris and John Chadwick and labeled Linear B. Linear B was a language like Linear A, used primarily for lists and commercial records. The Minoan language itself eventually died out, being replaced by Greek.


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