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Science Medicine

By Steven R. Fischer

1 IN ODYSSEUS'S WAKE 1 1 trademarks thirteen three the recent LABYRINTH forty seven four THE SKEIN OF ARIADNE sixty five S "HEAR YE, CRETANS AND GREEKS!" ninety three 6 THE conflict OF NAXOS 119 7 RAPANUI 139 eight TALKI NG forums OF TH E PACI FIC 153 nine ATOP TERE VAKA 167 10 "ALL THE BIRDS ... " 187 eleven browsing THE RONGORONGO 205 recommended studying 223 Index 227 A "glyph" (short for hieroglyph) is an indication in a script. And a "breaker" is anyone who cracks a script's code. A "glyph­ breaker" is then a decipherer, an individual who shall we us learn the unreadable, that linguistic magician who provides voice to the mute prior. until eventually 1984 not anyone were in a position to learn Crete's 3600-year­ outdated Phaistos Disk, Europe's earliest literature and maximum written enigma. until eventually 1994 not anyone can make experience of Easter Island's mysterious Iongorongo writing, Oceania's purely script predating the 20 th century. nobody had ever deciphered entirely varied ancient scripts prior to. formerly. this is often the real tale of those achievements.

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A ok 11 fn a. i If' 'J •t"Ctup of sylloble" ud"'9 Ihose occur· r in9 be(o,.. -IJ 011 ''''oman' fablet (I-Ir 44 . \ ok ~a",el Z_ ¥ Ib F ,. 4 Michael Ventris's first phonetic "grid," included in his Work Note of lanuary 28, 1951. - LOGOS 33 ship. His abstract grid of vowel and consonant positions proved indispensable in the process of linguistic retrieval. It ultimately allowed or confirmed the assigning of specific phonetic values for each inscrutable Linear B glyph. How could the English battle so victoriously so soon after the American Alice Kober had had to retreat because she lacked sufficient ammunition?

Had he pursued this line of brilliant reasoning, then he himself might very well have deciphered the Linear B script in the 1930s and identified the early Greek dialect it concealed. But Sir Arthur Evans didn't pursue it. Despite his obvious astuteness, he could never exorcise the arbitrary conviction that the form of each glyph also had to be a bearer of meaning. 3 Comparison of Cyprian Greek Linear C with Mycenaean Linear B. the sound a, Sir Arthur envisaged a double-axe that had to carry a religious connotation wherever it appeared.

That would explain why they were stuck here onto the end of so many different fields. 58 G LY P H B REA K E R What had led me to this idea? Well, I had recalled how Michael Ventris, very early in his decipherment of Linear B, had identified Linear B glyph 78 as a conjunction. Though he still had no idea what Linear B's underlying language was, Ventris had observed 78's seemingly uninflected "word-final" position between dividers on many of the Mycenaean tablets from Knossos and Pylos, such as 36-14-12-41 /70-27-04-27/51-80-04-78 11-02-70-27-04-27-78 / 77-60-40-11-02-78 / 61-39-58-70-78 /61-39-77-72-38-75-78 77-70/06-40-36/03-59-36-28-78/38-44-41-78/43-77-31-80 Ventris had suspected that the inscription was an accounting text.

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