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Encyclopedia > Cretan hieroglyphs

Cretan hieroglyphs are found on artifacts of Bronze Age Minoan Crete (early to mid 2nd millennium BC, MM I to MM III, overlapping with Linear A from MM IIA at the earliest). Symbol inventories have been compiled by Evans (1909), Meijer (1982), Olivier/Godart (1996). The known corpus has been edited in 1996 as CHIC (Olivier/Godard 1996), listing a total of 314 items, mainly excavated at four locations: The Bronze Age is a period in a civilizations development when the most advanced metalworking has developed the techniques of smelting copper from natural outcroppings and alloys it to cast bronze. ... Minoan may refer to the following: The Minoan civilization The (undeciphered) Eteocretan language The (undeciphered) Minoan language The script known as Linear A An old name for the Mycenean language before it was deciphered and discovered to be a form of Greek. ... Crete (Greek Κρήτη / Kriti, Turkish: Girit) is the largest of the Greek islands and the fifth largest in the Mediterranean Sea. ... (3rd millennium BC – 2nd millennium BC – 1st millennium BC – other millennia) // Events To grasp the spirit of the 2nd millennium BC, we must divide it in two parts, for there is a period of change around its middle so important that it creates two separate sub-millennia. First half (2000... Linear A etched on tablets found in Akrotiri, Santorini. ...

  • "Quartier Mu" at Malia (MM II)
  • the hieroglyphic deposit at Malia palace (MM III)
  • the hieroglyphic deposit at Knossos (MM II or III)
  • the Petras deposit (MM IIB)

The corpus consists of The Bees of Malia, two golden bees holding a drop of honey. ... Knossos Knossos (35°18′N 25°10′E; alternative spellings Knossus, Cnossus, Gnossus, Greek Κνωσσός; see also List of traditional Greek place names) is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete, probably the ceremonial and political center of the Minoan culture. ...

  • clay documents with incised inscriptions (CHIC H: 1-122)
  • sealstone impressions (CHIC I: 123-179)
  • sealstones (CHIC S: 180-314)
  • The Malia altar stone
  • The Phaistos Disk
  • The Arkalochori Axe
  • Seal fragment HM 992, showing a single symbol, identical to Phaistos Disk glyph 21

The relation of the last three items with the script of the main corpus is uncertain. The Phaistos Disc (Phaestos Disc, Festos Disc) is a curious archeological find, most likely dating from about 1700 BC. Its purpose and meaning, and even its original geographical place of manufacture, remain unknown, making it one of the most famous mysteries of archaeology. ... The Arkalochori Axe is a votive double axe excavated in the Arkalochori cave by Spyridon Marinatos. ...

The glyph inventory as presented by CHIC conists of 96 syllabograms, ten of which double as logograms, an additional 23 logograms, 13 fractions (including 4 in ligature), four levels of numerals (units, tens, hundreds, thousands) and two types of punctuation. Many symbols have apparent Linear A counterparts, so that it is tempting to insert Linear B sound values. Linear B script sample Linear B is a script that was used for writing Mycenaean, an early form of the Greek language. ...

Besides the supposed evolution of the hieroglyphs into the linear scripts, possible relations to Luwian hieroglyphs were suggested, as well as to the Cypriot syllabary. The Cypriot Syllabary is a syllabic script used in Cyprus up to 4th century B.C, when it was substituted by the greek alphabet. ...


  • W. C. Brice, Notes on the Cretan Hieroglyphic Script: I. The Corpus. II. The Clay Bar from Malia, H20, Kadmos 29 (1990) 1-10.
  • W. C. Brice, Cretan Hieroglyphs & Linear A, Kadmos 29 (1990) 171-2.
  • W. C. Brice, Notes on the Cretan Hieroglyphic Script: III. The Inscriptions from Mallia Quarteir Mu. IV. The Clay Bar from Knossos, P116, Kadmos 30 (1991) 93-104.
  • W. C. Brice, Notes on the Cretan Hieroglyphic Script, Kadmos 31 (1992), 21-24.
  • J.-P. Olivier, L. Godard, in collaboration with J.-C. Poursat, Corpus Hieroglyphicarum Inscriptionum Cretae (CHIC), Études Crétoises 31, De Boccard, Paris 1996, ISBN 2-86958-082-7.
  • G. A. Owens, The Common Origin of Cretan Hieroglyphs and Linear A, Kadmos 35:2 (1996), 105-110.
  • G. A. Owens, An Introduction to «Cretan Hieroglyphs»: A Study of «Cretan Hieroglyphic» Inscriptions in English Museums (excluding the Ashmolean Museum Oxford), Cretan Studies VIII (2002), 179-184.
  • I. Schoep, A New Cretan Hieroglyphic Inscription from Malia (MA/V Yb 03), Kadmos 34 (1995), 78-80.
  • J. G. Younger, The Cretan Hieroglyphic Script: A Review Article, Minos 31-32 (1996-1997) 379-400.



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