15.11.2017

14 December: The Anatomy of a System Reform: the Cretan Matrix Where the ‘Mycenaean’ Administrative System Took Shape

Guest lecture on Thursday, 14 December, 2017, at 18:30 with Dr. Ing. Vassilis Petrakis (Hellenic Ministry of Education, National Hellenic Research Foundation) in the Casting Collection SR E.33 (Classical and Early Aegean Archeology, Residenzplatz 1).

Discussions on the origins of the Linear B script, as well as the administrative system it supported during the 14th and 13th centuries BC (the so-called Third Palace period), have commonly revolved around certain intertwined questions: when, where, how and why did these novelties take place? This lecture will refresh this agenda by introducing some new perspectives on the problem. The primary focus will be on an observation whose significance has only recently attracted the attentionit deserves: the administrative apparatus of the ‘Mycenaean’ literate administrative system displays theco-existence of features whose ancestry has hithe to been ‘canonically’ associated with two different writing systems in use in Protopalatial (or First Palace period) and Neopalatial (or Second Palace period) Crete, known as ‘Cretan Hieroglyphic’ and Linear A. This seems to be more clearly manifested in the area of document typology (types of tablets and sealed documents), as analyses by Erik Hallager and Helena Tomas have revealed. It is crucial to observe that a similar phenomenon can be discerned incertain scribal traits as and this is taken as a starting point in our investigation of the problem. Establishing a pattern falls short of explaining it, and the assessments of the aforementioned paradox have so far been scarce and diverse. The lecture proposes to rethink the phenomenon and associate it with the well-known (but still insufficiently understood) co-existence of ‘Cretan Hieroglyphic’ and Linear A on Crete, where an interesting concentration of documents with doubtful classification alsooccurs in the so-called ‘Hieroglyphic Deposits’ at Knossos and Malia. The aforementioned concurrencemight not have been a true co-existence of different scripts at all; it could have been a regional feature of Neopalatial administrative practice in north central Crete rather than an occasional ‘symbiosis’ between two otherwise well-defined systems, which provided an appropriate context (a ‘matrix’) for the shaping of the administrative system associated with the Linear B script as we know it. The implications of this analysis for our study and classification of Aegean scripts will be considered and discussed.

Anna Schmidbauer

Sekretariat

FB Altertumswissenschaften, Archäologie

Residenzplatz 1, 5020 Salzburg

Tel: 0662 8044 4550

E-mail to Anna Schmidbauer

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