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Tablet with Europe’s oldest Greek-speaking Mycenaean writing found

Tablet with Europe’s oldest Greek-speaking Mycenaean writing found

A fragment of a clay tablet discovered in an olive grove in Greece last year shows the oldest known decipherable writing in Europe.
The clay tablet, roughly 2.5 cm tall and 4 cm wide, is marked by an early writing system known as Linear B, which consisted of 87 single-syllable signs and was used to record economic matters.
National Geographic News reports the writing was done by a Greek-speaking Mycenaean scribe between 1450 and 1350 B.C.

The Early Helladic Period, ~2750-2000 BC

Somewhere between 3000 BC and 2000 BC, the lands of Greece were settled by a metal-using agricultural people who spoke a language other than Indo-European. Some of the names they gave their villages were preserved by the Greeks, names, for instance, ending in “-ssos.” We know next to nothing of these people, their religion, their cultural memory, their language, or their everyday experience. The period when they dominated Greece, called the “Early Helladic” period, seemed to be one of comparative quiet and peace. All that ended around 2000 BC; the early Helladic sites and villages were destroyed in fire or abandoned outright. An invader had entered the stage, one that quickly dominated the landscape: the Greek.

The Middle Helladic Period, ~2000 BC-1550 BC

This period of conquest and settlement by the Greeks makes up the Middle Helladic period. These new invaders settled all the parts of Greece, in some instances settling peacefully with the previous inhabitants, and began to dominate Greek culture. They spoke an Indo-European language; in fact, they spoke Greek. Their society was primarily based on warfare; their leaders were essentially war-chiefs. They had settled a difficult land: the Greek mainland is hot, dry and rocky. Agriculture is difficult, but some crops grow extremely well, such as grapes and olives. The coastal settlers relied heavily on fishing for their diet. In spite of the ruggedness of their life and the harshness of their social organization, these early Greeks traded with a civilization to the south, the Minoans. Their contact with the Minoans was instantly fruitful; they began to urbanize somewhere in the Middle Helladic period and translated their culture into a civilization.

The Late Helladic Period, ~1550 BC-1150 BC

The transition between the Middle and Late Helladic periods is indistinguishable, for the Greek settlers had begun building the rudiments of a civilization earlier in the millenium. Around 1600 BC, though, these urban centers began to thrive and the Greek settlers entered their first major period of cultural creativity.more

Excavations in the Greek village of Iklaina led to the tablet’s discovery. Dig director Michael Cosmopoulos claims the tablet was a complete surprise to the archeologists, who uncovered evidence of an early Mycenaean palace, giant terrace walls, murals and an advanced drainage system in the area.
Until now, Mycenaean tablets this old weren’t thought to exist; the find precedes previous tablets by 150 years. Furthermore, tablets had only been found in major palaces. Historians had assumed Pylos (made famous by the “Iliad”) and Mycenae were the major Mycenaean state capitals.
“Iklaina could potentially challenge what we know about the origins of states in ancient Greece,” Cosmopoulos said. “Not only does it push the origins of those states back in time by at least a century and a half, but the tablet shows that literacy and bureaucracy appeared earlier and were more widespread than what we had thought until now. We still have a lot to learn about the ancient world.”more
The architecture and design of Mycenae and Tiryns, such as the Lion Gate and the Treasury of Atreus at Mycenae and the walls of Tiryns, are outstanding examples of human creative genius.
The Mycenaean civilization, as exemplified by Mycenae and Tiryns, had a profound effect on the development of classical Greek architecture and urban design, and consequently also on contemporary cultural forms.
Mycenae and Tiryns represent the apogee of the Mycenaean civilization, which laid the foundations for the evolution of later European cultures.

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