This month’s selection is a fascinating exploration into one of the 20th century’s great academic riddles: how to read a circa 1200BCE Linear B script inscribed on clay tablets and seals unearthed in the ruins of the Minoan civilization of Crete by famed excavator Arthur Evans. The syllabic script was associated with Bronze-Age Mycenae, a society which left no extant speaker or multilingual Rosetta stone for use in understanding its written symbols. Untold numbers of philologists, epigraphers, linguists, mathematicians and others were challenged by, and failed at, its decipherment, until the script’s ultimate decoding by brilliant architect Michael Ventris. But as the book reveals, one Alice Kober, a little-known classics professor, played an unheralded key role in solving the mystery of the fundamental structure of Linear B. Regrettably, fate conspired to rob her of the glory due her just as she was on the cusp of reaching her goal. This is a terrific read as well as an instructive one.
Date: May 16, 2019
Time: 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm