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Quiz about Linear B for you and me
Quiz about Linear B for you and me

Linear B for you and me Trivia Quiz


Don't know what Linear B is? Take this quiz and find out-- learn about the decipherment of the *oldest* writing system for the Greek language, and what it has to say about very early Greek history. Enjoy!

A multiple-choice quiz by pu2-ke-qi-ri. Estimated time: 6 mins.
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Author
pu2-ke-qi-ri
Time
6 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
179,197
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
15
Difficulty
Difficult
Avg Score
8 / 15
Plays
2768
Awards
Top 5% quiz!
Last 3 plays: sabbaticalfire (7/15), Guest 79 (6/15), Guest 161 (6/15).
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Question 1 of 15
1. During which historic period was Linear B in use? Hint: this lasted from about 1400-1200 BC. Hint


Question 2 of 15
2. What material was Linear B usually written on? Hint


Question 3 of 15
3. The first Linear B tablets were discovered by Sir Arthur Evans, who was excavating what palatial site, the probable home of the mythical Minotaur? Hint


Question 4 of 15
4. After some of the Linear B tablets were published, Emmett Bennett, then a professor at Yale, performed the first step towards the decipherment of Linear B. What was this first crucial step? Hint


Question 5 of 15
5. It turned out that Linear B had approximately 90 phonetic characters, far too many for it to be an alphabet of the sort we English-speakers use, and far too few for it to be purely ideographic, like the Chinese writing system. Instead, it was probably what type of writing system, which uses one character to represent one syllable? Hint


Question 6 of 15
6. Alice Kober, a chain-smoking, very driven American scholar, discovered that some Linear B "words" had varied endings, for example (using modern conventions for transliterating Linear B characters), a-mi-ni-so / a-mi-ni-si-ja / a-mi-ni-si-jo. What is it called when a language, like the one represented by Linear B, changes word endings to indicate grammatical function? Hint


Question 7 of 15
7. The decipherer of Linear B was able to do so partly by applying the phonetic values of similar-looking signs from a related script to Linear B. On what island was this writing system used? Hint


Question 8 of 15
8. Who actually deciphered Linear B? (This individual was somewhat unusually suited for the job ...) Hint


Question 9 of 15
9. We now know the phonetic values of all the Linear B phonetic signs.


Question 10 of 15
10. As it turned out, the Linear B texts did not contain spectacular works of literature. Instead, what did they record? Hint


Question 11 of 15
11. One tablet used to dramatically cinch the decipherment was a tablet from Pylos recording what? Hint


Question 12 of 15
12. What was the title of the ruler, the head guy, the "big cheese" of the Mycenaean palatial system? Hint


Question 13 of 15
13. At the time of the decipherment, nobody was expecting to find the names of gods on Linear B tablets, but they did! Some of these gods actually did not survive into the later Greek pantheon. Which of the following gods appear in Linear B? Hint


Question 14 of 15
14. The decipherment of Linear B definitively showed that this consonant was used in early Greek, although it had dropped out of use by the time of Plato. What consonant was this? For a hint, you might consider the difference between the Greek word "ergon" and its English cognate, "work."

Answer: (Come on...which letter is different?)
Question 15 of 15
15. Linear B's sister script has not yet been deciphered. What is the name of this sister script? Hint



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May 25 2024 : sabbaticalfire: 7/15
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quiz
Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. During which historic period was Linear B in use? Hint: this lasted from about 1400-1200 BC.

Answer: Mycenaean civilization

Linear B was used during Mycenaean times. The earlier Minoans used Linear B's sister script, Linear A, as well as another writing system, Cretan Hieroglyphic. During the Dark Ages, knowledge of Linear B was lost, although a similar script survived on Cyprus. During Athens' Golden Age, the Greeks used an alphabet modeled on the Phoenician one.
2. What material was Linear B usually written on?

Answer: Clay tablets

Although Linear B could conceivably have been written on stone or wood tablets, no examples have survived. What we do find are clay tablets. These tablets were usually large and rectangular, with up to 28 lines of text, or long and thin, with only one or two lines of text. We also find sealings-- lumps of clay wrapped around the knot in a piece of string and inscribed with a few Linear B signs.

They were a tamper-proof device. In order to remove the string, you could either cut the string or break the sealing, either of which would be detectable. Linear B has only survived because the palaces that housed the tablets burned to the ground, firing the clay.
3. The first Linear B tablets were discovered by Sir Arthur Evans, who was excavating what palatial site, the probable home of the mythical Minotaur?

Answer: Knossos

Evans originally discovered Linear B tablets at Knossos. Linear B tablets were later found at Pylos, Mycenae, Thebes, and other cities on the Greek mainland.
4. After some of the Linear B tablets were published, Emmett Bennett, then a professor at Yale, performed the first step towards the decipherment of Linear B. What was this first crucial step?

Answer: Making a list of characters

The other answer choices were certainly necessary for the decipherment. However, they all depend upon the existence of a list of characters that is generally agreed upon. Bennett's sign list was so good that it is used, with very few modifications, even today.

Bennett, now in his mid-eighties, recently received an honorary doctorate from the University of Athens in Greece for all of his fine work.
5. It turned out that Linear B had approximately 90 phonetic characters, far too many for it to be an alphabet of the sort we English-speakers use, and far too few for it to be purely ideographic, like the Chinese writing system. Instead, it was probably what type of writing system, which uses one character to represent one syllable?

Answer: Syllabic

Linear B's syllabary represents syllables that are pure vowels, like a or i; consonant + vowel, like ta or si; and a very few of the type consonant + consonant + vowel, like dwo or pte. Linear B does not represent some syllables used in Greek, like tri or spe.

In that case, one consonant is either unwritten (pe-ma for sperma) or both consonants are spelled out and the vowel is ignored (ti-ri-po for tripos).
6. Alice Kober, a chain-smoking, very driven American scholar, discovered that some Linear B "words" had varied endings, for example (using modern conventions for transliterating Linear B characters), a-mi-ni-so / a-mi-ni-si-ja / a-mi-ni-si-jo. What is it called when a language, like the one represented by Linear B, changes word endings to indicate grammatical function?

Answer: Inflection

Conjugation only refers to verbs, while declension only refers to nouns and adjectives. I call Kober "a chain-smoking American scholar" with perhaps too much levity. It caused her death at the age of 44, only a few years before the decipherment of Linear B.

Her untimely death and general attitudes about women at the time have prevented her contributions from being appreciated as much as they should. She pursued the work that needed to be done for Linear B even though it did not advance her career. And she did do a massive amount of work-- she cut more than 186,000 2x3 cards to analyze Linear B. May this question be my small tribute to her.
7. The decipherer of Linear B was able to do so partly by applying the phonetic values of similar-looking signs from a related script to Linear B. On what island was this writing system used?

Answer: Cyprus

This is actually a set of very closely related writing systems known as the Cypriot Syllabaries. Naturally, it was used on Cyprus.
8. Who actually deciphered Linear B? (This individual was somewhat unusually suited for the job ...)

Answer: Michael Ventris, an English architect

Chadwick and Bennett were both correspondents of Ventris. Tom Palaima is the director of the Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory at the University of Texas at Austin, but he was in diapers at the time of the decipherment.

Ventris' training as an architect certainly contributed to his belief in "group working." He sent out typed "Work Notes" at every stage of his work to other scholars. Ventris certainly did not decipher Linear B by "flying solo."
9. We now know the phonetic values of all the Linear B phonetic signs.

Answer: False

Although we know the phonetic values for most of the phonetic signs, we still don't know what sounds some of the less common characters represented. Scholarly ink continues to be shed over these.
10. As it turned out, the Linear B texts did not contain spectacular works of literature. Instead, what did they record?

Answer: Administrative records

It would sure have been nice if the answer really was "all of the above", because scholars would have more material to work with! We try to construct rituals from artistic representations and lists of offerings. There is, I think, one indication of a legal dispute, but that's it. But we can infer quite a bit about Mycenaean society from the administrative records.
11. One tablet used to dramatically cinch the decipherment was a tablet from Pylos recording what?

Answer: A list of tripods

The list of tripods was so dramatic because the Greek word for tripod, ti-ri-po, appeared right next to ideograms representing tripods.
12. What was the title of the ruler, the head guy, the "big cheese" of the Mycenaean palatial system?

Answer: wanax (wa-na-ka)

In Homer, the title "wanax" is only given to gods and to Agamemnon, the "wanax of men." The title "basileus," Mycenaean "gwasileus," is given to the less important kings, like Achilles and Diomedes, but in Mycenaean represents a much less exalted position. The lawegetas seems to have been a war leader or something like that. It and the damokoros don't show up in Homer at all.
13. At the time of the decipherment, nobody was expecting to find the names of gods on Linear B tablets, but they did! Some of these gods actually did not survive into the later Greek pantheon. Which of the following gods appear in Linear B?

Answer: All of these

We also have the names of Zeus, Hera, and Hermes, among others. My favorite deity that doesn't show up in later Greek pantheon is pe-re-*82-- we still don't know what sound sign *82 makes!
14. The decipherment of Linear B definitively showed that this consonant was used in early Greek, although it had dropped out of use by the time of Plato. What consonant was this? For a hint, you might consider the difference between the Greek word "ergon" and its English cognate, "work."

Answer: W

In Homer, w was just in the process of dropping out-- you can tell because of the requirements of the poetic meter. Sometimes the same word is used with and without the digamma in the space of a few lines.
15. Linear B's sister script has not yet been deciphered. What is the name of this sister script?

Answer: Linear A

Linear A contains many of the same characters as Linear B, but doesn't use word dividers or rule lines like Linear B. There are far fewer Linear A than Linear B tablets. The serious reference book for Linear A is known by the acronym GORILA-- the first letters of the author's last names and the title.
Source: Author pu2-ke-qi-ri

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor Beatka before going online.
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