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by Archaeology Newsroom

Three inscribed pins from Minoan Crete

Between 1972 and 1981 Greek, English, French and Belgian archaeologists and epigraphists, published texts in linear A script, incised on three pins made of precious metals, found in Crete and belonging to the Late Minoan IA period (1600-1450 BC). The importance and interest in these three pins lies in the fact that they bear the longest known dedicatory inscriptions, in a language which has just started being deciphered. In my opinion, it is an Indo-European language, one of those that make up the Classical Greek language. The text on one of these pins contains 11 different words written with 45 signs. As the pin is broken at both ends, we must accept that the text would have originally included two more words, divided from the others by a small antenna, thus comprising a total of about 50 signs. The presence of words on the three Cretan pins, which have survived in Classical Greek, such as κέλωρ, εκείνο, α(υ)τά+δε, of a verb ending in -μι (za-ki-se-nu-ti), of a sigmatic past tense fte-su-de-se), names such as Αμασις, Αδάλα, Θασσαλός, a genitive case in -olo and an instrumental in -φι, allow us to believe not only that we understand the main part of this text; but also that the language written and spoken in the Aegean basin around 1500 BC is not very different from the Mycenean language of 200 years later in the linear Β script.