Greek Resources

Keyboard Map for Linear B Font

Go here to download a zip file of Linear B.

Linear B is a font created by Curtis Clark, 1995

The Linear B font is free for personal use
Linear A and Linear B were two systems of writing discovered in Minoan/Mycenaean sites in Crete. They were among the first "alphabets" used for writing words in a line (linear) as opposed to the systems of writing symbols in boxes used for cuneiform and hieroglyphics
Linear B was deciphered by Michael Ventris in 1952, and shown to be used for writing a very early form of Greek. It is a syllabary, rather than an alphabet
Linear A has not yet been deciphered, but it appears to have been used for a language unrelated to Greek

From Dr. Clark's documentation :

"Mycenaean" refers to the period of Greek history of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries BC
It is named for the city Mycenae (Mukenai), which was excavated in the 1870s
This is the general period to which the events of the Iliad and Odyssey can be attributed (although the poems were clearly written down centuries later)
Inscriptions are sometimes found at Mycenaean sites written in Linear B
Linear B is a syllabary (rather than an alphabet), in which each sign stands for a complete syllable, either a vowel or a consonant plus a vowel
Linear B evidently represents a borrowing from the Minoan civilization of Crete, which was written in a syllabary called Linear A
The Minoan language is unknown and the Linear A inscriptions untranslated, although there is enough similarity between Linear A and Linear B that some of the syllabic values can be inferred
Although Linear A might have been quite suitable for writing Minoan, Linear B was not well-suited to Greek. Every syllable ended in a vowel, so that Greek words with consonant clusters, such as crusos (gold), have vowels added and consonants often removed (ku-ru-so). In addition, Linear B lacked the sounds of g, b, and l that are common in Greek
Linear B does not appear until after the collapse of Minoan civilization following the catastrophic eruption of the volcanic island Thera, and it was used primarily for lists of goods
It seems most likely that the Greeks borrowed the Minoan syllabary (or it was used by surviving Minoan scribes) for specific uses that were not especially hampered by its unsuitability to the Greek language

The Font
Syllabaries are not easy to map to computer keyboards
I had originally thought to map the signs to the numbers assigned to them by Mycenaean scholars, but these were assigned before the syllabary was deciphered, so that they don't relate in any logical way to the sounds, and they would all have to be offset by 32 because of the nature of TrueType fonts and ANSI encoding
So instead I decided to map them in a logical manner to groups of keys on the US English keyboard. This is of course not completely satisfactory for users of other keyboard standards, and I am open to suggestions for alternate mappings

A Note About Numbers
Both Linear A and Linear B use almost identical decimal numbering systems, with characters representing 1, 10, 100, 1000, and 10 000
Groups of these would be clustered to make numbers, so that if we let O=1, T=10, H=100, and M=1000, 4723 would look like MMMMHHHHHHHTTOOO
However, when these were written out in the Linear syllabaries, they were placed in two rows in the same line of symbols, i.e.
To accommodate this in the font, there are symbols for 1, 2, 10, 20, 100, 200, 1000, 2000, 10 000, and 20 000, so that the number above would be achieved by typing 886665421

Chadwick, John. 1973. Documents in Mycenaean Greek, 2nd ed. Cambridge Univ. Press
Chadwick, John. 1967. The Decipherment of Linear B, 2nd ed. Cambridge Univ. Press

Curtis Clark, Biological Sciences
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona CA 91768


a q q
e w w
i e e
o r r
u t t
ai E E
au T T
ha ! !
wa y y
we u u
wi i i
wo o o
ja p p
je [ [
jo ] ]
ta a a
te s s
ti d d
to f f
tu g g
tya Q Q
twe = =
two \ \
pa h h
pe j j
pi k k
po l l
pu ; ;
pte W W
phu # #
da A A
de S S
di D D
do F F
du G G
dwe + +
sa z z
se x x
si c c
so v v
su b b
ka n n
ke m m
ki , ,
ko . .
ku / /
na Z Z
ne X X
ni C C
no V V
nu B B
nwa @ @
me J J
mi K K
mo L L
mu : :
ra N N
re M M
ri < <
ro > >
ru ? ?
rai $ $
rya % %
ryo R R
qa Y Y
qe U U
qi I I
qo O O
za P P
ze { {
zo } }
1 1 1
2 2 2
10 3 3
20 4 4
100 5 5
200 6 6
1000 7 7
2,000 8 8
10,000 9 9
20,000 0 0
| (divider) - -

Dr. Rollinson

Station 19
Portales, NM 88130

Last Updated: June 14, 2017

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