Sheffield Aegean Round Table List

Writing & Non-Writing in the Bronze Age Aegean

13th Annual Round Table, 16-18 January 2009
Organized by: John Bennet

In 1909 Oxford University Press published Scripta Minoa by Arthur Evans. This constituted Evans's first extensive engagement with the Minoan scripts informed by over 20 years of study and by new finds, of his own at Knossos, and of others elsewhere. Its focus was Cretan Hieroglyphic; a full treatment of Linear B was planned for a separate volume (which did not appear until 1952, as Scripta Minoa II, edited by J. L. Myers), while Evans's Linear A material only appeared in 1961, under the editorship of the late William Brice, as Inscriptions in the Minoan Linear Script of Class A. Scripta Minoa I thus represents a landmark in the study of Aegean scripts both because it was the first systematic overview and because it was the only volume of a planned trilogy that Evans himself saw to completion.

The centenary of Scripta Minoa I's publication was marked with this Round Table meeting that takes stock of writing in the Bronze Age Aegean early in the 21st century. The meeting explored the state of our understanding of the major Aegean scripts, with an emphasis on Cretan Hieroglyphic, Linear A and Cypro-Minoan. Another strand that has emerged in the study of Aegean marking practices is that of non-writing: either marks that parallel, but do not belong to, formal scripts (e.g., so-called ‘pot marks’ or isolated inscriptions, such as those found at Tel Haror and Tel Lachish) or forms of material communication that do not explicitly involve writing (especially sealing practices). Following from the latter are the ongoing question of the extent of literacy (both textual and possibly visual), the role and status of ‘scribes’, and the place of non-literate practices within the Minoan and Mycenaean palaces.

Session themes included

  • The major scripts: what’s new? Updates and new thoughts on the least well understood scripts: Cretan Hieroglyphic, Linear A and Cypro-Minoan.
  • Writing and other forms of material communication Exploration of the relationship between formal scripts (writing) and related marking phenomena, such as pot marks, sealing. Possibly of interest here would be metrology.
  • Literacy and scribal status Thoughts on the extent and nature of literacy on Crete and the mainland, including 'visual literacy' or the extent to which visual imagery was standardised for use in conjunction with oral performance. We hope to have comparative contributions here from other places/times.


Sheffield University Sheffield Centre for Aegean Archaeology is a Research Centre in the Department of Archaeology, University of Sheffield.

How to cite this page: Sheffield Centre for Aegean Archaeology,, Accessed: 22 May 2018