It’s All Indo-European: A New Interpretation of Minoan Toponym

08 Oct 2021 03.30 PM - 05.30 PM Alumni, Current Students, Industry/Academic Partners, Prospective Students, Public
Organised by:
SoH Communications Office

This Seminar proposes new etymological reconstructions for some possible Minoan place names according to an Indo-European key of interpretation. Minoan is an unknown language ‘hidden’ behind the undeciphered Linear A writing system, used in Crete during the Bronze Age and witnessed by archaeological findings (mainly clay tablets inscribed with this script) from the beginning of last century. Linear B, the ‘sister syllabic writing system’ of Linear A, was deciphered by Michael Ventris (with the cooperation of John Chadwick) in 1952, and was found to transcribe Mycenaean Greek. However, despite Linear A being considered the writing system from which Linear B grammatologically derives, it is still undeciphered and has, so far, resisted all attempts of interpretation. This Seminar will outline the application of an experimental phonetic transcription methodology to clusters of symbols in Linear A. Findings from this method seem to show that some segments of characters could be interpreted as probable place names. The etymological reconstruction also seems to show that all the Minoan place names so far hypothesized can be explained according to an Indo-European historical-phonetic criterion. If confirmed, this could be a significant breakthrough in the study of the Minoan civilization and of its origins. The lack of knowledge of the Minoan language and the apparent impenetrability of the Linear A script, indeed, have prevented, so far, scholars from establishing if the Minoans were (among all the possible options) Indo-European or Semitic or Afro-Asiatic people. The Indo-European reconstruction of place names in the Linear A tablets could shed new light on the general interpretation of the Minoan civilization and open a debate on the origins of the Minoan civilization itself.

About the Speaker

Dr Francesco PERONO CACCIAFOCO (Ph.D. University of Pisa, Italy) is, currently, a Senior Lecturer in Historical Linguistics at the Linguistics and Multilingual Studies Programme (LMS), School of Humanities (SoH). An Etymologist by training, he works mainly on the etymological reconstruction of Indo-European place names, on the study of Aegean Civilizations and Scripts, on the documentation of languages from South-East Asia belonging, in particular, to the Papuan and Austronesian families, and on the History of Cryptography and Crypto-Linguistics. Francesco has been unsuccessfully working, since 1999, on the deciphering of Linear A, an undeciphered Aegean writing system from Crete, used in the Bronze Age and ‘hiding’ the so-called and unknown Minoan language. He lives with his wife and two cats, and every day he learns something valuable from them.