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THE VENTRIS–CHADWICK CORRESPONDENCE AND THE DECIPHERMENT OF LINEAR B: A DENIER, A DISSENTER AND A DUBIOUS CONCLUSION

  • R. J. E. Thompson (a1)

Abstract

The correspondence between Michael Ventris and John Chadwick, housed in the Mycenaean Epigraphy Room in the Faculty of Classics, Cambridge, provides valuable insights into the decipherment of Linear B and the collaboration between the two men which produced first ‘Evidence for Greek dialect in the Mycenaean archives’ (Ventris and Chadwick (1953)) and then Documents in Mycenaean Greek (Ventris and Chadwick (1956)). The letters also reveal interesting information about the relationship between Ventris and Chadwick and other scholars of the day. This article examines their relationship with Arthur Beattie, who never accepted the decipherment, and Leonard R. Palmer, who disagreed fundamentally with many of their interpretations of the texts. A file of correspondence containing letters from 1956, discovered only after the publication of Andrew Robinson's biography of Ventris (Robinson (2002)), casts doubt on the conclusion that, perhaps in part owing to difficulties with Palmer, Ventris had lost interest in Linear B immediately before his death.

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I should like to thank Dr Anna Judson and the managers of the Chadwick Fund, whose labour on the one hand and generosity on the other in 2012 made it possible for the bulk of the work on the correspondence from which this paper emerged to be conducted on Crete; to our host in Plakias, Stavros Androulidakis; and to the officers of the Cambridge Philological Society, at whose invitation I first presented it. I am grateful to an anonymous reviewer who caught a number of infelicities. The remaining faults are my own.

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THE VENTRIS–CHADWICK CORRESPONDENCE AND THE DECIPHERMENT OF LINEAR B: A DENIER, A DISSENTER AND A DUBIOUS CONCLUSION

  • R. J. E. Thompson (a1)

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