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The Mycenaean World: Language


Admission requirements

The course is open to MA and ResMA students, as well as PhD candidates. A basic working knowledge of either ancient Greek or Hittite is required.


Mycenaean civilization flourished in mainland Greece and the Aegean islands in the Late Bronze Age. The Mycenaeans have left behind an impressive material legacy, including the remains of mighty palaces, many precious objects, highly decorative pottery, as well as thousands of clay tablets. These tablets, which all form part of local administrations, are written in the Linear B script, which was deciphered in 1952 by Michael Ventris. The documents are written in the Mycenaean language, an archaic form of ancient Greek.
This part gives an introduction to Mycenaean language, grammar and the Linear B script. The language will be taught in a hands-on manner, by reading a selection of prepared texts in class (partly in Linear B, partly in transliteration); in addition, students are expected to independently prepare a number of texts for the exam. While close-reading the texts, we will deal with all kinds of philological and interpretative problems. The course also pays attention to the linguistic relationship between Mycenaean and later Greek dialects (including Homer).
It is recommended to combine this course with “The Mycenaean World: Culture”. Included in the programme are guest lectures by experts from various disciplines (history, archaeology, linguistics).

Course objectives

At the end of the course, students

  • are familiar with the writing system of Linear B and the basics of Mycenaean phonology / morphology

  • are able to translate (transliterated) texts written in Linear B with the help of a commentary

  • are able to discuss the relation between Linear B orthography and Mycenaean phonology / morphology

  • are able to discuss the linguistic relation between Mycenaean and later forms of Greek

  • are able to interpret and contextualize Mycenaean texts


The timetable is available on the MA Linguistics website.

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total course load 5 EC x 28 = 140 hours

  • Lectures: 2 hours per week x 7 weeks = 14 hours

  • Preparation tutorials: 5 hours per lecture x 7 lectures = 35 hours

  • Study of compulsory literature: 3 hours per week x 7 weeks = 21 hours

  • Preparation exam: 67 hours

  • Exam(s): 3 hours

Assessment method

Writen examination with short open questions. There is the option of resit.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • sharing course handouts and course materials

  • if necessary, communicating changes in the schedule / scheduled preparation

Reading list



Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

The deadline for registration is August 15. All other students should contact the “coordinator of studies”:*

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Student administration Van Eyckhof