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The Date of the Linear B Tablets frome Knossos

  • Sinclair Hood

In an article in the Observer for 3 July, and again in the Listener for 27 October, 1960, Professor L. R. Palmer argues that the Linear B inscribed clay tablets found at Knossos date not from the end of the I 5th century B.C. but from a time some two hundred years or so later. These tablets according to the excavator of Knossos, Sir Arthur Evans, belonged to the age of what he called the ‘Last Palace’, destroyed about 1400 B.C. But after the destruction of the ‘Last Palace’ the site was not abandoned ; it was reoccupied and inhabited for another hundred years or so. Evans thought that this re-occupation was due to ‘squatters’ who had made dwellings for themselves among the ruins of the old palace. But the character of what Evans found dating from this ‘Re-occupation period’ (as he called it) fits better in some ways with the idea of a restored palace than with that of an occupation by ‘squatters’. Evans himself was not unaware of this, and once at least hinted at the possibility of a palatial reoccupation, although he subsequently veered away from the idea. In the domestic quarter of the palace he noted ‘signs of attempts at restoration on a large scale (i.e. after the destruction of the “Last Palace”) which make it probable that dynasts of the old stock still maintained a diminished state on the palace site.’ It is therefore possible that Professor Palmer is right in believing that there was another palace on the site of the earlier Palaces at Knossos during the ‘Re-occupation period’ of the 14th and 13th centuries B.C. But of this latest palace, if palace it was, owing to erosion and stone-plundering through the centuries, comparatively little had survived when Evans began to excavate. It was in any case almost certainly poor and mean compared with the other great palaces which had preceded it on the site. This was indeed a time, the 14th and 13th centuries B.C., of general impoverishment and decline throughout the civilized world including Egypt and the Near East.

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1 Evans, Scripta Minoa I (1909), p. 53.

2 BSA, XI (1904-5), p. 16.

3 Loc. cit., p. 55f.

4 ‘A Chronological Problem’, in Minoica (Sundwall Festschrift) (Berlin, 1958), p. 61 f.

5 PM, IV (1935), p. 733 f.

6 BSA, VI (1899-1900), p. 44.

7 BSA, VII (1900-1), p. 35.

8 Excavations at Phylakopi in Melos, by the British School at Athens. Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, Supplementary Paper No. 4 (1904), p. 271.

The Director of the British School at Athens here discusses the date of the Linear B Tablets at Knossos, which has recently been made a controversial issue by Professor L. R. Palmer of the University of Oxford, in articles in the Observer and the Listener.

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
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