The Architecture of Linear B
(Supervisors: Mark Cousins, Spyros Papapetros)
Michael Ventris who deciphered Linear B in 1951 was not a professional archaeologist or philologist. He was an architect trained at the AA. His remarkable achievement has always provoked to the question of how a professional outsider solved the problem rather than his trained and professional rivals. This led at his death to speculation that there might be some connection between his capacities as an architectural student and subsequently in his R.A.F. (Royal Air Force) Navigational Training that may have provided him with the techniques, which would assist his decipherment. The thesis takes this speculation as its fundamental question. The research is conducted in two levels. The first, using the archival material of the Architectural Association, of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Institute of Classical Studies to reconstruct as far as possible the course of his decipherment and also to look for evidence that elements of his training reappeared in his linguistic research. Ideally, this would lead to archival evidence, which connected both forms of research directly and explicitly.
Linear B Script is one of the three scripts that Sir Arthur Evans found in Knossos in the beginning of the twentieth century. Although the Greek Archaeologist Minos Kalokairinos unearthed Knossos in 1895, Sir Arthur Evans mainly dug up Knossos from 1900 onwards. Not only Sir Arthur Evans’s created and expanded the concept of the ‘Minoan Civilization’ but he also made the most important contribution for the decipherment of Linear B by classifying the inscriptions he had unearthed from Knossos, in three – valid until today – types, namely, ‘hieroglyphic’ or ‘conventionalized pictographic’, ‘Linear Script of Class A’ and ‘Linear Script of Class B’. Up to today only Linear B has been deciphered by Michael Ventris. His decipherment is considered the most highly structured.
Emmanouil Stavrakakis was born in Irakleion (Crete) in 1981. He has studied architecture at the School of Architecture in National and Technical University of Athens (BA, Diploma, MA), at the Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation, Columbia University in the City of New York (MSc, AAD), and at the AA, where he is currently pursuing his Ph.D. (‘The Architecture of Linear B’) under the supervision of Mark Cousins. He has been practicing and teaching as an architect since 2005.