By Steven R. Fischer
1 IN ODYSSEUS'S WAKE 1 1 trademarks thirteen three the hot LABYRINTH forty seven four THE SKEIN OF ARIADNE sixty five S "HEAR YE, CRETANS AND GREEKS!" ninety three 6 THE conflict OF NAXOS 119 7 RAPANUI 139 eight TALKI NG forums OF TH E PACI FIC 153 nine ATOP TERE VAKA 167 10 "ALL THE BIRDS ... " 187 eleven browsing THE RONGORONGO 205 instructed studying 223 Index 227 A "glyph" (short for hieroglyph) is an indication in a script. And a "breaker" is someone who cracks a script's code. A "glyph breaker" is then a decipherer, anyone who shall we us learn the unreadable, that linguistic magician who provides voice to the mute prior. till 1984 not anyone were capable of learn Crete's 3600-year previous Phaistos Disk, Europe's earliest literature and maximum written enigma. until eventually 1994 not anyone can make feel of Easter Island's mysterious Iongorongo writing, Oceania's simply script predating the 20th century. nobody had ever deciphered completely diverse ancient scripts ahead of. earlier. this is often the real tale of those achievements.
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And at Knossos Theseus met and fell in love with Princess Ariadne, King Minos's daughter. The handsome prince bared his heart to Ariadne and revealed who he really was and that he had come to kill her half-brother the Minotaur. And, joy of joys, Ariadne confessed her love for him, too, and agreed to help-if Theseus promised to carry her back with him to Athens as his wedded wife. Theseus promised, with impassioned kisses. Whereupon Ariadne clandestinely secured from Daidalos a magical skein of wool, later instructing her beloved prince, in the dark of night, to begin unwinding it as he entered the inescapable Labyrinth and then simply to follow it out again once he had slain the Minotaur.
Yet what had been my magical skein? What had led me out of the philological maze in which I had been battling another sort of Cretan monster since the summer of 1982? Ordered common sense. An anything-but-magical methodology. One that was based on the scientific contributions of many gifted scholars from many nations. And it was an adventure in its own way no less exciting than the mythical Theseus's, no less fraught with adversity than Sir Arthur Evans's, and no less replete with personal challenge-and gratification-than Michael Ventris's.
One can say without exaggeration that Ventris's singular achievement revolutionized our understanding of the ancient world. The Greeks wrote the Linear B tablets. C. was Hellenic. There's a reason why the decipherment of Mycenaean Greek Linear B features here in such detail. It's because this historic achievement ultimately also unlocked the door to the hitherto undeciphered scripts of the ancient Aegean ... including the Phaistos Disk's. However, though the door lay open, access to these other scripts has been difficult, obstructed, and hotly contested at every stage.