Michael Ventris
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Linear B decoder Michael Ventris on BBC in 1952

For more than 50 years, the decipherment of a mysterious ancient script called Linear B was seen as one of the greatest linguistic riddles - it was eventually cracked in 1952 by a British architect.

For more than 50 years, a mysterious ancient script called Linear B was seen as one of the greatest linguistic riddles.

Clay tablets with the script were discovered at the palace at Knossos in Crete in 1900, but no-one knew how the writing system worked - or even what language it documented.

In 1952, the code was cracked by a young British architect, Michael Ventris, who identified the sounds that related to each symbol, and worked out that Linear B was used to write a form of ancient Greek.

He drew heavily on linguistic grids painstakingly drawn up by an American academic, Alice Kober.

On 1 July 1952 - soon after the decipherment - Michael Ventris gave an address on BBC radio.