Logograms of the Linear B script

The standard form of the Linear B logograms of woman (MUL) and man (VIR), after J. Chadwick et al., Corpus of Mycenaean Inscriptions from Knossos I–IV, Cambridge 1986–1998.

Linear B, the oldest securely deciphered script in Europe, documents an early, archaic dialect of the Greek language. The script is an essential instrument of the central administrative organisation; its functional scope extends exclusively to the recording of economic processes within the individual Mycenaean palatial polities (c.1400 to 1200 BC). A significant element of the script underlining the tablets’ registering function are the sematographic characters for which the terms logogram or ideogram are used. They represent an explicit guidance within the documents by clearly identifying the object to be recorded, and thus facilitate the classification of the content of the text. A characteristic feature of logograms is their immediate connection to numerals and units of measurement.

The primary objective of this project is a critical analysis and debate of competing identifications suggested so far, in conjunction with a uniform methodology of determination of content and a systematic analysis of logograms and abbreviations, which will be dealt with in their entirety for the first time. Primary attention will be paid to their function and design as well as their genesis in the writing systems preceding Linear B. In the framework of this study, the influence of Aegean iconography on the design of the logograms will be taken into account in addition to the palaeographical tradition. Another key aspect is a comparative study of the ideographic character inventory of individual sites. The basis is a digital database that contains a large quantity of additional information besides the 7300 drawings of all logograms and abbreviations contained in the Mycenaean texts.



  • J. Weilhartner, Zur Vermengung geschlechtsspezifischer Merkmale bei Tierdarstellungen in der Glyptik der ägäischen Spätbronzezeit: Unkenntnis oder bewusster Kunstgriff? Archäologischer Anzeiger 2016/2, im Druck.
  • J. Weilhartner, M. Vetters, Conceptions of Gender and Body Images in the Aegean World and East Mediterranean Societies in the Late Bronze Age. In: B. Horejs et al. (Hrsg.), Proceedings of the 10th ICAANE, im Druck.
  • J. Weilhartner, ‘Les idéogrammes archéologiques’: Does Variation Matter? In: H. Landenius Enegren, M.-L. Nosch (Hrsg.), Aegean Scripts. Proceedings of the 14th International Colloquium on Mycenaean Studies, held in Copenhagen, 2–5 September 2015, im Druck.
  • J. Weilhartner, Missing Numerals. A Neglected Phenomenon in the Linear B Documents. In: C. Varias García, T. G. Palaima (Hrsg.), Festschrift, im Druck.
  • J. Weilhartner, Arthur Evans and his Efforts towards an Understanding of Linear B. In: J. Bennet (Hrsg.), Writing and Non-Writing in the Bronze Age Aegean, Sheffield Studies in Aegean Archaeology, im Druck
  • J. Weilhartner, The Design of Linear B Logograms: Palaeographic Traditions and Visual Inspiration. In: J. Weilhartner, F. Ruppenstein (Hrsg.), Tradition and Innovation in the Mycenaean Palatial Polities. Proceedings of an International Symposium held at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Institute for Oriental and European Archaeology, Aegean and Anatolia, Vienna, 1–2 March 2013. Mykenische Studien 34, Wien 2015, 255–275.
  • J. Weilhartner, The Influence of Aegean Iconography on the Design of the Linear B Logograms for Animals, Plants and Agricultural Products. In: G. Touchais, R. Laffineur,  F. Rougemont (Hrsg.), PHYSIS. Natural Environment and Human Interaction in the Prehistoric Aegean. Proceedings of the 14th International Aegean Conference, Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris, 10–14 December 2012. Leuven 2014, 297–304.
  • J. Weilhartner, Zur Darstellung von Mensch und Tier auf Linear B-Tafeln und Siegelbildern der ägäischen Bronzezeit. In: E. Trinkl (Hrsg.), Akten des 14. Österreichischen Archäologentages am Institut für Archäologie der Universität Graz vom 19. bis 21. April 2012. Wien 2014, 445–456.
  • J. Weilhartner, Genderdimorphism in the Linear A and Linear B Tablets. In: M.-L. Nosch, R. Laffineur (Hrsg.), KOSMOS. Jewellery, Adornment and Textiles in the Aegean Bronze Age. Proceedings of the 13th International Aegean Conference, University of Copenhagen, Danish National Research Foundation’s Centre for Textile Research, 21–26 April 2010. Liège 2012, 287–296.
  • J. Weilhartner, Die graphische Gestaltung der Tierlogogramme auf den Linear B-Tafeln. In: C. Reinholdt, W. Wohlmayr (Hrsg.), Akten des 13. Österreichischen Archäologentages, Klassische und Frühägäische Archäologie, Paris Lodron-Universität Salzburg vom 25. bis 27. Februar 2010. Wien 2012, 63–73.
  • J. Weilhartner, Arthur Evans’ Beitrag zur Entzifferung der Linear B-Schrift. In: F. Blakolmer, C. Reinholdt, J. Weilhartner, G. Nightingale (Hrsg.), Österreichische Forschungen zur Ägäischen Bronzezeit 2009. Akten der Tagung am Fachbereich Altertumswissenschaften der Paris Lodron-Universität Salzburg vom 6. bis 7. März 2009. Wien 2011, 325–342.