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An interdisciplinary approach to the Cypro-Minoan script

Ferrara, Silvia; (2006) An interdisciplinary approach to the Cypro-Minoan script. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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The decipherment of Linear B in 1952 raised the possibility for further decipherments among the Aegean scripts. This unrealised prospect has coloured studies hitherto published on the Cypro-Minoan script with the result that there has been no large-scale systematic study that has employed a pragmatic and exhaustive perspective with a view to establishing a corpus and a critical re-assessment of the applicability of a decipherment method. This thesis aims at filling such a lacuna and responds to the need for a systematic analysis of the script through a corpus of all the inscriptions, here in Volume II (Catalogue) and a full analysis, in Volume I (Text), of the script from historical, archaeological, epigraphic and palaeographical perspectives. The historical conditions for the birth of literacy in Cyprus at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age are investigated in Chapter I, and are founded on a model that considers the material aspect of writing (script as part of the archaeological record, the extent of literacy, the geographical distribution of the inscriptions, the geo-political configuration of Cyprus, the concept of complexity), the functionality of the script (ideological and/or utilitarian applications), and also the symbolic aspect, linked to the realm of status representation and to the relationships between the various socio-political institutions involved in the creation of writing. From an interpretative perspective, the appearance of the script is examined in its symbolic manifestations, politically motivated and hierarchically marked within the manipulation of ideological significata. Following from the analysis of the distribution of the inscriptions, the archaeological investigation in Chapter 2 aims at establishing the relationship between Enkomi---which yielded the great majority of the inscriptions---and the other urban centres, in Cyprus and beyond, in which Cypro-Minoan was discovered. The script is considered in its different strategic significances, marked by a high level of regionalism within the power dynamics of the complex societies of Late Bronze Age Cyprus. Despite the uneven (or altogether absent) information offered by the extant publications as to the contextual associations and strata of many inscribed objects, a survey of how the script was used in each centre is proposed as well as a tentative interpretation of the function of the enigmatic clay bottles. The current classification of the inscriptions into three separate subgroups, CM1, CM2, CM3 (each allegedly hiding a different language), is critiqued in Chapter 3 and its invalidity is established through a review of its divisive, contradictory principles. The inscriptions are thus analysed from a new epigraphic dimension: the extent of ductus variation is seen in its close relationship to the wide range of typological classes of inscribed objects, and the scribal practices are analysed through a detailed study of all inscriptions that encompasses variability of reading direction, opisthography, pleurography, sematography, and metrology. In this respect, the role played by the Near Eastern writing traditions is assessed. Chapter 4 is dedicated to the palaeography of the script. The contributions to the study of this discipline with regard to Cypro-Minoan are appraised. The signary requires a formal rationalisation. The tripartite division has led to a fragmentary view of the script, and the present high level of palaeographical variation of the signs must be re-evaluated. The Cypro-Minoan syllabary as it stands, must be reduced if it is not to be disassociated from its Aegean lineage in which an open syllable configuration is prominent. Through a statistical frequency assessment of each discrete sign in its relative word-position (initial, medial and final) corroborated by the analysis of the significant sequences in which the sign is attested, possible assimilations of isographs with similar word-distributions are suggested. The palaeographical study further dissolves the tripartite classification and achieves a cohesive appreciation of the script.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: An interdisciplinary approach to the Cypro-Minoan script
Identifier: PQ ETD:594429
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest. Third party copyright material has been removed from the ethesis. Images identifying individuals have been redacted or partially redacted to protect their identity.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Greek and Latin
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1446435
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