Minoan scripts down to 1650 BC
The Minoans invented the art of writing In the Aegean. The first true written texts are the ideograms of the Old Palace period. (Evans called them hieroglyphs because they reminded him a little of the Egyptian hieroglyphs.) Precursor forms of writing, however, are found as early as the end of the 3rd millennium BC. The evolution of pictographic writing involves the following stages: (a) the ideograms found on Pre-Palace and Old Palace seals, and (b) pictographic texts and texts in an early pictorial script, which evolved alongside each other during the Old Palace period. The latter was transformed first into Linear A and later into Linear B, in the New Palace and Third Palace periods respectively.
Cretan pictographic writing occurs on two categories of objects – sealstones (which contain the earlier texts), and clay tablets and foursided rods (later texts). The ideograms on the seals of the third phase of the Pre-Palace period seem to have indicated the capacity or profession of the owner of the seal, though it is not certain that all the hieroglyphic signs on the seals were ideograms.
The most famous seal bearing hieroglyphics is the prismatic seal with fourteen sealing surfaces from Phourni at Archanes.
The symbols on the seals form groups or monograms rendering official names or titles. Some of the symbols are phonetic and render actual sounds or syllables. Some symbols survived in the inscriptions written in Linear A and Linear B.
The texts impressed on the clay tablets, such as those from the Deposit of Hieroglyphic Tablets in the West Wing of the palace at Knossos, contain records of a number of objects, with ideograms and numbers. Texts written in the pictographic script have been found at the palaces of Malia and Knossos, and probably also Phaistos.
Dr Andonis Vasilakis