Deciphering Ancient Writing Systems

The Classics Society welcomed Katharine Shields from UCL to talk on ‘Deciphering Ancient Writing Systems.’ Katharine discussed different ancient languages, ranging from Luwian Hieroglyphs and Hittite to Cypriot Syllabic, before explaining how Linear B, the earliest written form of Greek, was deciphered in the 20th century. Students then had the opportunity to practise writing cuneiform, a language of the Ancient Near East dating to 3500 BC, using plasticine as their ‘clay’ tablets. It turns out that carving a 3D script from 5000 years ago is harder than it looks! The A-Level students, however, had great success; perhaps they will be the ones to decipher Cretan Hieroglyphs. A challenge for after their exams!