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Scribes as Editors: Tracking Changes in the Linear B Documents

Scribes as Editors: Tracking Changes in the Linear B Documents

A wide variety of edits can be identified in the Linear B administrative documents from Mycenaean Greece. The writers of these documents (the Mycenaean scribes) can be seen to have made changes to their texts by erasing, rewriting, or adding signs, words, or whole entries. The edits include not only correcting errors and updating information (as might be expected for these administrative documents) but also a wide variety of changes that affect the texts’ presentation rather than their content, such as alterations to their layout, textual structure, and orthography, and even the forms of individual signs. By analyzing these edits and the motivations behind them, this article sheds light on the priorities of the Mycenaean scribes in creating and using their administrative documents and the choices they made in the process of doing so. The results demonstrate that despite these records’ short-term nature (tablets were kept for no longer than a year) they were not merely rough or preliminary texts over which relatively little care was taken but were active documents designed for ongoing use and consultation within the Mycenaean palatial administrations’ yearly administrative cycles.

Scribes as Editors: Tracking Changes in the Linear B Documents

By Anna P. Judson

American Journal of Archaeology Vol. 124, No. 4 (October 2020), p. 523–549

DOI: 10.3764/aja.124.4.0523

© 2020 Archaeological Institute of America