Edwin Brown

Increase font size
Decrease font size

Professor Emeritus of Classics

In research on the decipherment and reading of Linear A, Brown has pursued an approach largely neglected in earlier efforts to comprehend the Cretan Bronze Age script. Assured as he is that combinatorial methods (adopted by all serious students of Linear A) form the sole reliable means for arriving at a full understanding of the relevant texts, Brown is at work on a means of testing the Luvian affinities of the language that these documents encode. Published examples of his approach may be found in Minos 27-28 (1993) [1995] 25-54.

As in the Bronze Age syllabary more certainly evolved for the recording of Luvian, the so-called Hittite hieroglyphs, the sound values of the Linear A signary seem designed to represent exactly the Luvian phonetic system having 3 long vowels, 3 short. And like its Anatolian counterpart, where certain of the syllabograms demonstrably match the sound of the first syllable in Luvian of the object that inspired its sign-shapes, the Linear A signary too would appear to have been built on the acrophonic principle. So far, some three dozen matches between Ventris’ Linear B sound values (slightly altered to reflect the Greek 5-vowel system) and the Luvian name for the object often still identifiable in the Linear A sign–e.g., AB40/L28: WI as in WIdula-, the Hittite (and likely Luvian) term for ‘chariot box’.

Apart from linguistic studies, Brown maintains the interest in more traditionally Classical philology shown in “The Lycidas of Theocritus’ Idyll VII,” HSCP 85(1981), 59-100; in the name and nature of Greek gods, as evidenced by “The Divine Name Pan,” TAPA 107 (1977) 57-61, and a series of papers on Demeter, Aphrodite and Apollo at APA and CAMWS meetings; in ancient observational astronomy, as seen in “The Astronomical Crux at Georgics 4.234,” AJP 104(1983)384-390, and in the history-of-ideas latent in personal, place-, and star-names: “Sappho the Numinous,” ICS 16(1991)59-63, “Eumaeus’ Native Isle,” CJ 80(1985) 292-296, and “The Origin of the Constellation Name Cynosura,” Orientalia 50(1981)384-402. For Linear A studies one may consult “Traces of Luwian Dialect in Cretan Script and Toponym,” SMEA 28(1990) 225-237.

E-mail: elbrownATemailDOTuncDOTedu