Some Statuary Worth Visiting

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve learned of a couple of  bits of statuary folks might want to check out if they’re ‘in the neighbourhood’ … first is the so-called Fauno Rosso at the Nelson-Atkins MoA  . Here’s a bit from their page:

He is an unkempt creature of the wild, with shaggy hair and goat-like characteristics–pointed ears, a short tail and dewlaps–and he is delighted to raise high a cluster of freshly picked grapes. The red–marble Fauno rosso, a spectacular example of ancient Roman sculpture, will be on view for the first time ever in America, thanks to a new relationship between the city of Rome and the Nelson-Atkins. Through September 30, visitors to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art can view the sculpture in Kirkwood Hall, which has been transformed into a classic Roman palazzo.

The loan is part of a program of exchanges and cultural events that was launched with the support of the Embassy of Italy in 2011, called The Dream of Rome, a collaboration between the Capitoline Museums in Rome, Enel Green Power and the Knights of Columbus. Through The Dream of Rome, some of Rome’s masterpieces will be on display in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Kansas City.

… in case it isn’t familiar:

 

Also of note is that seated boxer at the Met which is only around for another week or so. From their official page:

The bronze statue Boxer at Rest was excavated in Rome in 1885 on the south slope of the Quirinal Hill near the ancient Baths of Constantine, where it is thought to have been displayed. The statue was intentionally buried in late antiquity, possibly to preserve it against the barbarian invasions that ravaged Rome in the fifth century A.D. The broad-shouldered, lanky pugilist is depicted just after a match sitting on a boulder to rest after the unnerving tension of the fight. Something catches his eye and makes him turn his head: perhaps the applause of the spectators or the entrance of his next opponent?

In his athletic nakedness, he wears only boxing gloves and a sort of athletic suspender (kynodèsme) that was both protective and an element of decorum. The many wounds to his head, the primary target in ancient Greek boxing matches, make clear that he has just completed a match. Blood, represented by inlaid copper, drips from cuts on his forehead, cheeks, and cauliflower ears. His right eye is swollen and bruised. His nose is broken, and he breathes through his mouth, probably because his nostrils are blocked by blood. His inwardly drawn lips are scarred, likely indicating that his teeth have been pushed in or knocked out. Despite his exhaustion, the muscles in his arms and legs are still tense, as if the battered champion were ready to spring up and face a new combatant. [...]

Even if you can’t get to it, you definitely should check out the article at Now at the Met: The Boxer: An Ancient Masterpiece Comes to the Met, which, inter alia, includes this great photo of its find spot on the Quirinal back in 1885:

… which could possibly inspire some Classical memes?

d.m. Spiros Iacovides

From inews (nothing in English yet):

Σε ηλικία 90 ετών έφυγε χτες από τη ζωή ο αρχαιολόγος και ακαδημαϊκός Σπύρος Ιακωβίδης, ειδικός σε θέματα μυκηναϊκής αρχαιολογίας, ο οποίος είχε πραγματοποιήσει ανασκαφές στην περιοχή των Αθηνών, στην Ελευσίνα, την Πύλο, τη Θήρα, την Περατή, τον Γλα και τις Μυκήνες.

Ο Σπύρος Ιακωβίδης γεννήθηκε το 1923 στην Αθήνα. Πήρε δίπλωμα αρχαιολογίας
του Πανεπιστημίου Αθηνών το 1946 και διδακτορικό το 1962. Διετέλεσε Επιμελητής Αρχαιοτήτων (1952-1954), δίδαξε αρχαιολογία στα Πανεπιστήμια Αθηνών (1970-1974), Marburg (1976-1977), Heidelberg (1977) και University of Pennsylvania (1979-1991) και υπήρξε μέλος του Ινστιτούτου Προχωρημένων Σπουδών στο Princeton, ΗΠΑ (1977-1978).

Συνέγραψε, μεταξύ άλλων, τα βιβλία: Η Μυκηναϊκή Ακρόπολις των Αθηνών (1962), Περατή (1969-1970), Αι Μυκηναϊκαί Ακροπόλεις (1973), Vormykenische und Mykenische Wehrbauten (1977), Late Helladic Citadels on Mainland Greece (1988), Γλας Ι (1989), Γλας ΙΙ (1998), Gla and the Kopais (2001), Ανασκαφές Μυκηνών ΙΙΙ. Η νοτιοδυτική συνοικία (με συμμετοχή συνεργατών, 2013). Δημοσίευσε σαρανταοκτώ άρθρα σε επιστημονικά περιοδικά, πραγματοποίησε διαλέξεις σε 90 περίπου Πανεπιστήμια, Μουσεία και επιστημονικά σωματεία στην Ελλάδα, Γερμανία, ΗΠΑ, Αυστρία, Αγγλία, Βέλγιο, Καναδά, Κύπρο, Ιρλανδία, Ισπανία, Αυστραλία, Ελβετία.
Μετείχε σε 65 περίπου επιστημονικές συναντήσεις στην Ελλάδα και το εξωτερικό (1971-2002). Επί Κατοχής κατατάχθηκε στις Ομάδες Ελλήνων Ανταρτών υπό τον Ναπολέοντα Ζέρβα και τιμήθηκε με το Μετάλλιο Εθνικής Αντιστάσεως, και τον Μέγα Ταξιάρχη του Φοίνικος

Διετέλεσε συνεργάτης στην Ιστορία του Ελληνικού Έθνους (1970) και στην Ägäische Bronzezeit (1987). Υπήρξε μέλος της Εν Αθήναις Αρχαιολογικής Εταιρείας, της Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, της Βρετανικής Αρχαιολογικής Σχολής Αθηνών, της Society of Antiquaries του Λονδίνου, της Société de Préhistoire Française, του Γερμανικού Αρχαιολογικού Ινστιτούτου, της Ιστορικής και Εθνολογικής Εταιρείας, εταίρος του Σεμιναρίου Αρχαιολογίας του Πανεπιστημίου της Columbia, τακτικό μέλος της Ακαδημίας Αθηνών (Έδρα Αρχαιολογίας, 1991), Γραμματεύς επί των Πρακτικών της Ακαδημίας (2000-2003), Πρόεδρος αυτής (2004) και επόπτης του Κέντρου Ερεύνης της Αρχαιότητος της Ακαδημίας Αθηνών (1993 έως τον θάνατό του). Επίσης υπήρξε Ξένος Εταίρος της Accademia Nationale dei Lincei (Ρώμη), επίτιμο μέλος της Αυστριακής Ακαδημίας Επιστημών στην Τάξη Φιλοσοφίας και Ιστορίας (Βιέννη), Επίτιμος Διδάκτωρ της Αρχαιολογίας του Dickinson College, Pennsylvania, ΗΠΑ, και του Πανεπιστημίου Κύπρου.

 

d.m. Martin Bernal

From the New York Times:

Martin Bernal, whose three-volume work “Black Athena” ignited an academic debate by arguing that the African and Semitic lineage of Western civilization had been scrubbed from the record of ancient Greece by 18th- and 19th-century historians steeped in the racism of their times, died on June 9 in Cambridge, England. He was 76.

The cause was complications of myelofibrosis, a bone marrow disorder, said his wife, Leslie Miller-Bernal.

“Black Athena” opened a new front in the warfare over cultural diversity already raging on American campuses in the 1980s and ’90s. The first volume, published in 1987 — the same year as “The Closing of the American Mind,” Allan Bloom’s attack on efforts to diversify the academic canon — made Mr. Bernal a hero among Afrocentrists, a pariah among conservative scholars and the star witness at dozens of sometimes raucous academic panel discussions about how to teach the foundational ideas of Western culture.

Mr. Bernal, a British-born and Cambridge-educated polymath who taught Chinese political history at Cornell from 1972 until 2001, spent a fair amount of time on those panels explaining what his work did not mean to imply. He did not claim that Greek culture had its prime origins in Africa, as some news media reports described his thesis. He said only that the debt Greek culture owed to Africa and the Middle East had been lost to history.

His thesis was this: For centuries, European historians of classical Greece had hewed closely to the origin story suggested by Plato, Herodotus and Aeschylus, whose writings acknowledged the Greek debt to Egyptian and Semitic (or Phoenician) forebears.

But in the 19th century, he asserted, with the rise of new strains of racism and anti-Semitism along with nationalism and colonialism in Europe, historians expunged Egyptians and Phoenicians from the story. The precursors of Greek, and thus European, culture were seen instead as white Indo-European invaders from the north.

In the first volume of “Black Athena,” which carried the forbidding double subtitle “The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization: The Fabrication of Ancient Greece — 1785-1985,” Mr. Bernal described his trek through the fields of classical Greek literature, mythology, archaeology, linguistics, sociology, the history of ideas and ancient Hebrew texts to formulate his theory of history gone awry (though he did not claim expertise in all these subjects).

The scholarly purpose of his work, he wrote in the introduction, was “to open up new areas of research to women and men with far better qualifications than I have,” adding, “The political purpose of ‘Black Athena,’ is, of course, to lessen European cultural arrogance.”

He published “Black Athena 2: The Archaeological and Documentary Evidence” in 1991, and followed it in 2006 with “Black Athena 3: The Linguistic Evidence.”

Another book, “Black Athena Writes Back,” published in 2001, was a response to his critics, who were alarmed enough by Mr. Bernal’s work to publish a collection of rebuttals in 1996, “Black Athena Revisited.”

One critic derided Mr. Bernal’s thesis as evidence of “a whirling confusion of half-digested reading.” Some were more conciliatory. J. Ray, a British Egyptologist, wrote, “It may not be possible to agree with Mr. Bernal, but one is the poorer for not having spent time in his company.”

Stanley Burstein, a professor emeritus of ancient Greek history at California State University, Los Angeles, said Mr. Bernal’s historiography — his history of history-writing on ancient Greece — was flawed but valuable. “Nobody had to be told that Greece was deeply influenced by Egypt and the Phoenicians, or that 19th-century history included a lot of racial prejudice,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday. “But then, nobody had put it all together that way before.”

The specific evidence cited in his books was often doubtful, Professor Burstein added, but “he succeeded in putting the question of the origins of Greek civilization back on the table.”

Martin Gardiner Bernal was born on March 10, 1937, in London to John Desmond Bernal, a prominent British scientist and radical political activist, and Margaret Gardiner, a writer. His parents never married, a fact their son asserted with some pride in interviews.

“My father was a communist and I was illegitimate,” he said in 1996. “I was always expected to be radical because my father was.”

His grandfather Alan Gardiner was a distinguished Egyptologist.

Mr. Bernal graduated from King’s College, Cambridge, in 1957, earned a diploma of Chinese language from Peking University in 1960 and did graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1963 and Harvard in 1964. He received his Ph.D. in Oriental studies from Cambridge in 1966 and remained there as a fellow until he was recruited by Cornell.

His other books, which also focused on the theme of intercultural borrowing, were “Chinese Socialism Before 1907” (1976) and “Cadmean Letters: The Westward Diffusion of the Semitic Alphabet Before 1400 B.C.” (1990).

Besides his wife, he is survived by his sons, William, Paul and Patrick; a daughter, Sophie; a stepson, Adam; a half-sister, Jane Bernal; and nine grandchildren.

Mr. Bernal was asked in 1993 if his thesis in “Black Athena” was “anti-European.” He replied: “My enemy is not Europe, it’s purity — the idea that purity ever exists, or that if it does exist, that it is somehow more culturally creative than mixture. I believe that the civilization of Greece is so attractive precisely because of those mixtures.”

d.m. David West

From the Telegraph:

From the 1960s onwards, despite declining numbers taking Latin at school, Latin literary studies experienced something of a renaissance. Summer schools and courses in translation were making the classics newly accessible to students who had not previously studied Latin and Greek. At the same time, the rise of New Criticism in classical scholarship encouraged close readings of the texts. West’s intensely literary approach put him at the forefront of the emerging movement, concerned with bringing out the richness and variety of the language.

In him the classical Roman poets, Lucretius, Horace and Virgil, found a most accomplished interpreter and translator. His translation of Virgil’s Aeneid (Penguin Books, 1990) is remarkably true to the Latin, and has brought Virgil’s epic to life for a generation of modern English readers.

Unlike his immediate predecessors Robert Fitzgerald and CH Sisson, West believed that prose suited his task better than verse, since “I know of nobody at the end of our century who reads long narrative poems in English, and I want the Aeneid to be read.” In order not to interrupt the flow, he avoided using footnotes or a glossary . Scholarly “furniture”, he felt, would only distract the eye and diminish the vitality of the text.

This vitality extended to West’s three-volume edition of Horace’s Odes (published between 1995 and 2002), perhaps the most accessible guide to Horace’s poems now in print. In rendering such dense and lyrical Latin into English verse, West aimed to create a translation that could appeal both to non-classicists and to students. He followed each ode with a commentary describing how the Latin worked, with close attention to rhythm and sound.

David Alexander West was born in Aberdeen on November 22 1926 and educated at Aberdeen Grammar School and Aberdeen University, and then, after National Service, at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, where he took a first in the Classical Tripos. He began doctoral work on the Greek comic poet Aristophanes. While doing research on manuscripts in Rome, during a stay at the British School, he met his future wife, whom he married in 1953.

Having held lectureships at Sheffield University and Edinburgh, David West was appointed to the Newcastle chair in 1969 . That same year he published The Imagery and Poetry of Lucretius. During his tenure at Newcastle University the Classics department was described as a “powerhouse of classical learning where they still know how to tell it like it is”, and he became a prominent voice in the classical community nationwide, most notably through his work with the British Classical Association .

Later he co-edited, with Tony Woodman, two collections of essays, Quality and Pleasure in Latin Poetry (1974) and Creative Imitation and Latin Literature (1979).

Following his retirement in 1992 he continued to teach for nearly a decade, and worked not only on his Horace commentary, but also on English poetry. His “exaugural” lecture was on George Herbert, and he then published a detailed commentary on Shakespeare’s sonnets. More recently, combining Classics, English literature and his own Scottish roots, he was working on an edition of part of Gavin Douglas’s great Scots translation of the Aeneid.

He was President of the Classical Association in 1995, and a Vice-President of the Association for Latin Teaching.

Like the Epicurean poets whose work he expounded, David West found delight in friendship, family, the countryside , wine (strong, red, Italian), music, the cultivation and enjoyment of home-grown vegetables, and perhaps above all, wide-ranging conversation, in which rationality and imagination were combined in equal measure.

He married, in 1953, Pamela Murray, who predeceased him in September 1995. He is survived by two daughters and three sons.

David West born November 22 1926, died May 13 2013

Others:

Searching for a Lost Roman Fort in Scotland

From the Courier, which seems to have the fullest quotations:

Many people wrongly believe the Romans never ventured further north than the Antonine Wall or even Hadrian’s Wall, according to archaeologists.

However, evidence shows that they marched as far north as Elgin and a network of forts between Stirling and Stracathro, near Brechin, suggests they were based in Scotland for some time.

The forts form part of Rome’s oldest land frontier known as the Gask Ridge, but archaeologists believe one of the forts is “missing”.

The elusive fort is believed to be located somewhere in the Angus and Aberdeenshire countryside, and work will begin this week to try to find it.

Birgitta Hoffmann, co-director of the Roman Gask Project, based at the University of Liverpool, will lead a team of volunteers hunting for what would be the first major find north of the Antonine Wall in around 30 years.

Dr Hoffmann said: “We came last year to investigate Scotland’s most northerly Roman fort, but now we’re back looking for the lost fort.

“We’re not sure what exactly we’ll find, but we’re hoping to find something, and if it is a Roman fort, it will help to complete our understanding of the Romans in Scotland.

“We know they built forts as far north as Brechin, and we even have evidence that they marched as far as Elgin, but that’s it, but we think there’s much more than that.

“The problem is that they weren’t around long enough to build buildings out of stone – instead they used timber and turf which tends to disappear over time – so instead of just looking for lumps and bumps in the ground, we have to look at the local geography, old settlements, and a host of other evidence which will help us to pinpoint likely sites.

“People are always surprised when I tell them about the Roman occupation of the area. They think the Romans never got any further than the Antonine Wall or even Hadrian’s Wall which simply isn’t true. The truth is, we don’t know how far north they got, but we’re hoping that the work of the Roman Gask Project will change that this year.”

The Roman Gask Project has an interesting series of background papers, among other info …

Evidence for the Siege of Jerusalem

Another one from the IAA, somewhat excerpted:

[...] Recently a small cistern belonging to a building was exposed in an archaeological excavation the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting near the Western Wall, in the vicinity of Robinson’s Arch in the Jerusalem Archaeological Park. Inside the cistern were three intact cooking pots and a small ceramic oil lamp that date to the time of the Great Revolt.

The vessels were discovered inside the drainage channel that was exposed in its entirety from the Shiloah Pool in the City of David to the beginning of Robinson’s Arch.

According to Eli Shukron, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “This is the first time we are able to connect archaeological finds with the famine that occurred during the siege of Jerusalem at the time of the Great Revolt. The complete cooking pots and ceramic oil lamp indicate that the people went down into the cistern where they secretly ate the food that was contained in the pots, without anyone seeing them, and this is consistent with the account provided by Josephus”.

In his book The Jewish War Josephus describes the Roman siege of Jerusalem and in its wake the dire hunger that prevailed in the blockaded city.

In his dramatic description of the famine in Jerusalem he tells about the Jewish rebels who sought food in the homes of their fellow Jews in the city. These, Josephus said, concealed the food they possessed for fear it would be stolen by the rebels and they ate it in hidden places in their homes.

“As the famine grew worse, the frenzy of the partisans increased with it….For as nowhere was there corn to be seen, men broke into the houses and ransacked them. If they found some they maltreated the occupants for saying there was none; if they did not, they suspected them of having hidden it more carefully and tortured them.”
“Many secretly exchanged their possessions for one measure of corn-wheat if they happened to be rich, barley if they were poor. They shut themselves up in the darkest corners of the their houses, where some through extreme hunger ate their grain as it was, others made bread, necessity and fear being their only guides. Nowhere was a table laid…” (Josephus The Jewish War. Translated by G.A. Williamson 1959. P. 290). [...]

via: Two Thousand Year Old Evidence of the Siege in Jerusalem (IAA)

Again, Discovery has a video

Roman Road in Jerusalem

From the IAA press release (which seems to be rewritten to a greater or lesser degree in all of the other press coverage):

An ancient road leading from Yafo to Jerusalem, which dates to the Roman period (second–fourth centuries CE), was exposed this past fortnight in the Beit Hanina neighborhood in northern Jerusalem. The road remains were revealed in an archaeological excavation the IAA conducted in Beit Hanina prior to the installation of a drainage pipe by the Moriah Company.

The wide road (c. 8 m) was bounded on both sides by curbstones. The road itself was built of large flat stones fitted to each other so as to create a comfortable surface for walking. Some of the pavers were very badly worn, indicating the extensive use that was made of the road, and over the years the road also underwent a series of repairs.

According to David Yeger, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “Several segments of the road were previously excavated by research expeditions of the IAA, but such a finely preserved section of the road has not been discovered in the city of Jerusalem until now”.
“The Romans attached great importance to the roads in the empire. They invested large sums of money and utilized the most advanced technological aids of the period in order to crisscross the empire with roads. These served the government, military, economy and public by providing an efficient and safe means of passage. Way stations and roadside inns were built along the roads, as well fortresses in order to protect the travelers. The construction and maintenance of the roads was assigned to military units, but civilians also participated in the work as part of the compulsory labor imposed on them by the authorities.”

The road section discovered in the IAA excavations in Beit Hanina is part of the imperial network of roads that led to Jerusalem from the coastal plain. We know about these roads from both historical sources and archaeological excavations. Two main arteries led from Yafo to Jerusalem during the Roman period. One is the road that passes through Bet Horon and the other runs via Shaar HaGai. This particular segment belongs to the Bet Horon road. The road began in Yafo and passed through Lod where it split it two different directions: one to Shaar HaGai and the other by way of Modiin along the route of what is today Highway 443 to Bet Horon. From there the road continued eastward as far as Bir Nabala and turned south to Kefar Shmuel where it merged with the highlands road that led to the Old City of Jerusalem.

In some places we can see that the modern Bir Nabala road was paved just a few centimeters above the route of the ancient road, which indicates that until a few decades ago the ancient road in this region was visible and was used.

The Huffington Post coverage includes some decent photos … Discovery has a video report

Classics Confidential | Brooke Holmes on Sympathy and the Body

This one doesn’t seem to have an official description, but Dr Holmes is working on the notion of ‘sympathy’ in the ancient sense of connections/interactions between various parts of the ancient world. It’s largely philosophical and focused on how humans saw themselves fitting into things:

 

 

Classics Confidential | Phiroze Vasunia on the Classical Tradition in India

Here’s the official description:

In the sixth interview recorded during this year’s Classical Association meeting, CC’s Anastasia Bakogianni talks to Professor Phiroze Vasunia about his recently published book The Classics and Colonial India (OUP, May 2013).

He tells us about the impact of the Graeco-Roman classics in the age of empire (1750s-1945) and about the collision of cultures in India during this period. The very concept of the ‘classical’ was problematic in a culture with its own long-standing local traditions which included Sanskrit, Persian and Arab threads. These competed with the imported Graeco-Roman classics privileged by the British educational system (which encouraged the colonisers to view themselves as ancient Romans). Neoclassical architecture, now largely destroyed, also radically transformed the landscape of the country. Indians such as the writer Henry Louis Vivian Derozio (1809-31) and Mahatma Gandhi, however, opened up their own dialogue with ancient Greek culture and its literature. Inspired by British Romantic Philhellenism, Derozio’s poetry forged a passionate connection with both ancient and modern Greece, while Gandi’s admiration of Socrates informed his own political thinking. This is not, therefore, a simple story of empire, but one of a dialogue of traditions.
Phiroze also tells us about his work as the general editor of the Ancients and Moderns series which is published in the UK by I.B. Tauris and in the USA by OUP. The series explores how classical antiquity continues to inform modern thinking, and examines the encounter between ancients and moderns on topics such as gender, slavery and politics. Seven books have appeared to date, and more are forthcoming.

… and the interview:

More on Alice Kober and Linear B (and Ventris too!)

Since our first encounters meeting Alice Kober and learning about her work with Linear B (Someone You Should Know: Alice Kober  and More on Alice Kober), there have been a few more features out about her and Margalit Fox’s book. Given that Kober was relatively unknown to the Classics world a couple of months ago, it seems useful to collect some of these. First up is a lecture by Fox at CUNY … here’s the blurb:

In her new book, “The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code,” Margalit Fox chronicles the pursuit to decipher Linear B — an unknown script dating to the Bronze Age — and how key research by a Brooklyn College classics professor, Alice Elizabeth Kober, helped to crack its code. But “because she (Kober) was a woman and because history is written by the victor, her contribution was all but lost to history.” In a lecture at Brooklyn College, Fox, a linguist and senior obituary writer for the New York Times, wrote that she wanted to correct a gaping omission in the story of one of the world’s great intellectual puzzles and to narrate a vital piece of American women’s history.

… and the lecture is on this page: Alice Kober and ‘The Riddle of the Labyrinth’ (CUNY)

A lengthy item in BBC magazine includes a bit about the Kober-Ventris relationship:

{…] Kober and Ventris met just once, in Oxford, five years before the decipherment. It’s thought there was no love lost between the two.

“It’s very clear with hindsight that each underestimated the other deeply,” says Fox.

“She underestimated him because he was an amateur, and he underestimated her because she was a woman.”

In a lecture after he had cracked Linear B, and before his death, Ventris did however give substantial credit to Kober for her contribution – but this acknowledgement went largely unnoticed.

Kober has tended to be presented as a harsh, suffer-no-fools, kind of character, says Prof Thomas Palaima, head of the Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory at the University of Texas at Austin, which holds Kober’s archives.

But this reputation is unfair, he says. Her papers show her to be a thoughtful, kind and dedicated person, who, for example, converted test papers for a student who was blind into Braille (which she mastered).

“She has a fine sense of humour,” says Palaima. “There’s an amazing amount of whimsical stuff in there.”

But the bulk of the documents detail her meticulous work – including one key grid, says Palaima, which shows she had correctly deciphered around one third of the Linear B characters.

Had she not died prematurely, he believes history would have turned out differently.

“I really do believe she’d have been the one who’d have deciphered Linear B,” he says.

But still some scholars question whether Kober would have had the creative spark to jump the final hurdle.

And no-one is questioning Ventris’ achievement or claim to be the one who finally cracked it. [...]

There are also some really interesting photos in the BBC piece and a link to Michael Ventris talking to the BBC soon after the announcement of the decipherment (it’s here too: Linear B decoder Michael Ventris on BBC in 1952). On a semi-personal note, when one of my former professors at McMaster — Howard Jones — was teaching first year ClassCiv, he used to bring up the story of being in school and someone walking into the class saying “They’ve deciphered Linear B.” …