BMCR 2000.01.13

Corpus of Mycenaean Inscriptions from Knossos. Volume IV (8000-9947) and Index to Volumes I-IV

, Corpus of Mycenaean inscriptions from Knossos. Incunabula Graeca ; vol. 88. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986-1998. 4 volumes : illustrations ; 31 cm.. ISBN 0521320224 $250.00.

The fourth volume of the Corpus of Mycenaean Inscriptions from Knossos completes the definitive catalogue of Linear B tablets from Knossos begun in 1986 by the late John Chadwick and his colleagues. Volume I collected inscriptions 1-1063, Volume II inscriptions 1064-4495, Volume III inscriptions 5000-7999, while Volume IV contains inscriptions 8000-9947. Most of these Bronze Age inscriptions are from the Iraklion Museum in Crete and have been painstakingly catalogued and edited by the authors over a number of years.

After a brief preface by Chadwick, CMIK IV immediately moves to the catalogue of inscriptions. The format of the text follows the same clear layout of the previous volumes. A black-and-white photograph of each inscription is accompanied by a facsimile drawing and transliterated text, along with classification by series, find-spot (if known), and scribal hand. It would be unfair to label the inscriptions in this final volume as the leftovers of the Knossos corpus as any information in Linear B is valuable, but one can reasonably say that inscriptions 8000-9947 in general provide less information than those in the earlier volumes as they are often short fragments and many are barely legible. A typical example is inscription C(3) 9666 (page 181), a small livestock series fragment from the middle of a tablet with the ideogram for a pig followed by the number one: ]SUS 1 [. A few of the tablets (e.g. 8080, 8100, 8201, 8209) are longer and some contain more than one line of writing, but most are fragments with only partial and/or uncertain words and numbers.

Perhaps even more valuable to Mycenaean scholars and students are the indexes at the end of the volume, promised in Volume I. A list of over one hundred joins not found in Volumes I-III is followed by an index of tablets by scribe. Also included are an index of inscriptions by series, an index by sets, a concordance to tablet numbers, an inventory of sealing numbers from the Iraklion Museum, a list of Knossos tablets not in the Iraklion Museum, and a table of syllabograms and ideograms, along with a corrigenda of Volumes I-III. Only the table of syllabograms and ideograms is a disappointment as the poor quality of these signs is not in keeping with the standards found throughout the rest of the volume. However, this is only a minor criticism of an otherwise excellent work.

Even for serious scholars of Linear B, the $250.00 cost of this volume may be prohibitive. But all Mycenaean specialists will want to be sure their college or university library has ordered the complete CMIK set, including Volume IV. The completion of the CMIK series deserves the notice of classical scholars of every specialty as an essential tool for the study of the Greek language and Bronze Age civilization.