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Keywords:

  • PHYLOGENETICS;
  • CLADISTICS;
  • LINEAR B;
  • LINEAR A;
  • MYCENAEAN;
  • GREECE;
  • BRONZE AGE;
  • PALAEOGRAPHY;
  • WRITING

Phylogenetic systematics, developed in biology for reconstructing evolutionary histories of organisms, has been successfully applied to languages and manuscripts. This paper pioneers its use for writing systems, with Linear B, a pre-alphabetic Greek script, the test subject. Taxa represent scribal hands. Phylogenetic characters represent different forms of the same Linear B sign. The tree produced by running the data matrix using parsimony as the optimality criterion is consistent with and clarifies what is known or hypothesized about the history of Linear B. This demonstrates the effectiveness of using phylogenetic analysis to reconstruct the history of writing systems.