Scribes as Editors: Tracking Changes in the Linear B Documents
This paper presents an analysis of the edits that can be identified in the Linear B administrative documents from Mycenaean Greece. The edits are instances in which the writers of these documents (the Mycenaean scribes) can be seen to have made changes to their texts by erasing, rewriting, and/or adding signs, words, or whole entries. These edits do not only include correcting errors and updating information (as might be expected for these administrative documents); they also include 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 paper 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 more than the length of a yearly administrative cycle) they were not merely rough or preliminary texts over which relatively little care was taken, but active documents designed for ongoing use and consultation within Mycenaean palatial administrations.