The Cretan Hieroglyphic Texts

a web edition of the texts based on CHIC with commentary

inaugural date: 10 December 2005; last update: 31 May 2022

Comments, corrections, questions: John Younger (

List of Files

a list of updates since 8 July 2010

The Texts (both those in CHIC [now available online] and additions)

The Knossos documents
The Malia administrative documents (for non-administrative documents, see Miscellaneous documents)
The Petras documents
Miscellaneous documents
Texts on Sealstones and in Impressions

The Signs & Signgroups
The Hieroglyphic Grids
List of All the Hieroglyphic Signs (under construction)
Notes on the Signs
Notes on Certain Signgroups
Transaction Terms (under construction)

Types of Documents (under construction)

The following fonts are now available (7 Sep 08) for Macintosh OS X (courtesy Jean-Pierre Olivier):

  • Cretan Hieroglyphic for MAC OS X
    Malia-Maigre for inscriptions
    Malia-Gros for sealstones and seal impressions

  • General Notes for the Texts

  • In the commentary (not in the headings), CHIC documents (numbers preceded by #) in bold (e.g., #225) are sealstones or impressions.

  • In the "normalizations" (phonetic readings) suggested below, the phonetic identifications of the Hiero signs are based on Notes on the Signs, a separate study of the individual signs, their resemblances to Linear A/B signs and the patterns of their use in Hiero. I consider the phonetic values of signs in black as certain; those in red I consider probable; and those in green I consider possible. With green values, sometimes only the consonant is guessed and the syllable is then rendered as in the following Kv.

  • A raised asterisk after the syllabogram indicates the reading is doubtful (e.g., *), similarly for the underlined transnumeration and normalization (e.g., 042).

    What do we know?

    For an assessment in 1999, see my review article, "The Cretan Hieroglyphic Script: A Review Article," Minos 31-32 (1996-1997[1999]) 379-400.

    Document Types

    Bars ordinarily order their texts starting from one side, then continuing to the opposite side, then to an adjacent side, and then to its opposite side; the end of the bar (e) may also be written on, as if to construct a visible label when the bar is placed on a shelf. Thus, bars may be read like this: a, c, b, d, e. The clearest example is #060 which is written only on sides a & c; another clear example is #056. Bar #049, a complicated text, reads from pair of sides to pair of sides: d, b; a, c. Bar #059, another complicated text, however, seems to move from side to adjacent side, starting with side a and leaving its "problem" for side d.

    Crescents seem to record single statements, mostly a single sign group (e.g., CHIC #001) which tends to be a hapax and therefore may probably be a name. Some crescents record a similar "name" and a transaction term (e.g., CHIC #004) and/or the commodity that the crescent no doubt accompanied when it was delivered to the palace (e.g., CHIC #006, #007, #017). A few crescents record more information: CHIC #018 gives three short signgroups, one of which is a transaction term (044-005 ). Seal impressions on the crescents should have been made at the time of shipment; the seals therefore probably belonged to the producer of the commodity and/or the shipper. When Hieroglyphic seals were used, their texts can amplify the information inscribed on the crescent. Thus, the two seals that impressed CHIC #018 duplicate the transaction term inscribed on side g2: 044-005 and may add the commodity BOS . Similarly, one seal impression on CHIC #007 may give a name MA-RE and a transaction term , while the inscription supplies the commodity, wine.

    Lames may be Mallia documents relating to transactions with other places (Knossos, Symi); cf. SA-RO on #049, #059, #109.

    Roundels are rare. Only one certain roundel and perhaps a fragment of another come from an MM IIB context at Petras: PE Hc 002 and possibly the fragment ME 96/0444A.


    Hieroglyphic was invented before Linear A, probably in MM IA (Prepalatial Period); Linear A was developed primarily from Hieroglyphic soon afterward, probably with the building of the first palaces in MM IB. See the section on Chronology in my Linear A site.

    Phonetic Values for the Signs

    See the files on signs (above). Please note: the phonetic values I suggest in these files are merely working hypotheses; they do not have the support of scholarly consensus.


    See the file "SignList."

    Hieroglyphic uses sign *084 as LANA; see my article "Cretan Hieroglyphic Wool Units (LANA, double mina)".

    The Language behind the Script

    Transaction terms are similar in both Hieroglyphic and Linear A. For a discussion of the most common transaction terms, see my article "Cretan Hieroglyphic Transaction Terms: 'Total Paid" and "Total Owed'".

    There are a few other similarities in the vocabulary of the two scripts: these are noted in the commentaries to the individual texts.


    From #118, the values of three fractions can be hypothesized:
    *301 Γ = 1/6
    *302 Δ = 1/4
    *304 Λ = 1/2, which also appears on one Linear A document (a bar) MA 10b.1.

    Note how the Hieroglyphic fractions (bottom line) correspond to the Linear A fractions:

    Select Bibliography

    Best, Jan.
    2002.    "The Lotus Flower in Cretan Hieroglyphic," Kadmos 41: 131-36.

    Brice, William C.
    1989.    "A Revised Classification of the Cretan Scripts." In: Studia Mycenaea (Ziva Antika. Monographies 7), edited by Thomas G. Palaima, C.W. Shelmerdine and P.Hr. Ilievski, 5-7.
    1991.    "Notes on Linear A: V. The Legibility of the Account Tablets, VI. Hieroglyphic Antecedents of Linear Signs," Kadmos 30: 42-48.
    1992.    "Notes on the Cretan Hieroglyphic Script," Kadmos 31: 21-24.
    1997.    "Notes on the Cretan Hieroglyphic Script," Kadmos 36: 93-96.
    2002.    "The Centenary of the Cretan Hieroglyphs," Cretan Studies 7: 45-50.

    Duhoux, Yves.
    2007.    "Pre-Greek Languages: Indirect Evidence." In: A History of Ancient Greek: From the Beginnings to Late Antiquity, edited by A.-F. Christidis, 223-28. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Evans, Arthur.
    1909.     Script Minoa. The Written Documents of Minoan Crete with Special Reference to the Archives of Knossos, 1: The Hieroglyphic and Primitive Linear Classes. Oxford: Oxford University Press (= SM).

    Farnoux, Alexandre, and Jean-Pierre Olivier.
    1989.    "Trois nouveaux fragments de tablettes en écriture crétoise à Malia," Bulletin de Correspondence Héllanique 113: 97-100

    Faure, Paul.
    2002.    "Les hiéroglyphes crétois aux origines de la langue grecque," O Lychnos. Connaissance Hellénique: Revue de culture grecque pour non-spécialistes 92.2: 24-29.

    Ferrara, Silvia, Judith Weingarten, and Gerald Cadogan.
    "Cretan Hieroglyphic at Myrtos-Pyrgos," SMEA n.s. 2 (2016) 81-99.

    Godart, Louis.
    1999.    "L'écriture d'Arkhanes: hiéroglyphique ou Linéaire A?" In: MELETEMATA: Studies in Aegean Archaeology Presented to Malcolm H. Wiener as He Enters His 65th Year (Aegaeum 20), edtied by Philip P. Betancourt, Vassos Karageorghis, Robert Laffineur, and Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier, I: 299-302. Liège and Austin: Université de Liège, Histoire de l'art et archéologie de la Grèce antique; University of Texas at Austin: Programs in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory.

    Godart, Louis, and Jean-Pierre Olivier.
    1996.     Corpus Hieroglyphicarum Inscriptionum Cretae (Études Crétoises 31). Paris 1996 (= CHIC).

    Haider, Peter W. 2004.    "Minoische Sprachdenkmäler in einem ägyptischen Papyrus medizinischen Inhalts." In: Das Ägyptische und die Sprachen Vorderasiens, Nordafrikas und der Ägäis: Akten des Basler Kolloquiums zum ägyptisch-nichtsemitischen Sprachkontakt, Basel 9.-11. Juli 2003, edited by Thomas Schneider, 411-22. Münster: Ugarit-Verlag.

    Hooker, J.T. 1988.    "The Varieties of Minoan Writing," Cretan Studies 1: 169-89

    Jasink, Anna Margherita.
    2002.    "I sigilli in geroglifico minoico e il loro rapporto con i documenti amministrativi: alcune osservazioni," Studi Micenea ed Anatolici 44.2: 199-219.
    2005.    "The So-called Klasmatograms on Cretan Hieroglyhic Seals," Kadmos 44: 23-39.

    Karnava, Artemis. 2001.    "Fractions and measurement units in the Cretan Hieroglyphic script." In: Manufacture and Measurement. Counting, Measuring and Recording. Craft Items in Early Aegean Societies (Meletimata 33), edited by Anna Michailidou, 44-51. Athens: Kentron Ellinikis kai Romaikis Archaiotitos.

    Molcanov, A.A.
    1981.    "A Cretan inscription on an Octogonal Seal," Vestnik drevnej istorii 157: 116-33 (in Russian, summay in English): CS no. 165: hiero signgroups = dynasties & genealogies: 4 generations from MM IIB-IIIA: syllabograms ro-we-sa-ze-ro (cf. ro-wo & sa-ze-ro on PY tablets)

    Müller, Sylvie, and Jean-Pierre Olivier.
    1991.    "Prospection à Malia: deux documents hiéroglyphiques," Bulletin de Correspondence Héllanique 115: 65-70.

    Olivier, Jean-Pierre.
    1992.    "Rapport sur les textes en hiéroglyphique crétois, en linéaire A et en linéaire B." In: Mykenaïka. Actes du IXe Colloque international sur les textes mycéniens et égéens, Centre de l'Antiquité Grecque et Romaine de la Fondation Hellénique des Recherches Scientifiques et École française d'Athènes (BCH Suppl. 25), edited by J.P. Olivier, J.-P., 443-56. Athens: École française d'Athènes.
    "Écriture hiéroglyphique crétoise." In: Fouilles exécutées à Malia: Le quartier Mu III. Artisans minoens: Les maisons-ateliers du quartier Mu ( Études crétoises 32), edited by Jean-Claude Poursat, Part 1. Athens: École française d'Athènes.
    1996b.    "Les écritures crétoises: Sept points à considérer." In: Atti e memorie del secondo Congresso internazionale di micenologia, Roma-Napoli, 14-20 ottobre 1991. Volume 1: Filologia (Incunabula Graeca 98), edited by Ernesto De Miro, Louis Godart, and Anna Sacconi, 101-13. Rome: Gruppo editoriale internazionale.

    Owens, Garth.
    1992.    "A Diachronic Study of the Administration and Scripts of Minoan Crete." In: Mykenaïka. Actes du IXe Colloque international sur les textes mycéniens et égéens, Centre de l'Antiquité Grecque et Romaine de la Fondation Hellénique des Recherches Scientifiques et École française d'Athènes (BCH Suppl. 25), edited by J.P. Olivier, J.-P., 461-62. Athens: École française d'Athènes.
    1996.    "The Common Origin of Cretan Hieroglyphics and Linear A," Kadmos 35: 105-110.
    1997.    "A Possible Cretan HieroglyphicInscription from Mount Ida (Ida (Ya 332)," Kadmos 36: 171.
    2000.    "Pre-Hellenic Language(s) of Crete: Debate and Discussion," Journal of Indo-European Studies 28: 237-53.

    Schoep, Ilse.
    2001.    "Some Notes on the 'Hieroglyphic' Deposit from Knossos," Studi Micenea ed Anatolici 43: 143-158.

    Tsipopoulou, Metaxia, and Erik Hallager.
    1996.    "Inscriptions with Hieroglyphs and Linear A from Petras, Siteia," Studi Micenea ed Anatolici 37: 7-46.

    Woudhuizen, Fred C.
    2002.    "The 'Trowel'-Sign (Evans no. 18): Another Instance of Egyptian Influence on Cretan Hieroglyphic," Kadmos 41: 129-130.

    Younger, John G.
    1990.    "New Observations on Hieroglyphic Seals," Studi Micenea ed Anatolici 28: 85-89.
    1996-1997 [1999].    "The Cretan Hieroglyphic Script: A Review Article," Minos 31-32: 379-400.
    2000a.    "Some Tentative Steps toward Reading Cretan Hieroglyphic," American Journal of Archaeology 104: 367
    2000b.    "Tentative Steps toward Reading Cretan Hieroglyphic," Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 44: 213-14
    2001.    "Reading Cretan Hieroglyphic 2," American Journal of Archaeology 105: 258
    2003.    "Cretan Hieroglyphic Transaction Terms:    "Total Paid" and    "Total Owed"," Cretan Studies [Briciaka. A Tribute to W.C. Brice] 9: 301-16.
    2004.    "Reading Cretan Hieroglyphic 3: H->A," Archaeological Institute of America 105th Annual Meeting, Abstracts 27: 40.
    2005.    "Cretan Hieroglyphic Wool Units (LANA, double mina)." In: Studi in onore di Enrica Fiandra. Contributi di archeologia egea e vicinorientale (Studi egei e vicinorientali 1), edited by Massimo Perna, 405-409. De Boccard, Paris.

    Comments, corrections, questions: John Younger (