The Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory (PASP) was founded in 1986 by Thomas G. Palaima as a research center pertaining to the use of writing in Minoan Crete (Cretan Hieroglyphic and Linear A ca. 1850-1450 BCE), Mycenaean Greece and Mycenaeanized Crete (Linear B ca. 1450-1200 BCE) and the island of Cyprus (Cypro-Minoan in the Bronze Age and Cypriote Syllabic script in the historical period ca. 1500-1200 BCE and 750-225 BCE respectively). The setting up of PASP was supported by the Comité International pour les Études Myceniennes, the governing international body for work on these writing systems, their texts and their cultures.
A strength of PASP is that it is part of a graduate research program in the Department of Classics at University of Texas at Austin, a major research university. PASP does not grant its own degrees, but provides graduate students in the UT program who are receiving broad training in all areas of Classical civilization with the opportunity to do specialized research at a high level in areas of Aegean and eastern Mediterranean prehistory and archaeology pertaining to inscribed or marked materials. It also facilitates work by visiting scholars, junior and senior, American and foreign.
PASP has also now helped set up at the University of Texas at Austin a consortium of scholars (professors and graduate students) interested in historical inscriptions and early scripts (Mesopotamian, Anatolian, Syro-Palestinian, Egyptian, Latin, Greek, Mayan, Arabic) in order to present and critique papers in progress. This ‘Scripts Institute’ is called the Institute for the Study of Writing Systems and Decipherment.
(1) A full, but not complete, archives of 1:1 scale photographs of Linear B and Linear A (and Cretan Hieroglyphic) inscriptions (and some Cypro-Minoan and Cypriote Syllabic). The collection also includes color images of selected Knossos and Pylos tablets and of the Khania stirrup jars.
(2) offprint collections from distinguished Mycenaean scholars at the University of Wisconsin (E.L. Bennett, Jr.) and Cambridge University (Frank Stubbings), as well as other sources (e.g., T.B.L. Webster). These have been catalogued and cross-referenced via computer. They contain materials going back to the turn of the century and are a wonderful research tool. The collection has been kept fairly current 1985-present via contributions of offprints to PASP by scholars worldwide, especially connected with the analytical bibliographical journal Studies in Mycenaean Inscriptions and Dialect, which PASP revived in the early 1990’s.
(3) microfilms of important excavations (Pylos, Knossos) and of the original work notes of Michael Ventris, the scholar credited with the decipherment of Linear B in June 1952.
(4) the letters from Michael Ventris to Emmett L. Bennett, Jr.; letters to Alice E. Kober (a senior contemporary of Ventris and arguably the leading scholar in this field until her death on September 16, 1950) from Sir John Myres, Michael Ventris, Emmett L. Bennett, Jr., and John Franklin Daniel, among others (xeroxes of correspondence with Johannes Sundwall); the papers and indices of Alice Kober; the early papers and tablet photographs of E.L. Bennett, Jr.; annotated books from the library of Leonard Palmer; and the scholarly papers pertinent to Aegean scripts of William Brice and Elizabeth Barber).
All these scholars were in the forefront of work on and subsequent to the decipherment of Linear B. We also have xeroxed copies of the correspondence of Arne Furumark, and other primary or photocopied original research papers. Among special treasures that have been exhibited periodically are the letter of Michael Ventris of June 18, 1952 announcing to Emmett L. Bennett, Jr., his decipherment of Linear B and showing how it worked; the 186,000 hand-cut note cards of Alice E. Kober and a copy of her dissertation; the ms. Version of unpublished Scripta Minoa III (we now have a letter from Ventris to William Brice about this); a copy of the famous Ventris Mid-Century report; a copy of the autopsy report on the death of Michael Ventris on September 7, 1956.
PASP wishes to acknowledge in particular the great help of Sue Trombley, Christy Costlow Moilanen, Sarah Buchanan and Dygo Tosa in systematizing and preserving and imaging the Kober archival material.
(5) some casts of Linear B and Cypro-Minoan texts.
(6) primary reference works on Aegean prehistoric inscriptions, the history of writing, early Greek language and Cypriote archaeology.
All published Mycenological colloquia, specialized journals, corpus volumes and editions of tablets (including those in progress) are ready to hand, along with many specialized monographs in linguistics and on aspects of Minoan and Mycenaean cultures. These supplement holdings in the Classics archaeological seminar, reference room and library, which are all located on the same floor of Waggener Hall as PASP and house all but the most specialized archaeological journals and monographs. The university graduate library, located a five-minute walk away, is one of the largest in the USA. Some peculiar gaps have been rectified, e.g., by the acquisition of a complete run of RDAC (Cypriote holdings being weakest, but still considerable). The reference collection has been made full by the addition of books from the collections of Leonard R. Palmer and Emmett L. Bennett, Jr., and by judicious acquisitions over the twenty-eight years of PASP’s existence.