The mathematical values of Linear A fraction signs

A recent study by a team based at the University of Bologna, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, has shed new light on the Minoan system of fractions, one of the outstanding enigmas tied to the ancient writing of numbers.

About 3,500 years ago, the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete developed a writing system composed of syllabic signs, called Linear A, which they sometimes used to inscribe offerings at sanctuaries and adorn their jewelry, but mainly assisted the administration of their palatial centers.

Today, this script remains largely undeciphered and includes a complex system of numerical notation with signs that indicated not only whole numbers, but also fractions (such as 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, etc.). While the whole numbers were deciphered decades ago, scholars have been debating on the exact mathematical values of the fractional signs.

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