Art Archive/National Archaeological Museum Athens/Dagli Orti
The words of the ancients carved on clay tablets in Linear B (ancient Mycenaean) confirm numerous details of Homer’s descriptions. Linear B was first deciphered in 1952 by British architect Michael Ventris. The tablets date to the Late Bronze Age (1550–1200 B.C.) and refer to furniture inlaid with ivory, like Penelope’s chair; “bronze armor” like that worn by the Achaeans; “fragrant garments” like those worn by Helen (whose face launched a thousand ships); “tanning leather,” a process described by Homer in the fight over Patroclus’ body; and “bath pourers” like the woman who recognizes Odysseus by his scar while giving him a bath. Additionally, some of the names in the Linear B tablets match the names of Homeric heroes: Aiwa (Ajax), Ekoto (Hector) and Akireu (Achilles).