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Linear B Fragment Knossos KN 1484 X a 131 SAMARA from SAMA = Grave Circle or Burial Circle (Click to ENLARGE):

Linear B Fragment Knossos KN 1484 X SAMAra

The NOTES in the illustration of KN 1484 X a 131 provide ample explanation of the most likely meaning of this fragment. However, some clarification is in order. By consulting both the Mycenaean (Linear B) – ENGLISH Glossary and Chris Tselentis’ much longer Linear B Lexicon (ca. 150 pp.) I was able to narrow down the most likely meaning of this fragment by the simple process of elimination. Since neither lexicon gave any other Linear B words beginning with the syllabograms SAMA. Thus, the only possible rendering of this fragment is either, simply SAMA, or the word which both of these Lexicons give, i.e. SAMARA, which is a place name only. Now, since these are the only two major Linear B lexicons currently available online, and they both attempt to account for all possible extant Linear B words on extant tablets and fragments, there can be no other extant word(s) other than these two, at least until such time, if ever it comes, as new Linear B fragments are unearthed, beginning with the syllabograms SAMA, but longer than 2 syllables, and with an entirely different meaning. But as of the present, no such words exist in Linear B.  

Thus, SAMA almost certainly means what Liddell & Scott. 1986, pg. 633, say it means, namely: a sign, mark, token, portent; mound, burial mound; device on a shield etc. Consult Liddell & Scott.

Now, in the context of Mycenaean Greek, I think we can safely narrow down the meaning to either a device on a shield or a burial mound. Since there are very few abstract words in Mycenaean Greek, the other meanings given in Liddell & Scott are pretty much precluded. But Liddell & Scott neither does nor can account for Mycenaean Greek, in which other possible meanings may arise. The other candidate in Mycenaean Greek for SAMA is in fact a “burial circle”, as there is an enormous burial circle right inside the fortress of Mycenae. So in Mycenaean Greek, both of these meanings are tenable: burial mound & burial circle, but the latter carries more weight. Now, since there is a large burial circle right inside Mycenae, then SAMARA almost certainly means the place of the burial circle, i.e. precisely where it is located in the fortress of Mycenae or in any other Myceanean fortress or sites.

Mycenaean Burial Circle (Click to ENLARGE): 

Mycenaean grave circle


Translation of Knossos Tablet, KN 390 J f 21, Erinu, the Avenging Deity. Is she the Minoan Snake Goddess? (Click to ENLARGE):

Translation of Knossos tablet KN 390 J ERINU 360
This is no idle speculation. If indeed the Minoan Snake Goddess is one and the same as ERINU, which is entirely feasible, given that she is after all a snake goddess, wielding not one, but two snakes, then we may at long last have at least a handle on who in fact was the Snake Goddess, none other than the frightening spectre of Erinu. This is all the more striking, as the word Erinys lasts almost unchanged from Mycenaean Greek down to Classical Athens, where in the plural, the goddess mutates into the Eumenides, the Furies or avenging deities. Nothing could be fiercer than those rough-and-tumble “ladies”, whom the Greeks justly feared in their concept of Moira or Fate.

If this is true, then this particular tablet is of great significance to the Minoan religion.

Two of the ERINYES. 3722: Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein, 1751-1829: Erynnien 1787/88. Landesmuseum Oldenburg, Das Schloß (Click to ENLARGE):

Erinu or Erinys or Erinyes

They are the three goddesses of vengeance: Tisiphone (avenger of murder), Megaera (the jealous) and Alecto (constant anger). They were also known as the daughters of the night but were actually the daughters of Uranus and Gaea. Notice in particular the snakes in their hair, hence the clear association I have made with the Minoan Snake goddess (Click to ENLARGE Eumenides & Minoan Snake Goddess):

The Furies



Translation of Knossos Tablet KN 601 A g 02, “Even more for people to admire in Amnisos... ” (Click to ENLARGE):

First of all, it is vital that you read the Notes to the previous post, Knossos Tablet KN 600 A g 01, which is for all intents and purposes almost identical to this tablet; otherwise the grammatical constructs of this tablet will make little sense. A few explanatory notes on the grammatical constructs in both of these tablets, except for “AMINISOYO”, which occurs on this tablet only.

[1] The comment on AMORAMA appears in the previous post. 
[2] As per the notes in tablet KN 600 A g 01, the verb, ESOTO, in Linear B, is the neuter impersonal form of the Greek verb, “to look at, admire”, and so on this tablet the Linear B word, TOSO, must also be neuter. I cannot over-emphasize this.
[3] Since the impersonal verb, ESOTO, contains the prefix “ES” = ancient Greek “eis”, the notion of “in or into” is clearly implied. Hence, the presence of the preposition EPA, which is merely an archaic form of “epi”. Greek verbs prefixed with “es” or “eis” often take the preposition “epa” or “epi”.
[4] The presence of the Linear B, AMINISOYO = Greek archaic genitive, “Amnisoio”, throws a wrench into this translation, as “epa” cannot possibly be modified by the genitive, only the dative. So the question arises, WHAT is modified by “epa”. If we assume that the end of this tablet is truncated, it is quite possible, even likely that the phrase “in the port” follows and if so, it can easily be modified by the genitive, “in the port of Knossos”. But all this is speculative.


Translation of Knossos Tablet KN 600 A g 01, “There is so much for people to admire... ” (Click to ENLARGE):


At first, I found this tablet a little tricky to translate, as it contains the word, “epa”, which I could not recognize off the top of my head. However, it came to me like a flash that “epa” is merely an archaic form of “epi”, as is readily confirmed when we consult Liddell & Scott, 1986, pp. 288-243,  where the meanings of the vast majority of the verbs with this prefix, “epa”, terminate with either, “in, on or over.” This is strong confirmation of the existence of an earlier, archaic form of “epi”, namely “epa”. Consequently, whenever the preposition “epa” occurs in any Linear B tablet, it has to mean “in, on or over” and variations thereof. 

The translation of “amorama”, according to Chris Tselentis, in his lengthy Lexicon, is doubtful, but it does make sound sense in the context of this tablet.

Finally, I have to say that I find both this tablet, KN 600 A g 01 and the next one in the next post, very unusual, to say the least, because neither of them speaks of that obsession of Linear B scribes, statistics and lists. Instead, these two tablets appear to be so informal as to almost defy logic. While tablet KN 600 Ag 01 does not specifically mention Amnisos, KN 601 Ag 02 does. So I think we can safely say that both of these tablets refer to Amnisos, as they are otherwise practically identical on all respects.

What they seem to be saying is that it is a lot of fun for folks to wander around Amnisos, the lovely port of Knossos, and that there is even a possibility the tablet is referring to foreign visitors, in other words, as we would call at least some of them, “tourists”. But that is a bit of stretch, as the very notion of a tourist seems alien to the cultures of the ancient world, especially of Greece, where such visitors from abroad where always called “strangers” or “foreigners”. Of course, the tablet probably also (and even predominantly) is referring to the inhabitants and citizens of Knossos, some of whom dropped by every single day to admire its beauty. On this tablet, we have 25 visitors, and on the next, KN 601 A g 02, we have 9.


Composite of the Ancient Palace of Knossos (ca. 1450 BCE) Click to ENLARGE:

Ancient Palace of Knossos Composite

Haiku, The Sea! The Sea in Linear B, ancient Greek, English & French ...which I am sure you will love (Click to ENLARGE):

Haiku The Sea The Sea!


Knossos Fragment, KN 201 X a 26, TARASA “The Sea”, a Surprise Find! & a Fresco! CLICK TO ENLARGE:

Knossos fragment KN 201 X TARASA the SEA

Although you would think that there should be references to the sea (of all places!) on Linear B tablets and fragments, until now at least such references simply have not appeared. It is a good thing I have slogged through at least 2,000 of the Scripta Minoa fragments and tablets, because at last I found one mentioning the sea, and even if this fragment is truncated on the right, as it surely appears to be, I am still convinced that this is an entire word, and if so, then it can mean only one thing, the sea. The chances of ever finding another Linear B fragment or tablet with this word, the sea, seem very slim indeed, although you never know. One thing you can be sure of, I shall keep on looking.

Minoan Fresco depicting Minoan ships at the island of Thera: Click to ENLARGE:
Fresco Minoan Ships in Thera


POST 300! A Sampling of Linear B Fragments on Amnisos, the Harbour of Knossos, in Scripta Minoa (Click to ENLARGE):

AMINISO 10 samples from Scripta Minoa

In this set of Linear B fragments from Scripta Minoa, we feature even more fragments on Amnisos, the harbour of Knossos. Like fragments and sometimes whole tablets dealing with Knossos, there are scores dealing with Amnisos, and sometimes the same fragment or tablet deals with both Amnisos and Knossos, which should come as no surprise, considering the extreme importance of these two locales to the thriving Minoan economy. One fragment in particular, KN 410 X (top right) is of particular significance, because it reveals more about the Minoan economy than might be assumed at first sight. This fragment states, “to Amnisos”. The only question is, from where?  There can only be 2 possibilities, either (a) from Knossos itself or (b) from overseas, since Amnisos was the international trading port of Knossos. If this distinction sounds a bit academic, I would put it to you that it is not, because either meaning fits the bill supremely. And in any case, the missing portions of some fragments would have said, “from Knossos”, while others would have said “from overseas/from Mycenae/from Egypt” etc. I think we can probably take that much for granted. To summarize, what I am getting at here is simply this, that the Linear B fragments can often reveal something valuable, i.e. at least some information about their context, even where that context is missing. In those instances, such as in this case, where this is not entirely a matter of conjecture, we may find ourselves learning something new about the Minoan/Mycenaean society and economy, however sparse that new information may be.


A Sampling of Linear B Fragments mentioning Knossos & its Harbour, Amnisos in Scripta Minoa (Click to ENLARGE):


This is only a small sampling of the scores of fragments and tablets in the Scripta Minoa mentioning Knossos and its harbour, Amnisos. In the next post, we will feature even more fragments mentioning Amnisos. It is critical to understand the prime importance of both Knossos & Amnisos together in tandem, just as one would picture the Pireaus with Athens and the port of Ostia with Rome.

One of these fragments also mentions the island of Lykinthos. I am providing a map here to pinpoint the precise location of each locale (Click to ENLARGE):

Lykinthos LEFT and Minoan Crete Knossos & Amnisos RIGHT



This article, which Rita Roberts has posted on her blog, is of CRITICAL importance in determining the background of these mysterious folk and the origins of their language and its script, Linear A.

Originally posted on Ritaroberts's Blog:

Whenever family or friends visit us the conversation usually turns to archaeology and the Minoan culture, this is because it is one of the subjects I have an interest in. The main question is usually, what was the Minoans origin as it has always been a mystery until I recently came across the following  BBC News Science & Environment  report which I thought extremely interesting.


Analysis of DNA from ancient remains on the Greek island of Crete suggests the Minoans were indigenous Europeans, shedding new light  have on a debate over the provenance of this ancient culture.

Scholars have variously argued the Bronze Age civilization arrived from Africa, Anatolia or the Middle East.

Details appear in Nature Communications journal.

The concept of the Minoan civilization was first developed by Sir Arthur Evans, the British archaeologist…

View original 567 more words


Translation of Knossos Fragment KN 190 B with the Sypersyllabogram DI by Rita Roberts 

Well over a year ago I became interested in the ancient script writings of the Minoans. These scripts are written on clay tablets and were discovered by Sir Arthur Evans whilst excavating the grand Palace of Knossos in Crete. It was Evans who named these scripts Linear B.

My Linear B teacher and mentor Richard Vallance Janke is extremely helpful in guiding me through what would be a difficult course for me to follow. However, with Richards humour and patience and his unique way of teaching I have found this subject a delight to learn in so much that I have now completed levels 1-4 (Basic to Advanced, Part 1).

Now Richard has given me my first assignment in translating Linear B fragments into English. These fragments seemed simple at a first glance as all of them contained the words KOWA for girl and KOWO for boy, so I thought, this should be reasonably easy. However, when I looked at what I thought was a simple translation where the first word was KOWA followed by the single syllabogram DI this confused me, I had no idea what this could possibly mean.

I know that Richard has been working hard on his new theory of Sypersyllabograms. I call them Supergrams to myself, so I knew he would advise me to consult the Linear B English Glossary and the Linear B Lexicon a much larger dictionary where I most likely would find what the Syllabogram DI might mean, this I did and to my astonishment there I found an entry which made sense " diwiya" alternately spelled "diwiyaya" meaning "a or the Priestess of the god Zeus".
This Sypersyllabogram DI meaning is to me a logical translation since the three most important deities the Minoans worshipped were Pipituna, the Snake Goddess and Zeus, hence my translation as follows:

Translation of Knossos Fragment KN 190 B with the Sypersyllabogram DI by Rita Roberts (Click to ENLARGE):

Folder Ref DI translation 2

Rita Roberts

NOTE by Richard Vallance Janke.

Folks, this is Rita’s firs major contribution as an official translator of Linear B fragments. Considering that Rita only just began learning Linear B in the spring of 2013, she has come a very, very long way indeed. The task of translating this recalcitrant fragment placed enormous intellectual demands on Rita, and she has surpassed herself in the sheer ingenuity of her translation, which I would never have dreamt of myself, in spite of my extensive knowledge of Linear B, and a translation which I consider to be not only second to none, but highly accurate. Congratulations, Rita. We look forward to more fine translations from your expert hand.



Translation of Knossos Fragment KN 212 X - ivory worker(s)? (Click to ENLARGE):

Knossos fragment KN 212 X EREPAIRO
This particular fragment poses yet another vexing problem in the translation of Linear B fragments. Where context is lacking, as it surely is here, a tablet often admits of more than one translation, and often several translations, but if this so, which one is the most likely?  In this case, when I consulted Liddell & Scott (1986), I immediately discovered a verb, “to trick or destroy”, which fit the bill perfectly, but the real problem here is that this verb is almost certainly of much later Greek origin, and is Ionic or Attic, not Mycenaean. This is made all the more obvious by the fact that the primary meanings of the verb are abstract, and if anything, abstract words are few and far between in Mycenaean Greek. That is our first interpretation. The second [2] is far more likely to be correct because ivory workers were commonplace in the Minoan economy. The problem here is that I had to invent the noun, which may or may not have existed in the Mycenaean era. Although the noun is purely a construct of my own making, it does make perfect sense in the context; so I am going to assume that something like this noun may have existed in Mycenaean times. Otherwise, if either or both of these interpretations does not pass muster, this fragment must be deemed unintelligible. 


Hi, friends! More mnemonics to learn the Linear B syllabograms MA MI MO NA NE NU Click to ENLARGE:

Mnemonics for Linear B syllabograms MA MI MO NA NE NU

Well, then, here is another dose of mnemonics to learn more of those pesky Linear B syllabograms, which can stump even the most assiduous and enthusiastic of learners. I know they did me. It took me months to master even all of the basic syllabograms, which is why I resorted to mnemonics myself, which were a great help to me.


Linear B Mnemonics for K Series Syllabograms (Click to ENLARGE):

mnemonics for Linear B KA KI KO KU syllabograms

Judging from the number of visits we have been getting to our blog in the past few days, it certainly looks as if folks really appreciate this fun way of learning Linear B Syllabograms. Unfortunately, it does not always work out precisely as I would like it to. For instance, try as I might, I just could not come up with anything remotely mnemonic for the syllabogram KE. If anyone can, please be my guest.


Linear B Mnemonics for D Series Syllabograms (Click to ENLARGE):

Linear B Mnemonics for DA DO DU DE DI

Cute eh?

Mnemonics for learning Linear B Syllabograms: Vowels

Over a year ago, when we first started up this blog on learning the ins and outs of Linear B in all its intricacies and finer points, I was sorely tempted to teach (so-to-speak) Linear B vowels and syllabograms by means of mnemonics, but I rather thought this might come off across as rather insulting to folks’ intelligence... well, except for my own, for instance, and the intelligence of plenty of other people, as I might well have imagined at the time (and did!), since many of us lesser lights learn far better by mnemonic or visual association than by mere rote learning, of which I personally stand in horror! So, at the time, thinking the wiser of it, I didn’t take that route, but now, being a lot less wiser for it, I might as well go for it, which is why you see this silly little chart illustrating at least one way (my way, as if!) for learning the Linear B vowels by mnemonics.

Mnemonics for learning Linear B Syllabograms: Vowels (Click to ENLARGE):

Linear B Mnemonics A I U E O

Just to drive you completely insane, from time to time over the next few months, I shall be doing precisely the same thing for all of the syllabograms and key homophones. Some of you will love this approach; others it will probably leave cold; and still others may hate it. But, heck, why not let everyone have his or her say in court.  If you have even funnier suggestions for mnemonic learning devices for Linear B syllabograms, homophones and vowels, toss them our way in the “Comments” Section of our Blog, or if you like, you can e-mail your suggestions to me at:

and I shall be glad to post them. All for a good laugh!


A Friend of mine just recently asked me for the Table of Basic Linear B Syllabograms and I obliged him with (Click to ENLARGE):

Linear B Basic Values with basic Greek values

I thought you would enjoy it too, as it gives those of you who just may possibly, eventually, given the right incentive, wish to learn Linear B, especially those of you already well conversant with ancient Greek, since this little Table cross-correlates a number of painfully obvious Greek words with their Linear B equivalents, making it quite clear that, well, Greek is Greek is Greek.

Oh and as for that Prime Directive, that no Linear B word whatsoever can end in a consonant, you have best take that little piece of advice deadly seriously, because if you do not, you will never understand Linear B. Where all other so-called rules fail, this one does not, when it comes to Linear B. IT IS THE PRIME DIRECTIVE! 


One Brave Soul’s Courageous Attempt to Transcribe some of the Proemium of the Iliad into Mycenaean Linear B (Click to ENLARGE):

Proemium of the Iliad in Linear B

Now I must admit that when I ran across this wonderful exercise some brave soul recently undertook to try to translate at least some of the Proemium of the first book of Homer’s Iliad into Mycenaean Linear B, I was delightfully rewarded by the person’s true grasp of the manifold difficulties (some of them well-nigh insurmountable, or so it would appear) in any such hazard-fraught attempt!  But as I have so often said before on our blog, someone has got to do it first. And my congratulations to this person! I would be delighted if you would identify yourself to us all.

Eventually, we will be attempting the same zany exercise, not only with the Proemium (Introduction) to Book I of the Iliad, but for certain portions of the famous Catalogue of Ships in Book II, which will more easily lend themselves to translation from Homeric Greek to Linear B text, since the Homeric Greek in the Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad is the most archaic Greek in the entire Iliad.  And the reasons why we shall insist on translating certain key passages in the Catalogue of Ships will become abundantly clear when we eventually get around to said translations.  But don’t hold your breath. That will not happen until sometime in 2015, since I must first translate the entire Catalogue of Ships (viz. Lines 489-784 of Book II of the Iliad) this year, before we can even begin to think about taking that next bold step.

In the meantime, I invite you to enjoy our friend’s translation as we do.


End of our Translation of the Introduction to Book II of the Iliad: lines 109-130 Click to ENLARGE: 

Iliad 2 109-130 Greek1800

As I promised in my last post, I would draw to a definite conclusion my translation of the Introduction to Book II of the Iliad, arbitrarily cutting the whole thing off at line 130, since after this point Agamemnon, after his usual fashion, flies off into a fit (even worse than this one!), lamenting in self-pity that Almighty Zeus would have dared pull such a stunt on him, and not allow to the Archeans to sack Troy, but to have to turn around and sail back home with their tails between their legs, something no man as arrogant and pig-headed as Agamemnon would ever accept. When we next return to our translation of The Catalogue of Ships, starting with line 484, everything is hunkey-dorey again, since Agamemnon has finally (finally!... was there ever any question he would not!) got his way, and he is mustering all the companies of ships of all his kings in fealty from every country state in Greece, and is hell-bent & determined to get his way, and sack the city of Troy.... which everyone knows that is precisely what he will do, even poor old blow-hard Zeus, who can do nothing about it anymore.

I shall focus specifically on the extreme importance of translating the Catalogue of Ships (lines 484-789), which is considered to be written in the most archaic Greek of all the Iliad over and above all of the rest of the Iliad, even the rest of Book II,. But enough of that for now. 


Homer: Iliad: Book II: The Catalogue of Ships (continued)  – Introduction: Lines 76-108 (Click to ENLARGE):

Iliad 2 76-108 in Greek

With this post, we continue our translation of the Introduction to Book II of Homer’s Iliad, which contains the famous Catalogue of Ships (lines 484-779). You can find the Introductory texts to Book II of the Iliad in sequence by clicking on the Heading, “Iliad: Book II” at the top of our home page, right under the title, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae. I have so far translated lines 1-108 of the Introduction, and I shall soon post lines 109-130, which will bring my translation of the Introduction to Book II of the Iliad to an end.

I have translated the Introduction specifically to provide the setting for the translation of the entire Catalogue of Ships (lines 484-779). which is much more germane to our purposes, given that the a good deal of the grammar and vocabulary of Catalogue of Ships (lines 484-779) can be seen to have been either directly or indirectly derived from the much earlier Mycenaean Greek grammar and vocabulary in Linear B, and from that of Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, the closest cousin of the East Greek dialects to Mycenaean Greek. I shall shortly post (what I consider to be) the remainder of the Introduction to Book II of the Iliad, that is, lines 109-130, after which I will jump straightaway to the Catalogue of ships, starting at line 484 of Book II, and proceeding all the way to the end of the Catalogue of Ships (line 779). I expect this translation to take up the rest of 2014 and the better part of 2015.




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