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Linear B Medallions & Their Meanings.


My highly skilled, really PRO student, Rita Roberts, just posted these medallions on her Bog, so I simply HAD to repost them on mine. They are actually on a lot of Linear B sites. No wonder! But Rita got them all! No one has before. Clever!

Originally posted on Ritaroberts's Blog:


Father-Daughter Meddalion

PA-te  Father  Tu-ka-te Daughter

Boy Medallion

Boy .  Ko-Wo  Boy

Mother Medallion.

Mother   Ma -te

Mother daughter medallion

Mother Daughter     Ma-te      Tu-ka-te

Hera Medallion

Hera        E-ra

Shepherds medallion  po-me

Shepherd      Po-me

Medallion Preistess of the winds

Priestess of the Winds  .  A-  Ne -Mo -I – Ye-  Re – A

Medallion Dionysus di-wo-nu-so

Dionysus   Di – Wo – Nu – So

View original

Twitter Hash Tags #HashTags to be Used to Search Linear B, Linear A & Linear C.

Twitter Hash Tags #HashTags to be Used to Search Linear B, Linear A & Linear C: Click to ENLARGE:


What is a Hash Tag #HashTag #hashtag?

Strange as it may seem, so many people with Twitter accounts or using Twitter, and other boards, such as PINTEREST etc., do not know what a Hash Tag means. First of all, it looks like this: #HashTag #hashtag. Secondly, it can be defined simply as

[A] the Google Search term, Subject or Topic or, more generally, the Area of Interest you as a Twitter account owner wish to get people to search for your #HashTag or search term you should input in any Twitter message you send to anyone, to ensure (at least to some extent) that anyone searching will find something almost exactly matching those topics of specific concern to both you and them or...

[B] for someone who simply wishes to search a #HashTag #hashtag for the very same reason(s).

Issues and Problems with #HashTag #hashtag Hash Tags to Keep in Mind:

Before I proceed, allow me to explain: I am a professional librarian (MLS, Master of Library and Information Science, University of Western Ontario, 1975) and so I can safely say, in this sole instance, that I actually do KNOW what I am saying.   

(1) Hash Tags (#HashTag #hashtag) can only find exactly what you wish folks to find in your + anyone else’s Twitter account if they exactly match your Google Search Term or Subject, and I mean exactly. And even then there will be false hits, as is always the case with stupid Google and equally stupid computers! For instance, the only #HashTags #hashtags which guarantee you will find Tweets on Linear A, B & C are: #MinoanlinearA, #MycenaeanLinearB, #supersyllabograms, #ArcadoCypriotLinearC & #Mycenaean Greek. Supersyllabograms exist in Linear B alone, and so if you use that search term you are guaranteed to get a lot of Tweets bang on for Linear B.

The only ones which will return a high hit rate for Linear A, B & C are: #LinearA #LinearB & #LinearC + the other hash tags in the 80-90% range. However, the problem with these 3 Google Search terms is Google itself (big surprise, eh!). Not only will you find ALL #LinearA #LinearB & #LinearC, i.e. on Linear A, Linear B & Linear C, you will also find ALL on Linear A, Linear B & Linear C. What! Don’t be ridiculous! - you say. But this is no laughing matter. It just so happens that there are there are three (3) areas of advanced mathematics which use the exact same hash tags! Click Wikipedia banner for the article on Linear Algebra:



Linear algebra is the branch of mathematics concerning vector spaces and linear mappings between such spaces. 

So be forewarned!

(2) If you use Hash Tags (#HashTags #hashtags) which reasonably closely approximate what you wish folks to find in your + anyone else’s Twitter account (70-80%), you can use slightly less specific Hash Tags (#HashTag #hashtag) such as: #AncientGreek #ancientgreek #ArcadoCypriot. The problem here is that the first two will pick up anything having anything at all to do with Ancient Greek, while the last one will still pick everything on Linear C (#LinearC), but will also pick up everything on the ancient Greek Arcado-Cypriot dialect! Since Arcado-Cypriot was written both with the Linear C syllabary and with the ancient Greek alphabet, you see the problem.

(3) If you Hash Tags (#HashTag #hashtag) dealing with ancient linguistics specifically concerned with Ancient Greek & closely related subjects, you will get all the Tweets on these topics! Now we are into the 1,000s! Your search will include all of the subjects above in [1] (80-90%), but you will also have to rummage through 1,000s of Tweets just to get 200 or so Tweets on anything in [2] above (70-80%). However, this is still an extremely useful way of approaching the dilemma, because that is what it is. Since so many people do not use #hashtags on Twitter, they will resort instead to writing out Linear A, Linear B, Linear C etc. in full for anything in (1) or (2) above. So you are bound to see anything in [2] above in the full text of many Tweets here for that reason. This is called a contextual search, and it is quite useful, but only if you have exhausted all your options in [2] above.

(4) Some useful #hashtag search terms at level [2] (80-90%) above are: #Minoan #Knossos #Mycenae #Mycenaean #Pylos #Phaistos #syllabary #syllabicscripts #syllabograms #logograms #ideograms #AncientGreek #HomericGreek. But you will get a lot of false hits, because, for example, ideograms are the default script for so many oriental languages, Chinese, Japanese, Korean etc., but which account for only a little more than half of all the characters in either Minoan Linear A or Mycenaean Linear B.

(5) Anything less specific than all of the search terms in [1][2] & [3] will lead to disastrous results.

(6) Twitter Hash Tags #HashTag #HashTags #hashtag #hashtags must be input as follows:

[a] There must be no spaces or extraneous punctuation between all of the words in the hash tag! So for example #MycenaeanGreek or #mycenaeangreek will find Tweets on Mycenaean Greek, but #Mycenaean Greek will chop off the word Greek, seeing it only as a word in the Tweet. In other words, ##Mycenaean Greek will find absolutely anything with #Mycenaean as a #hashtag. Another example: #ArcadoCypriot will find everything on Arcado-Cypriot, whereas #Arcado-Cypriot again chops off Cypriot, searching only #Arcado, an almost useless search, since hardly anyone would index a Tweet with that bizarre search term!

[b] Twitter #HashTags #hashtags are CASE-sensitive so unfortunately you will have to use both UC & LC search terms, no matter how accurate they are. For example, if you want absolutely everything on #Mycenaean Greek you have to input #MycenaeanGreek & #mycenaeangreek, since so many people on the Internet cannot be bothered with CAPS.

[c] If no one on Twitter has ever used a search term you are the first to use, i.e. to invent, such as my - #Supersyllabograms #Supersyllabogram #Supersyllabograms #supersyllabograms, no one will find your Tweets on that subject for quite some time, because at first no on knows what the hell a supersyllabogram even is, as if!... However, as time goes on, if your invented search term proves to be a big hit or big deal on the Internet, folks will begin to cotton on, and will start using it as a search terms. But this can take months, a year or years, so be patient. I recently searched – supersyllabograms – on Google, a term I invented a year ago, and found 3 pages of Google hits, all bang on because there are no synonyms for it whatsoever. So I am making progress, turtle-like, but what the heck eh...


Without further ado (or maybe with it!) let’s all wish Rita Happy Birthday with her WIPO & EREPATO!.

Without further ado (or maybe with it!) let’s all wish Rita Happy Birthday with her WIPO & EREPATO! Click to BLOW UP, eh...

Linear B -001 -02

I simply have not the faintest idea (though if I did, I probably would faint!) who designed this cluttered Birthday Card, but they must have been high on mushrooms, marijane or some kind of hallucinogen, eh. OMG! And the notes! They fairly shout at us, Hey READ ME, why don’t you, anyway, eh! (eh being Canajun for A, ha ha!, and since I am a Canajun, I know what THAT means, eh!... so do all other Canajuns, a few Brits, a few Aussies & a few Kiwis, but no Yanks, who for some bizarre reason insist on saying, HUH?, which unlike EH! sounds kinda stupid, eh!). I don’t know about YOU, but I am going to fly to Herakleion (& if you don’t know where that is or you are American & don’t know anyway, FORGET IT, EH!)

So have a wonderful, stupendous, hyper-terrific, copacetic, ecstatic, far out, flighty, spacey, what planet are YOU from?, Plan 9 1/2 from Outer Space etc. etc. etc. Birthday, eh, Rita.... because WIPO simply does not have the graphic skills, let alone writing skills, to cobble together another Birthday Card like this for at least another year, eh. Anyway, it IS one astonishing CARD, totally unique on this little planet of ours full of HUGE ELEPHANTS and little WIPOs, don’t you think, eh?

Yours most sincerely trying with all my might to avoid any nearby EREPATOS! Oh and of course Rita will have to Translate this great card for us, because no Canajun in his or her right mind would even dream of translating it, except for a million Euros... hint, hint, Rita, eh.

Ton ami canadien (Canajun eh!) Click to ENLARGE, even if no-one has ever seen an enlarged beaver! They sure would not like that, and might nibble your finger nails off if you tried!

Canajun eh!

Richard EH!


The moment we've all been waiting for. This is it! Ideogram for “horse” IQO + Our First Supersyllabogram = ZE, “a team”: our First Concrete Example = “a team of horses” 

I honestly believe that this is the first time ever since Michael Ventris' successful decipherment of Linear B in July 1952 that a major step may have been taken in the further decipherment of those elements of Linear B which, at least until now, have been entirely recalcitrant to any meaningful decipherment. I have spent the past half year ploughing through 3,000+ tablets & fragments of the Scripta Minoa Catalogue of some 4,000+ fragments and tablets unearthed by Sir Arthur Evans between 1900 & 1903, with further excavations to follow in later years, prior and subsequent to World War I. This irreplaceable precious treasure trove of the largest collection of Linear B fragments ever discovered is available online in its entirety at Heidelberg University, Germany, here:

Heidelberg University

I fully expect that I will eventually be able to extract hundreds of examples all told of the potentially widespread use of an Ideogram immediately preceded or followed by a Syllabogram, and always in one of these two specific, invariable orders. In other words, we are speaking of a “formulaic phrase”, though of course, since the Linear B word in question is not spelled out in syllabograms as it “normally” would be, we are not strictly speaking of “phrases” here, but of a formulaic expression of an Ideogram immediately preceded or followed by a Syllabogram in every single instance, without exception, or as we choose to define it, a Supersyllabogram.

Almost from the outset I was astounded to discover the recurrence of the exact same sequence of an Ideogram + Syllabogram no less than seven (7!) times on only two pages of the Scripta Minoa, i.e. pages 144 & 146. This formulaic expression of the Supersyllabogram ZE (plus a single instance of the SSY MO), I must underline, was only the first of scores and scores of Supersyllabograms I have since unearthed in several categories of tablets and fragments from the Scripta Minoa. My discovery of our very first Supersyllabogram in May of this year (2014) was, to say the very least, a real eye opener. For certain Linear B expressions compounded of a single ideogram invariably followed or preceded by the same syllabogram, which have utterly defied decipherment to date, suddenly became accessible for decipherment. The astonishing thing is that the very first two of these expressions involves the Linear B ideogram for IQO = horse + the syllabogram ZE, and always in the exact same order in every single instance, as you can judge for here yourself:

7 Linear B Tablets & Fragments from Knossos Illustrating the Use of the Supersyllabogram ZE = a team (of horses) Click to ENLARGE:

Linear B the Supersyllabogram SSY wheel ZE

All this was almost too good to be true. But when I fell upon even more of these expressions for the second instance of the ideogram for “horse”, I could scarcely believe my eyes. But there it was, plain as the nose on my face. 

Now, as you can see at once for yourselves from the first example of these seven fragments of Linear B, the ideogram(s) – 1 or 2, as the case may be – are always in the precise same order and always, without exception, immediately followed by the syllabogram ZE. But what, you are obviously asking, is that single syllabogram ZE supposed to mean? All by itself, it would mean precisely nothing. But in this specific, particular and often recurring formula, I originally deduced that ZE always meant “a halter” or “a yoke”, but I was dead wrong.

An esteemed colleague of mine, Ms. Gretchen Leonhardt, who is also a highly competent decipherer and translator of Linear B tablets and fragments, soon enough set the record straight for me, convincing me beyond a shadow of a doubt that, in fact, the Supersyllabogram in the specific context of military matters could mean one thing and one thing only, “a pair of” (wheels etc.) or “a team of” (horses), and absolutely nothing else.

Moreover, further research on my part has confirmed Ms. Leonhardt’s hypothesis beyond question. Chris Tselentis, near the end of his excellent Linear B Lexicon, has provided us with numerous examples of very well known Linear B tablets to illustrate the various problems which so often arise in our attempts to decipher or translate Linear B tablets and fragments. Among these tablets there is one which cracks the case wide open. Here it is:

Zeugesi & KN So 4429 wheel ZE

And Tselentis got it right bang on. He correctly translates the ideogram for wheel + the syllabogram ZE + the number 3 as “three pairs of wheels”, and this in spite of the fact that he did not quite get it right with the rest of the text. But no-one is perfect, so we can simply let that go. Anyway, I have corrected his own translation as illustrated above.  

All that follows is my original text from May 2014, revised wherever necessary to reflect several new revelations on supersyllabograms since then:

In the previous post illustrating Thomas G. Palaima's expert translation of Heidelberg Tablet FL 1994, we saw that he interpreted – and as it turns out, correctly — the syllabograms KO ZA PA PO & MU as being just the initial syllable of – and again, I must lay particular emphasis on this observation – the names of major Minoan/Mycenaean centres. Is this just a fluke? Far from it. The precise point is this, why would expert Linear B scribes bother with spelling out over and over the names of these cities and sites with all their syllabograms when “Everyone (meaning among all of us scribes) knows perfectly well that the first syllabogram, in other words, the first syllable alone, and nothing else, tells us in no uncertain terms that this is is the name of one of our important Minoan/Mycenaean centres, and if you cannot see that, you must be blind.” (So they say, the scribes).

We do well to keep this firmly in mind: the Linear B scribes never inscribed their tablets for us, they did so for themselves and for the specific, sole function of annual accounting in the context of their own society. Nothing could be more obvious. That is the whole point to this marvellous adventure of deciphering ancient scripts! This was not only the lifetime mission the great Michael Ventris laid out for himself — it was nothing short of the love of his life. And since I love his work so dearly, can you be even remotely surprised that I will do absolutely anything to be able at last to decipher scores of of previously undecipherable Linear B tablets to honour his name?      

Recasting this phenomenon as a general “rule”, Linear B scribes appear to have frequently resorted to using the first syllabogram, in other words, the first syllable alone of (sometimes long) place names, instead of wasting their time writing them out in full. Makes perfect sense to me. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Not only are the full Linear B spellings of place names treated in this manner, but also several other key components of the Minoan/Mycenaean socio-economic infrastructure, including agriculture, crafts, household matters, trade, and of course, religious affairs. I shall amply illustrate this frequently recurring phenomenon in the coming months. In a nutshell, my premise is this: single syllabograms on fragments and tablets, which have defied decipherment to date, can in fact be contextually deciphered in a manner which makes perfect sense, no matter how you look at it, just as Thomas G. Palaima has so clearly illustrating in his masterful translation of Linear B Tablet Heidelberg FL 1994. 

The fact that so many Linear B fragments and tablets, and I mean everywhere they have been found, and not just in Knossos, are liberally peppered with single syllabograms either immediately before or after the ideograms they modify must signify something of real import to us in the further decipherment of Linear B. Why?... well, because the Linear B palace scribes knew perfectly well what they were doing, which is to say, what they were writing, why they wrote it the way they did, and especially how they wrote it, when they consciously and deliberately so often had recourse to single syllabograms. This practically begs the question – what on earth were they up to?  Precisely this: they used the first syllabogram only, in other words the first syllable of vitally important Linear B words, which would otherwise have had to be spelled out, thereby wasting valuable space on what are for the most part, very small tablets measuring no more than 15-20 cm. at most. In other words, they were making liberal use of shorthand (at least as we would call it), and liberally using it thousands of years before we in the modern world finally cottoned onto it again in the late nineteenth century. Clever bunch of lads, weren't they?

But, oh no, the Linear B scribes weren't even satisfied at stopping there. After all, “If we are going to use shorthand with initial syllabograms alone, why not go whole hog and use formulaic expressions of an ideogram (or even more than one ideogram!) + a syllabogram (or even more than one syllabogram!), and always in the same precise order, in other words, as a formula. Sound familiar? That is precisely what Homer did over and over and over in the Iliad? Co-incidence. I am now beginning to sincerely doubt that.

So I have to ask, what is a big chunk of the corpus of Linear B if not, in essence, shorthand, pure and simple. And if this is the case, we have some serious rethinking to do about the very nature of Linear B. It may even mean going back to the drawing board in the re-decipherment of a considerable number of Linear B tablets and fragments. What a mind-boggling prospect! But, hey, sounds like fun to me. To put a fine point on it, this is going to be a truly daunting challenge, if we are to really get at the nitty-gritty of accurate contextual decipherment. This is something we can no longer afford to ignore.

Why Supersyllabograms are What They are: 
Allow me to explain why I call such syllabograms “Supersyllabograms”. It is really quite straightforward. Since such syllabograms always and invariably consist of the first syllable alone of an entire Linear B word, they must perforce be shorthand. Take this premise just one little step further, as I have in fact done and fully demonstrated in the table of 7 (almost) identical formulaic expressions of the syllabograms (chariot) + IQO (horse) + ZE in every single instance, and what do you get? - none other than the entire phrase, “a pair of chariot wheels” (since after all, chariots need two wheels, as if...) or, alternatively, whenever horses are involved, “a team of horses”. That is one big mouthful for 1 little ideogram + one little syllabogram in a standardized, invariable formula. The whole point is that these formulae recur so often on the Linear B fragments and tablets in the Scripta Minoa as to make it virtually impossible to ignore them, except at our own peril born of a frustratingly annoying inability to make any sense whatsoever of such expressions. Yet, as I shall illustrate many times over in the next year or so, such expressions not only exist, but recur very frequently on Linear B fragments and tablets, regardless of provenance, whether from Knossos, Pylos, Mycenae or anywhere else... (some original text erased, no longer being relevant). 

Add all of these components together, and what do you get? ... the Supersyllabogram, a new term I have had to coin, simply because it fits the bill to a tee. And there you have it. At least for now.

More to come. Much much more. I welcome and strongly encourage feedback and especially criticism of my basic premise here, and of its theoretical soundness or lack thereof, for otherwise, none of us can or will make any further headway in the eventual decipherment of a huge chunk of the Linear B corpus. But somehow, intuitively and through the process of inductive logic, I truly believe I am onto something, possibly even something big where the decipherment of large portions of Linear B “texts” - an inaccurate term if ever there was one, should my theory prove substantially sound.

And to test my hypothesis against reality, which I am ethically and honour bound to do, I shall convey all of this information to Prof. Thomas G. Palaima, Prof. John G. Younger and to every other major Linear B scholar or researcher whose name comes to mind. If any of you who are reading this post, or know of anyone who is just such an expert, please identify the same to me immediately. And, if you yourself are a truly enthusiastic student of Linear B in any way, shape or form, please do not hesitate to contact me, or even better, to comment, in favour, against or neutrally, on this (potentially) ground-breaking post on our blog.



Originally posted on Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae:

The moment we've all been waiting for. This is it! Ideologogram = Ideogram + Supersyllabogram: our First Concrete Example = (chariot) halter: 

Linear B chariot halter for a horse + halter for a horse stallion and mareI sincerely believe that this is the first time ever since Michael Ventris' successful decipherment of Linear B in July 1952 that a major step may have been taken in the further decipherment of those elements of Linear B which have, at least until now, been entirely recalcitrant to any meaningful decipherment.  I have spent the last month or so ploughing through several hundred fragments from pages 140-169 of the Scripta Minoa Catalogue of some 3,500 fragments and tablets unearthed by Sir Arthur Evans between 1900 & 1903, with further excavations to follow in later years, prior and subsequent to World War I. This irreplaceable precious treasure trove of the largest collection of Linear B fragments ever discovered is available online in its entirety at Heidelberg…

View original 1,933 more words

All 9 Supersyllabograms for Amphorae & Vessels in Mycenaean Linear B.

All 9 Supersyllabograms for Amphorae & Vessels in Mycenaean Linear B – Click to ENLARGE:

Mycenaean Linear B 9 Supersyllabograms for Vessels

Of the 9 supersyllabograms for amphorae & vessels in Mycenaean Linear B, only one (1) is derived (D) = SORO (ancient Greek = soros) or “urn for the ashes of the dead” or “funerary urn” (Liddell & Scott, 1986, pg. 643). The rest are all attributed (A) on Linear B tablets, regardless of provenance. But this is the only entry in Liddell & Scott which closely matches amphorae, vessels, pots & urns, and it is so convincing that I feel quite sure it is the correct interpretation in this specific context.

Following are two Linear B fragments which nicely illustrate the use of the supersyllabograms RO (crooked) & DI (dedicated to Zeus) Click to ENLARGE:

Knossos fragments Crooked Pot and Amphora dedicated to Zeus

This concludes our review of supersyllabograms related to amphorae, vessels, pots & urns in Mycenaean Linear B.

It has become apparent to me that at least half or possibly even the majority of basic syllabograms and at least one logogram (for MERI = honey) are supersyllabograms. If this turns out to be the case (as I am quite sure it will), these results will serve to confirm my underlying hypothesis that the Mycenaean Linear B syllabary is shorthand to a considerable extent, given also the Linear B has around 100 ideograms as well, so many of which either contain attributive supersyllabograms inside them or have as many as three (3!) environmental supersyllabograms either preceding (proclitic) or following them (enclitic). 




Brief Glossary of Linguistic Terms Used in Chapter 13, Mycenaean Greek, of A Companion to the Ancient Greek Language, by E.J. Bakker (2014).

Brief Glossary of Linguistic Terms Used in Chapter 13, Mycenaean Greek, of A Companion to the Ancient Greek Language, by E.J. Bakker (2014) Click to ENLARGE Snapshot of the Beginning and End of this Chapter:

Bakker 2014 Chapter13 Mycenaean Greek 

Ablaut = The Indo-European ablaut is a system of apophony (regular vowel variations) in the Proto-Indo-European language that has significantly influenced both ancient and modern Indo-European languages. In English the strong verb sing, sang, sung and its related noun song illustrate this shift in vowels.

Consonant cluster = a consonant cluster or consonant blend is a group of consonants which have no intervening vowel. In English, the groups /spl/ and /ts/ are consonant clusters in the word splits & /psy/ in psychology, psychiatry etc.

Diaeresis = two adjacent vowels, in adjacent syllables, not separated by a consonant or pause and not merged into a diphthong & pronounced as a unit (one sound) as in “aisle” “aesthetic” or “oil”, i.e. pronounced separately, as in “coincidental” or “intuitive”.

Enclitic = a word pronounced with so little emphasis that it is shortened and forms part of the preceding word, e.g., n't in can't + Proclitic = a word pronounced with so little emphasis that it is shortened and forms part of the following word, for example, you in y'all (American slang only).

Eponym = a name or noun formed after a person's name. For example, the Odyssey is from the name Odysseus, and the Ames Test, which tests for carcinogens, from its inventor, Bruce Ames. It is back-formed from "eponymous", from the Greek "eponymos" meaning "giving name".  

Grassmann's law = a dissimilatory phonological process in Ancient Greek and Sanskrit which states that if an aspirated consonant is followed by another aspirated consonant in the next syllable, the first one loses the aspiration.

Intervocalic = an intervocalic consonant is a consonant between two vowels in the middle of a word. Intervocalic consonants are associated with lenition, a phonetic process that causes consonants to weaken and eventually disappear entirely.

Haplography = (from Greek: haplo- 'single' + -graphy 'writing') is the act of writing once what should be written twice. For example, the English word idolatry, the worship of idols, comes from the Greek eidololatreia, but one syllable (lo) has been lost through haplography, and endontics loses one vowel from endodontics (do). Note that these vowels, which are later lost in almost all ancient Greek dialects, are almost always present in Mycenaean Greek.

Isogloss = also called a heterogloss is the geographic boundary of a certain linguistic feature, such as the pronunciation of a vowel, the meaning of a word, or use of some syntactic feature. Major dialects are typically demarcated by groups of isoglosses. For instance, isoglosses in West Greek dialects, such as Doric Greek, are considerably different than those in East Greek dialects, such as Mycenaean, Arcado-Cypriot, Aeolic, Ionic & Attic Greek.

Lexical diffusion =  is both a phenomenon and a theory. The phenomenon is that whereby a phoneme is modified in a subset of the lexicon, and spreads gradually to other lexical items. For example, in English, /u?/ has changed to /?/ in good and hood but not in food. The related theory, proposed by William Wang in 1969, is that all sound changes originate in a single word or a small group of words and then spread to other words with a similar phonological make-up, but may not spread to all words in which they potentially could apply.

Morph =a word segment that represents one morpheme in sound or writing. For example, the word infamous is made up of three morphs – in-, fam(e), -eous--each of which represents one morpheme.

Morpheme = an abstract unit of meaning, whereas a morph is a formal unit with a physical shape.

Phoneme = any of the perceptually distinct units of sound in a specified language that distinguish one word from another, for example p, b, d, and t in the English words pad, pat, bad, and bat or o in cot, con, core.

Prevocalic = occurring immediately before a vowel.

Psilosis = Psilosis is the sound change in which Greek lost the consonant sound /h/ during antiquity. The term comes from the Greek psilosis ("smoothing, thinning out") & is related to the name of the smooth breathing (psilei), the sign for the absence of initial /h/ in a word. Dialects that have lost /h/ are called psilotic.

Syncretism = the discrete identity of distinct morphological forms of a word, such as verb conjugations, and declensions of nouns, adjectives, pronouns etc. (mostly) in inflectional languages like Greek & Latin. In Attic Greek, nom. logos (word) changes to logou in the genitive & in Latin, nom. rex (king)changes to regis in the genitive.

Toponym = a place name, e.g. Knossos, Mycenae, Pylos, Lasynthos, Zakros etc.

Richard Vallance Janke, Oct. 6 2014

Rita Robert’s Excellent Translation of Knossos Tablet KN 1198 E x 205 “Tanaposo the shepherd”.

Rita Robert’s Excellent Translation of Knossos Tablet KN 1198 E x 205 “Tanaposo the shepherd” Click to ENLARGE:

Knossos KN 1198 E x 205 Tanaposo

I really have very little to say about this very fine translation Rita Roberts has made of Knossos Tablet KN 1198 E x 205. Now at the final stage of the Advanced Level of learning Mycenaean Linear B (Level 5), Rita has come very far indeed since she first started learning Linear B from me some 19 months ago. She has a true knack for intuiting what any Linear B tablet is really saying, in spite of the fact that the Minoan scribes at Knossos were notorious for omitting everything but the most essential information, given that they inscribed their tablets solely for inventorial purposes for the palace administration, and that, in so doing, they all knew perfectly well what each of their colleagues was saying, since they all adhered to the same code, so to speak, for tallying inventories. Inventories, after all, have to be standardized, and composed consistently across the board; otherwise, they are useless.

Moreover, Rita has swiftly mastered the knack for intuiting the difference between Mycenaean vocabulary & Mycenaean names. She knew perfectly well that Tanaposo could not be a common Mycenaean word, but that it had to be a name. It matters little whether or not the word was later to enter standard Greek vocabulary. She even explains how that came about.

She also correctly divined Tanaposo’s rôle as a shepherd, and correctly assumed that, since he was a shepherd, he had to be tending to his flocks... hence her excellent translation. In a word, the difference between a fair or a good and an excellent translation of any Linear B tablet consists in just this ability, to be able to coax out of the tablet what the Linear B scribe must have actually meant it to say. And I think she has it pretty much bang on.


A Female Slave Brings Honey to be Poured into an Amphora (Knossos Tablet KN 713 M a 01) Click to ENLARGE:.

A Female Slave Brings Honey to be Poured into an Amphora (Knossos Tablet KN 713 M a 01) Click to ENLARGE:

KN 713 M a 01 meri DERA amphora A

This is an intriguing little Linear B fragment. Although the actual Linear B text is sparse, with the logogram MERI for “honey” and the ideogram for “amphora” clearly taking precedence over the Linear B word DOERA for “slave”, we must not and we dare not underestimate her essential rôle in the “script” for the play, so to speak, of this fragment. What fascinates me to no end is the fact that the logogram MERI is no closer to the ideogram for “amphora” than to the Linear B word for “slave”. This surely must imply something of the intent of the scribe who wrote this tablet (or fragment). And I think it does. It implies the notion of action, which can only be realistically rendered into Greek (if the Linear B text were used instead of the logogram MERI alone) as an active verb, and in this case, that verb would almost certainly have to be “to bring”, followed by the infinitive of the verb “to pour” or “to be poured”, in other words two verbs in succession!

This is precisely one of the paramount features or characteristics of Mycenaean Greek as it actually appears (or not!) on so many Linear B tablets. I have stressed this over and over again on our blog, and I shall never tire of doing so. Since supersyllabograms, ideograms and logograms, taken together as a phenomenon, should be interpreted as being abbreviations or better yet, shorthand, for actual Mycenaean words in Linear B, and since they occur so very frequently on Linear B tablets, regardless of provenance (Knossos, Pylos, Phaistos etc.), it would be unwise to ignore them, and downright obtuse to dismiss them as minor factors in the decipherment and translation of Mycenaean Greek. In fact, the precise opposite scenario obtains.

As Gretchen Leonhardt, another highly adept translator of Linear B, has frequently pointed out to me, what is the point of deciphering Linear B tablets, if we do not use our imaginations in endeavouring to unveil, as it were, the actual intent of the scribes who wrote them in the first place? Failure to do so simply suggests we are wasting our time even bothering to translate the tablets in the first place.

However much I disagree with Ms. Leonhardt’s fundamental assumptions and hypotheses over how to go about using one’s imagination bent to this exacting task (my own views being almost diametrically opposed to hers), I completely agree with her notion that the Linear B tablets, at least those in which shorthand techniques take marked precedence over Linear B text, must be deciphered with a generous dose of imagination. Otherwise, they simply defy decipherment at all.

This is precisely why I have invented the concept of “supersyllabograms”, in an informed and logically driven attempt to account as fully as possible for the huge textual gaps which riddle so many Linear B tablets, again regardless of provenance. Taking this approach to the decipherment of Linear B tablets consisting mainly of logograms, ideograms and supersyllabograms clearly justifies the kind of translation I came up with for this particular tablet alone. And trust me, I myself, Rita Roberts and Gretchen Leonhardt all take the same approach to translating such tablets, even though Rita and I share approximately the same perspective on what a viable translation should look like, as opposed to Ms. Leonhardt, who views decipherment based on this technique through an altogether different prism. So be it. Ainsi soit-il.

Again, as my colleague, Rita Roberts, stresses in her translation of another Linear B tablet (which we shall be posting very shortly),

... clay tablets were so small that it was impossible to write every detail on them. However his fellow scribes would have known and understood what he meant, they certainly would not have thought about future readers, as they were concerned only with the current fiscal year,...

I could not have put it better. The Linear B scribes compiled their annual fiscal inventories for the sole use of the palace administration, period. It ends right there. Any thought of preserving the tablets for future generations would never have even entered their minds. So before we even dream of translating any Linear B tablet whatsoever, whether or not it sports plenty of text, we had better make sure we are putting ourselves in the head space of the scribes themselves, in so far as this is possible. It is scarcely easy to do so, in fact, it is downright mind-boggling, given that we are separated from their own civilization by over 35 centuries (!), so that any attempt to try and get into their frame of mind is bound to be fraught with hazards galore. But this does not mean we should not try. 

So here we have it. As far as I am concerned, this tablet does in fact mean:

The female slave is bringing honey to be poured into an amphora.

And why not? Plenty of professional Linear B translators are bound to object to our somewhat more imaginative approach to translating Linear B tablets with little text, but plenty of ambiguous logograms, ideograms and supersyllabograms, or any combination of these, but when they do, I expect them to come up with translations of their own which are likely to hold as much water as ours, when they are held up to the scrutiny, not only of the Linear B research community at large, but of folks who neither know Greek, ancient or modern, nor Linear B, but who are more than intelligent enough to decide for themselves what they decide any particular tablet means, thank you very much.


The Various Kinds of Vessels (Amphorae, Pots etc.) in Linear B with their Supersyllabograms (SSYs).

The Various Kinds of Vessels (Amphorae, Pots etc.) in Linear B with their Supersyllabograms (SSYs)

As with any category of common ideograms in Linear B, whether it be livestock (primarily and almost always sheep, rams and ewes, (i.e. on over 20 % or 700 + on all 3,000 Linear B tablets from Knossos I have closely examined), other livestock (cows, bulls, goats, billy goats and she goats etc.), horses, textiles & vessels, among others we have not yet posted on this blog, a large number of ideograms are either preceded or followed by a single syllabogram or contain the single syllabogram inside them.

This single syllabogram we call a supersyllabogram since it is always the first syllabogram, hence, the first syllable of a specific Linear B word of which it is, for all intents and purposes, the Linear B abbreviation. Another way of interpreting this phenomenon is to view each and every supersyllabogram as a kind of shorthand for specific Linear B words, shorthand which the Linear B scribes frequently resorted to to save valuable space on the very small clay tablets they were obliged to write on.

One of the primary considerations to keep firmly in mind is that, with the sole exception of the SSY NE, which always means “new”, regardless of category, identical syllabograms standing in as supersyllabograms never mean the same thing from one category to the next. Allow me to illustrate with a few examples. For instance, the SSY PE for sheep, rams & ewes and other livestock always = PERIQORO, the Linear B word for the ancient Greek “peribolos”, which means “an enclosure”, or more accurately in Mycenaean Greek, “a sheep pen” or “cattle pen” etc., and nothing else whatsoever. In this category, vessels, the sypersyllabogram A = “amphora(e)” is as plain as the nose on your face.

Cross-correlation of the ostensibly “same” supersyllabogram yields predictable results. As illustrated by Linear B Tablet Heidelburg HE FL 1994, all of the SSYs are toponyms, each corresponding to the name of a single Minoan or Mycenaean city or settlement. For instance, the SSY PU = Pylos. On the other hand, the SSY PU in textiles has an entirely different meaning = PUKATARIYA, “a kind of cloth”. Likewise, on the Heidelburg tablet, PA = Palaikastro, whereas in textiles it means PARAKUYA “died textiles or cloth”, and nothing else.

Supersyllabograms for Vessels, Amphorae, Libation Vessels etc – Click to ENLARGE:

All Ideograms & Supersyllabograms for vessles and MERI honey

There are only 3 supersyllabograms for vessels, A, NE and PO, as illustrated above. A & NE are self-explanatory. As I have frequently pointed out, NE is the one and only SSY which never changes meaning across categories. It always means NEWO (masc.) or NEWA (fem.) = “new”. On the other hand, the supersyllabogram PO for vessels initially posed a problem for me. It was an enigma. What on earth could it mean? My first reaction was to run to Liddell & Scott, 1986, where I found the obvious entry (to me at any rate), “poteos-a-on”, meaning, of course, “drinkable”.  Yes, I exclaimed, Eureka! It has to be that. No. No way. Why? Unfortunately, the SSY PO does not simply refer to water, wine or even water turned into wine, or wine or anything else we would consider as “drinkable” as opposed to “undrinkable” or polluted. Sorry. Unfortunately, it is also & frequently, at that, applied to to “honey”, and honey is not exactly what we would refer to as “drinkable”. It is a bit too sticky for that!

Now what? I despaired. But, wait, hold on a sec. Before I could even think twice, the solution leaped right into my mind. That’s it! I (somewhat triumphantly) exclaimed. The SSY PO clearly refers to “a libation to POtiniya”, perhaps the most famous of all Minoan goddesses. Now, since the Minoans were a matriarchal society, at least in so far as deities were concerned, this had to be it. But no, not quite. There is another possibility, which we cannot and must not overlook. PO could just as well refer to “a libation to POseidon”, written as POSEDAO in Linear B. OK, that suits the bill just fine. But which one is it?  To my mind, at least, given the marked propensity of Minoan religion for female deities, I expect the odds are something like 70/30 for POTINIYA. Take your pick. If you are macho, you will probably go for Poseidon. Otherwise, the rest of us will likely opt for Potiniya.

And there you have it.

One final note. I cannot for the life of me understand why the Linear B scribes appended the logogram MERI for “honey”, sometimes to the left of the ideogram for “amphora”, sometimes to the top left, and sometimes squarely on top of it. It seems really bizarre to me. There two possible explanations for this. Either (a) they did not care where they put the logogram MERI, since it was after all rather complex and clumsy to write anyway or (b) they did care, because they intended the logogram to have a different meaning in relation to the ideogram for “amphora”, depending on where the logogram MERI was located relative to the ideogram. But what these alternate meanings are we cannot really say. I can at least hazard educated guesses. It seems to me that when the logogram MERI is directly to the left of the ideogram for “amphora”, that amphora is used solely for wine, and nothing else. This interpretation fits neatly with my other translations of similar SSYs which precede or follow their ideogram, especially in the field (pardon the pun) of sheep. When MERI appears to the top left of the ideogram for amphora, this may mean that wine is being poured into the amphora, whereas when MERI appears at the top of the ideogram for amphora, it may mean that the amphora has just been filled to the top. But who knows? I am probably getting a little too specific for my own good. If a Linear B scribe were to come back from the dead as a revenant, he would probably laugh me out of the room for these so-called “explanations” or on the other hand, he might not, and instead say something like this, “Hey, man, you got it bang on”. Fat chance of that.


The Newly Unearthed Minoan Winnie the Pooh Tablet (from Knossos? I wish it weren’t).

The Newly Unearthed Minoan Winnie the Pooh Tablet (from Knossos? I wish it weren’t) Click to BLOW UP TO ELEPHANT SIZE if you dare!:

KN 00 PO meri 00

I really don’t want to say anything more about this astonishing tablet, except to say that I can’t believe Rita and I found it last Hallowe’en while all the other archaeologists in Herakleion were either out trick or treating with their better halves, or sitting morosely in Greek bars sipping, of all the disgusting things, Retsina! Rita pleaded and begged and pleaded again for me to re-bury it, but I would have nothing of it, informing her in no uncertain terms that this was the Linear B find of the century, if not the entire millennium, given that it is so incredibly unlike any other Linear B tablet she and I have ever, ever, ever seen... let alone anyone else. How it came to be is anyone’s guess, though I do believe that the scribe’s signature, WIPO, is a dead giveaway. Plus, although he had no brains, Minoan Winnie the Pooh was a clever little bugger, riding into the city market, no less, on an ELEPHANT, no less, just to make sure everyone (especially the already burnt-out scribes!) got the hell out of their way... or else... or else what I cringe to imagine. And although our “scribe’s” scratches and scrawls are almost illegible, even for Linear B, which is almost illegible most of the time anyway, only this time round far worse, the text is utterly charming in the extreme, once you can figure out how to decipher it.

I wonder how many elephants he has. I wonder whether or not he shares (at least one pot of) honey with his elephants. I suspect he has to, unless he also wants to get squashed underfoot. I wonder why the scribes just don’t give up, toss in the towel (though there probably no towels as such in ancient Knossos), and run off in all directions screaming like maniacs (which is what they would have been by this time!). I wonder why Rita and I ever decided to keep this silly tablet, except that maybe, just maybe, we want to set the entire Linear B research community, and especially Linear B translators, on their heads, aghast at this new, entirely unexpected and entirely earth-shattering tablet... earth-shattering, not because there was another one of those nasty earthquakes at Knossos when it was composed, but because elephants really do shatter the earth when they come stomping by or, worse yet, stomping into the scribes’ HQ.

This is of course the primary reason why so many Linear B tablets were never unearthed by Sir Arthur Evans in the first place, since the poor bloke was entirely oblivious of the Elephantine Factor (see shattering above). It is almost certainly a historical given that Minoan Winnie the Pooh ordered his pet elephants to destroy as many tablets as they could on any subject but honey pots and honey amphorae, except that the stupid elephants got it all the wrong way around, and destroyed thousands upon thousands of honey-pot and honey amphorae tablets, upon which the entire Minoan economy depended for its survival. When I rummaged through 3,000 + tablets from Knossos, I could find only 7 or 8 honey-pot tablets (and fragments, of course, given those elephant feet!), a horrific loss to posterity, especially to all those honey-sweet Pooh Bears who have lived on this lovely earth of ours since then, Winnie Ille Pooh, the Roman Pooh, Winnie Lou Pou, the Provençal Pou, and so on and so forth, all the way up to Winnie the Pooh today. 

What a terrible loss indeed! Small wonder that the Minoan economy collapsed in a heap of rubble! Those meany ole’ scribes just didn’t get it! Their entire economy was stuck on honey. No honey, no economy. Poof, no Knossos!


Minoan Winnie the Pooh with His Pots of Honey! Honestly, I Am-phor-a Him..

Minoan Winnie the Pooh with His Pots of Honey! Honestly, I Am-phor-a Him.

Minoan Winnie the Pooh! Click to ENLARGE for a really good laugh!


In case you were wondering whether or not Winnie the Pooh was Minoan or Mycenaean, I can tell you without equivocation that he was Minoan and that he lived in Knossos ca. 1450 BCE. After all, those bloody Mycenaeans were much too warlike for Pooh Bears. So, as the story always goes when it comes to Pooh Bears, while all the scribes were frantically scribbling away their tablets on amphorae of honey, our Minoan Winnie the Pooh would surreptitiously sneak in (at least as surreptitiously as a Pooh bear can, which isn’t very surreptitiously at all), grab as many amphorae and pots of honey as he could, and then dash off like mad, with a gang of thoroughly freaked out scribes chasing after him. And just as they were about to nab him, he scrambled up the nearest tree, hauling up his treasures behind him, and then began to voraciously gobble as much honey as he could (which was all of it!) before they (the scribes, of course) got a ladder and scrambled up to nab him again... by which time he was already running back to the vaults of amphorae and pots filled with delicious honey, bamboozling them all over. You just can’ t win, unless you are a Minoan Pooh Bear! Bully for Winnie the Pooh, Minoan or Roman, Winnie ille Pooh or our modern day descendant, Winnie the Pooh. May all the Winnie the Poohs from time immemorial triumph in the hunt for the most delicious honey they can find! MERI MERI MERI!

In case you are wondering (which I am sure you are!), “What on earth is the whole point of this silly story?”, you need only ask Christopher Robin, or failing that opportunity, me, and I can easily explain why. And here is why. It just so happens that all those thoroughly frustrated Minoan scribes at Knossos, fed up as they were with their Minoan Winnie the Pooh snatching all their honey in amphorae (and pots, of course!) and running off with them, decided to label their tablets with the logogram for “honey” (MERI) and with the supersyllabogram for “amphorae” (Linear B A), in the vain hope that this would somehow prevent our Minoan Pooh from absconding with them. A through waste of time!  He did steal off with them (the pots of honey, not the scribes!), but he was such a “sweet” little Pooh Bear that he always returned the pots and amphorae he had snatched (empty of course), in the full realization, in spite of the fact that he had no brain, that they (the scribes) would just have to insist that the honey merchants refilled the same old amphorae and pots all over, with the predictable results we have already witnessed. Live but don’t learn, eh. The human condition, eh.  

But, to get serious, if it is at all possible to do so at this point, let us examine how our busy-body scribes labeled tablets which dealt with amphorae. The simplest way was simply to use the plain ideogram for “amphorae”, as illustrated on this tablet – Click to ENLARGE:

KN 712 M p 01 TEYO amphorae 542 olive oil

I suppose they must have done this in the (again, vain) hope that if they did not label the amphorae as being just what they were, amphorae, and left out the logogram for honey, Minoan Winnie the Pooh would be fooled. But because he had no brain, he could not be fooled, and stole the amphorae with the blank ideogram anyway, in the (sure and certain) hope that they would be filled with honey... as if!

Since this hopeless ploy never worked anyway, the scribes, being realistic and practical as scribes always were (and are) just went ahead and labeled the amphorae as amphorae, with the supersyllabogram A, which happens to be the first vowel of that wonderful word, in case you haven’t yet noticed!  And just to make certain that they (the scribes) realized what he, Minoan Winnie the Pooh, already knew, they also, rather stupidly, methinks, labeled the same amphorae with a great big logogram for honey... as if Minoan Winnie didn’t already know that too!

So their honey pot tablets would end up looking exactly like this! Click to ENLARGE:

KN 703 M a 04 34+ amphorae of honey

If ever there was a wide open invitation to Minoan Winnie the Pooh to abscond with all their honey, this had to be it! Poor buggers. Lucky Winnie!

As you can imagine, the honey pot sector of the Minoan economy suffered irreparable damage, while Minoan Winnie the Pooh criminally lived off the proceeds from their losses. Sigh!

Oh and wait until you see the next Tablet in the next post! Rita Roberts and I recently unearthed this sweet find on dark, stormy, rainy night when all the archeologists were at home drinking Retsina. I think it was last...



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