Scripta Minoa: So-called Easy Fragments # 2: Knossos, Amnisos & Potnia. General Criteria for Interpretation of Fragments


Scripta Minoa: So-called Easy Fragments # 2: Knossos, Amnisos & Potnia (Click to ENLARGE🙂


To summarize the criteria we laid out in detail in the previous post, in general terms, the following conditions pertain to all fragments (not tablets!) regardless:

1. There is no context by which to establish what sense or meaning the word or words (usually no more than 5 or 6 at most) actually are meant to convey.
2. Almost all fragments are truncated on the left or right, making it practically (though not utterly) impossible to interpret whatever the cropped text is supposed to mean.
3. But things are not quite so hopeless as it would at first sight appear. If the occurrences of all extant words beginning with a particular syllabogram in every Linear B dictionary now available online are relatively few, then we can predict that our translation has a 1 in nn chance, sometimes even as low as 1 in 10 or 10% of actually being the right translation.  
4.Even where right hand truncation is the order of the day, sometimes there is only one interpretation. But here again, ambiguity of context frustrates once again. What on earth does the fragment in question tell us about (usually one single) word? In almost all instances, precisely nothing. 
5. Ambiguities in grammatical construction further complicate matters.
6. Scribes often (half) ERASE one or more syllabograms on fragments, almost always on the right side. This usuallly happens when a scribe simply erases the last (extraneous) character, which he never meant to write in the first place. On the other hand, he may be hesitating whether or not he should erase it, as will be illustrated in he next 2 posts.

Our second example of 5 fragments: Scripta Minoa: So-called Easy Fragments # 2: Knossos, Amnisos & Potnia speak for themselves, or more accurately do not speak for themselves. I invite you to try and interpret each of the 5 fragments on your own. I am quite sure you will come up for air pretty quickly, feeling (somewhat or annoyingly) frustrated. For instance, who the blazes is Potnia? Look her up in almost any classical Greek-English dictionary and you are likely bound to hit a brick wall. Fortunately, our excellent companion, Liddell & Scott, comes to the rescue yet again (pg. 581), which is why any serious Linear B researcher should have this invaluable resource in his or her collection. I am not going to tell you who she is. I believe it is up to you to do your own research on this one, even if you have to go to the library.

Things are going to get a lot messier from here on in!


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