Where are all these tens of thousands of rams from? Guess. One guess & you’re right!

Where are all these tens of thousands of rams from? Guess. One guess & you’re right! Click to ENLARGE:

Knossos KN 917 1088 1089 1090 1096

As I pointed out in great detail in a previous post, the Minoan/Mycenaean economy ca. 1450 BCE, with its home base at the city of Knossos itself, spread out its sheep husbandry locales among several key sites, notably, Kytaistos, Phaistos & Lykinthos, mentioned 20 times each, Exonos 15 times, Davos 14, Lato & Syrimos 12, Lasynthos 9, Sugrita 8, Tylisos (or Tyllisos) 5 & Raia 3 times. But Knossos is never mentioned at all! All of this is threshed out in the previous post, CRITICAL Post: The Minoans Counted Sheep While They Were Wide Awake,


which I strongly suggest you read, if you are at all fascinated by the Minoan economy and their international trade, especially in the area of sheep raising and husbandry, which was the vital underpinning of their entire subsistence as a people, outweighing by far all other economic activities of any kind whatsoever.  

Regardless of the fact that the scribes at Knossos never mention the city as a sheep raising site, it was in fact the primary locale for sheep husbandry, for the simple, plain reason that only a city of this size, with a population probably in excess of 50,000, enormous for the ancient world, had the human and land resources to accommodate such huge numbers of sheep as illustrated above, i.e. 24,000 at the very minimum, and only on these 5 tablets! In the next post, I shall post a Linear B tablet from Knossos, in which the numbers of sheep mentioned will literally blow you away!

If anyone thinks even for a moment that any of the other sheep raising locales mentioned at the outset of this post had anywhere near the land space and human resources sufficient to raise such huge numbers of sheep, that person is probably deluding him- or herself.

We are left with one bizarre mystery. The only thing that utterly baffles me is, where are all the ewes! That question, not a rhetorical question at all, begs the issue. I simply cannot figure this out for the life of me. How can you raise any new sheep, i.e. newborns, if there are no ewes around! If anyone has any suggestions or comments whatsoever to help us unravel this plainly weird mystery, be my guest!


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Historical linguist, Linear B, Mycenaean Greek, Minoan Linear A, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, ancient Greek, Homer, Iliad, only Blog ENTIRELY devoted to Linear B on Internet; bilingual English- French, read Latin fluently, read Italian & ancient Greek including Linear B well, Antikythera Mechanism

6 thoughts on “Where are all these tens of thousands of rams from? Guess. One guess & you’re right!”

  1. Hi Richard. You may already know the following comments I am making but here goes. Firstly Honey is collected on the 9th month ,also the 9th month shepherds collect their flock together . the 9th month is also the time for culling the sheep and for sorting the ewes for breeding. Now whether these shepherds sold their sheep in ancient times I’m not sure, but if so maybe Knossos is where they took them for sale. Just a thought and maybe I am barking up the wrong tree here. Another thought maybe that the rams and sheep were all finally counted together.


    1. OMG this is such CRITICAL information. No WONDER there was honey on that tablet about the 21,000 sheep! I would never have known! As for barking up the wrong tree, we can never really know. But your hypothesis is entirely plausible, and that is all that matters, because any PLAUSIBLE hypothesis is likely to be one SURE candidate for what actually DID happen.




  2. Reblogged this on Ritaroberts's Blog and commented:

    I am re blogging this post because it is relevant to the Subject I am studying, that of Linear B Minoan scripts. In this post my teacher Richard Vallance is asking if anyone can help with the subject he refers to. We would be most grateful for any help whatsoever.


    1. Yes, Rita reblogs relevant information to her blog quite often, and sometimes has to REMIND me to post information on her blog on ours, as I can be a bit dizzy at times, ha ha.



  3. Frame of reference may be important here: was there a value in rams that meant they were recorded when ewes were not? Masculine prejudice aside, perhaps rams were suitable for exchange or prestige gifts where ewes were not. Rams were certainly easier to count, for what it’s worth, and/or a grazing group of sheep (called a hirsel, IIRC) might have been “defined” as the flock that accompanies some number of rams. Or, if wool renders — or flock magnitudes — were rated in ram-portions (an assumed number of ewes & lambs per ram) then only ram counts would be reported. Finally how confident are you that the glyph means ram and does not included castrated male sheep, aka wethers? The last were routinely kept in medieval flocks, as they grow more wool per head, are bigger than ewes so harder for predators, meatier than ewes and not as rank to eat as mature rams, and way more docile than rams (which at 50% of lambs would be way more abundant than needed for flock reproduction). Take a look at Ryder’s _Man and Sheep_ if you can find a copy, or Dahl and Hjort, _Having Herds_

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, my friend.

      Richard here. Can you give me your e-mail address so that I can invite you to join the blog? What is your background in Mycenaean Greek and Linear B, plus possibly even Linear B?

      ALL of your points raised above are EXTREMELY relevant, and in fact, I had not considered most of them, so I am very grateful for your feedback. Such ambiguities PLAGUE Linear B Tablets (of which I have read more than 3,000 from Knossos alone). It all I can do just to keep up with trying to account for the plethora of ambiguities, possible alternatives to the translation of the VAST MAJORITY of tablets, primarily for lack of CONTEXT, the very same bugbear which sticks a thorn in the side of any presumably plausible interpretation, whether mine, yours or anyones whatsoever. However, if the information supplied IS PLAUSIBLE, and yours most certainly is, it MUST BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT; otherwise, we are doing a huge disservice to the community of Linear B translators at large, who may (or may not) make (unfounded) assumptions about the CONTEXT of any tablet or fragment whatsoever, regardless of provenance. To my mind, CONTEXT is the uppermost consideration to bear in mind, WHENEVER the context is sufficient to clear up even some ambiguities, which happily, it often is. Sadly, far too many Linear B Tablets and fragments have little context to go on.

      Finally, in my LATEST post, just now put up, the tablet refers ONLY to SHEEP, almost 22,000 of them at that, with not mention at all of gender, further complicating the matter, i.e. throwing another wrench in the mess, just to make life difficult for all us poor, often confused, translators.

      I would love to post your highly germane comments, along with my own observations above.

      IF you let me know a little more about yourself, I would be delighted to make you a member of our wonderful, and FUN, blog, and to be an AUTHOR, so that you can post yourself.

      Oh, and I will take a look at the book on sheep.

      Thanks so much


      Liked by 1 person

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