KEY POST: A Résumé of the Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B

This post, which is of supreme importance, has been a long time coming. I will be making a MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT concerning this post in the next few days, as this constitutes the most significant breakthrough for us here at Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae since its inception 22 months ago.  The résumé as submitted to the institutions concerned is illustrated in the visual .jpg text here: Click to ENLARGE

RESUME Role ofSupersyllabograms in Linear B

This résumé, which I repeat below in a slightly less compressed format, but without the examples of supersyllabograms in Linear B, serves as the basis of a much more in-depth institutionally sponsored paper, The Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B, which is to be published before the end of this year, and which may even appear in other venues.

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A supersyllabogram (SSYL) is defined as the first syllabogram or vowel, i.e. the first syllable of a Linear B word or phrase, and it is always found adjacent to or inside an ideogram, and always with the same invariable meaning in a particular sector of Minoan/ Mycenaean society. Sectors include agriculture, military, textiles, vessels & religious. If the ideogram or the sector changes, so does the meaning of the supersyllabogram.

Here is an example of a Linear B tablet from Knossos which uses three (4)! supersyllabograms with the ideogram for RAM. Click to ENLARGE:

Appendix A knossos-tablet-kn-927-f-a-01-ramsWhat!”, I hear you saying. “I thought you said that super- syllabograms always appeared singly adjacent to or inside an ideogram in any sector of Minoan/Mycenaean society.”  But if you re-read what I said above, that is not quite what I said. I pointed out that a supersyllabogram is always a single syllabogram or vowel, and the first syllable only of any Mycenaean word or phrase in Linear B. I did not claim that more than one supersyllabogram could not appear adjacent to or inside an ideogram. To the contrary. Scribes frequently resorted to using as many as four (4) SSYLS on one tablet, thereby eliminating all extraneous text, which would have otherwise wasted much valuable space on what were (and are) extremely small tablets. Few tablets exceed 30 cm. in width or 15 cm. in depth. Some are so tiny you have to look at them through a magnifying glass to read them! The scribes knew exactly what they were doing. The fewer words or phrases they had to write out, the more space they saved on the tablets... which is precisely why some 800 of 3,000 tablets (27%) from Knossos, which I examined and read meticulously use supersyllabograms to replace words and even entire phrases in Mycenaean Greek.         

Scribes would never have written single syllabograms unless they meant something! - with ideograms, they do. SSYLs are a form of shorthand.

See the visual post above for examples of Supersyllabograms.

28 of 61 syllabograms (46 percent) are supersyllabograms. About 800/3000 tablets from Knossos I meticulously examined use supersyllabograms.

In the next post, we shall discuss the idiosyncratic characteristics of supersyllabograms.


Richard