PART D: Cross-correlation of the surcharged syllabograms on Linear B tablet Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris) with those on Linear A tablets HT 31 and another in the Ay Nikolaus Museum, Greece:

PART D: Cross-correlation of the surcharged syllabograms on Linear B tablet Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris) with those on Linear A tablets HT 31 and another in the  Ay Nikolaus Museum, Greece:

Given that the premise affirming it is possible and even feasible to cross-correlate the incidence of syllabograms incharged, surcharged or supercharged on ideograms for pottery and vessels in Mycenaean Linear B with the same phenomena in Minoan Linear A — and I believe it is — I see no reason why we cannot take this procedure a step further. Linear A tablet HT 31 supports words identifying vessels either (a) immediately to the left of and immediately adjacent to their ideograms or (b) supercharged or surcharged on the ideograms  with which they are associated.  On the other hand, the Linear A tablet in the Ay Nikolaus Museum, Greece, is inscribed only with ideograms for vessels incharged  with supersyllabograms, with no accompanying  explanatory text. It is not only possible but entirely feasible to cross-correlate the syllabograms and ideograms on these two, not just with those for vessels on Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris) but also with each other. The case for the second approach may well prove to be as convincing as that for the first. Boiling it all down to the essentials, we seriously need to ask ourselves the crucial question whether or not either  of the elements (syllabograms and ideograms) on each and every one of the tablets we have under discussion (Pylos Tablet TA 641-1952 in Linear B & Linear A tablets HT 31 & the one with 5 incharged supersyllabograms) overlap with and any or even all of their counterparts on any of the others.

First, let us take a closer look at the Linear A tablet from Ay Nikolaus Museum, Greece, since on it we observe 5  Linear A syllabograms clearly inscribed inside the ideograms they modify in a particular way: Click to ENLARGE

Fig 1 SSYLs vessels Linear A bwWe have been able to isolate one element and one only, which overlaps on these two Linear A tablets, as illustrated here in Table 1: Click to ENLARGE

Table 1 ideograms for vessels on 2 Linear A tablets
Observe the incidence of (a) the word supaira,  a type of vessel (no. 5  on Linear A HT 31) and (b) the incharged supersyllabogram su  tagged as item 1 in white font — if that is what it is —  on the extract from Linear A tablet in colour we introduced in previous posts. Assuming that the incharged  SSYL on the latter is in fact the Linear A syllabogram su,  we now find ourselves face to face with what appears at the very least to be an amazing coincidence. Both designations,(a) the word supaira  spelled out in full on HT 31 and (b) the single syllabogram (probably) su  on the second tablet appear to delineate one and the same vessel type. But is this mere coincidence? I think not, for the following reasons:

Names of vessel types adjacent on the left to their corresponding ideograms:

(a) in Linear B: to the left but generally not immediately adjacent  

Earlier in this article, we posited the distinct possibility of the two syllabaries, Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B, largely sharing the practice of designating vessels types by name to the left of the ideograms which represent them. In the case of Mycenaean Linear B, the name of the vessel type, for instance, tiripo(de), qeto or dipa (anowe) appears the the left of inserted text denoting an associated process or of at least one of its attributes, and not immediately adjacent to the ideogram upon which it depends.  For instance, as can be seen from Rita Roberts’ erudite decipherment of Pylos tablet TA 641-1952 (Ventris): Click to ENLARGE

Rita Roberts Pylos TA Py 641-1952 Roberts burnt-from-legs-up LBK&M
we have:
tiripode Aikeu keresijo weke + the ideogram for tripod 2 =
Aigeus is working on 2 tripods of the Cretan style,
where tiripode is separated from its ideogram by the inserted 3 word phrase, Aikeu keresiyo weke. So tiripode is deliberately set not immediately adjacent to the left of its ideogram. This is an example of an active (verbal) associated process, since the subject, Aigeus, is working on the tripod.


dipa mewijo qetorowe + ideogram for (a very large) vase = a pithos  1 =
1 very large vase (pithos) with four handles,
where dipa is separated from its ideogram by the inserted 2 word phrase, mewijo qetorowe. Once again, dipa is not immediately adjacent to the left its ideogram. This is an example of attribution, given that that the 4 handles are an attribute of both the word and the ideogram for dipa.  

These two incidences alone of Linear B words explicitly spelling out the vessel types in proximity with their ideograms, in conjunction with the phenomenon of supersyllabograms incharged in ideograms for pottery and vessels in Mycenaean Linear B, well serve to illustrate the extreme sophistication of the Linear B syllabary with its 100 + ideograms to massage inventoried items.
(b) in Linear A: immediately adjacent if to the left -or- supercharged/surcharged on the ideogram to which it is bound:

Turning our attention to Linear A tablet HT 31, we witness a variation of the same phenomenon. Here all of the vessels are accounted for by name ( and type?), and situated either (a) immediately adjacent and to the left of or (b) surcharged or (c) supercharged on top of their bound ideogram: Click to ENLARGE

Table 2 Linear A Tablet HT 31 PUKO tiripode etc
In line 1, puko,  the Linear A word for tripod, is to the left of and immediately adjacent to the ideogram with which it is explicitly bound. In line 2, qapai  is supercharged, i.e. affixed onto the top of its bound ideogram, while in lines 3 5 & 6, kadapai  (if that is what the spelling is), supaira  & pataqe  are surcharged. The Linear A scribe is apparently experimenting with various methods of specifically identifying each type of vessel he is inventorying. In other words, the practice of naming items in inventories in Minoan Linear A is in flux. No standard has yet been established. At variance with Linear B, the only constant appears to be the utter absence of intervening associative or attributive text between the vessel type identified by name in Linear A and its ideogram, which on HT 31 appears either immediately adjacent to the left, or supercharged or surcharged on top of its ideogram. This does not necessarily imply that the Minoan Linear A scribes never resorted to the more complex formula in Linear B, viz:

vessel type spelled out in the LB syllabary + intervening associative or attributive text + corresponding ideogram + the number of vessels,   
algebraically expressed as:

vt + (as or at) = ideogram (vt) n – where n  is the total no. of vessels itemized

It merely means that there are no instances on extant Minoan Linear A tablets of the more complex approach to inventorying vessels so frequently instanced in Mycenaean Linear B. It is conceivable that a few Linear A tablets may be unearthed in the future confirming this hypothesis, but because the Linear A practice for words identifying vessels is itself in such flux, I am very much inclined to doubt it.

Such is far from being the vase with Mycenaean Linear B, in which the practice of  identifying each type of vessel on numerous inventories is standardized, formulaic and fossilized. It seems quite clear that the Mycenaean Linear B scribes inherited the practice from their Minoan forbears, sticking with what they considered to be the best practices for enumerating vessel types, and tossing the rest overboard. 

(c) Cross-correlation of supercharged and surcharged syllabograms on Linear B tablet HT 31 with the incharged supersyllabograms on Linear A tablet from the Ay Nikolaus Museum, Greece:

With reference to Table 1 above, things get downright intriguing. If we cross-correlate the Minoan Linear A word for the vessel type, supa3ra  or supaira,  on tablet HT 31 with the (presumed) incharged syllabogram a.k.a. supersyllabogram su  on the second Linear A tablet illustrated above, we discover that they apparently refer to one and the same vessel type. Recall however the conundrum we are faced with on HT 31.  There are 3 separate words in Minoan Linear A, all of which appear to refer to vessel types for which there is only one equivalent in Mycenaean Linear B, that being, dipa,  a cup or kylix with handles or dipa anowe,  a cup without handles, sup*56  or supaira  being one of them, and qapa3  or qapai?  +  pataqe  the other two. But, as I said before, Minoan, unlike Mycenaean Greek, might very well have differentiated among at least 3 types of cups with or without handles.  All that aside, I am left with the distinct impression that the Minoan scribe who adroitly resorts to inscribing the (super)syllabogram su  incharged in the ideogram to which it is explicitly bound has in effect devised a clever shortcut for the same description in full text used by the scribe who identifies supaira  as a cup with handles on Linear A tablet HT 31, it too apparently equivalent to dipa anowe  in Mycenaean Linear B. If this premise is sound, then what we have here is a finding nothing short of astounding concerning scribal scribal practices in both Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B. If so, we should be able draw the following conclusions:


First, Minoan Scribes writing in Linear A and later, Mycenaean scribes writing in Linear B appear to have both made use, not only of:
(a) words spelled out identifying pottery and vessel types either (nearly) adjacent to the left side or supercharged or surcharged onto the ideograms with which they are associated on some tablets, but
(b) also of syllabograms a.k.a. supersyllabograms bound (incharged) inside the same or very similar ideograms on others, both in their own syllabary and the other (Minoan Linear and Mycenaean Linear B). The scribes have identified the selfsame vessel types — either way — six of one, half a dozen of the other. Take your choice. They did. 

In either case, the end result is the same. In Minoan Linear A, the vessel type under consideration is identified, while in Mycenaean Linear B it is further delineated by class (tripods and cauldrons versus vases, cups etc.) and size through the medium of the text intervening between the vessel type named and its corresponding ideogram. Since in Mycenaean Linear B the identification of the vessel type is clear cut even on those tablets where an incharged syllabogram (supersyllabogram) identifies it in the complete absence of descriptive text, as we see here in Table 3: Click to ENLARGE

Table 3 10 Supersyllabogram in the Vessels Sector of Mycenaean Linear Bwe may infer that this practice runs in parallel with the same two, albeit less sophisticated, practices of denominating vessel types in Minoan Linear A. If that is the case, then the Mycenaean Linear B scribes ostensibly inherited both practices from their Minoan forbears. Not only that, by flinging out the non-essential fluctuating Minoan scribal practices, they greatly streamlined and fully standardized these procedures. What was experimental in Minoan Linear A has become fossilized in Mycenaean Linear B. We are faced here with nothing so much as two primary standard, universal & formulaic accounting practices for inventories in Mycenaean Linear B which were applied across the board, regardless of the sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy with which they were concerned or the provenance of Linear B tablets, Knossos, Pylos, Phaistos etc.  You can count on it. And the Mycenaean scribes owed it all to their Minoan ancestors. The implications of this finding, should corroborative evidence from other Linear A tablets, extant or yet to be discovered in the future, prove its potential validity, are nothing short of profound for the eventual decipherment of at least a portion of Linear A, however minimal.

Moreover, I believe we already have at our disposal the linguistic skills and tools to enable to us to take this ball farther still. More on this in a future installment.

Post-script: These four posts are shortly to be published as a full research paper, replete with references and notes + bibliography, on my account.



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