The famous “Bull’s Head” sacrificial libation Rhyton, Ashmolean Museum, translated

The famous “Bulls Head” sacrificial Rhyton, Ashmolean Museum, translated:

KN 872 M o 01 libation cup and Nestor

This is one of the most well-known of all Linear B tablets. It was unearthed by Sir Arthur Evans from the debris at Knossos in the early 1900s. Unfortunately, so much of the text is missing or badly mutilated (left truncated) that it is difficult to translate it. In addition, the words “neqasapi” and “qasapi”, which are variants of one another, are to be found nowhere in Tselentis or any other Mycenaean Greek lexicon, including the most comprehensive of them all, that of L.R. Palmer in The Interpretation of Mycenaean Greek Texts (1963). However, I was able to make sense of the right side of the tablet, which fortunately is largely intact. The Bulls Head is not just a bulls head, it is a sacrificial Bulls Head rhyton, as you can see from my archaic Greek text, here transliterated into Latin characters, “rrhuton kefaleiia tauroio” = “a rhyton of the head of a bull”. There are also 3 kylixes or cups with handles, presumably made of gold. So I was able to extricate enough text to make reasonable sense of this fine tablet.


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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

2 thoughts on “The famous “Bull’s Head” sacrificial libation Rhyton, Ashmolean Museum, translated”

  1. Okay, just throwing this into the mix, because this is not my regular gig, and I respect you all immensely for your scholarship – but might ‘neqasapi’ mean something akin to ‘the wise dead’? With ‘neqa’ representing ‘nekros’ and ‘sapi’ as in ‘sapient’. Yes, I know sapient is of Latin Origin, but we do have myths that state that the Minoans had colonies not only in Sicily, but also near modern Taranto. Just throwing it into the mix.


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