3 quasi-identical tablets on rams. But what are the “items related to rams ”? What a quandary!

KN 1175 - KN 1180 sheep

The written text of all three of these tablets is identical. Only the total numbers of rams and so-called “items related to rams ” vary, especially that latter, from a low of 10 to a high of 67. This raises the thorny questions of why the shepherd or owner of these sheep, Dumireweis, would have to use 67 items related to rams on the second tablet, versus 10 on the first and 20 on the third, especially in light of the fact that the number of rams varies but little on all three tablets (4,5,4).

The next problem is that Mycenaean Greek does not in any specify what these items are supposed to be. The only recourse I have is to assume that they are the instruments and implementa the shepherds and sheep owners used to raise their sheep. Turning to modern sheep raising instruments, and using a little imagination to boot, I came up with the ones listed in the illustration above. This still leaves the issue of Dumireweis having to resort to using 67 such items for a mere 5 rams on the second tablet. The only explanation I can come up with is that the is using several of the same items, meaning that he has several of each in stock. But if this is the case, why does he apparently have only 10 items in stock on tablet 1 and 20 on tablet 3, unless these are a subset of his total stock? That can make sense, as in modern inventories, we can and sometimes do find varying numbers of tool, instruments etc. related for instance to car or airplane manufacturing. These instruments can run to a significant number, especially in the aerospace industry. But I find it extremely difficult to believe that there could as many as a total of 67 discrete (separate) instruments used in an ancient agricultural setting such as that of Knossos, Mycenae or Pylos. It would make far more sense to adduce that the number of such tools and implementa is in fact only 10, as illustrated on the first tablet. This would mean that the 20 on the last tablet would make for redundancy in the number of separate, distinct items, for instance 3 forceps for birthing, 2 different shearing tools etc. Shearing in particular could have involved the use of a number of different, even specialized tools. So the number 67 on the second tablet may not be so wacky after all. For instance, Dumireweis could have made use of 2 different type of forceps or calipers for birthing, and as many as 5 different shearing tools, all in quantity, in order that the total runs to 67.

shears and tongs some bronze

But we are not done yet. Why on earth are there 3 tablets inventorying Dumireweis’ rams, when the scribe could have fit all of the rams and all of the instruments on one tablet? That really beats me. He could have listed 97 instruments for 13 rams, but he didn’t. The only explanation I can come up with is that the scribe is inventorying three different groups of rams Dumireweis owns. No matter how you cut it, though, there appears to be no way our of this messy impasse.