Scripta Minoa: Not so Easy Fragments # 3 (Click to ENLARGE:) Now we come to fragments which are somewhat more difficult to interpret, because: 1. some of the syllabograms may be truncated on both the left and the right, making it almost impossible to figure out what the full word is in which they appear, as illustrated in the third fragment here, or 2. some of the syllabograms may or may not be truncated on the left, as appears to be the case in the first example above, where I finally decided WAKITARA was probably not truncated on the left, and was a man’s name. But that would only be the case if there were only 1 man, and since the fragment is truncated on the right, we shall never know this, or 3. as in the second example, where Haptarwara is clearly a man’s name, there still exist ambiguities. What about that half-erased syllabogram to the right of his name? It sure looks like RE, but that is not certain. But if it is RE, then that places his name in the dative case, which is highly significant for this particular fragment. Given that the second line clearly states that there are 102 men tending to rams or ewes or both, i.e. sheep, if Haptarwara’s name is in fact in the dative case, then the phrase means, “for Haptarwara”, surely implying that the 102 men are working for him, and that he is their overseer. In that case, the translation is pretty clear, and because it is so, it makes a lot of sense. It runs as follows: 102 men (shepherds) tending to sheep (rams & or ewes), working for their overseer, Haptarwara. Without the dative, however, this interpretation falls apart. As you can, I have applied the general criteria outlined in the second post on Easy Syllabograms to this post on Syllabograms which are no longer so easy to decipher, but which nevertheless, are not entirely recalcitrant to interpretation. Richard
Scripta Minoa: So-called Easy Fragments # 2: Knossos, Amnisos & Potnia (Click to ENLARGE🙂 To summarize the criteria we laid out in detail in the previous post, in general terms, the following conditions pertain to all fragments (not tablets!) regardless: 1. There is no context by which to establish what sense or meaning the word or words (usually no more than 5 or 6 at most) actually are meant to convey. 2. Almost all fragments are truncated on the left or right, making it practically (though not utterly) impossible to interpret whatever the cropped text is supposed to mean. 3. But things are not quite so hopeless as it would at first sight appear. If the occurrences of all extant words beginning with a particular syllabogram in every Linear B dictionary now available online are relatively few, then we can predict that our translation has a 1 in nn chance, sometimes even as low as 1 in 10 or 10% of actually being the right translation. 4.Even where right hand truncation is the order of the day, sometimes there is only one interpretation. But here again, ambiguity of context frustrates once again. What on earth does the fragment in question tell us about (usually one single) word? In almost all instances, precisely nothing. 5. Ambiguities in grammatical construction further complicate matters. 6. Scribes often (half) ERASE one or more syllabograms on fragments, almost always on the right side. This usuallly happens when a scribe simply erases the last (extraneous) character, which he never meant to write in the first place. On the other hand, he may be hesitating whether or not he should erase it, as will be illustrated in he next 2 posts. Our second example of 5 fragments: Scripta Minoa: So-called Easy Fragments # 2: Knossos, Amnisos & Potnia speak for themselves, or more accurately do not speak for themselves. I invite you to try and interpret each of the 5 fragments on your own. I am quite sure you will come up for air pretty quickly, feeling (somewhat or annoyingly) frustrated. For instance, who the blazes is Potnia? Look her up in almost any classical Greek-English dictionary and you are likely bound to hit a brick wall. Fortunately, our excellent companion, Liddell & Scott, comes to the rescue yet again (pg. 581), which is why any serious Linear B researcher should have this invaluable resource in his or her collection. I am not going to tell you who she is. I believe it is up to you to do your own research on this one, even if you have to go to the library. Things are going to get a lot messier from here on in! Richard
Scripta Minoa: So-called Easy Fragments # 1: Knossos & Amnisos (Click to ENLARGE🙂 We now begin our long series of posts of some 2,000 of the approximately 3,500 tablets and fragments from Knossos, which Sir Arthur Evans published in his Scripta Minoa (Oxford University Press, 1952). The first 4 fragments you see here already amply illustrate some of the (sometimes intractable) problems faced by translators, especially when we have to deal with fragments. In general terms, the following conditions pertain to all fragments (not tablets!) regardless: 1. There is no context by which to establish what sense or meaning the word or words (usually no more than 5 or 6 at most) actually are meant to convey. The last of the 4 in this table amply illustrates this problem. First of all, does the word “enereya” mean “operation or better still, industry”... possibly, even probably (by a stretch), but also probably not. And plenty of translators will contest my “translation”. 2. Almost all fragments are truncated on the left or right, making it practically (though not utterly) impossible to interpret whatever the cropped text is supposed to mean. This is fully illustrated by the second fragment in this table. 3. But things are not quite so hopeless as it would at first sight appear. If the occurrences of all extant words beginning with a particular syllabogram (in this case TE) in every Linear B dictionary now available online are relatively few, then we can predict that our translation, here = temenos (boundary) has a 1 in nn chance of actually being the right translation. Allow me to illustrate. In the two largest Mycenaean Linear B – English dictionaries now available online (the larger one in PDF format and over 260 pages long!), there are 6+17 = 23 instances of all extant words beginning the single syllabogram TE as the first syllable. So let’s assume the ratio is 1/25 or about 4%. But wait. But only a very few of these words make any sense in fragment #2, and as it happens that number adds up to only: te = then, tekotones = carpenters, temeno = boundary or temple,teo(i) = god(s), temidweta = wheel with studs, tereta = official title of a tax collector or master of ceremonies, tetukuoa = well prepared or ready, teukepi = with implements, thereby reducing our chances of being “correct” to 1 in 7 according to this vocabulary. But let’s err on the side of caution, and say, 1 in 10, or 10 %, and that is a heck of a lot better than our initial calculation. Of course, I for one are more than willing to substitute any of the other 6 words above for “temenos”, because they all make sense in this admittedly very limited context, if you can even call it that. But, in fact, the collateral evidence I have just laid out makes it even probable that any of these 7 (or slightly more) interpretations fits the bill. But in the second example in this table the meaning is clear. It can only be Aminiso or Aminisoyo (genitive) or some such variant. So even where right hand truncation is the order of the day, sometimes there is only one interpretation. But here again, ambiguity of context frustrates once again. What on earth does this fragment tell us about Amnisos... Precisely nothing. 5. Ambiguities in grammatical construction further complicate matters, as in fragment 1. Why is Konosoyo in the genitive and Rukitiyo (apparently) nominative? Why are these two places mentioned together? What is the association or link between them? We shall never know. Richard
KEY POST: my translation of Knossos Tablet KN RA 1548 = 3 finer quality swords... another tough nut to crack: Click to ENLARGE: There are MAJOR problems with this post, all centred around the word, ariyete, which I now believe I have translated wrongly. As soon as I can clear up the problems, I will report the Tablet, KN RA 1548, and modify the text accordingly. I also invite any Linear B expert to catch me out on this one, as I am quite certain you will. Apart from this tricky (sneaky) word, I believe the rest of the translation is accurate. There are several noteworthy aspects to my translation of this very significant tablet from Knossos, which has been translated many times over. However, each translator has his or her own take on what the tablet signifies, and I am no exception. I researched every single word on the table very carefully before translating it, but the word which caused me the greatest grief was “ariyete”. What on earth was that supposed to mean? Once again, Liddell & Scott (1986 ed.) came to my rescue, as you can see on the tablet above. Some will say I am really going out on a limb with this interpretation, and actually I suppose I am. But as I have so often said before in this blog, and shall never cease to repeat, one has to take chances with translations of Linear B Tablets, which are often (to say the very least) ambiguous. Now let us turn to the map upon which I base my hypothesis for my translation. Click to ENLARGE: At least my translation has the elegance of being consistent within its ambit. The swords here are described as “finer”, and there are only 3 of them in inventory, further attesting to their quality. Moreover, the attribution of Median origin of manufacture is not such a far stretch of the imagination, since as the map itself clearly illustrates, the Medians were a migratory people at that time, and the word for the people described as “ariyete” on the tablet bears a more than passing resemblance to “Arzawa” on the map. I am not at all claiming that my translation is the “right” one, as there simply is no such thing in cases such as this, with Knossos KN RA 1548, which is about as ambiguous as you can get. While my literal translation is just that, literal, following the tablet word by word, what is my justification for my free translation? Why do I insist that the 3 swords, which are made of Cyperus, have “chain-braided hilts”, rather than simply saying what the text clearly says, that they are “with chains” (dative plural)? I do so for two good reasons: (1) because if the swords were hung from chains (presumably shoulder straps), the poor blokes who wanted to attack with them would be killed themselves before they even got them off their shoulders! & (2) Bronze-Age swords were frequently adorned with chain-braided hilts, as you can see in these two examples: Click to ENLARGE: We must recall at all times that the Minoan & Mycenaean scribes were very adept at using shorthand in transcribing their tablets, since the tablets were almost invariably very small. That is why a literal translation is quite unlikely to represent accurately what they really meant when they wrote out their tablets. It is for this reason, for instance, that the noun “kuperos” stands (in) for the adjective “kuperosiya”, which in fact would be feminine, were it to modify the noun, “pakana”. So why did the scribes use the noun instead of the adjective? The answer is apparent... to save space on the tablet. Minoan and Mycenaean scribes resorted to this ploy over and over on 100s, even 1,000s of tablets, so is it any wonder they would have done so on this tablet? I welcome any and all observations, critiques and criticisms of this translation, however agreeable or, on the other hand, contrary or vexatious. Richard
How on earth did Sir Arthur Evans manage to read 3,500+ messy Linear B fragments & tablets? .... without going blind! I just downloaded the first 20 or so actual Linear B fragments and tablets which Sir Arthur Evans unearthed at Knossos from 1900-1903, and what immediately struck me is that most of them are practically illegible, at least online. Of course, the actual fragments and tablets, as housed in museums such as the Herakleion Museum, would surely be easier to read than mere copies online. However, the fragments and tablets must have been a real headache to Sir Arthur Evans and his team of copyists who transformed the contents of the originals into facsimiles, which we actually can read. So, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Sir Arthur Evans for transcribing all of those 3,500+ fragments and tablets into the same no. of facsimiles in the Scripta Minoa, published in 1952 by Oxford University Press. Now, just to make it clear how very difficult... rather I should say, tedious... it is to read any one of the fragments or tablets, I am providing you with two examples here  Click to ENLARGE: You can see for yourself that my own pathetic attempt at merely reading the original tablet was an almost total failure! So you can imagine how extremely tedious this task must have been for Sir Arthur Evans, who had to transcribe all 3,500+ ! And I hasten to add that, without the meticulous and thorough travail of Sir Arthur Evans, Michael Ventris would have had a much more daunting task in his years-long endeavours to decipher Linear B: In the second example, here  Click to ENLARGE: I met with complete success, for 3 obvious reasons,  it is only a tiny fragment with just 3 characters  one of the characters is none other than the super-syllabogram ZE I just recently deciphered... at least to my mind &  the second factor directly lead me to being able to actually decipher this fragment. So everything isn’t so hopeless after all. Richard
One Small leap for Syllabograms, One Giant Leap for Linear B: the Last Stage before Liftoff! Thomas G. Palaima's Translation of Linear B Tablet FL 1994: Click to ENLARGE Until now, students, scholars and researchers in the field of Linear B, including myself of course, have assumed that syllabograms are syllabograms are syllabograms, as a rose is a rose is a rose. Likewise, and to no one's surprise, 2 or 3 syllabograms superimposed one over the other, can express Linear B words in a very concise manner, as illustrated here: Click to ENLARGE: These syperimposed syllabograms I chose to refer as Logograms, because to my mind, that is what they are. Yet, to my utter astonishment, I have only recently discovered, upon minute examination of 100s of linear B fragments and a few tablets from pages 140-169 of Sir Arthur Evans' Scripta Minoa, that there is something going on with syllabograms which has evaded our notice until today. What I have discovered, and what has filled me with excitement, are the following things: 1. that single syllabograms, all alone, recur far more frequently on the hundreds of Linear B tablets from Knossos I have so far put under the microscope of my insatiable thirst for a greater understanding of Linear B; and that 2. almost all of these single syllabograms pop up, and with remarkable frequency, immediately after a Linear B ideogram (whether it has been deciphered or not) and that; 3 I have also discovered at least 4 or 5 new Linear B logograms never before even identified, which recur often enough on the hundreds of Linear B fragments I have so far examined... at least 3 times in this little trove... that I feel duty bound to bring these new ideograms to the immediate attention to Linear B scholars and researchers world-wide. Moreover, the “meaning” of one of these previously un-investigated, hence, of course, unknown and undeciphered ideograms I was able to instantly recognize the moment I fell upon it, not once or twice, but 6 times on 2 tablets and fragments! At least its “meaning” is obvious to me, although I am certain several Linear B scholars and researchers are bound to contest my interpretation of it... which I wholeheartedly welcome. But there is more, far more. 4. Finally, and here lies the crunch of the matter, upon close examination of even the first 100 or so of the hundreds of fragments and tablets from Knossos, I discovered to my even greater astonishment, that (and I must stress this emphatically) in the case of at least 4 or 5 ideograms we already know the meaning of beyond any reasonable doubt, I found, again immediately following them, a syllabogram which popped up over and over. The most striking example of this phenomenon is the ideogram for IQO (horse), which was followed no less than seven (7!) times by one single syllabogram, and that syllabogram is ZE, on as many fragments and tablets within 3 pages of each other on the Scripta Minoa as to practically rule out the chances that this was mere happenstance. This discovery immediately lead me to an entire Linear B word which began with the syllabogram ZE and which, surprise, surprise, surprise!... can only be used with any sense or practical, experiential meaning in the specific context of the ideogram for horse (IQO) and horse alone, and always in the same, invariable order: ideogram for horse first, immediately and invariably followed by the syllabogram ZE. In other words, we have here, just as in the Iliad, a formulaic expression, in short, a vocabulary formula in Mycenaean Greek. It seems that Homer was merely carrying on the tradition of formulaic vocabulary, which it appears the Mycenaeans, and not he himself, “invented”. If this is true, once again, the implications for the further decipherment of considerable chunks of Linear B texts are far-reaching and profound. And when the light came on, it flashed on instantly. “EUREKA!” I told myself. The syllabogram ZE, in this context, and in this context alone, in the precise order specified, is not merely a syllabogram, but what I choose to call a “Supersyllabogram”, by which I mean a syllabogram which is in fact the first syllable of the complete Linear B word, which if spelled out with all of the syllabograms of which it is comprised, yields precisely the meaning I would have expected from it, in this case, none other than the word, “halter”, which I must emphatically stress, is nowhere spelled out on any Linear B fragment or tablet. But there it is, staring us right in the face. The meaning is, by simple induction, clear as the nose on my face. The next post, which serves to illustrate this new phenomenon in the decipherment of single syllabograms, which are very liberally peppered throughout the Knossos fragments, and hitherto defied decipherment, are now wide open to rational interpretation and, indeed, to perfectly reasonable decipherment. But there is more, far far more. I have discovered, not just one example of such formulaic phrases on the hundreds of Linear B fragments and tablets from the Scripta Minoa I have examined to date (i.e. from pages 140-169), but several, and they all follow the precise same order: ideogram + syllabogram(s) – 1 or more, always in the same order, and, would you believe, even 2 ideograms always following one another in the same exact order, and even, 2 ideograms in the same order followed by syllabogram(s) – 1 or more, always in the same order. This happens frequently enough to reinforce my new thesis propounding the existence of the Ideologogram, a term I have had to coin, simply because there is no other way to put it. Allow me to express my profound gratitude and thanks to Thomas G. Palaima, whose carefully reasoned, ingenious translation of Heidelberg Tablet FL 1994, made this discovery even possible. When I first stumbled on the PDF file of his masterful translation of the tablet, and had read it through a few times, it suddenly dawned on me that, with his remarkable insight into the “meaning” of those 5 syllabograms KO, ZA, PA, PO and MU, he had suggested to me, albeit unconsciously for the most part, with only a glimmer of consciousness, that here was something new, something unheard of and, I stress once again, never before even recognized, let alone sufficiently explained, until Thomas G. Palaima “got it” in the specific context of this particular tablet. It only remained for someone to extrapolate his findings, and to cross-correlate them in principle and in practice to as many Linear B fragments and tablets as possible to confirm or discount the possibility that Linear B syllabograms could in fact be more than merely syllabograms, but in fact logograms. I strongly urge you to read Prof. Palaima's first-rate translation of Linear B Heidelberg Tablet FE 1994. Remember that I have only ploughed through a few hundred of the Linear B fragments and tablets in the Scripta Minoa, from pages 140-160, and that I have yet to wrestle with the remaining fragments from page 170-258, i.e. 88 pages, amounting to at least 1,000 tablets, if not indeed double that. And, with the assistance and thoroughness of my trusty sidekick, Rita Roberts, archeologist in Crete, and my Linear B star student, who is presently at Level 3 (Intermediate) of her Linear B course, I – that is to say, we - intend to just that over the coming year or so, trust me. I have also to express my profound gratitude and love of Michael Ventris, who is my true hero, and whom Rita too profoundly admires, because without his astounding achievement in 1952 of single-handedly deciphering Linear B, none of this would even be remotely possible. I am utterly convinced that Michael Ventris' spirit is in mine, and that he is my guardian angel. I am also convinced that he is cheering me on, or to adapt from Dante Gabriel Rossetti's “The Blessed Damozel”: The blessed Michael Ventris leaned out/From the gold bar of Heaven;... and shines his everlasting light on us all. Watch for the next post, because with it, I burst the dams wide open. Oh, and I just realized it. I chose to post this on May 8, which just happens to be the 69th. anniversary of VE Day, the end of World War II in Europe. Leave it to me to think of that! Richard Vallance
Is the syllabogram ZE just a plain old syllabogram? A MAJOR discovery soon to be announced! ZE, the Super Syllabogram! Just the other day, while meticulously examining some of the 100s of the fragments of the Scripta Minoa I have already ploughed through with a fine-tooth comb, I noticed something particularly astonishing, something which has never been directly observed until now, but which is bound to have a significant impact on the continuing saga all of us, as researchers, are pursuing in our attempts to successfully decipher certain aspects of the Linear B syllabary, including both logograms and ideograms, which have hitherto remained entirely recalcitrant to interpretation. But I sincerely believe I have actually cracked another mystery in the Linear B saga, and that mystery revolves around not one, but more than one, Linear B syllabogram, logogram and ideogram, taken not in isolation but in specific, invariable combination(s) with one another. This entirely new approach to the decipherment of hitherto inexplicable portions of Linear B tablets, indeed, even of fragments of Linear B tablets, is bound to have profound implications in our ability to break open at least some of the remaining mysteries of Linear B. Not only did I discover this particular syllabogram ZE in a specific configuration, that is to say, a specific, invariable order with the very same ideogram several times over, but I also discovered the same phenomenon occurring at least as frequently and in some cases, far more frequently, with specific syllabograms always combined in exactly the same order with exactly the same ideogram. Something is going on here, and I mean something big, which has eluded the notice of all Linear B researchers to date, in the 60 years plus since Michael Ventris first deciphered Linear B. To say the very least, I was extremely lucky to have stumbled upon this particular and particularly precise usage of the “syllabogram” ZE in the Scripta Minoa, which places it firmly in the same class as the most common Linear B logograms, all of which are already perfectly understood. The big difference here is that, until now, all Linear B logograms we know the precise meaning of are all comprised of nothing but two or more syllabograms. I stress this. In the case of ZE, we have an entirely new phenomenon, as you shall soon discover for yourselves. Please understand that for my purposes, and in fact for the sake of absolute clarity and for sound theoretical purposes, I insist on a clear distinction between a logogram and an ideogram. In fact, as you are soon to see, we may have to “invent” at least one new class of Linear B “symbols” which is a composite of either: a both a syllabogram and an ideogram, but always in the same precise configuration and in the same precise order; b and, yes, even 2 ideograms, again always in the same precise configuration and in the same precise order. I am in fact so convinced that the “meaning” I am about to assign to the syllabogram ZE in combination with the (as yet) “secret” syllabogram I shall be unveiling is in fact so sound as to be practically self-evident. I challenge all major researchers into Linear B to challenge my interpretation of the ZE + ideogram logogram, since after all I may be barking up the wrong tree. But somehow, intuitively, inductively and contextually, I do not believe I err. Only time will tell. What I sincerely believe I am about to demonstrate is this: Linear B is an even more complex, more sophisticated, in short, a more elegant syllabary system than we have yet imagined, so much so indeed that it may be the most sophisticated syllabary ever to have existed prior to the advent of the alphabetic scripts. Keep posted! Richard
Mycenaean Linear B Ideograms Level 5.2 (Advanced) Military B064-B254 + a new “garment” ideogram & B064, a possible variation on B232 (Click to ENLARGE): In this, the second chart illustrating Military Ideograms in Mycenaean Linear B, I revisit Ideograms B233 & B236, which I discussed in Mycenaean Linear B Ideograms Level 5.1 (Advanced) Military, for the simple reason that I entirely forgot the principal meaning of B236, which is not, KISIPO or the double-edge broad sword, as I had imagined (although that meaning may possibly also be assigned to this ideogram), but the far more common Mycenaean word for “long-sword”, PAKANA, hence the revision you see here. This is borne out by the famous Linear B tablets, which is one of the very first students of Linear B are required to translate, namely (Click to ENLARGE): In addition to these observations, allow me to draw your attention to a few other peculiarities of military ideograms in Linear B, as we currently understand them. 1. The ideogram B064, which has not been specifically identified to mean anything in particular, may in fact be a variation on ideogram B232, DAPU or Labrys, or the famous Minoan/Mycenaean double-edged axe which we so often see in frescoes at Knossos and Mycenae, as shown here (Click to ENLARGE): 2. The Ideogram B162 (supposedly meaning “garment” generically) is almost always identical in meaning to Ideogram B163 Armour on the tablets, as is clearly illustrated in the Mycenaean Linear B Ideograms Level 5.2 (Advanced) Military above. In fact, when we speak of “garment” for Ideogram B162, what we are actually referring to is the (Mycenaean, not Attic!) himation or simply an outer garment or mantle worn over the Mycenaean chiton or in the case of warriors, over their armour, which would be ideogram B163. This corresponds roughly to Homer's chlaina. See Note  in the Table. 3. While carefully scrutinizing 100s of fragments of tablets and a few tablets in Scripta Minoa (Sir Arthur Evans, Oxford University Press, 1952) I discovered no fewer than 3 instances of a previously unassigned ideogram on page 154. This ideogram, which is without question an ideogram, appears to be extremely similar to ideograms B162 & B163, with the additional distinction that it has the syllabogram QE as a crest in its centre. What this ideogram, which I believe to be some sort of garment, actually represents I do not yet know, but I am certain that the syllabogram QE in its centre is a definite clue as to its possible significance. It amazes me that no-one has ever spotted this ideogram before. 4. It is, of course, debatable whether or not the ideogram which appears on fragment 225b N m 01 on pg. 154 of Scripta Minoa is in fact a labrys, but as far as I can see, it sure looks like one. In light of this, I am willing to make a small leap of faith (though surely not of logic) and to surmise that ideogram B064 may also represent a labrys in some configuration, as illustrated by the fresco in 1. above. Richard
What is all this Fuss about “Translating” Fragments of.... Let's just say for a laugh... English! Let's just say for a laugh that some 3,000 years from now, when English has long since disappeared from the face of the Earth, or more likely, that that the face of the Earth has itself disappeared, some would-be hyper adventurous aliens just happen to pop by our solar system, and manage to mine out of the detritus of the Earth's debris a few bits and pieces of digital records of text in English (for the sake of simplicity, though any “modern” language would do), and what they found were fragments such as this (Click to ENLARGE): So now we see what we are really up against when we try to “translate” or “interpret” fragments of Linear B tablets, if indeed they are in Linear B, and not in Linear A. While the vast majority of tabulary fragments Sir Arthur Evans discovered at Knossos were in Linear B, plenty of them were not, and since so many of the syllabograms in Linear A & B are identical, how on earth can we even be sure that the fragment we are trying to “translate” or “interpret” is not in Linear B, but (God forbid!) in Linear A, in which case, no matter how hard we bash our brains, we simply cannot translate it! For instance, what if from that loot of so-called “English” fragments discovered by our curious wee aliens in the far future, some of the fragments were not in English at all, but, say, in Ojibway, or Algonquin or Polynesian? And what poor benighted alien could possibly recognize any of those languages, if all he or she had to go on was a very limited corpus of some 2,500 English words.... much as we nowadays have to make do with whenever we are forced up against the wall, and bound (pardon the pun!) to translate what we merely think are fragments of Linear B? Oh the pitfalls! I rest my case. Or put it another way (Click to ENLARGE): Richard
Our Long-Term Project: Translations & Transliterations of up to 1,000 or more Knossos Tablets & Fragments # 1 In the next 3 years, it is our intention to translate or transliterate at least several 100, if not more than 1,000, of the some 3,500 tablets & fragments unearthed by the famous archaeologist, Sir Arthur Evans, at the site of Knossos, all of which are catalogued in his famous “Scripta Minoa”, originally published by Oxford University Press in 1909, and re-released in 1952, and available online in their entirety here: This is a huge undertaking, never before assayed. Our task will be daunting, but not overly-stressful, provided that we tackle only a few tablets or fragments at a time, for fear of overwhelming you, our blog visitors, readers and researchers of Mycenaean Linear B (let alone ourselves). Each new post will display no more than 10 Knossos Fragments from the “Scripta Minoa”, and where entire Tablets are concerned, we will of course, limit ourselves to 1 Tablet only per post. For the first 9 fragments from the “Scripta Minoa”, with my tentative translations and transliterations, click here to ENLARGE: The distinction between a translation and a transliteration is as follows. A translation is just that, however tentative or (im)plausible. On the other hand, a transliteration simply consists of rendering the syllabograms in a fragment (& always in a fragment) into their Latin equivalents. A great many fragments simply defy translation, for several reasons: 1 the fragment contains only 1 syllabogram or vowel, as in the example above of the fragment with the vowel “u” only; 2 the fragment contains a word which is truncated on the right; 3 the fragment contains a word which is truncated on the left; 4 the fragment contains a word which is truncated on both the left and the right; 5 the fragment contains words which may be in any combination of 1-4 above; 6 some or all of the words in the fragment are practically illegible. In all such cases, context, which is the prime determinant of effectual translation, should be present in its entirety or clearly established. The only exceptions to this guideline occur where the meaning of a word is completely transparent, in spite of inadequate contextuality, as in the case of the word for “a hollow (of a) bowl” in  above, as well as “so much = total” in  above. Any other attempts at translation are entirely conjectural, and open to serious contention, or even implausibility, as in the case of    &  above. So, you ask, why even bother? I am willing even to take a shot at any (im)plausible translation of any word(s) or phrase(s) in a fragment or tablet, provided that they at least make some sense, and given that at some point in the future, someone will be able to authenticate or reject the “translation” as realistic or not. My colleague, Rita Roberts, who is a retired archaeologist in Crete, and I shall be undertaking this fascinating and highly informative new project as a team. I am sure the long-term results will be of great interest to Linear B scholars and researchers worldwide. Richard
Linear A: The Search for New Solutions – All 38 Tablets geometrically tabulated by sub-totals and percentage (Click to Enlarge): Finally, we see that of the 38 Tablets we have examined for their geometric alignment or shapes, fully 30 are Rectangular Vertical, another 4 are Rectangular Horizontal, and yet another 4 Circular or Signets, so to speak. This little survey is far from being scientific, but at least it gives us our first insight into the probable proportion of tablets by geometric alignment or shape, and it's a lot better than nothing. Finally, the spreadsheet Table below allows for a margin of – 5 % for Rectangular Vertical, since a margin of + 5 % would be patently ridiculous. So our results vary enough to allow for at least some degree of assurance. Here is my Table of Margins of Error for our 38 Tablets. I hope it looks at least reasonably credible. Naturally, you don't have to see it that way, though, and some of you certainly won't. And if you don't, pray tell my why, so that I can better understand things, and work with you to bring some resolution to the huge problems facing me in my "thinking out of the box" research into linear A. Anyway, to each his or her own. You can contact me by e-mailing me privately at: email@example.com (Click to ENLARGE): Since I will henceforth be honoured and greatly blessed with the support and encouragement of 4 volunteers, you should keep your eyes peeled for our next survey much larger cross-section of Linear A Tablets by the summer of 2014. With this in mind, I urge, exhort and beg anyone who has a baby bear, momma bear or father bear cache of Linear A Tablets, which do NOT include these 38, to zap them my way. Anyone who does so will be fully credited for participating in the scope & comprehensiveness of our “final” survey. My volunteers are to remain strictly anonymous and all of their hard work and contributions to my research into Linear A will remain confidential and secret for at least 2 years (March 2014 – summer 2016). Some of our major research results and outcomes will remain totally secret, and I will not post them at all until all our research is over and done with, and that could take as long as 4 to 6 years (2018-2020 ). Still, I've a helluva lot more up my sneaky little sleeve, as you shall all soon see, starting with the “Numbers Game”, for which our results should be compiled and verified for accuracy for these 38 Tablets sometime in May or June 2014. Anyone who can guess what I mean by the “Numbers Game” will receive from me a prize of 100s of Linear A & B Tablets and scores of lovely pictures I have assiduously collected over the past 11 months, since the advent of this Blog, now the premier Linear B Blog on the entire Internet. Then you can fiddle around with, decipher, translate or do whatever you like with them, so long as it isn't illegal. Enjoy!
Linear A: The Search for New Solutions. What on Earth am I up to? NOTE! If you do not read this commentary in its entirety, none of this will make no sense whatsoever. What? You ask. I thought this Blog was supposed to be all about Mycenaean Linear B. Well, if that were the case, why would I keep bringing up Arcado-Cypriot Linear C? There are plenty of reasons for that, which will become much clearer to us all as I progress through 2014. As it stands, I now have no other alternative but to learn Linear C, if I am to translate the Idalion Tablet and other Linear C Tablets, which as you will eventually discover I must do if I am to confirm beyond a doubt the relative authenticity of my Theory of Progressive Mycenaean Grammar and Vocabulary, which I sincerely hope will become absolutely transparent sometime in 2015. What about Linear A? What? You have to wonder! Is this guy absolutely mad? God knows. However, I have been wracking my brains out for at least 9 months trying to figure out how I might be able to tackle Linear A in some sort of minimal way, until yesterday, when the lights came on, and I suddenly realized what my unique contribution to research on Linear A can be. First of all, I know next to zilch about Linear A, and I intend to keep it that way. After all, Michael Ventris knew nothing of Linear B, when he began his long trek to eventually deciphering it in June-July 1952, having discovered to his utter astonishment that the language behind it was, of all things, Greek, a very early Greek indeed, but none the less Greek. And I am no Michael Ventris. Now, if he started from scratch, then I suppose I might as well. Let me make it perfectly clear: I do not intend to even attempt to learn any more about Linear A than past and current research has already revealed. What on earth is the point of that? The most famous exponent of and researcher into Linear A is none other than Prof. John G. Younger of the University of Kansas, and there is no point whatsoever in my making even the slightest attempt to duplicate his extensive knowledge of Linear A, nor that of other highly respected researchers who have preceded him. You will find new links to the corpus of research by Prof. Younger and other eminent researchers in Linear A at the bottom of this page, links which I positively urge you to follow up on. In the meantime, what is to be my own approach to the study of Linear A? It is actually quite simple: I am going to start from scratch, from my rickety platform with nothing whatsoever on it, proceeding thus: I intend to approach Linear A in an entirely novel way, by exploring avenues which no-one else has followed before, subject to any reproof to my total absence of knowledge, or if you like, my patent all out ignorance of Linear A. How does he intend to do that, I hear you asking? I cannot afford to duplicate any approaches or avenues of research already followed, to whatever extent. In other words, if anyone whatsoever has peered into the arcane mysteries of Linear A, and discovered anything about its structure, syllabary etc. etc., why on earth would I duplicate it? It is for this reason that I must take a fresh approach to the study of Linear A by calling on absolutely every contemporary researcher into the field to assist me in completely eliminating any and all avenues already taken in the extensive research of Linear A, since there is simply no point in rehashing what so many others have done before. In light of my firm decision to follow this rather peculiar path in the study of Linear A, I must be absolutely certain that I am not duplicating anything whatsoever so many other highly competent researchers have so extensively accomplished. With this in mind, I beg and exhort any researcher who is deeply committed to the study of Linear A to help me confirm that I am not pursuing any avenue or approach to the field which literally anyone has already taken.... because if I am, this completely invalidates any idea that pops into my busy little head. So once again, I fervently appeal to you, if you are deeply committed to research in Linear A, to contact me as soon as you possibly can, so that I can co-ordinate my ideas with you. Actually, the only thing you ever need do is to inform me in no uncertain terms that someone, anyone, has already pursued the avenue I wish to take. Otherwise, it is a complete waste of time for me and all of you. In other words, I have no intention whatsoever of learning Linear A, but merely cooking up notions, however far-fetched, absurd or even laughable they may appear to the community of Linear A specialists. In this perspective, my methodology is ridiculously simple, possibly even simplistic or, to all appearances, positively zany, even to me. My approach is as follows: 1. If any expert or amateur researcher deeply committed to the field of research into Linear A informs me I am merely duplicating what has already been done, then I shall drop any assumption I make like a hot potato. 2. If any expert or amateur researcher deeply committed to the field of research into Linear A informs me I am merely duplicating what has already been done, but done only once or twice and then dropped like a hot potato, because everyone agrees it is patently silly, then I shall not drop any such assumption if it is even remotely possible that it might not prove to be silly some day in the (far) future. I just have to hang onto it, just as a cat hangs on with its claws dug into a branch refuses to let go, because after all, it is a cat, and cats never like to be made fools of... even when they are. That’s about it, in a nutshell. Now if this approach to Linear A sounds nutty to you, remember that no-one, absolutely no-one, including Michael Ventris himself, was even the least bit willing to entertain the “crazy” notion that the language behind Linear B was an early dialect of Greek. Anyone who did entertain such a notion was written off was being nutty as a fruit-cake. Well, there was one “fruit-cake” who was forced to admit that the language written in the Linear B syllabary was in fact the earliest known dialect of ancient Greek, and he accepted the stark evidence in all humility. We all know who he is... Michael Ventris. Shortly after his astonishing discovery, another “fruit-cake”, namely; the illustrious Prof. John Chadwick enthusiastically followed up on Ventris’ astonishing revelation, and between the two them, they established practically beyond a reasonable doubt that the language of Linear B was Greek. Shortly after Ventris’ tragic death in a car accident on Sept. 6, 1956, Prof. Chadwick (1920-1998) of Cambridge University valiantly took up the standard, and eventually published his ground-breaking book, The Decipherment of Linear B (Cambridge University Press, 1958), which literally turned the study of ancient Greek history on its head, so that it had to be entirely re-written. Theories of Ancient Greek history as it was known before 1952-1953, dating from ca. 900-800 BCE, as everyone perfectly “knew” was firmly established, suddenly had to be substantially revised and, in some cases, completely abandoned, since the timeline for ancient Greek history was suddenly shoved, in one fell swoop, back to a much remoter antiquity, something like 1500 BCE, practically doubling itself. Ever since then, scarcely anyone takes seriously the suddenly passé notion that Greek History reaches back to only 900-800 BCE, chucking it right out the window, when the evidence overwhelmingly supports current knowledge that it is far more ancient, going way back to ca. 1500 BCE. Well, I guess I am more than willing to be the dunce in the corner of the classroom. Why not?... when no-one else will. But this wing-nut has a (I suppose) few cards up his sleeves, one of which I have no intention of sharing with anyone, until I am convinced there is even a shred of evidence that it might lead somewhere. That’s my wee secret. Meanwhile, here is my first so-called revelation. I have gone over scores of Linear A Tablets, and discovered to my astonishment, that practically all of them are vertical rectangular in shape, as you can see for yourself here (Click to ENLARGE):
This is a far-cry from Linear B tablets, which assume any old shape the scribes figured would fit the bill. Is there anything to this at all? Am I barking up the wrong tree? Has anyone whatsoever pursued this notion even half-seriously? Well, if anyone has, I will have to chuck this one out the window. On the other hand... So please, please, I urge and exhort you, if you are a serious Linear A researcher, to let me know whether this has all been done before... “Been there. Done that. Forget it.”... for if no-one has, I claim first rights to this observation, whether it leads anywhere or not. P.S. I will be following up on this post with plenty more examples of vertical rectangular Linear A tablets from Knossos, Malia and Zakros (especially Zakros), where there are scores of Linear A Tablets), and a few other sites where 1 or 2 tablets have been unearthed. Richard
#decipherment of #LinearB #KNV684 http://wp.me/p2eeVL-6b via @wordpressdotcom #war #spoils spoils of war by Gretchen Leonhardt fascinating translation. I will see what I can make of it.
The Spoils Tablet
An inventory of the spoils of war
.1 e-re-pa-to , ka-ra-ma-to 46
.2 ka-so , ke-ma-ta 8
- e-re-pa-to | ἀρείφατο(ς) (areipatos) | (1) slain in war (2) slain by Ares
- ka-ra-ma-to | χρημάτω(ν) (khrematov) | money of, property of,
- ka-so | χασο (khaso) | loss, waste
- ke-ma-ta | *καμήτα (khameta) | things on the ground; *detritus
.1 ἀρείφατο χρημάτω 46
- property of slain warriors : 46 items
.2 χασο *καμήτα 8
- detritus (of war): 8 items
Notes: I envision the writer, or another person, roaming the battlefield to loot bodies and to gather χασο *καμήτα “lost things on the ground” (detritus), such as weapons, armor, and personal items.
A Closer Look at Sir Arthur Evans' Attempts at Deciphering Certain Linear B Syllabograms (Part 2) [Click to ENLARGE]: These are the observations Sir Arthur Evans makes on the syllabograms and homophones Michael Ventris et al. were eventually to correctly decipher as: Linear B: PA2 Previously thought to be a homophone, actually the syllabogram QA, which can be difficult to distinguish from... QO also a syllabogram on Linear B tablets, due to the variable “handwriting” of various scribes SE which, being practically identical to Cypriot SE, has the same value. RA which Evans correctly correlated with Cypriot LI (in the same syllabic series) YU (or JU) versus DU which Evans once again correctly differentiates ZA which he knows perfectly well is equivalent to the Egyptian hieroglyph ANKH. All of these insights were to prove invaluable to Alice Kober, Michael Ventris et al., in the eventual decipherment of Linear B. I will be making further observations on Sir Arthur Evans' ground-breaking research later this month and in coming months, whenever and wherever they cast light on particular aspects of the eventual decipherment of Linear B. Richard
A Closer Look at Sir Arthur Evans' Attempts at Deciphering Certain Linear B Syllabograms (Part 1) [Click to ENLARGE]: As we can readily see in the entries above (AB 4, 5 & 15) which I have excerpted from Sir Arthur Evans' Scripta Minoa, published by Oxford in 1952, the distinguished archaeologist and self-made linguist made some truly remarkable conjectures on the presumptive values of at least a few syllabograms in the Linear B syllabary, coming very close to the truth of the matter in spite of himself, or should I say rather, in spite of the absolute dearth of any supportive evidence whatsoever to support his claims. There is simply no way on earth he could have known that his assumptions were even remotely close to the mark, but as it turns out for favourable future prospects for the decipherment of Linear B as undertaken by Alice Kober and Michael Ventris respectively, his own ground-breaking research was to vindicate at least a few of the meticulous observations in his voluminous notes on the script. As for the note  in the excerpts above, please see the previous post, in which I discuss at some length the apparent disparity between the Linear B and Cypriot (Linear C) syllabaries. I say, apparent, because that is all it is. The 2 syllabaries are far more alike than they are unalike. Richard
Sir Arthur Evans' Tentative (& Amazingly Correct) Decipherment of 6 Linear B Syllabograms: Sir Arthur Evans spent years and years methodically and meticulously recording the contents of some 4,000 Linear A & Linear B tablets he unearthed at the site of Knossos between 1900 and 1903, and then again, years later, after the First World War, when it was possible to return to the site, and continue with the painstaking, indeed mind-boggling, task of not only inventorying all those tablets, but cataloguing them by categories, according to their contents, which he correctly took to be accounting records, and even transcribing, character by character, syllabogram by syllabogram, ideogram by ideogram, the texts of every single one of these thousands of tablets. Not only was Sir Arthur Evans reasonably convinced that a great many of the Linear B syllabograms were directly derived from their ancestors, the corresponding Linear A syllabograms, had the exact same values both scripts, he was (as it turns out) perfectly right in that assumption. But what is even more remarkable is this: Sir Arthur Evans (amazingly!) was able to tentatively identify the possible Linear B values of 6 syllabograms, with a remarkable degree of accuracy, even in the face of the total absence of any corroborating evidence that could have possibly lead him to the (seemingly) most preposterous conclusion that there was, in fact, any conceivable link, however tenuous or solid, between the Cypriot Script (Linear C), which had already previously been deciphered in the nineteenth century as being Greek by the brilliant cryptographers G. Smith, thanks to his discovery of a Phoenician-Cypriot bilingualinscription found at Idalium, the Egyptologist Samuel Birch(1872), the numismatist Johannes Brandis (1873), the philologists Moritz Schmidt, Wilhelm Deecke, Justus Siegismund (1874), and the dialectologist H.L. Ahrens (1876). See Wikipedia for the fascinating history of this extremely important syllabary. It was later to turn out that there is in fact a very tight correlation between Linear B and its offspring Linear C, as we shall gradually discover in greater detail throughout 2014, even though the actual syllabograms in Linear B and Linear look completely different. But looks can be (very) deceptive, and in the case of Linear B and Linear C, they most certainly are. Never judge a book by its cover. And there is much more to this remarkable correlation between the Linear B and Linear syllabic scripts than you can possibly imagine (unless of course you have). The striking similarity of Linear B and Linear C is in fact no accident, and as I shall demonstrate later this year, the fact that Linear C is Greek provesbeyond doubt that Linear B likewise is Greek, and can be nothing else. These are the 6 Linear B syllabograms which Sir Arthur Evans, even on the tentative basis he was forced to espouse, correctly identified in his Scripta Minoa. Cypriot = Linear B TA DA * LA RA ** LO RO ** PA PA PO PO *** SE SE as illustrated in this Table (Click to ENLARGE): * While Linear B has both a D + vowel and a T + vowel series of syllabograms, Cypriot (Linear C) has no D series; so once again, Cypriot TA, which looks exactly like Linear B DA, is in fact the “same” syllabogram. But bear in mind that Linear B also has T series, and so it makes a clear distinction between the D & T series. ** These syllabograms are in fact identical, since Linear B always used RA & RO to represent both LA & LO + RA & RO, while Cypriot has it the other way around, using LA & LO to represent both LA & LO + RA & RO. I believe I know why. Just as the Japanese are unable to pronounce what we term a “pure l” or a “pure r”, but pronounce something in between the 2 semi-vowels L & R, which are almost identical anyway, so also – or at least it appears so – neither the Mycenaeans (1500-1200 BCE) nor the Cypriots after them (1100 BCE) were able to quite make up their minds whether their identical syllabograms were pronounced one way or the other, which is not a problem to the linguist. For if we look at it the other way around, from the Japanese point of view, it is they who are pronouncing the separated (or more accurately split) semi-vowels we call L & R in the Occident as the one single semi-vowel, which is precisely what it is to them. So who is right? Both. The Occidental view that these are two (split) almost identical semi-vowels holds water; but so does the reverse for the Oriental Japanese, who do not see L & R as split, but as one semi-vowel in and of itself, which only sounds like “rl” to us in the West. It strikes the Japanese as just as funny to hear two separate semi-vowels R & L, when there is clearly only 1 for them, just as it strikes us as strange to hear one when we expect 2. But who is “right”? *** While the syllabogram for PO is vertical in Linear B, and appears to be slanted about 30% to the right in Cypriot, this apparent difference is merely that and nothing more, only apparent, because the “penmanship” or “scratchmanship” if you like, of Linear B and Linear C scribes, like handwriting in any alphabetic script, varies widely from one individual to the next. We can sometimes (though not too often) see PO incised slanting to the right by some renegade Linear B scribes, while the same phenomenon occurs in reverse in Linear C. While most Cypriot scribes slanted PO to the right, you can just count on it, some (though only a few) went their merry way and transcribed it as we usually (but not always) see it on Linear B tablets. To each his or her own, eh? Evans also made highly intuitive, soundly-researched, but (as we know now, but only after Michael Ventris finally figured it all out when he did decipher Linear B in 1952) “incorrect” guesses for: NA TI ZA which I will explain in detail in the next post. CONCLUSION: we are not really entitled, at least to my mind, to retrospectively judge Evans' attempts at decipherment Linear B syllabograms as amateurish or anything other than brilliant, because, as I have already stressed he had absolutely nothing to work with. No bilingual tablets with either Linear A or Linear B and a known ancient language has ever been found (yet). So he had to simply grope around in the dark like a blind man. His accomplishments speak volumes to his genius. These were (and remain): 1 his history-making archeological find and meticulous reconstruction of the ancient Palace of Knossos; 2 the gargantuan task of cataloguing and transcribing some 4,000 tablets in both Linear A & Linear B, without which the research of Alice Kober (1906-1950) and Michael Ventris (1922-1956) would have been quite simply impossible; 3 his successful decipherment of both the Linear A & Linear B accounting systems, which are not quite identical, the latter being an outgrowth of the former; 4 and his successful guesses, which he had no choice but to make intuitively, at the then tentative (and unverifiable) values of 6 of the 59 or so basic syllabograms, which is after all 10 % of the whole. Once again, how far could Alice Kober and Michael Ventris have come without Evans' ground-breaking work on decipherment? I leave it to answer this question for yourself, but as for myself, you all know where I stand. My 4 conclusions make that perfectly clear. And there is more, as we shall soon see in our further investigation of Evan's brilliant insights early in February. Keep posted. Richard
Sir Arthur Evans‘ successful decipherment of the Numeric Accounting System in Linear B (Click to ENLARGE):
as published in Scripta Minoa (Oxford University Press, 1952), the very same year that Michael Ventris finally deciphered the entire Linear B syllabary as well as a large number of its ideograms. Sir Arthur Evans had, of course, deciphered the numeric system years before.
Sir Arthur Evan's Meticulous Classification of the Linear B Tablets at Knossos: It goes without saying that the genius of Sir Arthur Evans (1851-1941), who not only intuitively (and correctly) triangulated the exact location of Knossos before his methodically scientific excavation of the site from 1900-1903, but who also spent years in his meticulous classification of the 3,000 Linear A & Linear B tablets he discovered on site, that the task of decipherment of Linear B, pioneered by the brilliant Alice Kober (1906-1950), and finally achieved by the genius of Michael Ventris (1922-1956), would have proved a far more daunting tasks than it already was. It would be a great disservice and a great shame not to credit Arthur Evans for his magnificent achievements, not only as the first truly “professional” archeologist of the twentieth century, but also as a man of great skill and acumen, whose conscientious and unflagging devotion to all that the splendid Minoan civilization exemplified, has bestowed on him forever the stature of one of the greatest archeologists of the twentieth century, if not of all time. Evans was almost the diametrical opposite of his predecessor, the impetuous, hot-headed and greedy Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890), who unearthed, all but desecrated and robbed of their splendid treasures both Troy and Mycenae. I do not mean to impugn Heinrich Schliemann's great achievements, since after all he was a man of his era, the late nineteenth Victorian Era, when western European intellectuals entertained rather too lofty notions of their expertise in a time of great material progress. Sir Arthur Evans was, in fact, every bit as painstaking and punctilious as his successors, Alice Kober and Michael Ventris; so I think it safe to say that we actually owe the decipherment of Linear B to the combined efforts of these three determined researchers, rather than to any one them singly. Arthur Evan's keen intellect is clearly manifest in these 3 examples of efforts at deciphering Linear B characters, all of which he came very close to resolving. Click to ENLARGE all 3 examples: In the first example, above, from his “Scripta Minoa”, he nailed the value of this ideogram pretty much on the nose, because he knew perfectly well that it was an ideogram and not a simple character (vowel or consonant) or syllabogram. In the second instance, he again correctly deduces that the character in question, which is almost identical to the Cypriot syllabogram for SE, means just that. Although he suggests alternative solutions to the significance of this character, I think we can safely assume that he truly preferred the assignation of SE to the character, since it is the very first of three explanations he proposes. People usually prioritize their assumptions from best guess to worst. In the third example, Evans once again identifies the characters as an ideogram, and once again, he gets it right. It would have been utterly surprising if he did not, as the symbolic value of the ideogram is a clear as the nose on one's face. But even in this case, Evans was unwilling to accept this interpretation as a given, sceptical as he was. Scepticism is after all one of the hallmarks of sound research. Never take anything for granted, without adequate evidence (even circumstantial) or factual data to back you up. To summarize, many researchers, to my mind, do not give Evans full credit where credit is due. In an effort to fully vindicate his tireless and painstaking research, I shall eventually post more of his “correct” guesses at the significance of certain Linear B characters. Richard