Translation of Linear B tablet 530 R l 23, textiles: The translation of this tablet is pretty much self-evident. The only problem is, what does ekesia mean? Is it a person's name or a place name, Ekisia? No one will ever know.
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Translation of Linear B textiles tablet, KN 527 R l 51: Apart form being extremely repetitive (and I cannot grasp why the linear B scribe felt so inclined to repeat the same phrase, tetukuwoa = “a kind of cloth” 3 times!), the decipherment is straightforward. I do not know what Ekisia is supposed to mean. I believe it is either a personal name or a toponym (place name).
Translation of Linear B textiles tablet, KN 474 R q 21: This tablet does not present any unexpected problems. The only issue is that we do not know what kind of cloth the supersyllabogram PU refers to. It is called pukateriya in Mycenaean Greek, but since the word is archaic, having fallen out of use with the collapse of the Mycenaean Empire ca. 1200 BCE, there is no way we can recover its precise meaning, i.e. to establish exactly what kind of cloth it refers to. But we do know that the cloth is popureya = purple.
The famous “Bull’s Head” sacrificial Rhyton, Ashmolean Museum, translated:
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 Bull’s Head is not just a bull’s head, it is a sacrificial Bull’s Head rhyton, as you can see from my archaic Greek text, here transliterated into Latin characters, “‘r’rhuton 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.
Translation of Knossos tablet KN 783 B 0 4: the practioner’s tablet The “practioner’s” tablet appears to refer to a medical practitioner. In classical Greek, the word didaskaleios always refers to a “teacher”. But it cannot literally mean this in Minoan/Mycenaean times, because there was no literature as such to teach. However, medical practitioners or doctors could teach their disciples or students. This is what I believe this tablet is about. I cannot be sure; no one can. In addition to the medical component, there must have also been a religious one, since in the ancient world, medical practices were more often than not, conducted under the auspices of favourable religious omens.
Linear B tablet KN 755 A e 01, The 14 Temple Door Guards: The Mycenaean Linear B word turateu is very similar to the ancient Greek word. It is clear (at least to me) that such door guards, in this case 14 of them, would have been responsible for guarding the doors of sacred temples, such as the Hall of the Double Axes, Knossos (if it was one). I have added the genitive, temenoio, which means “of a temple” to indicate that these 14 are temple guards. Notice the double doors to the Hall of the Double Axes (double doors, double axes, probably intentional). These are the kinds of door that would have been guarded at major ceremonies, such as for the King (wanaka) and the Queen (wanakasa).
Archaeology and Science (illustrations) No, 10 (2014) Post 2 of 2 This is the annual serial, Archaeology and Science No, 10 (2014), in which my article, “An Archaeologist’s Translation of Pylos Tablet TA 641-1952”, with translations by both Michael Ventris (1952) and Rita Roberts (2015) appear. This is the most beautiful periodical I have ever seen in my life. I feel truly privileged to have been published in it. Look out for my second article , Archaeology and Science No, 11 (2015)
Archaeology and Science (illustrations) No, 10 (2014) Post 1 of 2 This is the annual serial, Archaeology and Science No, 10 (2014), in which my article, “An Archaeologist’s Translation of Pylos Tablet TA 641-1952”, with translations by both Michael Ventris (1952) and Rita Roberts (2015) appear. This is the most beautiful periodical I have ever seen in my life. It is 274 pp. Long. It is in hard cover, and is worth about $80. The pages are on glossy paper and illustrated in full colour. As an author, I received a complimentary copy.
The homophone supersyllabogram AI = goat: The supersyllabogram AI is the only homophone (not a regular syllabogram) which qualifies as a supersyllabogram. But it presents an unusual special case. As you can see from the Linear B text, the scribe uses the supersyllabogram for “goat” actually “billy goat” and then, strangely enough (as it would first appear, the ideogram for the same, “billy” goat, followed by the number 1. Then on the second line he uses the ideogram for “she goat”, again followed by the number 1 and by the syllabogram PA right truncated. If all this seems a mystery to you, it is not to me. The syllabogram PA right truncated on the second line almost certainly means pasi teoi = to all the gods, which in turn implies sapaketeriya = sacrificial rites. That is precisely the reason why the scribe repeats “billy goat”, first as a supersyllabogram and then as an ideogram on line 1. This is no ordinary billy goat. And she is no ordinary she goat. This is a “sacrificial billy goat to all the gods”. The reason why the scribe does not even bother to repeat the supersyllabogram AI for “goat” on the second line is that the SSYL for “goat” on the first line includes both the billy goat and the she goat, his partner. No Linear B scribe in his right mind would ever repeat the same supersyllabogram, in this case AI, twice on the same tablet, for the simple reason that the scribes routinely omitted text (and in this case the SSYL AI on the second line) to save precious space on the tiny Linear B tablets, which rarely (like this one) exceeded 15 cm. (6 inches) in width. This is the only possible decipherment. I am so sure of it that I would bet my life on it... well, not literally.
Translation of Pylos tablet TN 996, the famous “bathtub” tablet: This was a rather difficult tablet to translate, for several reasons: 1. It is difficult to ascertain whether or not the first word on the first line is a personal name, but it certainly appears to be so. 2. Two of the words on this tablet appear to refer to some type of vessel or pottery, but they appear in no Linear B lexicon (not even Tselentis). The first is pinera in line 2 & the second pokatama in line 4. 3. Some of the words are definitely archaic Mycenaean Greek, but most of these are translatable. For instance, Linear B rewotereyo = (archaic) Greek “leuterios” in line 1 begins with an abbreviated form of the Greek word “leukos”, which means “white” or “bright” or “light”. So I take this word to mean “a lamp-lighter”, which makes eminent sense in the context. 4. The ideogram is for “bathtub” = asamito in line 1, while the one on line 2 appears to be a variant on the same, but it may mean a “large watering can” to pour warm or hot water into the bathtub. 5. See the comment on po? in the illustration above. The translation “octopi”, meaning “decorated with octopi”, appears solid enough, especially in line 3 where it is paired with the word for “jug”. The translation is less tenable in line 4, where it is paired with “an oil lamp”.
Linear B tablet Kn 535 R x 41 tosa tarasia = so much copper: This tablet presents certain difficulties in decipherment. The most notable of these is that we cannot be certain whether or not Neirimia or Sarimia (depending on whether the damaged first syllabogram of this word is NI or SA) is actually a presumed name. There is no other way I can imagine translating it, given that this word (either way) appears in no Linear B Lexicon, which cannot come as any surprise. Moreover, this is a feminine name (either way). That being the case, I am not quite sure that a woman would be in possession of so much copper in Mycenaean times. However, we must always bear in mind that their society was matriarchal; hence, there is no reason why a woman should not have had possession of plenty of copper. On another vial note, tarasia can never be translated as “talent”, that huge denomination of money in Classical Athens, firstly because there was no coinage (no money) in Mycenaean Greece, and secondly because it is apparent that the term talent as a huge sum of money only much later emerged (probably ca. 700-600 BCE) from its archaic Mycenaean sense of “a unit of copper”.
Fresco of a lovely woman from Phaistos with the outer edge of the Phaistos Disk surrounding it:
I recently discovered this lovely image on the internet, and I just have to share it with you. PS, regardless of what anyone claims, the Phaistos disk has not been deciphered to anyone else’s satisfaction.
A Linear B Military Tablet from Mycenae dealing with boar’s tusk helmets: This tablet is one of those rarities of rarities, a Linear B tablet from Mycenae, where so few tablets h ave been unearthed, in spite of the fact that it was the major military centre of the Mycenaean Empire. Unfortunately, so much of the text on this tablet is illegible that it is very difficult to make much sense of it. Most of the vocabulary cannot even be found in the excellent Linear B Lexicon by Chris Tselentis. But I have done my best! Richard
Supersyllabograms for olive oil in the agricultural sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy: Recently, I ran several posts on Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae, in which as it turns out I erroneously claimed that the supersyllabograms which these posts represented were centred on saffron. I could not have gone more wrong! So I have had to delete all these posts. And if anyone of you who are into Linear B or who are specializing in the syllabary have relied on these posts or have used them as references for your own research, you should at once discard these references, as they are all completely invalid! As it turns out, while I was busy researching PDF documents for my references and notes and for the bibliography for my next major article, The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B, which is to be published in Archaeology and Science, Vol. 11 (2015), to be released in the spring of 2017, I discovered to my horror, and then to my huge relief, that the prestigious Linear B scholar, José L. Melena, had already deciphered both of the supersyllabograms, A & TI 42 years ago in 1974, I had grossly miscalculated to be related to saffron as actually being related specifically to olive oil. I was suspicious of my own decipherments all along, and I should have listened to my intuition, my “gut feelings”. The problem is that the ideogram for olive oil and that for saffron look so much alike that they can easily mislead the unwary, meaning in this particular case, me. So I have had to go back to the drawing board, and start from scratch. To add insult to injury (though I scarcely let that bother me, as I try my damnedest not to be too egotistical), I found out that not only had Melena deciphered the SSYLS A & TI for olive oil, but he had deciphered 4 more as well! These are KU, PA, SI & WE. Boy, had I ever been sloppy, or more to the point, woefully unobservant. Such is life. But all's well that ends well, as Shakespeare says. My own decipherments of all 6 supersyllabograms for olive oil in the agricultural sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy follow: As it turns out, Melena himself, in spite of his remarkable insight into the workings of the more esoteric points of Linear B (including notwithstanding supersyllabograms), made a few rather gauche errors in his attempts at deciphering some of these supersyllabograms. This is because, to my mind at least, he overstretched himself by seeking out putative meanings which, to be blunt, were much to complex and far-fetched to suit the recipe. For instance, he assigned the meanings TI = tithasos = “domestic” and A = agrios = “wild” to the supersyllabograms A & TI, which he typified as referring “probably to distinct kinds or qualities of olives.” But this notion stretches ones belief. Why anyone would bother cultivating wild olives, which would be difficult to grow under the best of circumstances I cannot imagine. So my alternate decipherments are, for A = aporowewe = “an amphora (of olive oil)”, which makes eminently more sense, as the Minoans at Knossos and the Mycenaeans at Pylos always stored their olive oil in enormous amphorae or pithoi. For TI I combine TI = timito = “the terebinth tree” with the ideogram for olive oil. But why would I do that, I hear you ask? It is really quite simple. Since the terebinth tree produces pistachio, I reasoned that the Minoans and Mycenaeans had a sweet tooth for olive oil and pistachio paste. Et voilà! Makes sense. Moving on to PA, I agree wholeheartedly with Melena’s interpretation, but I take it one step further than he does. He deciphers PA as parayo in Linear B = palaios in ancient Greek, meaning “old”. Old olive oil? Yuk! Methinks not. What the scribes are clearly referring to is vintage olive oil, like vintage wine. Now that makes a lot more sense. As for his decipherment of SI with olive oil, he is way off the mark, once again because he unnecessarily complicates matters by looking for love in all the wrong places. Taking his cue from the Linear B word for a pig (!) = siaro, he bizarrely concludes that SI adjoined with the ideogram for olive oil references a gooey unguent comprised of pig fat and olive oil. OMG! No no no! SI clearly refers to Linear B siton, which means “wheat”, which when milled with olive oil yields none other than olive bread. Olive oil bread was in the distant past and is today a staple of the Greek diet. His interpretation of the SSYL WE as weto = “this year’s crop or harvest or harvest” is of course correct, referring to the harvesting of olive oil. The other interprration wetoiwetoi is also feasible, but less so. But we are all far from perfect, Melena and myself being right there in the pack, as this post so abundantly makes clear. We make the best with what we have by way of intellectual resources, and consequently hope for the best. Just because I have deciphered all 36 supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B does not mean that I necessarily have all of them, let alone 80% to 85 % of them “right”. Besides, there is no way of our ever knowing as philologists, no matter who we are, what the Linear B scribes at Knossos, Pylos etc. actually intended ALL of these supersyllabograms to mean. We can be certain of a only a few. We can establish with probability that a number of them are quite likely to be what we ascertain them to be. But we can and must be less certain of others, and even very doubtful of a few which, for all intents and purposes, practically defy any really convincing decipherment. And there lies the perennial conundrum.
The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B (Figures): Here are the 3 figures which will appear in my ground-breaking article, The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B to be published in the next issue of Archaeology and Science (ISSN 1452-7448, Belgrade) Vol. 11 (2015). which is to appear sometime in March 2017. Tables to follow.
Supersyllabograms in the Military Sector of Mycenaean Linear B: The Table above illustrates all of the supersyllabograms in the military sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy. These are identified in Linear B first, then in archaic Greek, and then translated into English. The Linear B Latinized names for each of the supersyllabograms follow, starting TOP DOWN with the left column and then the right. LEFT COLUMN: dapu = double axe kito = chiton mono = single, spare qero (ouisia) * = (wicker) shield qeqinomeno = made by twisting, woven RIGHT COLUMN: rino = linen rousiyewiya = a part of the reins made of leather perekeu ** = axe wirineo = leather zeukesi = a pair of, a set of wheels, a team of horses (derived from the Greek zeugos for “yoke” NOTES: * The supersyllabogram is simply QE, but it stands for qero ousiya = “a wicker shield” ** The supersyllabogram is actually WE, which may not seem to make much sense, given that the word it represents is perekeu = “an axe”, but there you have it. That is what it is. And these are the actual supersyllabograms in the military sector. PS This is for you, Rita!
PUBLISHED! Archaeology and Science. Vol. 10 (2014). An Archaeologist's Translation of Pylos Tablet 641-1952 pp. 133-161 (academia.edu): Click on banner to view the article: pp. 133-161 THIS IS A MAJOR ARTICLE ON MYCENAEAN LINEAR B & ON THE NEWEST AND MOST ACCURATE TRANSLATION EVER OF PYLOS TABLET 641-1952 (VENTRIS), THE VERY FIRST TABLET EVER TRANSLATED, BY MICHAEL VENTRIS HIMSELF, IN MYCENAEAN LINEAR B. ABSTRACT: In partnership with The Association of Historical Studies, Koryvantes (Athens), our organization,Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae (WordPress), conducts ongoing research into Mycenaean archaeology and military aff airs and the Mycenaean Greek dialect. This study centres on a fresh new decipherment of Pylos tablet TA 641-1952 (Ventris) by Mrs. Rita Roberts from Crete, who brings to bear the unique perspectives of an archaeologist on her translation, in all probability the most accurate realized to date. We then introduce the newly minted term in Mycenaean Linear B, the supersyllabogram, being the first syllabogram or first syllable of any word or entire phrase in Linear B. Supersyllabograms have been erroneously referred to as “adjuncts” in previous linguistic research into Mycenaean Linear B. This article demonstrates that their functionality significantly exceeds such limitations, and that the supersyllabogram must be fully accounted for as a unique and discrete phenomenon without which any approach to the interpretation of the Linear B syllabary is at best incomplete, and at worse, severely handicapped. KEYWORDS: MYCENAEAN LINEAR B, SYLLABOGRAMS, LOGOGRAMS, IDEOGRAMS, SUPERSYLLABOGRAMS, ADJUNCTS, LINEAR B TABLETS, PYLOS, PYLOS TA 641-1952 (VENTRIS),DECIPHERMENT, TRANSLATION, POTTERY, VESSELS, TRIPODS, CAULDRONS, AMPHORAE, KYLIXES, CUPS, GOBLETS. Introduction to the article: Why are there so many ideograms in Mycenaean Linear B, 123 all told, with 30 in the pottery and vessels sector alone? This is no idle question. Of the 123 Linear B ideograms listed in Wikimedia Commons,1 fully 30 or 24.5 % are situated in the pottery and vessels sector of the Mycenaean economy, as illustrated in Table 1. But why so many? As I emphatically pointed out in the talk I gave at The Third Interdisciplinary Conference, “Thinking Symbols”, June 30-July 1 2015, at the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, just outside of Warsaw, Poland, in partnership with The Association of Historical Studies, Koryvantes (Athens), with whom our organization, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae (WordPress), is in full partnership, “No-one deliberately resorts to any linguistic device when writing in any language, unless it serves a useful purpose beneficial to more eff ective communication, contextual or otherwise.” (italics mine)... SOME ILLUSTRATIONS FROM THE ARTICLE:
Happy Third Anniversary to Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae!
Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae was founded in March 2013, and since then it has grown to become the premier Linear B blog on the entire Internet. Our blog covers every conceivable aspect of research into Mycenaean Linear B, including, but not exclusively, decipherment of hundreds of tablets from every single sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy (agriculture, military, textiles, spices & condiments, vessels and pottery and the religious sector); the translation of the introduction to Book II of the Iliad, plus the entire Catalogue of Ships in Book II, with particular emphasis on the extensive influence of Mycenaean Linear B and of he Mycenaean world on the Catalogue of Ships; extensive vocabulary, lexicons and glossaries of Linear B; lessons in Linear B; progressive grammar of Linear B; extensive research into the 3,500 Scripta Minoa tablets from Knossos; and above all other considerations, the isolation, classification and decipherment of all 35+ supersyllabograms in every sector of the Minoan/Mycenaen economy (see above). Supersyllabograms were previously and erroneously referred to as “adjuncts” in Mycenaean Linear B. The decipherment of supersyllabograms is the major development of the further decipherment of Linear B since the genius, Michael Ventris, first deciphered it in 1952.
But that is not all. Our blog also zeroes in on Minoan Linear A, with at least one successful attempt at deciphering at least one word on a major Linear A tablet, and that is the Linear A word for “tripod”, a truly serendipitous development, given that the same word was the first word ever translated in Mycenaean Linear B. Our blog also focuses on Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, with a few translations of tablets in that script. In short, no other blog on the Internet deals as extensively with all three of these scripts, Linear A, Linear B and Linear C together.
It is also remarkable that we have had in excess of 80,000 visitors since our blog’s inception in March 2013. While this figure may seem rather smallish to many visitors, may I remind you that Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B and Arcado-Cypriot Linear C are extremely esoteric in the field of ancient linguistics. To put it another way, how many people in the entire world do you imagine can read Mycenaean Linear B, and even fewer who can read Arcado-Cypriot Linear C? Scarcely more than a very few thousand out of a population of 7+ billion. So I believe that we have made great strides in the past three years, and I fully expect that we shall top 100,000 visitors by the end of this year, 2016.
Linear B tablet Knossos KN 797 T e 01 & the supersyllabogram WE = leather undertunic or chiton + vase & WI:
In our previous post, I stated that I had never seen any occurrence of the supersyllabogram WI incharged in the ideogram for “hide”. Immediately after, I discovered not one, but two, examples of this supersyllabogram (WI), one on tablet Knossos KN 797 T e 01
& the second on a multi-image illustration,
with the text on one Linear B tablet from Knossos (top), which we have previously translated, the second (left) on a Linear B fragment, the third (bottom left) with the Linear B word, “apudosi” = delivery on a fragment, and the fourth (right), being a vase with Linear B on it. Since the Linear B syllabograms -tawa– are left-truncated, we cannot guess at what the word is for which they are the last two syllabograms or syllables. The second word on this vase is clearly the name of the artisan who manufactured it: Kethereous.