Translation of Linear B tablet KN 536 R i 01 by Rita Roberts:
Linear B tablet KN 594 R p 11, textiles (military): Decipherment of textile-related tablets in the military sector presents a few irritating problems. The first of these is that we are crossing sectors, from the military to the textiles, or if you like the converse. It all amounts to the same thing. The problem here is that supersyllabograms, such as KI on this tablet, do not necessarily mean the same thing from one sector to the next. However, this fortunately does not apply to textiles related to military dress, since the supersyllabograms in both sectors mean the same thing. For instance, in this case, KI means kito or “chiton”, is a common Greek tunic in both sectors. The word “rita” on the first line must be very archaic Mycenaean, as I cannot find it anywhere in any Mycenaean Greek lexicon. So it is untranslatable. Likewise for nitewea or satewea. However, whatever this word is supposed to mean, it conveniently ends with “wea”, which leads me to strongly suspect it is a type of cloth, since almost all known words relating to a type of cloth in Mycenaean Greek end in “wea”. And so I have translated it thus.
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!
The last two military supersyllabograms KO & WI with (animal) hide:
The military supersyllabograms KO kowo = “fleece” & WI = (kito) wirineo = “leather (chiton)” with (animal) hide are the last two we can account for in the military sector. Although I have not been able to find either of them on any extant Linear B. Tablet, they are attested according to John Chadwick.
Knossos tablet KN 227 N l 21 & the supersyllabogram QE = qeqinomeno = “woven”:
As with the previous post, the supersyllabogram QE on this tablet clearly refers to qeqinomeno, a “woven undergarment” or “woven undergarment”. The rest is self-explanatory.
K 04-58 D j 31 & the supersyllabograms RA A & QE (military and textiles): This particular tablet presents us with a new associative supersyllabogram DA, which is the first syllable of the Linear B word, dameusi = “distribution”, a synonym of the more common Linear B word for “distribution” = apudosi. Dameusi appears nowhere else on any Linear B tablet, not even as the supersyllabogram = DA. But I am satisfied that this is its meaning. The first word on this tablet, Dawano, appears to be the name of the tailor = “Dawanos”. The word okamo on the left side of the tablet appears nowhere else in Linear B, and I cannot determine its meaning. As with the other tablets in this series, the double appearance of the syllabogram WE (WE WE) is a mystery to me. So I have left these 2 syllabograms untranslated. Generally, the appearance of WE WE on a Linear B tablet refers to measurement. But I cannot be sure this is the case with this tablet. It bears further investigation.
Linear B tablet KN 595 R p 31 with reference to the chiton undertunic: This tablet has to be one of the most challenging and most intriguing I have ever had the pleasure of deciphering. Challenging because it introduces two new associative supersyllabograms which appear nowhere else on tablets in the military sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy. Intriguing because, as is to be expected, the two associative supersyllabograms, O & PE in the military sector, cannot possibly mean the same thing as they do in the agricultural sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy, where they are occur on hundreds of tablets. Associative supersyllabograms, which always appear adjacent to the ideograms they modify, are those which describe some characteristic or element related it, unlike attributive supersyllabograms, which always appear inside the ideogram which they modify. Attributive supersyllabograms are without exception an attribute of the ideogram which they embody. Thus the attributive supersyllabogram KI describes precisely the type of textile its ideogram refers to, namely, the chiton undertunic = kito in Linear B, which the Mycenaean warriors, charioteers and foot soldiers alike wore under their breastplate = toraka in Linear B or thorax in ancient Greek. There is no mystery here. But what about the associative supersyllabograms O on the first line and PE on the second line? What can they possibly signify? It is obvious from the outset that here, in the military sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy, they cannot conceivably mean the same thing as they do in the agricultural sector, where O = onato i.e. a lease field & PE = periqoro = a sheep pen in Linear B. This is where context comes into play, and in a big way. In fact, without context in the broadest sense of that word, no supersyllabogram, whether associative or attributive, can have any meaning at all. It is absolutely necessary to define context in its all-inclusive sense. By context I do not merely mean the semantic-syntactical context within the confines of the tablet in which any supersyllabogram whatsoever appears, but also the cross-comparative syntactical contextual significance of each and every syllabogram cutting across any number of tablets in which these supersyllabograms appear in the same sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy. But even at this level, context is not sufficiently accounted for. It is all fine and well to contend that this is all there is to context. Nothing could be further from the truth. Unless and until we take context to mean the actual real world significance of each and every supersyllabogram, let alone word or phrase, we take into account in any and all sectors of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy, contextual and cross-contextual syntactical context alone fall far short of establishing their actual meaning. The real world context is just that. It is the clincher. For instance, if we contend that the associative supersyllabograms O = onato or lease field, and PE = periqoro or a sheep pen in contextual association alone with the ideogram they modify, we cannot be certain that that is in fact what these two supersyllabograms designate. Unless we take their real world, environmental context fully into account, there is no substantive corroborative evidence that these supersyllabograms actually mean what they appear to mean in their contextual sense alone. The only way we can be certain that these supersyllabograms O & PE actually refer to a lease field and a sheep pen in turn, and nothing else, is to fully account for their real world context, namely, the agricultural sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy (which just so happens to be almost always sheep). Otherwise, all the contextual analysis in the world amounts to a hill of beans. As it just so happens, these two supersyllabograms, O & PE, in the agricultural sector alone, must mean what they do mean, because there are no other feasible alternatives in their real world environment. The guiding principle is, change the sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy in which any supersyllabogram appears, and you automatically change its real world significance in the vast majority of cases, with very few exceptions. It is patently impossible for the supersyllabogram O to mean a lease field or for the supersyllabogram PE to refer to a sheep pen in in the military sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy. The idea is ludicrous. That leaves us with no other alternative than to attempt to establish, not only the (cross-) contextual, but also the real world significance of the associative supersyllabograms O & PE in the military sector. This is not such a simple operation as one might assume. The principle of cross-contextual real world significance of supersyllabograms: Before moving on to the definitions of these two supersyllabograms in the military sector, it is absolutely necessary to generalize the principle of the sense of any supersyllabogram whatsoever in the context of any and all sectors of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy in which it appears. Hypothetically and in actuality, the meaning of any supersyllabogram whatsoever, associative as well as attributive, depends entirely on both the syntactical and real world context within which it appears. Change the environmental context in which any single supersyllabogram is set, and you automatically change its meaning or more properly speaking, its true significance. Thus, for instance, the supersyllabograms O & PE each signify one thing and one thing only in the agricultural sector and quite another in the military sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy. This is true for every single supersyllabogram which cuts across any or all of the sectors of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy. These sectors are: agricultural, military, textiles, vessels (pottery etc.), religious and toponyms. For instance, the supersyllabogram PA cuts across all sectors but one, vessels. But it cannot and does not carry the same real world significance in any of these sectors. This factor must always be held uppermost in mind in the determination of the real world significance of any and all supersyllabograms, associative or attributive, as they cut across the boundaries separating the sectors of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy. That leaves us with the burning question, just what do the associative supersyllabograms O & PE signify in the military sector? The answer, at least in the case of the associative supersyllabogram O, is not so obvious as one might imagine. Why so? Unfortunately, when we turn to Chris Tselentis’ superb Linear B Lexicon, we discover to our dismay that there are no fewer than three candidates for the supersyllabogram O. These are (a) that the supersyllabogram O means a military unit, such as a squadron or battalion or (b) it refers to the delivery of the item(s) under the scope or (c) to the purchase of said item(s). Which one is right? We shall never know. We were not there when the scribes assigned the real world significance to this supersyllabogram, O. Any one of the aforementioned definitions fits the bill where the military sector is concerned. It is particularly tempting to opt for the first meaning, as it is explicitly military, but we must be on our guard about making such an assumption. However, it does appear that the notion of a military unit such as a squadron or battalion makes eminent sense, given the presence of the word eropakeya, which references game hunting. At the same time, that definition looks suspiciously like it is too specific with regard to the real world context, as I am somewhat doubtful whether a scribe would run to such detail in the determination of the significance of the supersyllabogram at hand, namely, O. It makes just as much sense to postulate that O refers to the delivery or purchase of the textile, the chiton undergarment. We were not there when the scribe assigned the meaning he did to this supersyllabogram, O. So we shall never know. So take your pick. As for the supersyllabogram PE, things are much more straightforward. We already know from the syntactical and real world context of the attributive supersyllabogram KI, which can refer to one thing and one thing only, the (undergarment) chiton, that the associative supersyllabogram PE must without a shadow of a doubt be directly related to its parallel attributive supersyllabogram KI. It just so happens that Chris Tselentis has lit upon the one word which precisely fits the context (at all levels). And that word is pekoto, which refers to a kind of textile. And that kind of textile is quite obviously the chiton. But why would the scribe find it necessary to repeat the notion of textile, once as pekoto (a kind of textile) and secondly as kito (a chiton) specifically? There has to be a legitimate reason; otherwise he would not have done so. The reason is this: the scribe is specifically drawing our attention to the manufacture of a certain type of textile, in this instance, the chiton undergarment. This is the primary thrust of the overall significance of the text (contextual and real world) of this tablet. In other words, the fact that the supersyllabogram O refers to a military hunting unit, or to the delivery or purchase of the items under consideration for game hunting (namely, textiles) is secondary, taking a back seat to the actual manufacture of this item, which is the chiton undertunic. At least that is how I interpret it.
Linear B tablet KN 594 R r 11 & the supersyllabogram KI = chiton: This supersyllabogram (KI) is a variant on the one in the previous post (RI = linen). It would appear that the Linear B scribes used one (RI) or the other (KI) on an equal footing. This appears to be substantiated by Linear B tablet KN 594 R r 11, in which the word for cloth or textiles appears on the first line, and both the ideogram for cloth or linen and the ideogram for chiton appear side by side on the second. Nothing could be more explicit. In other words, Linear B tablets which employ the supersyllabogram RI for a linen undergarment or undertunic or chiton and those which make use of the supersyllabogram KI for an undergarment or undertunic or chiton pretty much amount to one and the same thing, in spite of the fact that the word linen is not always explicitly mentioned whenever the supersyllabogram KI is used in lieu of the supersyllabogram RI. Although the word rita does not appear anywhere else on any Linear B tablets, its meaning is clear, as the word is found in ancient Greek, and means arms or limbs of a person. Thus, the chiton or undertunic covered the arms. It is also to be noted that both of these supersyllabograms, KI and RI, apply equally to the military and the textiles sectors of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy. In the military sense, it is understood that the attributive supersyllabogram KI refers to the chiton undertunic which was worn under the “toraka” (Linear B) or “thorax”, i.e. the armoured breastplate.
Knossos tablet KN 281 R w 21 & the supersyllabogram RI = linen undergarment: This is perhaps one of the easiest supersyllabograms I have ever had to translate. It is pretty much self-evident. The supersyllabogram RI stands for “rino” which is the Linear B word for “linen”, referring to the linen undergarment or linen tunic or linen chiton. Mycenaean armour consisted of an outer plated armour called “toraka” in Linear B or “thorax”, which means “breastplate armour” in English. Under the breastplate the Mycenaean warriors wore an undertunic, a.k.a. chiton, which was made of linen. The only question is, why is the supersyllabogram attributive, appearing as it does inside the ideogram for “tunic”? Attributive supersyllabograms always describe an attribute of the ideogram within which they fall. The ideogram is of course that for “tunic”. But it is more than just a tunic. It is a linen tunic. Hence, “rino” or linen is attributive. The Linear B and ancient Greek for “thorax” appear just below the Linear B, Linear B Latinized, ancient Greek and English for “linen”.