A convincing contextualized decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 1 (Haghia Triada):
While decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 1 (Haghia Triada) appears at first sight beyond reach, this may not actually be the case. Of the 6 words on this tablet, only 3 are likely to be Mycenaean-derived, qera2u (qeraiu), kiro and kupa3nu (kupainu), while the other 3, zusu, didizake and aranare, are almost certainly Old Minoan, i.e. written in the original Minoan language. As I have pointed out over and over, a number of Linear A tablets appear to be inscribed in a combination of the Mycenaean-derived superstratum and of the Minoan substratum, as is almost surely the case here.
But even if 3 of the words on this tablet are probably Mycenaean-derived, 2 of them, qera2u (qeraiu) and kupai3nu (kupainu) require further analysis. How can it be that qeraiu is derived from gerron (Greek Latinized) = “shield” and kupainu from kuparissinos (Greek Latinized) = “made of cypress word”, when the orthography of the Mycenaean-derived words diverges from the original Greek, especially in the case of kupainu, which does not exactly appear to resemble kuparissinos? But there is an explanation and it is this. The orthography of the Greek words must be adjusted to meet the dictates of Minoan spelling in each and every case in which Mycenaean-derived words are imported into the Minoan language.
This phenomenon is analogous to the imposition of the Norman French superstratum on English pursuant to the Norman conquest of England in 1066 CE. The Mycenaean conquest of Knossos and Crete or, failing that, of their all but absolute suzerainty over these territories ca. 1500-1450 BCE appears to have had a similar outcome, namely, that much of the vocabulary of the source language of the invaders, the Mycenaeans, found its way into the target or original language, Minoan. But in so doing, the originally Mycenaean vocabulary would have had to be adjusted to standard Minoan orthography.
Allow me to illustrate this through comparison with the influx of some 10,000 French words into English between ca. 1100 & 1450 CE. The French vocabulary could not be assimilated into English without undergoing a metamorphosis in orthography permitting the original French vocabulary to be adjusted to the dictates of English spelling. Examples running into the thousands abound. So we should not be at all surprised at this metamorphosis of orthography from the superstratum (Mycenaean derived vocabulary) to the substratum (Minoan vocabulary derived from the Mycenaean superstratum). After all, when superstratum French words are imported into English, their orthography undergoes the same metamorphosis. For instance, we have:
French to English: albâtre = alabaster amical = amicable bénin = benign ciprès (from Old French cipres) = cypress (See below for Minoan kupainu) cloître = cloister dédain = disdain dédoublé = doubled up doute = doubt entrée = entrance fanatique = fanatic gobelet = goblet jalousie = jealousy loutre = otter maître = master plâtre = plaster retenir = retain soldat = soldier similitude = similarity and on and on ad nauseam. This phenomenon applies to every last substratum language upon which a superstratum from another language is imposed. So in the case of Old Minoan, it is inevitable that the orthography of any single superstratum Mycenaean derived word has to be adjusted to meet the exigencies of Minoan orthography. The most striking example of this metamorphosis is the masculine singular. Mycenaean derived words in Minoan must have their singular ultimate adjusted to u from the Mycenaean o. There are plenty of examples: Akano to Akanu (Archanes) akaro to akaru (field) kako to kaku (copper) kuruko to kuruku (crocus/saffron) mare (mari) to maru (wool) Rado to Radu (Latos) simito to simitu (mouse) suniko to suniku (community) Winado to Winadu (toponym) woino to winu (wine) iyero to wireu (priest) And on this particular tablet we find the Mycenaean-derived Minoan spellings:
qera2u (qeraiu), which if Latinized would be gerraiu, from Greek gerron and
kiro, which if Latinized, is kilon, almost the exact equivalent of the Greek keilon. And kupa3nu (kupainu), Latinized = kupainu (kupaino) at least approximates the Greek kuparissinos, but with the the syllables rissi dropped. Compare this last entry with French-English similitude = similarity and you can see at once that orthographic metamorphoses even as divergent as these are possible. So chances are that kupainu may in fact be equivalent to kuparissinos, although there is no way to verify this with any certainty, except for one thing. Context.
Since we know from line 1 that we are dealing with 192 shields and lances * (i.e. arrow shafts *), it is not too much of a stretch to conjecture that kupainu does correspond to the Greek kuparissinos, because we know from archaeological and historical evidence that Minoan and Mycenaean shields were of wicker work. And it is well within the realm of reason to suppose that such wicker shields were constructed of flexible, pliant cypress wood. Cypress wood is smooth grained and lightweight and has natural built in preservatives or oils that make cypress long lasting and resistant to water damage. It could be combined with bronze and leather on Mycenaean and ancient Greek warrior shields. And according to Wikipedia, The word cypress is derived from Old French cipres, which was imported from Latin cypressus, Latinized from the Greek κυπάρισσος (kuparissos). Ergo.
However, we are still left with the puzzle, what do the Old Minoan words, zusu, didizake and aranare, mean? Once again, context comes to the rescue. It is entirely reasonable to suppose that a Linear A tablet dealing with cypress shields and lances would also cover other military paraphernalia essential to self-defence. The most obvious candidates are spears and swords, for zusu and aranare respectively, though in which order we cannot say for certain. The inclusion of swords as one of the alternatives is well justified, since pakana, i.e. swords, frequently appear on Linear B tablets. As for didikaze, I will not speculate, although it too more likely than not references military apparel, perhaps signifying armour.
Aranare (knives?) is plural, singular = aranarai. Since the word is diminutive feminine, the decipherment “knives” clearly makes sense in context.
Nevertheless, any decipherment of zusu, didizake and aranare is by nature problematic. Assumptions are always dangerous, even in the case of a tablet such as this one, where context would appear to support such conclusions. But as I have so often repeated, appearances can be and often are deceptive.