Linear B tablet Knossos KN 683 Sh 01 dealing with textiles and onyx

Linear B tablet Knossos KN 683 Sh 01 dealing with textiles and onyx:

KN 683 S h 01 textiles

Linear B tablet Knossos KN 683 Sh 01 deals primarily with textiles, but it covers a lot more ground than just that. The textiles mentioned are (a) wehano, a Linear B word for “a type of textile”, but since this word is archaic Mycenaean Greek, we do not know exactly what kind of textile it refers to. We do know that it is a kind of cloth, but that is as far as it goes. (b) The next type of cloth mentioned is mare (in Linear B = “wool”. Next comes the really surprising mention of onyx = onuke in Mycenaean Linear B! Female interior decorators are not only working on both types of cloth, but on the onyx too! Wow! The question is, what are they decorating that requires both two kinds of cloth (one wool) and onyx as well? That is a mystery to me. And they are using an awful lot of wool (9 rolls at 2 units of weight each, probably something along the line of kilograms), in other words something like 18 kilograms or so.  And it is hardly surprising that, with the use of 2 types of cloth and of onyx, this interior decorating, whatever it is, is going to be expensive to the potential buyer, which is why the ladies in question wish to make it perfectly clear that there is a question of debts to be paid. No payment, no decorations. Nada. Nothing surprising there. Ancient capitalism at its best.

I actually found this tablet not only quite a challenge, but a real beauty at that. There is a great deal more information to be found on it than on most Linear B tablets. That is what makes it so intriguing. 

Linear B tablets dealing with gold cloth (supersyllabogram KU incharged)

Linear B tablets dealing with gold cloth (supersyllabogram KU incharged):

Linear B tablets dealing with gold cloth KN 514 to KN 516

The 3 Linear B tablets above all deal with gold cloth. The supersyllabogram KI incharged in the ideogram for pawea = textiles indicates that the cloth is made of gold = kuruso in Linear B. The translations are completely transparent. The only problem is with the right-truncated syllabogram A on the first fragment. This could be the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of at least 5 Mycenaean Greek words as illustrated above. Take your choice. My favourite is “decorated”, although I also particularly like “silver”, since cloth woven with silver and gold would be extremely precious. The following picture illustrates two Minoan women wearing dresses with gold weaving.

Minoan women in gold cloth

Rita Robert’s translation of tablet K 04-01-07 / 04-01 N a 01 from the Knossos Armoury

Rita Robert’s translation of tablet K 04-01-07 / 04-01 N a 01 from the Knossos Armoury:
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Knossos 04 01 N a 01

Rita Robert’s commentary on this tablet:
Line 1 - araruya  aniyapi = equipped with bridles -  wirinijo opoqo = with leather blinkers – kerajapi opiiyapi =  with horn bits -   ideogram 

Line 2 -  iqiyo = chariot – ayameno erepate = decorated with ivory -

araromotemeno = fully assembled – ponikijo = painted crimson.

Due to the truncation on the right hand side of this Linear B tablet it is impossible to state whether there is only one or more chariots listed.

one chariot ?  fully assembled equipped with bridles with leather blinkers and horn bits decorated with ivory inlays and painted crimson.

A dual chariot depicted on this fresco from Pylos. LH lllA/B date around 1340 BCE

Chariot fresco from Pylos

Mycenaean Chariot fresco

Chariot harnessing fro Mycenae

Richard’s comments:

Apart from a single error Rita made in line 2 of this tablet, having misread the second syllabogram as -mu- instead of -qi-, consequently misinterpreting -iqiyo- as -Imuyo- ( a person’s name) instead of – iqiyo - = a chariot, her translation is convincing and elegant, as is to be expected from a Linear B translator of her advanced skills. That error has been corrected in the translation above.

It goes without saying that the right-truncated ideogram for -chariot- to the right of the tablet between lines 1 and 2 must mean a chariot with wheels, as  a chariot without wheels cannot conceivably be fully assembled, equipped and decorated.

While the archaic Greek may appear somewhat difficult or abstruse to linguists who specialize in Classical Greek, it is really not so bizarre after all, since we find many parallels in Homer’s Iliad, especially in The Catalogue of Ships in Book II. Notice that the gender of the word for chariot is fluid, i.e. not yet fixed in Mycenaean Greek. Moreover, this word is archaic in the extreme, having disappeared completely from Homeric and Classical Greek. Nevertheless, its meaning is clear from the context of all tablets on which it appears, since on most of them it is juxtaposed with the ideogram for chariot.

In my notes on the archaic Greek, you will notice that the (second) aspirated a in the Greek for – kerayapi – is aspirated in the archaic Greek. This orthography does not correspond to the spelling on this tablet, but in Chris Tselentis’ excellent Linear B Lexicon the alternate spelling – kerahapi – is  attested as an alternate standard.