winter haiku d’hiver – frozen hinges screech = les gonds gelés frozen hinges screech on our creaky barn’s doors – my buzzing ears! les gonds gelés grinçent sur les portes de la grange – mes oreilles bourdonnent ! Richard Vallance
This is a beautifully illustrated Mycenaean Linear B tablet on 5 carpenters who owe the tax collector: The illustrations at the top are (left) several designs for Minoan houses (Knossos). Notice that many of them are 3 stories high, which is unusual for the ancient world, except for Rome, with its shabby multi-storied insulae (islands) or apartment buildings, which frequently collapsed. Such can scarcely be said of the Minoan houses, which were built to withstand earthquakes. You can see this for yourself from the top left picture, where the windows in the last 2 houses on the bottom display the heavy wooden beams, both vertical and horizontal, used to reinforce the windows. A cute clay model of a Minoan house at Knossos appears at the top right. The Minoans at Knossos were just as fussy about their typical beautifully fluted Minoan columns and sturdily reinforced doors, as can clearly be seen in these two photos I took when I was in Knossos on May 2, 2012: I am particularly impressed by the text in Mycenaean Greek, which is easily rendered into Archaic Greek.
Comprehensive Architectural Lexicon, Knossos & Mycenae (Part B): Part B of our architectural lexicon in Linear B presents only a few little problems. First of all, pokironuka = decorated with different studs, would appear to refer to studs which are jutting ornamentations on buildings, but I cannot be sure of this. Ponikiyo is almost always translated as palm tree, but I suspect it also means Phoenician, i.e. an architectural style. For the three * asterisked notes, see the lexicon above. Just one more point on samara. Samara is an actual ancient city. One Linear B lexicon defines it as points, but I have not the faintest idea what that is supposed to mean. The alternative meaning is monuments, which is completely acceptable. But I have added the additional signification, burial mounds, because these appear in some numbers at Mycenae alone.
Comprehensive Architectural Lexicon, Knossos & Mycenae (Part A): Since I have been posting scores of photos of the magnificent Third Palace of Knossos, Late Minoan IIIb (ca. 1450 BCE), I have decided to compile an Architectural Lexicon in 2 parts. This is the first. The vocabulary is relatively straightforward, with a few minor exceptions: 1 Decorated with spirals. The Minoans at Knossos and the Mycenaeans went crazy decorating many of their lovely frescoes and their walls with spirals. 2 Bathtub. You might be wondering, why on earth would I add this word?... because bathtubs were an integral part of room architecture, i.e. of the bathroom. The people of Knossos in particular were very clean. They even had an advanced hydraulics driven piping and drainage system, the likes of which was never again repeated until ancient Rome. And the Romans, unlike the Minoans at Knossos, made the terrible mistake of constructing their pipes of lead, leading to widespread lead poisoning. The Minoans used ceramics... nice and clean. Clever. No surprise there. 3 Mantles! Isn’t that what people wear? Well, yes, but they could also be used to decorate the top of windows, I imagine. Or maybe it is just my imagination. Correct me if I am wrong. 4 The word erepato, which is the equivalent of the Homeric Greek elefantos never means ivory either in Mycenaean or in Homeric Greek! 5 Crocus? - of course! ... used all over the place in the lovely frescoes! 6 Circles were likewise universal on the building friezes. And with good reason. They are geometrically perfect, a typically Greek characteristic.
Doors from the Late Minoan IIIb Palace (ca 1450 BCE):
Knossos building with perfect circular rosettes on its frieze! More of the same!
Knossos building with perfect circular rosettes on its frieze! This building is remarkable for the typically Greek (or if you prefer, Minoan) simplicity of its architecture. What really struck me while I was visiting Knossos on the afternoon of May 2 2012 was that the circular rosettes on its frieze are perfectly circular, each one exactly identical to the next. It seems the Greeks inherited the mania for geometric simplicity fro their forbears, the Minoans. More photos follow in the next post.
Photo series of the Second Palace of Knossos (ca. 1700-1600 BCE) # 2 Here again you see a set of three photos of the rear stairwells of the Second Palace, which are very well preserved... indeed, so well preserved that even the ruins of Pompeii cannot boast of such restoration. The third photo shows that the interior wall structure of the Second Palace was pretty much identical with the Third, with door jambs in the same style and of the same colour. Unquestionably, the columns of the Second Palace must have looked pretty much identical to those of the Third. You can clearly see from the third and fourth photos that much of the structure of the retaining walls of the Second Palace was left intact by the Minoan engineers when they constructed the Third. The retaining walls of the Second Palace are distinct, insofar as they are rounded at the corners.