Quantum computing is capable of dealing with extremely complex 3-dimensional geometric constructs, all at super lightning speed!... some 10 million times faster than the world’s fastest digital supercomputer! Here are just a few examples to illustrate my point:
3 impressive photos of the Bull Fresco Portico Knossos, taken by Richard while he was there on May 1 2012:
The extreme significance of the ideogram for “wine” on 2 Linear A tablets: It is extremely significant that the ideogram for “wine” appears on these two rectangular Minoan Linear A tablets. The fact that they are rectangular is unique in and of itself. and therefore indicative of something of capital importance to the further decipherment of Minoan Linear A. What is even more striking is that the ideogram for “wine” appears dead centre on the A.Y. Nickolaus tablet, immediately after the first 3 ideograms for vessels incharged with attributive supersyllabograms =  –  and immediately before the last 3 =  – . It is as if the Minoan Linear A scribe who inscribed this tablet deliberately wanted to draw attention to this striking quasi-geometric positioning. And why? If I understand the scribe’s intention correctly, he is directly correlating the ideogram for “wine” with all of the ideograms for vessels on this singularly rectangular tablet. In other words, he is stressing that all of the vessels are meant to contain WINE. If this is the case (and I can see no reason why it is not), then all of the tablets on vessels I have translated so far are vessels containing wine or meant to contain it. This is such a significant development in the first steps in the decipherment of Minoan Linear A that it cannot safely be ignored. What it implies is that there is a DIRECT (or INDIRECT but notable) between Linear A tablets inventorying vessels by type and those inventorying the standard scalar measurement of units of wine to be stored in amphorae in the magazines at Knossos, from the largest = teresa to the next four in descending size =  teke  nere  dawe?da and the smallest  quqani. I shall shortly be illustrating this striking parallelism between Linear A terms related to the five standard units of measurement of wine and the several specific types of vessels on other Linear A tablets in a chart cross-correlating the notable relationship between the two (wine and vessels). This chart should serve to clear up any confusion and probably also any lingering doubts over my extremely precise definitions of the Linear A terminology for both wine and vessels.
Knossos building with perfect circular rosettes on its frieze! More of the same!
Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication 2: Relevant Photography and Images Here we see some photographs and images relevant to our translation of Richard Saint-Gelais' brilliant article,Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication 2 research... and some not so relevant! First off, we have here a chart illustrating thee extreme geometric simplicity or more to the point, the Geometric Economy of Mycenaean Greek, which may indeed make it susceptible or even suitable to extraterrestrial communication with other intelligent beings, if we accept the “fact” that we ourselves are “intelligent”... a point which is open to serious debate! The Geometric Economy of Mycenaean Linear B: Moreover, Linear B's closest cousin, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, which followed closely on the heels of Linear B, once it fell out of use with the fall of Mycenae ca. 1200 BCE, and which lasted continually from ca. 1100-400 BCE (!), is just as remarkable for its Geometric Economy as Linear B, and could equally serve the same capacity as a vehicle for extraterrestrial communication. The Geometric Economy of Arcado-Cypriot Linear C: On the other hand, nothing could be more ridiculous than the Voyager 1 satellite, launched on Sept. 5 1977, and now hurtling God knows where just outside the confines of our Solar System. Apart from the fact that a mechanical contraption such as this would (and will!) take hundreds of thousands of years to get anywhere at all, what is the point? Moreover, the premises upon which its means of communication with so-called extraterrestrials are based are so absurdly unsound as to beg credence. For instance, what extraterrestrial beings in their right minds (assuming they have minds like us) could conceivably recognize those ridiculous images of a naked man and woman?... unless they were even remotely similar to us physiologically... a likelihood that is about as realistic as winning a lottery of a trillion dollars. And that is just scratching the surface, as we shall discover to our great amusement when I eventually publish my article on Prof. Saint-Gelais' own research. There follow here a few images relative to the Voyager 1 probe which are liable to make you LOL.
Knossos tablet KN 894 N v 01 (Ashmolean) as a guide to Mycenaean chariot construction and design In spite of my hard gained experience in translating Linear B tablets, the translation of this tablet on chariot construction and design posed considerable challenges. At the outset, several of the words descriptive of Mycenaean chariot design eluded my initial attempts at an accurate translation. By accurate I not only mean that problematic words must make sense in the total context of the descriptive text outlining Mycenaean chariot construction and design, but that the vocabulary entire must faithfully reconstruct the design of Mycenaean chariots as they actually appeared in their day and age. In other words, could I come up with a translation reflective of the actual construction and design of Mycenaean chariots, not as we fancifully envision them in the twenty-first century, but as the Mycenaeans themselves manufactured them to be battle worthy? It is transparent to me that the Mycenaean military, just as that of any other great ancient civilization, such as those of Egypt in the Bronze Age, of the Hittite Empire, and later on, in the Iron Age, of Athens and Sparta and, later still, of the Roman Empire, must have gone to great lengths to ensure the durability, tensile strength and battle worthiness of their military apparatus in its entirety (let alone chariots). It goes without saying that, regardless of the techniques of chariot construction employed by the various great civilizations of the ancient world, each civilization strove to manufacture military apparatus to the highest standards practicable within the limits of the technology then available to them. It is incontestable that progress in chariot construction and design must have made major advances in all of the great civilizations from the early to the late Bronze Age. Any flaws or faults in chariot construction would have been and were rooted out and eliminated as each civilization perceptibly moved forward, step by arduous step, to perfect the manufacture of chariots in their military. In the case of the Mycenaeans contemporaneous with the Egyptians, this was the late Bronze Age. My point is strictly this. Any translation of any part of a chariot must fully take into account the practicable appropriateness of each and every word in the vocabulary of that technology, to ensure that the entire vocabulary of chariot construction will fit together as seamlessly as possible in order to ultimately achieve as solid a coherence as conceivably possible. Thus, if a practicably working translation of any single technical term for the manufacture of chariots detracts rather than contributes to the structural integrity, sturdiness and battle worthiness of the chariot, that term must be seriously called into question. Past translators of the vocabulary of chariot construction and design who have not fully taken into account the appropriateness of any particular term descriptive of the solidity and tensile strength of the chariot required to make it battle worthy have occasionally fallen short of truly convincing translations of the whole (meaning here, the chariot), translations which unify and synthesize its entire vocabulary such that all of its moving and immobile parts alike actually “translate” into a credible reconstruction of a Bronze Age (Mycenaean) chariot as it must have realistically appeared and actually operated. Even the most prestigious of translators of Mycenaean Linear B, most notably L.R. Palmer himself, have not always succeeded in formulating translations of certain words or terms convincing enough in the sense that I have just delineated. All this is not to say that I too will not fall into the same trap, because I most certainly will. Yet as we say, nothing ventured, nothing gained. And what applies to the terminology for the construction and design of chariots in any ancient language, let alone Mycenaean Linear B, equally applies to the vocabulary of absolutely any animate subject, such as human beings and livestock, and to any inanimate object in the context of each and every sector of the economy of the society in question, whether this be in the agricultural, industrial, military, textiles, household or pottery sector. Again, if any single word detracts rather than contributes to the actual appearance, manufacturing technique and utility of said object in its entire context, linguistic as well as technical, then that term must be seriously called into question. When it comes down to brass tacks, the likelihood of achieving such translations is a tall order to fill. But try we must. A convincing practicable working vocabulary of Knossos tablet KN 894 N v 01 (Ashmolean): While much of the vocabulary on this tablet is relatively straightforward, a good deal is not. How then was I to devise an approach to its translation which could conceivably meet Mycenaean standards in around 1400-1200 BCE? I had little or no reference point to start from. The natural thing to do was to run a search on Google images to determine whether or not the results would, as it were, measure up to Mycenaean standards. Unfortunately, some of the most convincing images I downloaded were in several particulars at odds with one another, especially in the depiction of wheel construction. That actually came as no surprise. So what was I to do? I had to choose one or two images of chariots which appeared to me at least to be accurate renditions of actual Mycenaean chariot design. But how could I do that without being arbitrary in my choice of images determining terminology? Again a tough call. Yet there was a way through this apparent impasse. Faced with the decision of having to choose between twenty-first century illustrations of Mycenaean chariot design - these being the most often at odds with one another - and ancient depictions on frescoes, kraters and vases, I chose the latter route as my starting point. But here again I was faced with images which appeared to conflict on specific points of chariot construction. The depictions of Mycenaean chariots appearing on frescoes, kraters and vases unfortunately did not mirror one another as accurately as I had first supposed they would. Still, this should come as no real surprise to anyone familiar with the design of military vehicles ancient or modern. Take the modern tank for instance. The designs of American, British, German and Russian tanks in the Second World War were substantially different. And even within the military of Britain, America and Germany, there were different types of tanks serving particular uses dependent on specific terrain. So it stands to reason that there were at least some observable variations in Mycenaean chariot design, let alone of the construction of any chariots in any ancient civilization, be it Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece throughout its long history, or Rome, among others. So faced with the choice of narrowing down alternative likenesses, I finally opted for one fresco which provided the most detail. I refer to the fresco from Tiryns (ca 1200 BCE) depicting two female charioteers. This fresco would go a long way to resolving issues related in particular to the manufacture and design of wheels, which are the major sticking point in translating the vocabulary for Mycenaean chariots. Turning now to my translation, I sincerely hope I have been able to resolve most of these difficulties, at least to my own satisfaction if to not to that of others, although here again a word of caution to the wise. My translation is merely my own visual interpretation of what is in front of me on this fresco from Tiryns. Try as we might, there is simply no escaping the fact that we, in the twenty-first century, are bound to impose our own preconceptions on ancient images, whatever they depict. As historiography has it, and I cite directly from Wikipedia: Questions regarding historicity concern not just the issue of "what really happened," but also the issue of how modern observers can come to know "what really happened." This second issue is closely tied to historical research practices and methodologies for analyzing the reliability of primary sources and other evidence. Because various methodologies categorize historicity differently, it's not possible to reduce historicity to a single structure to be represented. Some methodologies (for example historicism), can make historicity subject to constructions of history based on submerged value commitments. The sticking point is those pesky “submerged value commitments”. To illustrate even further, allow me to cite another source, Approaching History: Bias: The problem for methodology is unconscious bias: the importing of assumptions and expectations, or the asking of one question rather than another, by someone who is trying to act in good faith with the past. Yet the problem inherent to any modern approach is that it is simply impossible for any historian or historical linguist today to avoid imposing not only his or her own innate unconscious preconceived values but also the values of his own national, social background and civilization, let alone those of the entire age in which he or she lives. “Now” is the twenty-first century and “then” was any particular civilization with its own social, national and political values set against the diverse values of other civilizations contemporaneous with it, regardless of historical era. If all this seems painfully obvious to the professional historian or linguist, it is more than likely not be to the non-specialist or lay reader, which is why I have taken the trouble to address the issue in the first place. How then can any historian or historical linguist in the twenty-first century possibly and indeed realistically be expected to place him— or herself in the sandals, so to speak, of any contemporaneous Bronze Age Minoan, Mycenaean, Egyptian, Assyrian or oriental civilizations such as China, and so on, without unconsciously imposing the entire baggage of his— or -her own civilization, Occidental, Oriental or otherwise? It simply cannot be done. However, not to despair. Focusing our magnifying glass on the shadowy mists of history, we can only see through a glass darkly. But that is no reason to give up. Otherwise, there would be no way of interpreting history and no historiography to speak of. So we might as well let sleeping dogs lie, and get on with the task before us, which in this case is the intricate art of translation of an object particular not only to its own civilization, remote as it is, but specifically to the military sector of that society, being in this case, the Mycenaean. So the question now is, what can we read out of the Tiryns fresco with respect to Mycenaean chariot construction and design, without reading too much of our own unconscious personal, social and civilized biases into it? As precarious and as fraught with problems as our endeavour is, let us simply sail on ahead and see how far our little voyage can take us towards at least a credible translation of the Tiryns chariot with its lovely belles at the reins, with the proviso that this fresco depicts only one variation on the design of Mycenaean chariots, itself at odds on some points with other depictions on other frescoes. Here you see the fresco with my explanatory notes on the chariot parts: as related to the text and context of the facsimile of the original tablet in Linear B, Linear B Latinized and archaic Greek, here: This is followed by my meticulous notes on the construction and design of the various parts of the Mycenaean chariot as illustrated here: and by The Geometry of chariot parts in Mycenaean Linear B, to drive home my interpretations of both – amota - = - (on) axle – and – temidweta - = the circumference or the rim of the wheel, referencing the – radius – in the second syllable of – temidweta - ,i.e. - dweta - , where radius = 1/2 (second syllable) of – temidweta – and is thus equivalent to one spoke, as illustrated here: The only other historian of Linear B who has grasped the full significance of the supersyllabogram (SSYL) is Salimbeti, whose site is the one and only on the entire Internet which explores the construction and design of bronze age chariots in great detail. I strongly urge you to read his entire study in order to clarify the full import of my translation of – temidweta – as the rim of the wheel. The only problem remaining with my translation is whether or not the word – temidweta – describes the rim on the side of the wheel or the rim on its outer surface directly contacting the ground. The difficulty with the latter translation is whether or not elm wood is of sufficient tensile strength to withstand the beating the tire rim had to endure over time (at least a month or two at minimum) on the rough terrain, often littered with stones and rocks, over which Mycenaean chariots must surely have had to negotiate. As for the meaning of the supersyllabogram (SSYL)TE oncharged directly onto the top of the ideogram for wheel, it cannot mean anything other than – temidweta -, in other words the circumference, being the wheel rim, further clarified here: Hence my translation here: Note that I have translated the unknown word **** – kidapa – as – ash (wood). My reasons for this are twofold. First of all, the hardwood ash has excellent tensile strength and shock resistance, where toughness and resiliency against impact are important factors. Secondly, it just so happens that ash is predominant in Homer’s Iliad as a vital component in the construction of warships and of weapons, especially spears. So there is a real likelihood that in fact – kidapa – means ash, which L.R. Palmer also maintains. Like many so-called unknown words found in Mycenaean Greek texts, this word may well be Minoan. Based on the assumption that many of these so-called unknown words may be Minoan, we can establish a kicking-off point for possible translations of these putative Minoan words. Such translations should be rigorously checked against the vocabulary of the extant corpus of Minoan Linear A, as found in John G. Younger’s database, here: I did just that and came up empty-handed. But that does not at all imply that the word is not Minoan, given that the extant lexicon of Linear A words is so limited, being as it is incomplete. While all of this might seem a little overwhelming at first sight, once we have taken duly into account the most convincing translation of each and every one of the words on this tablet in its textual and real-world context, I believe we can attain such a translation, however constrained we are by our our twenty-first century unconscious assumptions. As for conscious assumptions, they simply will not do. In conclusion, Knossos tablet KN 894 N v 01 (Ashmolean) serves as exemplary a guide to Mycenaean chariot construction and design as any other substantive intact Linear B tablet in the same vein from Knossos. It is my intention to carry my observations and my conclusions on the vocabulary of Mycenaean chariot construction and design much further in an article I shall be publishing on academia.edu sometime in 2016. In it I shall conduct a thorough-going cross-comparative analysis of the chariot terminology on this tablet with that of several other tablets dealing specifically with chariots. This cross-comparative study is to result in a comprehensive lexicon of the vocabulary of Mycenaean chariot construction and design, fully taking into account Chris Tselentis’ Linear B Lexicon and L.R. Palmer’s extremely comprehensive Glossary of military terms relative to chariot construction and design on pp. 403-466 in his classic foundational masterpiece, The Interpretation of Mycenaean Texts. So stay posted.
PDF uploaded to academia.edu application to Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B of AIGCA (artificial intelligence geometric co-ordinate analysis) AIGCA (artificial intelligence geometric co-ordinate analysis) by supercomputers or via the high speed Internet is eminently suited for the identification and parsing unique cursive scribal hands in Mycenaean Linear B without the need of such identification by manual visual means. To read this ground-breaking scientific study of the application of AIGCA (artificial intelligence geometric co-ordinate analysis)to the parsing of unique cursive scribal hands, click on this banner:
PART B: The application of geometric co-ordinate analysis (GCA) to parsing scribal hands in Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B Introduction: I propose to demonstrate how geometric co-ordinate analysis of Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B can confirm, isolate and identify with precision the X Y co-ordinates of single syllabograms, homophones and ideograms in their respective standard fonts, and in the multiform cursive “deviations” from the invariable on the X Y axis, the point of origin (0,0) on the X Y plane, and how it can additionally parse the running co-ordinates of each character, syllabogram or ideogram of any of the cursive scribal hands in each of these scripts. This procedure effectively epitomizes the “style” of any scribe’s hand, just as we would nowadays characterize any individual’s handwriting style. This hypothesis is at the cutting edge in the application of graphology a.k.a epigraphy exclusively based on the scientific procedure of artificial intelligence geometric co-ordinate analysis (AIGCA) of scribal hands, irrespective of the script under analysis. If supercomputer or ultra high speed Internet generated artificial intelligence geometric co-ordinate analysis of Sumerian and Akkadian cuneiform is a relatively straightforward matter, as I have summarized it in my first article , that of Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B, both of which share more complex additional geometric constructs in common, appears to be somewhat more of a challenge, at least at first glance. When we come to apply this technique to more complex geometric forms, the procedure appears to be significantly more difficult to apply. Or does it? The answer to that question lies embedded in the question itself. The question is neither closed nor open, but simply rhetorical. It contains its own answer. It is in fact the hi-tech approach which decisively and instantaneously resolves any and all difficulties in every last case of geometric co-ordinate analysis of any script, syllabary or indeed any alphabet, ancient or modern. It is neatly summed up by the phrase, “computer-based analysis”, which effectively and entirely dispenses with the necessity of having to parse scribal hands or handwriting by manual visual means or analysis at all. Prior to the advent of the Internet, modern supercomputers and artificial intelligence(AI), geometric co-ordinate analysis of any phenomenon, let alone scribal hands, or handwriting post AD (anno domini), would have been a tedious mathematical process hugely consuming of time and human resources, which is why it was never attempted then. The groundbreaking historical epigraphic studies of Emmett L. Bennet Jr. and Prof. John Chadwick (1966): All this is not to say that some truly remarkable analyses of scribal hands in Mycenaean Linear B were not realized in the twentieth century. Although such studies have been few and far between, one in particular stands out as pioneering. I refer of course to Emmett L. Bennet Jr.’s remarkable paper, “Miscellaneous Observations on the Forms and Identities of Linear B Ideograms” (1966) , in which he single-handedly undertook a convincing epigraphic analysis of Mycenaean Linear B through manual visual observation alone, without the benefit of supercomputers or the ultra-high speed internet which we have at our fingertips in the twenty-first century. His study centred on the ideograms for wine (*131), (olive) oil (*130), *100 (man), *101 (man) & *102 (woman) rather than on any of the Linear B syllabograms as such. The second, by John Chadwick in the same volume, focused on the ideogram for (olive) oil. As contributors to the same Colloquium, they essentially shared the same objectives in their epigraphic analyses. Observations which apply to Bennett’s study of scribal hands are by and large reflected by Chadwick’s. Just as we find in modern handwriting analysis, both Bennett and Chadwick concentrated squarely on the primary characteristics of the scribal hands of a considerable number of scribes. Both researchers were able to identify, isolate and classify the defining characteristics of the various scribal hands and the attributes common to each and every scribe, accomplishing this remarkable feat without the benefit of super high speed computer programming. Although Prof. Bennett Jr. did not systematically enumerate his observations on the defining characteristics of particular scribal hands in Mycenaean Linear B, we shall do so now, in order to cast further light on his epigraphic observations of Linear B ideograms, and to situate these in the context of the twenty-first century hi tech process of geometric co-ordinate analysis to scribal hands in Mycenaean Linear B. I have endeavoured to extrapolate the rather numerous variables Bennett assigned determining the defining characteristics of various scribal hands in Linear B. They run as follows (though they do not transpire in this order in his paper): (a) The number of strokes (vertical, horizontal and diagonal – right or left – vary significantly from one scribal hand to the next. This particular trait overrides most others, and must be kept uppermost in mind. Bennett characterizes this phenomenon as “opposition between varieties”. For more on the concept of ‘oppositions’, see my observations on the signal theoretical contribution by Prof. L. R. Palmer below. (b) According to Bennet, while some scribes prefer to print their ideograms, others use a cursive hand. But the very notion of “printing” as a phenomenon per se cannot possibly be ascribed to the Linear B tablets. Bennet’s so-called analysis of scribal “printing” styles I do not consider as printing at all, but rather as the less common scribal practice of precise incision, as opposed to the more free-form cursive style adopted by most Linear B scribes. Incision of characters, i.e. Linear B, syllabograms, logograms and ideograms, predates the invention of printing in the Western world by at least two millennia, and as such cannot be attributed to printing as we understand the term. Bennett was observing the more strictly geometric scribal hands among those scribes who were more meticulous than others in adhering more or less strictly to the dictates of linear, circular and other normalized attributes of geometry, as outlined in the economy of geometric characteristics of Linear B in Figure 1: Click to ENLARGE But even the more punctilious scribes were ineluctably bound to deviate from what we have established as the formal modern Linear B font, the standard upon which geometric co-ordinate analysis depends, and from which all scribal hands in both Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B, the so-called “printed” or cursive, must necessarily derive or deviate. (c) as a corollary of Bennet’s observation (b), some cursive hands are sans serif, others serif. (d) similarly, the length of any one or any combination of strokes, sans serif or serif, can clearly differentiate one scribal hand from another. (e) as a corollary of (c), some serif hands are left-oriented, while the majority are right-oriented, as illustrated here in Figure 2: Click to ENLARGE (f) As a function of (d) above, the “slant of the strokes” Bennett refers to is the determinant factor in the comparison between one scribal hand and any number of others, and as such constitutes one of the primary variables in his manual visual analytic approach to scribal hands. (g) In some instances, some strokes are entirely absent, whether or not accidentally or (un)intentionally. (h) Sometimes, elements of each ideogram under discussion (wine, olive oil and man, woman or human) touch, just barely touch, retouch, cross, just cross, recross or fully (re)cross one another. According to Bennet, these sub-variables can often securely identify the exact scribal hand attributed to them. (i) Some strokes internal to each of the aforementioned ideograms appear to be partially unconnected to others, in the guise of a deviance from the “norm” as defined by Bennett in particular, although I myself am unable to ascertain which style of ideogram is the “norm”, whatever it may be, as opposed to those styles which diverge from it, i.e. which I characterize as mathematically deviant from the point of origin (0,0) on the X Y co-ordinate axis on the two-dimensional Cartesian plane. Without the benefit of AIGCA, Bennett could not possibly have made this distinction. Whereas any partially objective determination of what constitutes the “norm” in any manual scientific study not finessed by high speed computers was pretty much bound to be arbitrary, the point of origin (0,0) on the X Y axis of the Cartesian two-dimensional plane functions as a sound scientific invariable from which we define the geometrically pixelized points of departure by means of ultra high speed computer computational analysis (AIGCA). (j) The number of strokes assigned to any ideogram in Linear B can play a determinant role. One variation in particular of the ideogram for wine contains only half the number of diagonal strokes as the others. This Bennett takes to be the deviant ideogram for must, rather than wine itself, and he has reasonably good grounds to make this assertion. Likewise, any noticeable variation in the number of strokes in other ideograms (such as those for olive oil and humans) may also be indicators of specific deviant meanings possibly assigned to each of them, whatever these might be. But we shall never know. With reference to the many variants for “man” or human (*101), I refer you to Bennett’s highly detailed chart on page 22 . It must be conceded that AI geometric co-ordinate analysis is incapable of making a distinction between the implicit meanings of variants of the same ideogram, where the number of strokes comprising said ideogram vary, as in the case of the ideogram for wine. But this caveat only applies if Bennet’s assumption that the ideogram for wine with fewer strokes than the standard actually means (wine) must. Otherwise, the distinction is irrelevant to the parsing by means of AIGCA of this ideogram in particular or of any other ideogram in Linear B for which the number of strokes vary, unless corroborating evidence can be found to establish variant meanings for each and every ideogram on a case by case basis. Such a determination can only be made by human analysis. (k) As Bennett has it, the spatial disposition of the ideograms, in other words, how much space each ideogram takes up on the various tablets, some of them consuming more space than others, is a determinant factor. He makes a point of stressing that some ideograms are incised within a very “cramped and confined space”. The practice of cramming as much text as possible into an allotted minimum of remaining space on tablets was commonplace. Pylos tablet TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is an excellent example of this ploy so many scribes resorted to when they discovered that they had used up practically all of the space remaining on any particular tablet, such as we see here on Pylos tablet 641-1952 (Figure 3): Click to ENLARGE Yet cross comparative geometric analysis of the relative size of the “font” or cursive scribal hand of this tablet and all others in any ancient script, hieroglyphic, syllabary, alphabetical or otherwise, distinctly reveals that neither the “font” nor cursive scribal hand size have any effect whatsoever on the defining set of AIGCA co-ordinates — however minuscule (as in Linear B) or enormous (as in cuneiform) — of any character, syllabogram or ideogram in any script whatsoever. It simply is not a factor. (l) Some ideograms appear to Bennett “almost rudimentary” because of the damaged state of certain tablets. It is of course not possible to determine which of these two factors, cramped space or damage, impinge on the rudimentary outlines of some of the same ideograms, be these for wine (must), (olive) oil or humans, although it is quite possible that both factors, at least according to Bennet, play a determinant rôle in this regard. But in fact they cannot and do not, for the following reasons: 1. So-called “rudimentary” incisions may simply be the result of end-of-workday exhaustion or carelessness or alternatively of remaining cramped space; 2. As such, they necessarily detract from an accurate determination of which scribe’s hand scribbled one or more rudimentary incisions on different tablets, even by means of AIGCA; 3. On the other hand, the intact incisions of the same scribe (if they are present) may obviate the necessity of having to depend on rudimentary scratchings. But the operative word here is if they are present. Not only that, even in the presence of intact incisions by said scribe, it all depends on the total number of discrete incisions made, i.e. on the number of different syllabograms, logograms, ideograms, word dividers (the vertical line in Linear B), numerics and other doodles. We shall more closely address this phenomenon below. (m) Finally, some scribes resort to more elaborate cursive penning of syllabograms, logograms, ideograms, the Linear B word dividers, numerics and other marks, although it is open to serious question whether or not the same scribe sometimes indulges in such embellishments, and sometimes does not. This throws another wrench into the accurate identification of unique scribal hands, even with AIGCA. The aforementioned variables as noted though not explicitly enumerated by Bennett summarize how he and Chadwick alike envisioned the prime characteristics or attributes, if you like, the variables, of various scribal hands. Each and every one of these attributes constitutes of course a variable or a variant of an arbitrary norm, whatever it is supposed to be. The primary problem is that, if we are to lend credence to the numerous distinctions Bennet ascribes to scribal hands, there are simply far too many of these variables. When one is left with no alternative than to parse scribal hands by manual visual means, as were Bennet and Chadwick, there is just no way to dispense with a plethora of variations or with the arbitrary nature of them. And so the whole procedure (manual visual inspection) is largely invalidated from a strictly scientific point of view. In light of my observations above, as a prelude to our thesis, the application of artificial geometric co-ordinate analysis (AIGCA) to scribal hands in Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B, I wish to draw your undivided attention to the solid theoretical foundation laid for research into Linear B graphology or epigraphy by Prof. L.R. Palmer, one of the truly exceptional pioneers in Linear B linguistic research, who set the tone in the field to this very day, by bringing into sharp focus the single theoretical premise — and he was astute enough to isolate one and one only — upon which any and all research into all aspects of Mycenaean Linear B must be firmly based. I find myself compelled to quote a considerable portion of Palmer’s singularly sound foundational scientific hypothesis underpinning the ongoing study of Linear which he laid in The Interpretation of Mycenaean Greek Texts . (All italics below mine). Palmer contends that.... The importance of the observation of a series of ‘oppositions’ at a given place in the formulaic structure may be further illustrated... passim... A study of handwriting confirms this conclusion. The analysis removes the basis for a contention that the tablets of these sets were written at different times and list given herdsmen at different stations. It invalidates the conclusion that the texts reflect a system of transhumance (see p. 169 ff.). We may insist further on the principle of economy of theses in interpretation... passim... See pp. 114 ff. for the application of this principle, with a reduction in the number of occupational categories. New texts offer an opportunity for the most rigorous application of the principle of economy. Here the categories set up for the interpretation of existing materials will stand in the relation of ‘predictions’ to the new texts, and the new material provides a welcome opportunity for testing not only the decipherment but also interpretational methods. The first step will be to interpret the new data within the categorical framework already set up. Verificatory procedures will then be devised to test the results which emerge. If they prove satisfactory, no furthers categories will be added. The number of hypotheses set up to explain a given set of facts is an objective measure of the ‘arbitrary’, and explanations can be graded on a numerical scale. A completely ‘arbitrary’ explanation is one which requires x hypotheses for y facts. It follows that the most ‘economical’ explanation is the least ‘arbitrary’. I could not have put it better myself. The more economical the explanation, in other words, the underlying hypothesis, the less arbitrary it must necessarily be. In light of the fact that AIGCA reduces the hypothetical construct for the identification of scribal style to a single invariable, the point of origin (0,0) on the two-dimensional Cartesian X Y plane, we can reasonably assert that this scientific procedure practically eliminates such arbitrariness. We are reminded of Albert Einstein’s supremely elegant equation E = Mc2 in the general theory of relatively, which reduces all variables to a single constant. Yet, what truly astounds is the fact that Palmer was able to reach such conclusions in an age prior to the advent of supercomputers and the ultra high speed Internet, an age when the only means of verifying any such hypothesis was the manual visual. In light of Palmer’s incisive observations and the pinpoint precision with which he draws his conclusion, it should become apparent to any researcher in graphology or epigraphy delving into scribal hands in our day and age that all of Bennet’s factors are variables of geometric patterns, all of which in turn are mathematical deviations from the point of origin (0,0) on the two-dimensional X Y Cartesian axis. As such Bennet’s factors or variables, established as they were by the now utterly outdated process of manual visual parsing of the differing styles of scribal hands, may be reduced to one variable and one only through the much more finely tuned fully automated computer-generated procedure of geometric co-ordinate analysis. When we apply the technique of AI geometric co-ordinate analysis to the identification, isolation and classification of scribal hands in Linear B, we discover, perhaps not to our surprise, that all of Bennet’s factors (a to m) can be reduced to geometric departures from a single constant, namely, the point of origin (0,0) on the X Y axis of a two-dimensional Cartesian plane, which alone delineates the “style” of any single scribe, irrespective of the script under analysis, where style is defined as a function of said analysis, and nothing more. It just so happens that another researcher has chosen to take a similar, yet unusually revealing, approach to manual visual analysis of scribal hands in 2015. I refer to Mrs. Rita Robert’s eminently insightful overview of scribal hands at Pylos, a review of which I shall undertake in light of geometric co-ordinate analysis in my next article. Geometric co-ordinate analysis via supercomputer or the ultra high speed Internet: Nowadays, geometric co-ordinate analysis can be finessed by any supercomputer plotting CGA co-ordinates down to the very last pixel at lightning speed. The end result is that any of a number of unique scribal hands or of handwriting styles using ink, ancient on papyrus or modern on paper, can be identified, isolated and classified in the blink of an eye, usually beyond a reasonable doubt. However strange as it may seem prima facie, I leave to the very last the application of this practically unimpeachable procedure to the analysis and the precise isolation of the unique style of the single scribal hand responsible for the Edwin Smith papyrus, as that case in particular yields the most astonishing outcome of all. Geometric co-ordinate analysis: Comparison between Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B: Researchers and linguists who delve into the syllabaries of Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B are cognizant of the fact that the syllabograms in each of these syllabaries considerably overlap, the majority of them (almost) identical in both, as attested by Figures 4 & 5: Click to ENLARGE By means of supercomputers and/or through the medium of the ultra-high speed Internet, geometric co-ordinate analysis (AIGCA) of all syllabograms (nearly) identical in both of syllabaries can be simultaneously applied with proximate equal validity to both. Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B share a geometric economy which ensures that they both are readily susceptible to AI geometric co-ordinate analysis, as previously illustrated in Figure 1, especially in the application of said procedure to the standardized font of Linear B, as seen here in Figure 6: Click to ENLARGE And what applies to the modern standard Linear B font inevitably applies to the strictly mathematical deviations of the cursive hands of any number of scribes composing tablets in either syllabary (Linear A or Linear B). Even more convincingly, AIGCA via supercomputer or the ultra high speed Internet is ideally suited to effecting a comparative analysis and of parsing scribal hands in both syllabaries, with the potential of demonstrating a gradual drift from the cursive styles of scribes composing tablets in the earlier syllabary, Minoan Linear A to the potentially more evolved cursive hands of scribes writing in the latter-day Mycenaean Linear B. AICGA could be ideally poised to reveal a rougher or more maladroit style in Minoan Linear A common to the earlier scribes, thus potentially revealing a tendency towards more streamlined cursive hands in Mycenaean Linear B, if it ever should prove to be the case. AIGCA could also prove the contrary. Either way, the procedure yields persuasive results. This hypothetical must of course be put squarely to the test, even according to the dictates of L.R. Palmer, let alone my own, and confirmed by recursive AICGA of numerous (re-)iterations of scribal hands in each of these syllabaries. Unfortunately, the corpus of Linear A tablets is much smaller than that of the Mycenaean, such that cross-comparative AIGCA between the two syllabaries will more than likely prove inconclusive at best. This however does not mean that cross-comparative GCA should not be adventured for these two significantly similar scripts. Geometric co-ordinate analysis of Mycenaean Linear B: A propos of Mycenaean Linear B, geometric co-ordinate analysis is eminently suited to accurately parsing its much wider range of scribal hands. An analysis of the syllabogram for the vowel O reveals significant variations of scribal hands in Mycenaean Linear B, as illustrated in Figure 2 above, repeated here for convenience: Yet the most conspicuous problem with computerized geometric co-ordinate analysis (AIGCA) of a single syllabogram, such as the vowel O, is that even this procedure is bound to fall far short of confirming the subtle or marked differences in the individual styles of the scores and scores of scribal hands at Knossos alone, where some 3,000 largely intact tablets have been unearthed and the various styles of numerous other scribes at Pylos, Mycenae, Thebes and other sites where hundreds more tablets in Linear B have been discovered. So what is the solution? It all comes down to the application of ultra-high speed GCA to every last one of the syllabograms on each and every one of some 5,500+ tablets in Linear B, as illustrated in the table of several Linear B syllabograms in Figures 7 and 8, through which we instantly ascertain those points where mathematical deviations on all of the more complex geometric forms put together utilized by any Linear B scribe in particular leap to the fore. Here, the prime characteristics of any number of mathematical deviations of scribal hands for all geometric forms, from the simple linear and (semi-)circular, to the more complex such as the oblong, wave form, teardrop and tomahawk, serve as much more precise markers or indicators highly susceptible of revealing the subtle or significant differences among any number of scribal hands. Click to ENLARGE Figures 7 & 8: By zeroing in on Knossos tablet KN 935 G d 02 (Figure 9) we ascertain that the impact of the complexities of alternate geometric forms on AIGCA is all the more patently obvious: Click to ENLARGE When applied to the parsing of every last syllabogram, homophone, logogram, ideogram, numeric, Linear B word divider and any other marking of any kind on any series of Linear B tablets, ultra high speed geometric co-ordinate analysis can swiftly extrapolate a single scribe’s style from tablet KN 935 G d 02 in Figure 9, revealing with relative ease which (largely) intact tablets from Knossos share the same scribal hand with this one in particular, which serves as our template sample. We can be sure that there are several tablets for which the scribal hand is in common with KN 935 G d 02. What’s more, extrapolating from this tablet as template all other tablets which share the same scribal hand attests to the fact that AIGCA can perform the precise same operation on any other tablet whatsoever serving in its turn as the template for another scribal hand, and so on and so on. Take any other (largely) intact tablet of the same provenance (Knossos), for which the scribal hand has previously been determined by AIGCA to be different from that of KN 935 G d 02, and use that tablet as your new template for the same cross-comparative AICGA procedure. And voilà, you discover that the procedure has extrapolated yet another set of tablets for which there is another scribal hand, in other words, a different scribal style, in the sense that we have already defined style. But can what works like a charm for tablets from Knossos be applied with relative success to Linear B tablets of another provenance, notably Pylos? The difficulty here lies in the size of the corpus of Linear B tablets of a specific provenance. While AIGCA is bound to yield its most impressive results with the enormous trove of some 3,000 + (largely) intact Linear B tablets from Knossos, the procedure is susceptible of greater statistical error when applied to a smaller corpus of tablets, such as from Pylos. It all comes down to the principle of inverse ratios. And where the number of extant tablets from other sources is very small, as is the case with Mycenae and Thebes, the whole procedure of AIGCA is seriously open to doubt. Still, AIGCA is eminently suited to clustering in one geometric set all tablets sharing the same scribal hand, irrespective of the number of tablets and of the subset of all scribal hands parsed through this purely scientific procedure. Conclusion: We can therefore safely conclude that ultra high speed artificial intelligence geometric co-ordinate analysis (AIGCA), through the medium of the supercomputer or on the ultra high speed Internet, is well suited to identifying, isolating and classifying the various styles of scribal hands in both Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B. In Part C, we shall move on to the parsing of scribal hands in Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, of the early hieratic handwriting of the scribe responsible for the Edwin Smith Papyrus (1600 BCE) and ultimately of the vast number of handwriting styles and fonts of today. References and Notes:  The application of geometric co-ordinate analysis (GCA) to parsing scribal hands: Part A: Cuneiform https://www.academia.edu/17257438/The_application_of_geometric_co-ordinate_analysis_GCA_to_parsing_scribal_hands_Part_A_Cuneiform  “Miscellaneous Observations on the Forms and Identities of Linear B Ideograms” pp. 11-25 in, Proceedings of the Cambridge Colloquium on Mycenaean Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, © 1966. Palmer, L.R. & Chadwick, John, eds. First paperback edition 2011. ISBN 978-1-107-40246-1 (pbk.)  Op. Cit., pg. 22  pp. 33-34 in Introduction. Palmer, L.R. The Interpretation of Mycenaean Texts. Oxford: Oxford at the Clarendon Press, © 1963. Special edition for Sandpiper Book Ltd., 1998. ix, 488 pp. ISBN 0-19-813144-5
NOW on academia.edu: The application of geometric co-ordinate analysis (GCA) to parsing scribal hands: Part A: Cuneiform Geometric co-ordinate analysis of cuneiform, the Edwin-Smith hieroglyphic papyrus (ca. 1600 BCE), Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B and Arcado-Cypriot Linear C can confirm, isolate and identify with precision the X Y co-ordinates of single characters or syllabograms in their respective standard fonts, and in the multiform cursive “deviations” from their fixed font forms, or to put it in different terms, can parse the running co-ordinates of each character, syllabogram or ideogram of any scribal hand in each of these scripts. This procedure effectively encapsulates the “style” of any scribe’s hand. This hypothesis is at the cutting edge in the application of graphology a.k.a epigraphy based entirely on the scientific procedure of geometric co-ordinate analysis (GCA) of scribal hands, irrespective of the script under analysis. Richard
The application of geometric co-ordinate analysis (GCA) to parsing scribal hands: Part A: Cuneiform Introduction: I propose to demonstrate how geometric co-ordinate analysis of cuneiform, the Edwin-Smith hieroglyphic papyrus (ca. 1600 BCE), Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B and Arcado-Cypriot Linear C can confirm, isolate and identify with great precision the X Y co-ordinates of single characters or syllabograms in their respective standard fonts, and in the multiform cursive “deviations” from their fixed font forms, or to put it in different terms, to parse the running co-ordinates of each character, syllabogram or ideogram of any scribal hand in each of these scripts. This procedure effectively encapsulates the “style” of any scribe’s hand, just as we would nowadays characterize any individual’s handwriting style. This hypothesis constitutes a breakthrough in the application of graphology a.k.a epigraphy based entirely on the scientific procedure of geometric co-ordinate analysis (GCA) of scribal hands, irrespective of the script under analysis. Cuneiform: Any attempt to isolate, identify and characterize by manual visual means alone the scribal hand peculiar to any single scribe incising a tablet or series of tablets common to his own hand, in other words, in his own peculiar style, has historically been fraught with difficulties. I intend to bring the analysis of scribal hands in cuneiform into much sharper focus by defining them as constructs determined solely by their relative positioning on the X Y axis plane in two-dimensional Cartesian geometry. This purely scientific approach reduces the analysis of individual scribal hands in cuneiform to a single constant, which is the point of origin (0,0) in the X Y axis plane, from which the actual positions of each and every co-ordinate on the positive planes (X horizontally right, Y vertically up) and negative planes (X horizontally left, Y vertically down) are extrapolated for any character in this script, as illustrated by the following general chart of geometric co-ordinates (Click to ENLARGE): Although I haven’t the faintest grasp of ancient cuneiform, it just so happens that this lapsus scientiae has no effect or consequence whatsoever on the purely scientific procedure I propose for the precise identification of unique individual scribal hands in cuneiform, let alone in any other script, syllabary or alphabet ancient or modern (including but not limited to, the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Semitic & Cyrillic alphabets), irrespective of language, and even whether or not anyone utilizing said procedure understands the language or can even read the script, syllabary or alphabet under the microscope. This purely scientific procedure can be strictly applied, not only to the scatter-plot positioning of the various strokes comprising any letter in the cuneiform font, but also to the “deviations” of any individual scribe’s hand or indeed to a cross-comparative GCA analysis of various scribal hands. These purely mathematical deviations are strictly defined as variables of the actual position of each of the various strokes of any individual’s scribal hand, which constitutes and defines his own peculiar “style”, where style is simply a construct of GCA analysis, and nothing more. This procedure reveals with great accuracy any subtle or significant differences among scribal hands. These differences or defining characteristics of any number of scribal hands may be applied either to: (a) the unique styles of any number of different scribes incising a trove of tablets all originating from the same archaeological site, hence, co-spatial and co-temporal, or (b) of different scribes incising tablets at different historical periods, revealing the subtle or significant phases in the evolution of the cuneiform script itself in its own historical timeline, as illustrated by these six cuneiform tablets, each one of which is characteristic of its own historical frame, from 3,100 BCE – 2,250 BCE (Click to ENLARGE), and in addition (c) Geometric co-ordinate analysis is also ideally suited to identifying the precise style of a single scribe, with no cross-correlation with or reference to any other (non-)contemporaneous scribe. In other words, in this last case, we find ourselves zeroing in on the unique style of a single scribe. This technique cannot fail to scientifically identify with great precision the actual scribal hand of any scribe in particular, even in the complete absence of any other contemporaneous cuneiform tablet or stele with which to compare it, and regardless of the size of the cuneiform characters (i.e. their “font” size, so to speak), since the full set of cuneiform characters can run from relatively small characters incised on tablets to enormous ones on steles. It is of particular importance at this point to stress that the “font” or cursive scribal hand size have no effect whatsoever on the defining set of GCA co-ordinates of any character, syllabogram or ideogram in any script whatsoever. It simply is not a factor. To summarize, my hypothesis runs as follows: the technique of geometric co-ordinate analysis (GCA) of scribal hands, in and of itself, all other considerations aside, whether cross-comparative and contemporaneous, or cross-comparative in the historical timeline within which it is set ( 3,100 BCE – 2,250 BCE) or lastly in the application of said procedure to the unambiguous identification of a single scribal hand is a strictly scientific procedure capable of great mathematical accuracy, as illustrated by the following table of geometric co-ordinate analysis applied to cuneiform alone (Click to ENLARGE): The most striking feature of cuneiform is that it is, with few minor exceptions (these being circular), almost entirely linear even in its subsets, the parallel and the triangular, hence, susceptible to geometric co-ordinate analysis at its most fundamental and most efficient level. It is only when a script, syllabary or alphabet in the two-dimensional plane introduces considerably more complex geometric variables such as the point (as the constant 0,0 = the point of origin on an X Y axis or alternatively a variable point elsewhere on the X Y axis), the circle and the oblong that the process becomes significantly more complex. The most common two-dimensional non-linear constructs which apply to scripts beyond the simple linear (such as found in cuneiform) are illustrated in this chart of alternate geometric forms (Click to ENLARGE): These shapes exclude all subsets of the linear (such as the triangle, parallel, pentagon, hexagon, octagon, ancient swastika etc.) and circular (circular sector, semi-circle, arbelos, superellipse, taijitu = symbol of the Tao, etc.), which are demonstrably variations of the linear and the circular. These we must leave to the geometric co-ordinate analysis of Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B and Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, all of which share these additional more complex geometric constructs in common. When we are forced to apply this technique to more complex geometric forms, the procedure appears to be significantly more difficult to apply. Or does it? The answer to that question lies embedded in the question itself. The question is neither closed nor open, but simply rhetorical. It contains its own answer. It is in fact the hi-tech approach which decisively and instantaneously resolves any and all difficulties in every last case of geometric co-ordinate analysis of any script, syllabary or indeed any alphabet, ancient or modern. It is neatly summed up by the phrase, “computer-based analysis”, which effectively and entirely dispenses with the necessity of having to manually parse scribal hands or handwriting by visual means or analysis at all. Prior to the advent of the Internet and modern supercomputers, geometric co-ordinate analysis of any phenomenon, let alone scribal hands, or so-to-speak handwriting post AD (anno domini), would have been a tedious mathematical process hugely consuming of time and human resources, which is why it was never applied at that time. But nowadays, this procedure can be finessed by any supercomputer plotting CGA co-ordinates down to the very last pixel at lightning speed. The end result is that any of an innumerable number of unique scribal hand(s) or of handwriting styles can be isolated and identified beyond a reasonable doubt, and in the blink of an eye. Much more on this in Part B, The application of geometric co-ordinate analysis to Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B and Arcado-Cypriot Linear C. However strange as it may seem prima facie, I leave to the very last the application of this unimpeachable procedure to the analysis and the precise isolation of the unique style of the single scribal hand responsible for the Edwin-Smith papyrus, as that case in particular yields the most astonishing outcome of all. © by Richard Vallance Janke 2015 (All Rights Reserved = Tous droits réservés)
An Easy Guide to Learning Arcado-Cypriot Linear C & I mean easy!: Click to ENLARGE If any of you out there have already mastered either Minoan Linear A or Mycenaean Linear B or both, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C is likely to come as a bit of a shock. Although the phonetic values of the syllabograms in Linear C are identical to their Linear B counterparts, with very few exceptions, the appearance of Linear C syllabograms is almost always completely at odds with their Linear B counterparts, again with very few exceptions. If this sounds confusing, allow me to elucidate. A: Appearance of Linear B & Linear C Syllabograms. Linear C syllabograms look like this. If you already know Linear B, you are probably saying to yourself, What a mess!, possibly even aloud. I can scarcely blame you. But courage, courage, all is not lost. Far from it. Click to ENLARGE: Only the following syllabograms look (almost) alike in both Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C [see (a) below]: NA PA TA * SE * LO * PO * * There is a slight difference between those syllabograms marked with an asterisk * DA in Linear B is identical to TA in Linear C because Linear C has no D + vowel series, but uses the T + vowel series instead. SE in Linear B has 3 vertical strokes, whereas in Linear C it has only 2. RO in Linear B is identical to LO in Linear C. While Linear C has both and R + vowel series, it uses the L + vowel series as the equivalent of the Linear B R series. PO stands vertically in Linear B, but is slanted about 30 degrees to the right in Linear C. All other syllabograms in these two syllabaries are completely dissimilar; so you might think you are on your own to learn the rest of them in Linear C. But in fact, you are not. I can help a lot. See below, after the section on the Phonetic Values of Linear B & Linear C Syllabograms. B: Phonetic Values of Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C Syllabograms: Here the reverse scenario applies. Once you have mastered all of the Linear C syllabograms by their appearance, you can rest pretty much assured that the phonetic values of almost all syllabograms in both syllabaries are identical, with very few exceptions. Even in those instances where their phonetic values appear not to be identical, they are in fact identical, for all intents and purposes. This is because the ancient Greek dialects were notorious for wide variations in pronunciation, ergo in orthography. Anyone at all familiar with ancient Greek dialects can tell you that the pronunciation and spelling of an identical document, were there ever any such beast, would vary markedly from, say, Arcado-Cypriot to Dorian to Attic alphabetic. I can hear some of you protest, “What do you mean, the Arcado-Cypriot alphabet? I thought the script for Arcado-Cypriot was the syllabary Linear C.” You would be only half right. In fact, the Arcadians and Cypriots wrote their documents either in Linear or in their version of the ancient Greek alphabet, or in both at the same time. This is the case with the famous Idalion decree, composed in the 5th. Century BCE: Click to ENLARGE The series of syllabograms beginning with the consonant R + any of the vowels A E I O & U is present in Mycenaean Linear B. However, the series of syllabograms beginning with the consonant L + any of the vowels A E I O & U is entirely absent from Mycenaean Linear B, while Arcado-Cypriot Linear C has a series of syllabograms for both of the semi-consonants L & R. It rather looks like the Arcadians & Cypriots had already made the clear distinction between the semi-vowels L & R, firmly established and in place with the advent of the earliest form of the ancient Greek alphabet, which sported separate semi-vowels for L & R. Likewise, the series of syllabograms beginning with the consonant Q + any of the vowels A E I & O is present in Mycenaean Linear B, but entirely absent from Arcado-Cypriot Linear C. Conversely, the series of syllabograms beginning with the consonant X + the vowels A or E (XA & XE) is entirely absent from in Mycenaean Linear B, but present in Arcado-Cypriot Linear C. For the extremely significant socio-cultural linguistic explanation for this apparent paradox (I say, apparent, because it is in fact unreal), we shall have to defer to the next post. WARNING! Always be on your guard never to confuse Linear B & Linear C syllabograms which look (almost exactly) alike – the sole exceptions being NA PA TA SE LO & PO, since you can be sure that their phonetic values are completely at odds. Various strategies you can resort to in order to master Linear C fast! (a) The Linear B & Linear C syllabograms NA PA TE SE LO & PO are virtually the same, both in appearance and in pronunciation.
(b) Taking advantage of the real or fortuitous resemblance of several syllabograms to one another & (c) Geometric Clustering: Click to ENLARGE What is really astonishing is that the similarities between the syllabograms on the second line & their geometric clustering on the third are identical! So no matter which approach you adopt (b) or (c) or both for at least these syllabograms, you are a winner. Failing these approaches, try (d) Mnemonics: For instance, we could imagine that RO is a ROpe, PE = Don’t PEster me!, SA = SAve $, TO is TOFu etc. or we could even resort to (e) Imagery! For instance, we could imagine that A E & I are a series of stars, RI NI & KE all look like variations on the letter E, that LE is the symbol for infinity, WE is an iron bar etc. For Mnemonics & Imagery, I am not suggesting that you follow my own arbitrary interpretations, except perhaps for LE, which is transparent. Take your imagination where it leads you. Finally (f) the really great news is that the Linear C syllabary abandoned homophones, logograms and ideograms, doing away with them lock-stock-and-barrel. This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B syllabaries. The first had so many syllabograms, homophones, logograms and ideograms that it can be a real pain in the butt to learn Linear A. Mycenaean Linear B greatly simplified the entire mess, reducing the number and complexity of syllabograms & homophones, but unfortunately retaining well over a hundred logograms and ideograms, which are equally a pain in the you know what. In other words, the process of greater and greater simplication was evolutionary. This phenomenon is extremely common across the spectrum of world languages. What the Linear C scribes agreed upon, the complete elimination of anything but syllabograms, was the last & greatest evolutionary phase in the development of the Minoan-Greek syllabaries before the Greeks finally reduced even Linear C to its own variable alphabet of some 24-27 letters, depending on the dialect. But even the 3 syllabaries, Linear A, B & C, all had the 5 vowels, A E I O & U, which already gave them an enormous advantage over almost all other ancient scripts, none of which had vowels, with the sole exception of Sanskrit, as far as I know. That alone was quite an achievement. If you have not yet mastered the Linear B syllabary, it goes without saying that all of these techniques can be applied to it. The same goes for the Minoan Linear A syllabary, though perhaps to a lesser extent. The Real Potential for Extrapolation of these Principles to Learning any Script: Moreover, at the most general level for learning linguistic scripts, ancient or modern, whether they be based on pictographs, ideograms alone (as with some Oriental languages, such as Chinese, Japanese & Korean, at least when they resorted to the Kanji script), or any combination of ideograms, logograms & syllabograms (all three not necessarily being present) or even alphabetic, they will almost certainly stand the test of the practical validity of any or all of these approaches for learning any such script. I have to wonder whether or not most linguists have ever considered the practical implications of the combined application of all of these principles, at least theoretically. Allow me to conclude with this telling observation. Children especially, even from the age of 2 & a half to 3 years old, would be especially receptive to all of these techniques, which would ensure a rapid assimilation of any script, even something as simple as an alphabet of anywhere from 24 letters (Italian) to Russian Cyrillic (33 letters), as I shall clearly demonstrate with both the modern Greek & Latin alphabet a little later this month. PS. If any of you are wondering, as I am sure many of you who are familiar with our blog must be, I have an extremely associative, cross-correlative mind, a rather commonplace phenomenon among polyglot linguists, such as myself. In fact, my thinking can run in several directions, by which I mean I frequently process one set of cross-correlative associations, only to consider another and another, each in quite different directions from the previous. If that sounds like something Michael Ventris did, it is because that is precisely what he did to decipher almost all of Mycenaean Linear B - almost all, but not quite. As for the remaining 10 % or so which has so far defied decipherment, I promise you you are in for a great surprise very soon, perhaps as early as the spring of 2015, when my research colleague, Rita Roberts, and I shall be publishing an in-depth research paper in PDF on the Internet - a study which is to announce a major breakthrough in the further decipherment of Linear B. Those of you who frequent this blog on a regular basis already know what we are up to. As for those of you who are not regular visitors, if you read all the posts under the rubric, Supersyllabograms (at the top of this page), you are going to find out anyway. Richard
The Suitability of Mycenaean Linear B, Classic & Acrophonic Greek, Hebrew and Latin Numeric Systems for Calculation Here is the Mycenaean Linear B numeric system (A:) Click to ENLARGE Here are the 2 ancient Greek numeric systems, the so-called Classical (BA:) and the (CA:) Acrophonic, side by side: Click to ENLARGE This table compares the relative numeric values of the so-called Classical Greek numeric (BA:) & the Hebrew numeric (BB:) systems, which are strikingly similar: Click to ENLARGE Finally, we have the Latin numeric system (CB:) Click to ENLARGE The question is, which of these 5 numeric systems is the the most practical in its application to the (a) basic process of counting numbers, (b) to accounting and inventory or (c) geometry & (d) algebra? Let's briefly examine each of them in turn for their relative merits based on these criteria. We can take the Classical Greek & Hebrew numeric systems together, since they are patently based on the same principle, the application of letters of the alphabet to counting. For the same reason, it is expedient to lump the Acrophonic Greek & Latin systems together. There are other ways of classifying each of these systems, but for our purposes, and for the sake of clarity and consistence, we have opted for this approach. A: the Mycenaean Linear B numeric system: Merits: well suited to accounting and inventory; possibly suited to geometry, but only in limited contexts, though never used for that purpose Demerits: space-consuming, discursive; totally unsuitable for algebra. While their numeric system seems never to have been applied to geometry, the Minoans and Mycenaeans who relied on this system were, of course, not only familiar with but adept in geometry, as is attested by their elegant streamlined rectilinear & circular architecture. We must also keep firmly in mind the point that the Minoan scribes never intended to put the Mycenaean Linear B numeric accounting system to use for algebra, for the obvious reason that algebra as such had not yet been invented. But we mustn’t run away with ourselves on this account, either with the Mycenaean system or with any of the others which follow, because if we do, we seriously risk compromising ourselves in our own “modern” cultural biases & mind-sets. That is something I am unwilling to do. B = (BA:+BB:) the Classical Greek & Hebrew numeric systems: Merits: well-suited to both geometric and algebraic notation & possibly even to basic counting. Demerits: possibly unsuitable for counting, but that depends entirely on one's cultural perspective or bias. Who is to say that the modern Arabic system of counting (0...9) is in any way inherently superior to either the Classical Greek or Hebrew numeric systems? Upon what theoretical or practical basis can such a claim be made? After all, the Arabic numerals, universally adopted for counting purposes in the modern world, were simply adopted in the Middle Ages as an expedient, since they fitted seamlessly with the Latin alphabet. Nowadays, regardless of script (alphabet, syllabary or oriental) everyone uses Arabic numerals for one obvious reason. It is expedient. But is it any better than the Classical Greek & Hebrew numeric systems? I am quite sure that any ancient Greek or Hebrew, if confronted with our modern Arabic system of numerics, would probably claim that ours is no better than theirs. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. However, in one sense, the modern Arabic numeric notation is probably “superior”. It is far less discursive. While the ancient Greeks & Hebrews applied their alphabets in their entirety to counting, geometry and algebra, the Arabic numerals require only 10 digits. On the other hand, modern Arabic numerals cannot strictly be used for algebra or geometry unless they are combined with alphabetic notation. The Classical Greek alphabetic numeric system has been universally adopted for these purposes, as well as for the ease of application they bring to calculus and other complex modern systems such as Linear A, B & C, which have nothing whatsoever in common with the ancient Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B or Arcado-Cypriot Linear C syllabaries, except their names. Regardless, it is quite apparent at this point that the whole question of which numeric system is supposedly “superior” to the others is beginning to get mired down in academic quibbling over cultural assumptions and other such factors. So I shall let it rest. C = (CA:+CB:) the Acrophonic Greek & Latin numeric systems: Before we can properly analyze the relative merits of these two systems, which in principle are based on the same approach, we are obliged to separate them from one another for the obvious reason that one (the Acrophonic Greek) is much less discursive than the other (the Latin). Looking back through the lens of history, it almost seems as if the Athenian Greeks took this approach just so far, and no further, for fear of it becoming much too cluttered for their taste. After all, the ancient Greeks, and especially the Athenians, were characterized by their all-but obsessive adherence to “the golden mean”. They did not like overdoing it. The Romans, however, did not seem much concerned at all with that guiding principle, taking their own numeric system to such lengths (and I mean this literally) that it became outrageously discursive and, in a nutshell, clumsy. Why the Romans, who were so eminently practical and such great engineers, would have adopted such a system, is quite beyond me. But then again, I am no Roman, and my own cultural bias has once again raised its ugly head. CA: Greek Acrophonic Merits: well-suited to both geometric and algebraic notation & possibly even to basic counting. Demerits: See alphabetic Classical Greek & Hebrew systems above (BA:+BB:) CB: Latin Merits: easy for a Roman to read, but probably for no one else. Demerits: extremely discursive and awkward. Useless for geometric or algebraic notation. This cartoon composite neatly encapsulates the dazzling complexity of the Latin numeric system. Click to ENLARGE: Richard
The Implications of the Linear B Geometric Syllabary for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence: Part 1 — The Biggest Bang you will ever have seen from this blog!... so far... stay tuned! Before I go any further, allow me to state categorically that this message the Voyager Space Capsules launched in 1977 with one of their missions being to search out suppositional extraterrestrials, is primitive at best, and ludicrous at its worst. Click to ENLARGE: As far as I can figure it out (which isn’t very much at all - not that it matters), the message on this disc is difficult even for most humans to interpret, unless they happen to be astrophysicists, mathematicians or some sort of scientific geek. Unless the reader is human, it is probably impossible to make to make head or tails of it. And I for one, even though I am human and hopefully intelligent, cannot even begin to imagine how any target extraterrestrial civilization could even begin to out how to play the damn thing, unless they had a record player (ahem, as if!), a device already obsolete even to us! One of the fundamentally flawed assumptions of this analog device is that you have to play it on a device the human race alone has invented. The very concept of playing an analog recorded medium could very well be completely impenetrable to even the most advanced extraterrestrial civilizations, who might find the whole thing so laughable they would toss it out “the window”, assuming they even had windows, which is a helluva stretch in and of itself. In the Wikipedia article on this mission, we read this: Voyager 1 and 2 both carry with them a golden record that contains pictures and sounds of Earth, along with symbolic directions for playing the record and data detailing the location of Earth. This patently assumes that whoever or whatever intelligence eventually (!) receives this message will look a great deal like us (i.e. be anthropomorphic) and will think almost exactly as we do, and so will understand human music, and will be able to interpret the capsule’s human historical, photographic archives & over a thousand human languages... probably so much gibberish to our poor benighted recipients some countless millennia hence, assuming it arrives in one piece, if at all. So as far as I am concerned, this mission is paramount to a futile exercise in pipe-dreaming. Even in 1977, when I was only 32 years old, I considered the whole thing a complete waste of time, money and human resources. If anything is a near-perfect example of “thinking inside the box, with the lid closed and sealed”, that project had to be it. This will all become all too painfully obvious as we proceed through our discussion of the truly formidable, quite possibly even insurmountable challenges of interstellar communication. Of course, since then, in the past 37 years, humankind has apparently begun to grow up from mid- to late-adolescence, to burst the chains of the outer limits of human consciousness as it then manifested itself, and quite literally gone cosmic. We appear to be on the cusp of our next leap in human consciousness, and if it is indeed transpiring at this very moment in our history, we are in for one helluva roller-coaster ride, the likes of which humankind has never come close to imagining in the past, right up to and including the twentieth century. Richard Saint-Gelais’ Survey of the Potential Implications of the Application of the Linear B Syllabary as a Cipher for Extraterrestrial Communication: In the first of our two previous posts we introduced the proposals that Richard Saint-Gelais of NASA set forth in the potentially theoretical, if not quite yet practical, application of the Mycenaean Greek Linear B Geometric Syllabary to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. In the second of these posts, I myself posited some of the assumptions, principles and hypotheses underpinning a search of such tremendous magnitude that it stretches the powers of human reasoning practically beyond its outer limits. Still, history has repeatedly demonstrated that our intellect and powers of reasoning can be, and at certain junctures in the timeline of human evolution, are stretched another notch up the ladder beyond the presumptive limits of our previously adduced levels of abstractive powers, finally allowing us today, for the first time in human history, to think more and more, and more and more swiftly “outside the box” than ever before prior to the twenty-first century. The Ancient Greeks Take the First Great Leap of the Human Intellect onto the Higher Plane of Abstract Reasoning: The first great leap onto the purely abstract plane of reasoning was taken by the ancient Greeks, in two discreet stages: (A) the complete overhaul of the Minoan Linear A syllabary into the Mycenaean Greek Linear B syllabary, which swiftly and unceremoniously tossed overboard the most complicated and abstruse Linear B syllabograms, homophones & ideograms (some 1/4 of some 300), in less than 50 years, an incredibly rapid turnover in terms of socio-linguistic change, which otherwise nearly always occurred at a snail’s pace in the ancient world. But there is even more to this picture than we can possibly have imagined before the 1990s at the very earliest. Despite the proliferation of puissant supercomputers and the quasi-instantaneous communication afforded by the World Wide Web, a much better semiotic signifier for what it actually is than the word, “Internet”, which is significantly lamer, I say again, in spite of all these extremely recent massive technological advances at our disposal, the Minoan Linear A syllabary, which for a human language was already a quasi-geometric script complete with the base set of 5 vowels for the first time in history, has utterly defied any and all attempts whatsoever at decipherment since Sir Arthur Evans first excavated the ruins of Knossos in the spring of 1900. It just won’t budge a single centimetre. Now, if we are utterly incapable of deciphering a human language, Minoan in Linear A, even with all of our technological gadgets and goodies at our instant command, including The University of California Berkeley Campus’ newly conceived automated “time machine” to reconstruct ancient languages, Click to visit the site: imagine how much more alarmingly daunting must be the gargantuan task of beginning to scratch even the surface of communicating anything sensible to any extraterrestrial civilization whatsoever. But is the task really all that hopeless? Although the Linear B syllabary was used by the scribes at Knossos, Pylos, Mycenae, Phaistos, Thebes (in Greece) and in several other Mycenaean locales, almost solely for accounting and inventories, which function primarily on a concrete and semi-abstract level, the script itself, being fundamentally and almost exclusively geometric in nature, was by far the most abstract script ever developed in the ancient world until that time (ca. 1450 BCE). Geometric abstraction is also one of the outstanding characteristics of Minoan & Mycenaean architecture, as illustrated in these two examples: Knossos: Click to ENLARGE Here we can instantly isolate the perfectly Circular Frieze Motif shown here on one of the two buildings at Knossos, a motif which appears over and over on several Minoan and Mycenaean structures. Notice also that the other edifice is perfectly straight in every plane, including the then revolutionary liberal use of skylights for interior illumination. You can readily see that the building reminds us of the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), the first true pioneer in the advent of modern architecture. This is no accident. Lloyd Wright took much of his inspiration for the foundation of his architectural constructs from Japanese and, yes, Minoan architecture. Once again, this should not come as any surprise to anyone familiar with the amazing achievements of one of the most brilliant architects in the history of humankind, an architect whose applied principles fundamentally relied on the application of geometry to his buildings and structures. Mycenae: Even more astounding are the near perfect geometric proportions of the Mycenaean Tesoro Atreoyo (Treasury of Atreus), which the Mycenaeans constructed with astonishing mathematical accuracy hundreds of years before the great Greek mathematicians finally came round to working out the complex geometric and algebraic theorems underlying the elegant geometric proportions of this magnificent structure: Click to ENLARGE SOURCE: Metron Ariston (Greek for “The Ideal Mean” (from: Liddell & Scott, 1986, pg. 442) What can I say? The Mycenaeans were Greeks down to their very marrow. As anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the Linear B syllabary can attest, its geometric elegance and economy is second-to-none. Are Ancient Scripts Primitive? When modern writers and the occasional deluded linguist refer to ancient scripts as “primitive”, as compared with so-called “modern” alphabets, which for Occidental languages (Greek & Latin) are ancient anyway, they do a great disservice to the former, propagating totally false misconceptions on that account alone. In point of fact, there is no such thing as a “primitive” script, which leads me almost inexorably to my next observation: if there are no primitive scripts, there are no modern, all scripts (ideographies, syllabaries & alphabets) ancient or modern being as sound as any other. It follows logically then that any and all future scripts as yet uninvented will also serve as well as, but no better than, the thousands of scripts humankind has dabbled in over the past 10 millennia at least, including any which we may devise for extraterrestrial communication. The implications of this factor alone are profound. They inform us that any language whatsoever we use for communication, terrestrial or otherwise is, and can only be, human, whoever tautological this may sound... or so it may appear. Now, the implications of this scenario for the potential transmission of some sort of set of signals susceptible to possible decipherment by extraterrestrial intelligences are profound. My point is simply this: if the historical timeline in the (apparent) “evolution” of human scripts is not sufficiently impressive even for us to make a big deal out of it, and if the transmission of any one or more of humankind’s most mathematically elegant scripts, past or present – and eventually future – are deemed by some to be just the right recipe, then why not try them? What have we got to lose? Nothing... to gain? - cosmic communication = cosmic consciousness. Now there’s something to put in your pipe & smoke. (B) Then the very same people, the Greeks, went plunging ahead, completely abandoning the Mycenaean Linear B syllabary for the even more elegant Greek alphabet, but significantly not casting aside the Arcado-Cypriot Linear C syllabary (even more geometrically economic than Linear B), which held its own right down to 400 BCE! No use re-inventing the wheel, or so the Arcadians and Cypriots believed. But, and here is the wringer. Now get this! The Linear C syllabary was no longer used merely for record keeping and inventory purposes, in fact, far from it. Its primary use was for publication of much more abstract legal and constitutional documents. Abstract geometric syllabary, abstract thought. That’s the next big leap forward. And the next: abstract geometric syllabary --> abstract communication --> abstract extraterrestrial communication. What about the Greek Alphabet, and its Widespread Use for Algebraic Notation? Now, of course, the Greek alphabet itself is not characteristically geometric, so we can pretty much eliminate it, and for that matter any other Occidental alphabet (Latin or Cyrillic) as suitable for interstellar communication. This includes our Arabic numerals, which you can be pretty much sure no extraterrestrial civilization would be able to distinguish from letters in an alpha-numeric system, since all characters in such a system would look the same to them, and almost certainly far too complex for them to take seriously. We can also be pretty well assured that no extraterrestrial civilization, even if they too used alphabets, would have the faintest idea what human alphabets were supposed to be signifiers of. But does that really matter? My short answer is simply, not at all. If we were to transmit from the source (ourselves) for instance just these rectilinear & circular 10 Linear B symbols &/or 10 Linear C symbols – for a potential total of 20 — as simple signals and nothing more (10 supposedly being a universally recognizable number), all kinds of wacky scenarios are likely to transpire at the target (them, whoever or whatever they are). Now, of course, since our target extraterrestrial civilization will not have the faintest idea what these symbols mean to us, as humans – if they see them as symbols as such at all – or whether or not they simply see them as geometric signals, the latter will do the trick just fine, thank you very much. So in this case, it does not matter a hill of beans which syllabograms from which syllabary we as the source civilization transmit to them, the target civilization, since they are going to interpret these 20 signals – if we decide to send that many – whatever damn well way suits them just fine, regardless of who we are, since they could care less anyway. All that would matter to them is that someone or some entity or entities from somewhere in our (meaning, their) galactic neighbourhood sent them a signal that meant something significant to themselves (the targets), though God only knows what. And why should we care any more than they do anyway? Come to think of it, they do not even have to live on a planet such as we construe it. If they do not, they might just as easily assume that whoever or whatever sent the signal would not live on a “planet” either. Any scenario is possible. So for this reason alone, if it were up to me to send the signal, I would simply mix-and-match Linear B & Linear C geometric signifiers any old way I felt like, and be damned the consequences... well, that might be a bit of an overstatement in case they turn out to be hostiles, we piss them rightly off and they invade us! But the chances of that ever happening are so extremely remote as to approach quantum zero. Still, we have to admit that the Linear B & Linear C syllabaries have a helluva lot going for them. If anything, both are eminently suited for extraterrestrial communication, for the following reasons (as I see it): 1. What is the “Message” in the Extraterrestrial Communication Medium? What does it signify? Does it matter to “them”? Should it matter to us? Whose “Message” is it anyway? Woah! As Richard Saint-Gelais correctly points out, any attempt on our part to communicate with extraterrestrial intelligences cannot, and must not, be based on what we as humans understand as being signifier(s) and signified, but rather on (hopefully) recognizable patterned sequences, by which I mean either digital (0 1), decimal or geometric, but not algebraic (see above). In fact, I posit that it does not matter a hill of beans whether signals of these three mathematical orders mean anything at all like what they clearly signify to us, but not clearly at all to our extraterrestrial compeers, other than what they signify to them, and in that light, applying reverse logic, almost certainly not to us. All that matters is that they, our extraterrestrial buddies, understand that the constructs mean whatever the hell they mean to them. If they do meaning anything, anything at all, then we will have established communication. Funny Things Happened on the Way to the Extraterrestrial Conference: Let us imagine a few ludicrous sounding examples. Say, for instance, we transmit a circle in the source signal, and our extraterrestrial friends at the target “read it”. Well, what if the circle we send is not abstract at all to them, but concrete only? What if they cannot even think on the abstract, connotative plane? Don’t laugh. Maybe to them the circle is just one of a thousand polka dots on one of their pet five-legged orgathonics with two heads and four arms, but no legs, just flippers instead. Again, take the straight line. Same scenario. If the language of that particular extraterrestrial civilization is concrete and denotative only, it would not matter how many straight lines we transmitted to them. They simply would not recognize them as such. But they would recognize them as something concrete, such as, for instance, a pole sticking in the ground. 2. The exact reverse scenario may just as easily obtain, namely that a particular extraterrestrial intelligence we sloppily target and by sheer accident hit (there is after all no other way we would hit them, if we ever could... imagine trying to hit the Earth with a pin-pong ball from 1,000 light years away!) uses a language or languages which are absolutely abstract and connotative, and not concrete and denotative at all. I hear someone shouting, “Eureka! We’re in luck!” Not so fast. To such a civilization a circle may be far more than just a circle or a straight line as we envision them. To them, a circle might automatically mean a sphere, if even their language is entirely three-dimensional on the abstract plane. Woops! As for a straight line, God forbid! It would at the very least probably be that naughty old straight line drawn out to infinity, and looping back in a circle to the point where it started to bite them in the conjectural ass. Then they would really get confused! To them, a circle and a straight line might even be paramount to one & the same phenomenon, so I can hear them asking themselves, “Why would anyone or any entity such as ourselves bother sending the same exact symbol as two discrete symbols – unless of course they were stupid?” If that were the case, I suspect that they would not even bother communicating with us, targeting us with their far more intelligent signals, because they would (rightly) see us as utterly incapable of interpreting them, not having even the minimal intellectual resources to tackle their “message”, or rather I should say, the signals in their “medium”, whatever that happens to be. Your guess is as good as mine. So we end up with at least two scenarios, and plenty more besides, I strongly suspect. Either our abstract geometric symbols are interpreted as signals of concrete objects alone or they are considered to be far too primitive for our hyper-intelligence recipients, who would probably just laugh them off as some sort of hopelessly dumb joke from the equivalent of what we would generously refer to as apes! The Enigma Code: 3. There is yet another highly fruitful source for food for thought in the massively daunting challenge facing us in the apparently Quixotic search for potential solutions to the problem of extraterrestrial communication. This is, leaving aside the absolutely monumental achievement of the decipherment of Linear B by Michael Ventris, the astonishing work of another genius of decipherment in the mid-twentieth century. I speak of course of Alan Turing (1912-1954), who not only was the first person in history to actually correctly conceptualize the theoretical base of the digital computer, based on the 0-1 binary construct, but who successfully cracked both versions of the German Enigma Code in World War II (the earlier easier & later more difficult one). Click on his photo for his biography: Now there is a term I can latch onto, Enigma Code. In fact, I fairly burst to leap on it, because I can think of no other term that more aptly exemplifies the fundamental precepts and hypotheses underlying the search for some way, any way, to communicate with any kind of extraterrestrial intelligence. It is no longer a question of us, or to put it bluntly, of the nature of our own human intelligence. Speaking frankly, I for one do not believe it matters one jot what kind of intelligence is at the source and the target of extraterrestrial communication, provided that there is at least some common universal signal substrate which may (or may not) be susceptible to an interpretation, any interpretation of the source message by the target recipient, even if their understanding of what the “message” actually says (to them) differs drastically from what it means to us. The only thing that matters at all is that the extraterrestrial target recipients of the signals we transmit are able to recognize a clearly repetitive pattern of sufficient variations on a “theme” to the point that it is intelligible to them (not us), in the fundamental framework of their own intelligence (not ours), however much it differs from our own human paradigm(s) for what we ourselves call “intelligence”. That is what I mean by a potentially universal signal, an Enigma Code which, although it remains an Enigma Code to our target recipients, is at least an enigma with a clearly recognizable pattern. They certainly do not need to decipher it as we understand the principle of “decipherment” in human terms, any more than we need to actually decipher the Minoan language in Linear A to recognize highly repetitive morphemic and semiotic patterns and even oblique declensions, which we in fact do recognize as essential markers of human languages. But even a partial decipherment can serve well enough to convince us that we are on the right track. We know this because signifiers-signified are universal in human languages. Moreover, the entire Linear A numeric system has been successfully deciphered, and a great many toponyms we know in Linear B have (nearly) exact counterparts in Linear A. Yet even if the fundamental construct of the intelligence of our extraterrestrial buddies contains neither the signifier “language” nor “decipherment”, their intelligence, if at least as advanced as ours (and that is not very advanced) will be able to derive some sort of “sense” from our “signal”, because for them, just as for us, the medium would be the message. The clue would be McLuhanesque, even if they could never have a clue what a McLuhan is. So the situation is far from hopeless. The Enigma Machine: At the crux of the problem, however, there is this: what is universal to human language constructs is almost certainly bound to be far from being universal even for any single target extraterrestrial “language”, let alone any number of them, whatever their intrinsic nature, it being almost certainly equally enigmatic to us. Ah the old double-blind scenario. The Germans knew what their Enigma Codes meant, because they could decipher them by reverse extrapolation at the source. But until Bletchley Park and its brightest star, Alan Turing, could get a grip on it – and it took years of the most backbreaking analysis – it remained just what it was to the Allies, an Enigma Code. Still, they knew perfectly well that the code itself, however massively complex it was (and it was!) overlay relatively simple original military messages in perfectly intelligible German. They new it was an artificial human means of communication. And that was all they needed to know. Let us never forget that those clever bastards at Bletchley Park cracked the Enigma Code without the benefit of computers, which says far more for them than it does for us today! A Universal Enigma Code for Extraterrestrial Communication? “Are you completely bonkers?” I hear you protest. Not so fast. Yes, the irksome question still remains, and refuses to just go away in a puff of smoke: would any extraterrestrial communication system or “language”, if we must insist on calling it that, even be able to begin to crack a human Extraterrestrial Enigma Code we so blithely sent buzzing off into interstellar space at the speed of light, unless their communication system were in fact a “language” something along the lines of what we understand a language to be? Conceivably they might, but their “language” would have to be a language fairly approximating the universal construct of what we call human language for them to be able to do so. Otherwise... fill in the blanks. Rather, do not fill in the blanks. Firing off blanks does not kill anyone. Firing off blank “blank” messages does not “mean” anything to any higher intelligence which has no need of language as we understand it. In fact, they might even toss our medium, forget the “message” into the “garbage”, considering it as nothing more significant than “dog poop” or whatever they call “it”. One thing is pretty obvious to me at least: sending a code which would be interpreted as an Enigma Code by some extraterrestrial civilization would probably be more like child’s play to them than vainly struggling trying to decipher what the silly messages on the Voyager spacecraft mean, simply because the latter are plainly and solely human, nothing more or less & next nothing else at all. But as I have said over and over, the “message” or more properly the signals we transmit cannot & must not be simply human in nature, they must at least make a stab at being cosmically universal, at least to one extraterrestrial civilization whose communication system bears attributes roughly equivalent to what we deem to call language – excuse me, human language. Oh and by the way, good luck finding it, because the odds are almost certainly stacked trillions to one against us. 4. The problem gets far more complex, if we just pause for even a moment and allow the scary realization to sink in that any signals we send at the source, particularly geometric, even if they are entirely abstract to us, may run the full gamut from concrete to semi-abstract to abstract and, yes, even beyond abstract and consequently beyond our ken. Just stop and consider for a second what would happen if we sent our silly geometric symbols to a four-dimensional extraterrestrial civilization? I cringe to think of it. And let’s not forget what I just said above: what if another three-dimensional extraterrestrial civilization interpreted absolutely all of our signals, even the two-dimensional, as three-dimensional only? Then there are nuances within nuances within nuances of every shade between these extremes. Beyond these scenarios I have just outlined, my mind simply explodes. So I will end it there before it does. However, stay tuned. There’s more, a lot more. I have scarcely begun. Stay tuned for more on extraterrestrial communication. And stay tuned for a possible breakthrough on an entirely new approach to the first baby steps in deciphering Linear A. We’re taking the ball where it wants to take us. Richard
Comparison of the Merits/Demerits of the Linear B, Greek & Latin Numeric Systems: Linear B: As can be readily discerned from the Mycenaean Linear B Numeric System, it was quite nicely suited for accounting purposes, which was the whole idea in the first place. We can see at once that it was a simple matter to count as far as 99,999. Click to ENLARGE: In the ancient world, such a number would have been considered enormous. When you are counting sheep, you surely don't need to run into the millions (neither, I wager, would the sheep, or it would have been an all-out stampede off a cliff!) It worked well for addition (a requisite accounting function), but not for subtraction, multiplication, division or any other mathematical formulae. Why not subtraction, you ask? Subtraction is used in modern credit/deficit accounting, but the Minoans and Mycenaeans took no account (pardon the pun) of deficit spending, as the notion was utterly unknown to them. Since Mycenaean accounting ran for the current fiscal year only, or as they called it, “weto” or “the running year”, and all tablets were erased once the “fiscal” year was over, then re-used all over for reasons of practicality and economy, this was just one more reason why credit/deficit accounting held no practical interest to them. Other than that, the Linear B numeric accounting system served its purpose very well indeed, being perhaps one of the most transparent and quite possibly the simplest, ancient numerical systems. Of course, the Linear B numerical accounting system never survived antiquity, since its entire syllabary was literally buried and forgotten with the wholesale destruction of Mycenaean civilization around 1200 BCE (out of sight, out of mind) for some 3,100 years before Sir Arthur Evans excavated Knossos starting in early 1900, and successfully deciphered Linear B numerics shortly thereafter. This “inconvenient truth” does not mean, however, that it was all that deficient, especially for purposes of accounting, for which it was specifically designed in the first place. Greek: On the other hand, the Greek numeric system was purely alphabetic, as illustrated above. It was of course possible to count into the tens of thousands, using additional alphabetic symbols, as in the Mycenaean Linear B system, except that the Greeks were not anywhere near as obsessive over the picayune details of accounting, counting every single commodity, every bloody animal and every last person employed in any industry whatsoever. The Minoan-Mycenaean economy was hierarchical, excruciatingly centralized and obsessive down to the very last minutiae. Not surprisingly, they shared this zealous, blinkered approach to accounting with their contemporaries, the Egyptians, with whom the Minoan-Mycenaean trade routes and economy were inextricably bound on a vast scale... much more on this later in 2014 and 2015, when we come to translating a large number of Linear B transactional economic and trade records. However, we must never forget that the Greek alphabetic system of numeric notation was the only one to survive antiquity, married as it is to the universal Arabic numeric system in use today, in the fields of geometry, theoretical and applied algebra, advanced calculus and physics applications. Click to ENLARGE: It would have been impossible for us to have made such enormous technological strides ever since the Renaissance, were it not for the felicitous marriage of alphabetic Greek and Arabic numerics (0-10), which are universally applied to all fields, both theoretical and practical, of mathematics, physics and technology today. Never forget that the Arabians took the concept of nul or zero (0) to the limit, and that theirs is the decimal system applied the world over right on through to computer science and the Internet. Latin (Click to ENLARGE): When we come to the Roman/Latin numeric system, we are at once faced with a byzantine complexity, which takes the alphabetic Greek numeric system to its most extreme. Even the ancient Greeks and Romans were well aware of the convolutions of the Latin numeric system, which made the Greek pale in comparison. And Roman numerics are notoriously clumsy for denoting very large figures into the hundreds of thousands. Beside the Roman system, the Linear B approach to numerics looks positively like child's play. Thus, while major elements of the alphabetic Greek numeric system are still in wide use today, the Roman system has practically fallen into obscurity, its applications being almost entirely esoteric, such as on clock faces or in dating books etc. And even here, while it was still common bibliographic practice to denote the year of publication in Roman numerals right on through most of the twentieth century, this practice has pretty much fallen into disuse, since scarcely anyone can be bothered to read Roman numerals anymore. How much easier it is to give the copyright year as @ 1998 than MCMXCVIII. Even I, who read Latin fluently, find the Arabic numeric notation simpler by far than the Latin. As for hard-nosed devotees of Latin notation, I fear that they are in a tiny minority, and that within a few decades, any practical application of Latin numeric notation will have faded to a historical memory. Richard