Tag Archive: Haghia Triada

A ‘fairly accurate’ rendering of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 86a, according to Gretchen Leonhardt:

a partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A HT 86a
This Linear B tablet clearly deals with various crops, with the lead in crop being grains or wheat, just as one would expect on either a Mycenaean Linear B tablet. By the same token, there is no reason to suppose that a Minoan Linear A tablet dealing with crops would not deal first and foremost with grains and wheat. The units of measurements identified on this tablet accord with those tentatively tabulated by Andras Zeke on the


Ms. Gretchen Leonhardt of


has duly advised me that (and I quote) “your "recto" tablet is a fairly accurate rendering of HT 86a, but your "verso" tablet is an inaccurate rendering of HT 87.... ” She is of course entirely correct in informing me that the so-called verso side is not the same tablet at all, but is in fact, HT 87 (Haghia Triada). I am nevertheless astonished that she would accord me a fair degree of accuracy in my decipherment of HT 86 a, in view of the fact that  (a) I do not even know what the Minoan language is;
(b) Ms. Leonhardt claims to have conclusively deciphered the Minoan language as being proto-Japanese, categorically stating as she does that “overwhelming evidence keeps me steadfast in this view...”, a claim which I intend shortly to refute in no uncertain terms, by bringing to bear on it reasonable circumstantial, though not conclusive, evidence to the contrary and;
(c) she concedes that my decipherment of HT 86 A is fairly accurate, in spite of the fact that I am apparently flailing in the dark, since I know nothing of the Minoan language. Yet if I am, how on earth did I manage to achieve even a fairly accurate decipherment, I have to ask her.

Although Ms. Leonhardt claims that my knowledge of Linear A is “in its infancy” (as everyone’s, including her own, must of necessity be), as a historical philologist specializing in the decipherment of ancient syllabaries such as Linear A, Linear B and Linear C, and unlike Ms. Leonhardt along with numerous other researchers who purport to have definitely deciphered the Minoan language, I neither have ever made nor would ever make the rash and untenable claim that I have deciphered it, given the exiguous size of the lexical database with which we have to work. I have said as much over and over, as for instance in this citation from one of my own works to be published in the next year or so, and I quote:

Conclusions concerning the many failed attempts at deciphering Minoan Linear A:

The worst of all the pretensions of the authors of the aforementioned monographs and tractata are their untenable claims that they have in fact deciphered Minoan Linear A. How is it even remotely possible that these soi- disant decipherers of Minoan Linear A can claim to have discovered the so-called magic bullet in the guise of the proto-language upon which their decipherment has been based, when the proto-languages they invoke are soà wildly disparate? These decipherers have turned to a number of proto-languages, some of them Indo-European (such as proto-Greek and Proto-Slavic), others non proto-Indo-European, running the gamut from Uralic (proto-Finnish), proto-Niger Congo to proto-Semitic and Sumerian all the way through to proto-Altaic and proto-Japanese. While it is patently impossible that all of these proto-languages could be at the base of the Minoan language, it is nevertheless remotely conceivable that one of them just might be. But which one? Given the tangled  mass of contradictions these so-called decipherments land us in, I am left with no alternative but to pronounce that none of these so-called proto-languages is liable to stand the test of linguistic verisimilitude. All of this leaves me with an uneasy feeling of déjà vu.

Instead, I have adopted the unique approach of declaring that it does not matter what proto- language Minoan derives from, or for that matter, whether or not it, like modern Basque, is a language isolate, meaning a natural (spoken) language, ancient (dead) or modern (alive) with no demonstrable genealogical or genetic relationship with any other language whatsoever or alternatively, a language that has not been demonstrated to descend from an ancestor common with any other language in the world. (italics mine).

and again:

In an article of this nature, which is the first of its kind in the world ever to deal with the partial, but by no means definitive, decipherment of Minoan Linear A, I must of necessity focus on those Minoan Linear A terms which offer the greatest insight into the vocabulary of the language, but not the language itself. Anyone who dares claim he or she has “deciphered” the Minoan language is skating on very thin ice. Any attempt to decipher the Minoan language is severely trammelled by the incontestable fact that no one knows what the language is or even what language class it belongs to, if any.

Academia.edu DRAFT PAPER = Preview and brief summary of the article, “The Mycenaean Linear B ‘Rosetta Stone’ to Minoan Linear A Tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) Vessels and Pottery”, to be published in Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448. Vol. 12, 2018. (approximately 40 pages long), with some excerpts from the article to whet your appetite.


This article represents the first major breakthrough in 117 years in the partial, though far from complete, decipherment of Minoan Linear A.

Even this preview, with excerpts running to 9 pages from the actual article, will give you a quite clear idea of exactly how I managed to finesse the decipherment of 21 % (107/510 words) of Minoan Linear A lexicon, more or less accurately. Anyone the least bit interested in the ongoing struggle to decipher Minoan Linear A, even partially, is definitely going to want to read this preview and brief summary, with a few excerpts from the article, which is to appear sometime early in 2018. It quite literally represents by far the most significant development in any attempt to decipher even a relatively small subset of the Minoan Linear A lexicon.

Greece is suffering through the coldest winter in years & as testimony to this, take a look at this photo & the haiku in Mycenaean Greek, archaic ancient Greek, English & French:


The photo was taken by Rita Roberts of Haghia Triada. That much snow almost never accumulates on mountains in Crete. A lovely photo of Kalo Horio Mountain, and a neat little haiku based on it.

International Historical Linguistics journals I will contact to review my articles in Archaeology and Science, 2016 & 2017:

Following is a list in 2 PARTS of international Historical Linguistics journals I will contact to review my articles in Archaeology and Science:

[1] Janke, Richard Vallance. The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B, Archaeology and Science. Vol. 11 (2015), pp. 73-108.

As soon as this ground-breaking article is published in early 2017, I shall submit it for review in every one of the international journals below. 

[2] Janke, Richard Vallance. Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the “Rosetta Stone” to Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) vessels and pottery, Archaeology and Science. Vol. 12 (2016)

Since this article is not going to be published before mid-2017, and as yet has no pagination, I shall have to wait until then before I submit it for review to all of the periodicals below.



More illustrations (Figures) for my article, “Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the “Rosetta Stone” to Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) vessels and pottery” in Vol. 12 (2016) of Archaeology and Science: PART B

Here you see more of the Figures, many of them of actual Minoan Linear A tablets as I have deciphered them, which are to appear in my article, “Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the “Rosetta Stone” to Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) vessels and pottery” in Vol. 12 (2016) of the prestigious international annual, Archaeology and Science. 




It usually takes me between one and two hours to design each figure.  

More illustrations (Figures) for my article, “Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the “Rosetta Stone” to Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) vessels and pottery” in Vol. 12 (2016) of Archaeology and Science: PART A

Here you see more of the Figures, many of them of actual Minoan Linear A tablets as I have deciphered them, which are to appear in my article, “Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the “Rosetta Stone” to Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) vessels and pottery” in Vol. 12 (2016) of the prestigious international annual, Archaeology and Science. 




It usually takes me between one and two hours to design each figure.  

Symbaloo/Google search reveals that almost all references to Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) are attributed to Richard Vallance Janke:


Since Richard is now in the process of deciphering at least some of the vocabulary of Minoan Linear A in his Glossary of 134 terms in Linear A, it is quite possible that someday he may be ranked alongside Michael Ventris. 


especially in light of the fact that his article, Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952 is the “Rosetta Stone” for Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) Pottery and Vessels, is to be published in the prestigious international annual Archaeology and Science, Vol. 12 (2016) Belgrade ISSN 1452-7448, 

as per this recent post: CLICK to visit


It is critical to note that Richard does not claim to have deciphered Minoan Linear A. Such a claim would be preposterous. What he does rejoin is that he has been able to successfully decipher around 130 Minoan Linear A terms more or less accurately.

Linear B tablet Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is the Mycenaean Linear B “Rosetta Stone” for Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada):

Glen Gordon, in the February 2007 issue of Journey to Ancient Civilizations, poses this truly thought-provoking question:


The answer to his question is finally upon us.  In fact, it has been staring us in the face for a very long time. As this post makes clear beyond a shadow of a doubt, Linear B tablet Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is the Mycenaean Linear B “Rosetta Stone” for Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada). Figure 1


demonstrates that this cannot be otherwise, in light of the fact that the ideograms on Minoan Linear HT 31 are almost the exact equivalents of the same or remarkably similar ideograms we find on  Linear B tablet Pylos TA 641-1952, bar none. The parallels between the ideograms on Minoan Linear A HT 31 (Haghia Triada) and those on Linear B tablet Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris)


is so striking as to ensure that we are dealing with practically the same text on both tablets, although in a different order (not that this matters much). The process whereby we have been able to determine the lexographic values of the Minoan Linear A terms parallel with their Mycenaean Linear B counterparts is called cross-correlative retrogressive extrapolation. This methodology allows us to extrapolate the precise semiotic values for each of the Minoan Linear A ideograms in turn, on which their orthographic nomenclatures are superimposed.  Since the name of each and every vessel on HT 31 is spelled out in full,


we find ourselves face to face with the felicitous co-incidence (or is it far more than mere co-incidence?) that these Minoan A terms are almost perfectly aligned with their Mycenaean Linear B counterparts on the Pylos tablet. All we need do is cross-correlate each Minoan Linear A term for a pottery or vessel type with its counterpart on the Pylos tablet and, voilà, we  have nailed down every single term on HT 31 (Haghia Triada).  From this kick-off point, it becomes a piece of cake to translate practically all of the integral text on HT 13 from Minoan Linear A into English, given the telling parallels with their counterpart terms on Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris). This is the very methodology I have recourse to over and over to decipher at least one word or a few words on numerous Minoan Linear A tablets, and to decipher a few Linear A tablets almost in their entirety.

I shall soon be publishing a feature article on academia.edu on this remarkable discovery I have made. This article shall bear the title, Linear B tablet Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the Mycenaean Linear B “Rosetta Stone” for Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada).

It is however vital to understand that Linear B tablet Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is not the Mycenaean Linear B “Rosetta Stone” for Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) in the same sense that the actual Rosetta Stone is the facilitator for the decipherment of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, which effectively deciphered the ancient Egyptian language. Linear B tablet Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is the Mycenaean Linear B “Rosetta Stone” for Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) only in the sense that it enables to decipher the vocabulary alone on the latter. Linear B tablet Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris) does not and cannot facilitate the actual decipherment of the Minoan language itself in Linear A. Currently, given the paucity of extant Minoan Linear A tablets and fragments (<500), of which most are mere fragments, that longed-for idealistic objective is simply beyond our reach.

To summarize, Linear B tablet Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is the Mycenaean Linear B “Rosetta Stone” for Minoan Linear A vocabulary alone, and nothing else. Nevertheless, even this revelation constitutes a major step forward in the partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A vocabulary, allowing us to build a modest lexicon of just over 100 terms in Minoan Linear A, deciphered more or less accurately.

Keep posted for the upcoming publication of this exciting development in the partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A vocabulary on my academia.edu account.

Proto-Slavic interpretation of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada) — another decipherment gone awry (Click on Tablet below to READ the original):

HT 13 our interpretation

Pavel Serafimov, Anton Perdih, in their Translation of the Linear A Tablet HT 13 from Crete (above) have made a valiant attempt to cross-correlate their contextual reading of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada) with Proto-Slavic. At first glance, at least some points of their decipherment seem more or less “accurate”. But the global decipherment swiftly crumbles into a morass of self-contradictions, severe ambiguities and mismatched cross-purposes. Like so many other philologists struggling to decipher Minoan Linear A, Serafimov and Perdih make the practically universal assumption, which I for one categorically reject as superfluous and spurious (at least for the time being), that if we are to succeed in deciphering Minoan Linear A at all, we must be in contact with an actual “known” proto-language upon which, as so many philologists insist, Linear A must be based, believing as they do that there is simply no way to escape this paradoxical box of it-must-be-this-proto-language-or-nothing-at-all approach. The fundamental universal problem inherent to this approach is that each and every one of these would-be decipherers has boxed himself into a proto-language which he assumes, in utter faith and sometimes rash confidence, must be the proto-language upon Minoan Linear A must be based, come hell or high water. Yet it is obvious to any truly professional historical linguist or philologist that it is impossible for all of the so-called proto-languages touted as the base of Minoan Linear A to be the right base for it, given that no two of these so-called proto-languages are alike, even if they are in the same class of ancient languages, for instance, Proto-European.

Minoan Slavic Glossary



It just does not wash. Either only one of these philologists has got it right or none of them have it at all. I am of the firm conviction that none of them have it. Let us take a closer look at just a few of these unavailing attempts at deciphering Minoan Linear A:
First, we have J. MacGillivary’s review of various attempts to decipher Minoan Linear A, a very worthwhile read:

J MacGillivray

Then, on Jan Best’s “Decipherment” of Minoan Linear A, by Gary A. Rendsburg

Jan Best
Next, Breaking the Code: a first translation of the lost language of Linear A, by Sam Connolly

Sam Connolly Beaking the Code Linear A

Linear A Decipherment: Translation of Minoan Inscriptions in Linear A, by Stuart L. Harris  

Sam Harris Linear A decipherment

Finally, there is the truly bizarre cross-correlation of Minoan Linear A with an ancient Niger-Congo dialect, by C.J.K. Campbell-Dunn


What is worse is that all of the aforementioned books make the preposterous claim that they have in fact deciphered Minoan Linear A, a claim which no professional philologist or historical linguistic, including myself, would ever dare make. The only case I can rationally make is for a partial decipherment at best of Minoan Linear A, a venture which I have myself undertaken, with mixed results. While some of the 134 terms in my Minoan Linear A Glossary are more than likely to be correct, others may be (though with a lesser degree of accuracy), while yet others are open to serious doubt.   

which leaves me with the sole exception of David W. Packard’s Minoan Linear A, which relies solely on computational linguistics to analyze Minoan Linear A, and which is a study I for one shall order personally online (if at all possible, since it was published way back in 1974) and which I shall be keeping a very close eye on with reference to my own cross-correlative retrogressive extrapolations of Minoan Linear A tablets from their latter-day Mycenaean Linear B counterparts, where these exist:

David Packard Minoan Signs


And I quote:

The very first work done on this was done by David W. Packard, the son of Hewlett-Packard (company) co-founder David Packard. He published a book on his work back in 1974 called Minoan Linear A and I highly recommend it. I tried reading it when I first got interested in Linear A and it was way over my head, so I took a few years to familiarize myself with the inscriptions, symbols and patterns and then went back to it. Much better! Ilse Schoep also relied heavily on his data in her dissertation on the Haghia Triada tablets and was able to provide some updates to the data which had occurred since Packard's time, though her dissertation was an overview of the Haghia Triada administration rather than a computational approach.

by Kim Raymoure
I have cited just a few of the many fruitless attempts at deciphering Minoan Linear A, but at least this cross-section gives us all a clear overview of this highly specialized field of research.

Minoan Linear A tablet 9675, A.Y. Nickolaus Museum, Crete, with the distinct possibility of gold mentioned in its text:

gold pin epingle en or Fig30 AY Nicolaus Museum

Minoan Linear A gold pin, 9675, A.Y. Nickolaus Museum, Crete, which is a beautiful gold pin with gold leaves on the front side of it (RECTO) and with Linear A text on the reverse side (VERSO) presents us with the distinct possibility that the word “gold” actually appears in the text, if for no other reason than that Mycenaean Linear B tablets concerned with gold sometimes repeat the word “gold” several times over on the same tablet, as is the case with Pylos tablet Py TA 707, with Chris Tselentis’ translation given here:

Linear B Pylos TA 707 according to Chris Tslentis

Since a single occurrence of the word  “gold” can and does appear on more than one Mycenaean Linear B tablet, and can repeated several times on other tablets (as above), it is not unreasonable to assume that the same word can appear at least once in a Minoan Linear A text, especially one that is imprinted on a gold pin! The problem with the exquisite inscribed Minoan Linear A gold pin, 9675, in the A.Y. Nickolaus Museum, Crete, is that it contains two words, either of which may signify “gold”. These alternatives are atade and noja, either of which might be the word for “gold” in Minoan Linear A. Though the possibility for this eventuality is less than 50 %, I am of the opinion that this possibility is very close to the 50/50 mark, which implies that the chances of either one of these words signifies “gold” is 50/50. But this still begs the question, which one? We shall never know the answer to this, or even whether or not either of these two word actually does mean “gold”. But it is worth serious consideration.

I also feel reasonably assured that the word Kanajami is an eponym (personal name), since it is ostensibly feminine. After all, one usually gives a gold pin to a woman.

These two terms (atade or noja) and Kanajami bring the total count of Minoan Linear A words I have deciphered, more or less accurately, to 128. 

The path towards a partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A: a rational approach: PART A

Before May 2016, I would never have even imagined or dared to make the slightest effort to try to decipher Minoan Linear A, even partially. After all, no one in the past 116 years since Sir Arthur Evans began excavating the site of Knossos, unearthing thousands of Mycenaean Linear A tablets and fragments, and a couple of hundred Minoan Linear A tablets and fragments (mostly the latter), no one has even come close to deciphering Minoan Linear, in spite of the fact that quite a few people have valiantly tried, without any real success. Among those who have claimed to have successfully deciphered Linear A, we may count:

Sam Connolly, with his book:

Sam Connolly Beaking the Code Linear A

Where he claims, “Has the lost ancient language behind Linear A finally been identified? Read this book and judge for yourself”. 

Stuart L. Harris, who has just published his book (2016):

Sam Harris Linear A decipherment

basing his decipherment on the notion that Minoan Linear A is somehow related to Finnish, an idea which I myself once entertained, but swiftly dismissed,, having scanned through at least 25 Finnish words which should have matched up with at least 150 Minoan Linear A words. Not a single one did. So much for Finnish. I was finished with it.

and Gretchen Leonhardt


who bases her decipherments of Minoan Linear A tablets on the ludicrous notion that Minoan Linear A is closely related to Japanese! That is a real stretch of the imagination, in light of the fact that the two languages could not be more distant or remote in any manner of speaking. But this is hardly surprising, given that her notions or, to put it bluntly, her hypothesis underlying her attempted decipherments of Mycenaean Linear B tablets is equally bizarre.

I wind up with this apropos observation drawn from Ms. Leonhardt’s site:    If a Minoan version of a Rosetta Stone pops up . . , watch public interest rise tenfold. ‘Minoa-mania’ anyone?”. Glen Gordon, February 2007 Journey to Ancient Civilizations.

Which begs the question, who am I to dare claim that I have actually been able to decipher no fewer than 90 Minoan Linear A words

Minoan Linear A Glossary

since I first ventured out on the perilous task of attempting such a risky undertaking. Before taking even a single step further, I wish to emphatically stress that I do not claim to be deciphering Minoan Linear A. Such a claim is exceedingly rash. What I claim is that I seem to be on track to a partial decipherment of the language, based on 5 principles of rational decipherment which will be enumerated in Part B. Still, how on earth did I manage to break through the apparently impenetrable firewall of Minoan Linear A?  Here is how.

In early May 2016, as I was closely examining Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada),

KURO = total HT 31 Haghia Triada

which dealt exclusively with vessels and pottery, I was suddenly struck by a lightning flash. The tablet was cluttered with several ideograms of vessels, amphorae, kylixes and cups on which were superimposed with the actual Minoan Linear A words for the same. What a windfall! My next step - and this is critical - was to make the not so far-fetched assumption that this highly detailed tablet (actually the most intact of all extant Minoan Linear A tablets) was the magic key to opening the heavily reinforced door of Minoan Linear, previously locked as solid as a drum. But was there a way, however remote, for me to “prove”, by circumstantial evidence alone, that most, if not all, of the words this tablet actually were the correct terms for the vessels they purported to describe? There was, after all, no magical Rosetta Stone to rely on in order to break into the jail of Minoan Linear A. Or was there?

As every historical linguist specializing in ancient languages with any claim to expertise knows, the real Rosetta Stone was the magical key to the brilliant decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphics in 1822 by the French philologist, François Champellion

Francois Champellion Rosetta Stone Schiller Institute
It is truly worth your while to read the aforementioned article in its entirety. It is a brilliant exposé of Monsieur Champellion’s dexterous decipherment.

But is there any Rosetta Stone to assist in the decipherment of Haghia Triada tablet HT 31. Believe it or not, there is. Startling as it may seem, that Rosetta Stone is none other than the very first Mycenaean Linear B tablet deciphered by Michael Ventris in 1952, Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952.  If you wish to be informed and enlightened on the remarkable decipherment of Pylos Py TA 641-1952, you can read all about it for yourself in my article, published in Vol. 10 (2014) of Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448 

Archaeology and Science, Vol. 10 (2014), An Archaeologist's Translation of Pylos Tablet 641-1952. pp. 133-161, here: 

Archaeology and Sciene Belgrade

It is precisely this article which opened the floodgates to my first steps towards the partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A. The question is, how? In this very article I introduced the General Theory of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear A (pp. 148-156). It is this very phenomenon, the supersyllabogram, which has come to be the ultimate key to unlocking the terminology of vessels and pottery in Minoan Linear A. Actually, I first introduced in great detail the General Theory of Supersyllabograms at the Third International Conference on Symbolism at The Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, on July 1 2015:

Koryvantes Association of Historical Studies Athens

Role of SSYLs in Mycenaean Linear B

This ground-breaking talk, re-published by Koryvantes, is capped off with a comprehensive bibliography of 147 items serving as the prelude to my discovery of supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B from 2013-2015.

How Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) serves as the Rosetta Stone to Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada):

Believe it or not, the running text of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) is strikingly alike that of Mycenaean Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris). So much so that the textual content of the former runs very close to being parallel with its Mycenaean Linear B counterpart. How can this be? A few preliminary observations are in order. First and foremost, Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) cannot be construed in any way as being equivalent to the Rosetta Stone. That is an absurd proposition. On the other hand, while the Rosetta stone displayed the same text in three different languages and in three different scripts (Demotic, Hieroglyphics and ancient Greek), the syllabary of Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) is almost identical to that of Mycenaean Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris). And that is what gives us the opportunity to jam our foot in the door of Minoan Linear A. There is not point fussing over whether or not the text of HT 31 is exactly parallel to that of Pylos Py TA 641, because ostensibly it is not! But, I repeat, the parallelisms running through both of these tablets are remarkable.

Allow me to illustrate the cross-correlative cohesion between the two tablets right from the outset, the very first line. At the very top of HT 31 we observe this word, puko, immediately to the left of the ideogram for “tripod”, which just happens to be identical in Minoan Linear A and in Mycenaean Linear B. Now the very first on Mycenaean Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is tiripode, which means “tripod”. After a bit of intervening text, which reads as follows in translation, “Aigeus works on tripods of the Cretan style”, the ideogram for “tripod”, identical to the one on Haghia Triada, leaps to the for. The only difference between the disposition of the term for “tripod” on HT 31 and Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is that there is no intervening text between the word for tripod, i.e. puko, on the former, whereas there is on the latter. But that is scarcely an impediment to the realization, indeed the revelation, that on HT 31 puko must mean exactly the same thing as tiripode on Pylos Py TA 641-1952. And it most certainly does. But, I hear you protesting, and with good reason, how can I be sure that this is the case? It just so happens that there is another Linear B tablet with the same word followed by the same ideogram, in exactly the same order as on HT 31, here: 

Linear A 19 confirmation that puko means tripod

The matter is clinched in the bud. The word puko in Minoan Linear A is indisputably the term for “tripod”, exactly parallel to its counterpart in Mycenaean Linear B, tiripode.

I had just knocked out the first brick from the Berlin Wall of Minoan Linear A. More was to come. Far more.

Continued in Part B.


Minoan Linear A ideogram for “man” “soldier” + supersyllabogram KA = kapa = Mycenaean Linear B = eqeta:

Ideogram Eqeta Linear B kapa Linear A

The illustration above highlights the Minoan Linear A ideogram for “man” “soldier” + supersyllabogram KA = kapa = Mycenaean Linear B = eqeta, which in turn is the Mycenaean military functionary called in English “soldier” (approximately).  Actually, the eqeta were the personal attendants of the rawaketa or Leader of the Host (Homeric), otherwise known as the Commander-in-Chief. Yet this title was often synonymous with wanaka, the king, who in the case of the Trojan War was none other than Agamemnon. Since the high Minoan civilization (Late Middle Minoan MMIIIb, ca 1600 BCE)

Minoan Mycenaean tiimelines

preceded the Mycenaean at Knossos (Late Minoan III, ca 1450 BCE) by about 150 years, it is of course impossible to directly cross-correlate the Minoan word kapa with the Mycenaean eqeta, which came much later, typically at Mycenae itself and at Pylos (ca 1400-1200 BCE). So kapa may not strictly mean “follower”, but simply “soldier” or “foot soldier”. Yet it must be said in all fairness that the Minoan soldier was highly likely to be a subaltern, in other words, follower of his ultimate supernumerary, the King of Knossos.   

I am relatively confident of my decipherment, given that Haghia Triada tablet HT 94 mentions 62 kapa, a number commensurate with a company of followers or (foot) soldiers, attendants to the King. 

This is the fifty-seventh (57) Minoan Linear A word I have deciphered, more or less accurately (in this case more).

Before we can decipher even a single Linear A tablet on olive oil, we must decipher as many as we can in Linear B, because... PART A: delivery of olive oil

Before we can plausibly (and frequently tentatively) decipher even a single Linear A tablet on olive oil, we must decipher as many as we can in Linear B, because there are so many facets to be taken fully into consideration in the olive oil sub-sector of the agricultural sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy related to the production of olive oil which on an adequate number of Linear B tablets (at least 10), mostly from Knossos, dealing with harvesting from olive oil trees and the production and delivery of olive oil that we must account for every single term related to olive oil on the Linear B tablets, and then compile a list of all of these terms in order to cross-correlate these with equivalent terms on the Linear A tablets, mostly from Haghia Triada.

Another vital factor which just occurred to me is that the Minoan economy appears to have been primarily centred in Haghia Triada, while the Mycenaean primarily in Knossos, with valuable contributions from Pylos as well. In other words, the economic centre or power house, if you will, of the Minoan economy appears to have been Haghia Triada and not Knossos. I am somewhat baffled by the fact that researchers to date have not taken this important factor adequately into account. It appears to reveal that Knossos had not yet risen to prominence in the Minoan economy in the Middle Minoan Period (ca. 2100-1600 BCE):

the three Periods of Minoan Civilization

The gravest challenge confronting us in the cross-correlation of the several economic terms related to olive oil production in the late Minoan III 3a period under Mycenaean suzerainty (ca. 1500-1450 BCE)  with potentially equivalent terms in Minoan Linear A arises from the mathematical theoretical constructs of combinations and permutations. Given, for instance, that there are potentially a dozen (12) terms related to olive oil production on an adequate number (10-12)  Linear B tablets to afford effectual cross-correlation, how on earth are we to know which terms in Mycenaean Linear B correspond to apparently similar terms in Minoan Linear A? In other words, if we for instance extrapolate a total of 12 terms from Mycenaean Linear B tablets, how are we to line or match up the Mycenaean Linear B terms in a “Column A” construct with those in Minoan Linear B in “Column B”? There is no practical way that we can safely assert that term A (let us say, for the sake of expediency, that this word is apudosi = “delivery”) in Mycenaean Greek corresponds to term A in Minoan Linear  A, rather than any of B-L, in any permutation and/or in any combination. This leads us straight into the trap of having to assign ALL of the signified (terms) in Mycenaean Linear A to all of the signified in Minoan Linear B. I shall only be able to definitively demonstrate this quandary after I have deciphered as many Linear B tablets on olive oil as I possibly can.




For the time being, we have no choice but to set out on our search with these 3 tablets, all of which prepend the first term apudosi = “delivery” to the ideogram for olive oil. In closing, I wish to emphatically stress that this is precisely the signified I expected to turn up in the list of terms potentially related to olive oil production in Mycenaean Linear B. It is also the most important of all Mycenaean Linear B terms prepended to the ideogram for “olive oil on the Linear B tablets. When we come to making the fateful decision to assign the the correct Minoan Linear A term meaning just that, delivery” on the Linear A tablets dealing with olive oil, how are we to know which Linear A signified corresponds to Linear B apudosi = “delivery”? Still the situation is not as bad as you might think, at least for this term. Why so? Because if it appears (much) more often on the Linear B tablets (say, theoretically, 5 times versus less than 5 for all the other terms in Linear B related to olive oil), then the term appearing the most frequently on Minoan Linear A tablets related to olive oil is more likely than not to be the equivalent of apudosi, i.e. to mean  “delivery”.

The less frequent the occurrence of any particular term relative to olive oil on the Mycenaean Linear B tablets, the greater the room there is for error, to the point that where a term appears only once on all of the Linear B tablets we can manage to muster up for translation, it becomes next to impossible to properly align that term with any of the terms occurring only once on the Minoan Linear A tablets, especially where more than one signified occurs on the Mycenaean Linear B tablets. If for example, 3 terms occur only once on the Linear B tablets, which one(s) aligns with which one(s) on the Linear A? A messy scenario. But we must make the best of the situation, bite the bullet, and cross-correlate these 3 terms in all permutations and combinations (= 9!) from the Linear B to the Linear A tablets containing them. This I shall definitively illustrate in a Chart once I have translated all terms related to olive oil production in Mycenaean Linear A.

The 5 principles applicable to the rational partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A:

If we are to make any headway at all in the eventual decipherment of Minoan Linear A, there are certain principles which should be strictly applied. There are 5 of them:

1. (The so-called negative factor). Do not attempt to correlate the Minoan language with any other ancient language  except for the Linear B syllabary and indirect derivation from Mycenaean Greek terms (2. below).   
2. Basing our technique on that of the French philologist, Jean-François Champellion, who deciphered the Rossetta Stone in 1822, cross-correlate words in the Minoan Linear A syllabary with parallel words in the Linear B syllabary on strikingly similar tablets in Mycenaean Greek, squarely taking into account the meanings of such words in the latter script and their potential adaptation to vocabulary in a very similar context on Minoan Linear A tablets.  
3. Take direct cues from parallel ideograms on reasonably similar Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B tablets.

4. Turn to reliable archaeological evidence where this is available and finally;

5. (the most important principle of all). It is critical to understand that Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B both dealt with inventories and the process of inventorying livestock, crops, military matters and commodities such as vessels and pottery and textiles. 

1. The attempt to correlate Minoan with known ancient language (negative principle or factor):

All too many past researchers and philologists attempting to decipher Minoan Linear A have made the assumption that they had first to determine what class of language it must or may have belonged to before they even began to attempt decipherment. This is, as we shall see, a false premise, a non starter, a dead end.

The very first of these researchers to make such an assumption was none other than Sir Arthur Evans himself, though he could hardly be blamed for doing so, being as he was at the very frontier of the science of archaeology at the outset of the twentieth century, up until the First World War when he had to suspend archaeological work at Knossos (1900-1914). I made this clear in my article, “An Archaeologist’ s Translation of Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris)”, in Vol. 10 (2014) in the prestigious international journal, Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448, in which I emphasized and I quote from Evans:

It would seem, therefore, unlikely that the language of the Cretan scripts was any kind of Greek, and probable that it was related to the early language or languages of Western Anatolia – associated, that is, with the archaeological 'cultures’ of Alaja Hüyük I ('proto-hattic’) and of Hissarlik II and Yortan ('Luvian’)...”, and a little further, “Though many of the sign-groups are compounded from distinct elements, usually of two syllables each, there is little trace of an organized system of grammatical suffixes, as in Greek. At most, a few signs are notably frequent as terminals... (italics mine) and this in spite of its great antiquity, given that it preceded the earliest known written Greek, The Iliad and The Odyssey of Homer by at least 600 years! It was a perfectly reasonable and plausible assumption, in view of the then understandable utter lack of evidence to the contrary.

Returning to my own analysis:

Besides, there were no extant tablets in either Minoan Linear A or Linear B with parallel text in another known ancient language, as had conveniently been the case with the Rosetta Stone, which would have gone a long way to aiming for a convincing decipherment of at least the latter script.  Yet Evans was nagged by doubts lurking just below the surface of his propositions. (pp. 137-138)

So Evans was vacillating between the assumption that the Minoan language may have been related either to Luvian or Hittite (a brilliant assumption for his day and age) and that it was an ancestral form of proto-Greek. Both assumptions were wrong, but if only he had known that Linear B was alternatively the actual version of a very ancient East Greek dialect, namely, Mycenaean Greek, how different would the history of the decipherment of Linear B at least have been. 

To complicate matters, Michael Ventris himself, following in the footsteps of Evans, began by making the same assumption, only this time correlating (italics mine) Linear B with Etruscan, stubbornly sticking with this assumption for almost 2 years before Linear B literally threw in his face the ineluctable conclusion that the script was indicative of Mycenaean Greek (June 1952).

My point is and here I must be emphatic. It is a total waste of time trying to pigeon-hole the lost Minoan language in any class of language, whether Indo-European or not. It will get us absolutely nowhere. So I have concluded (much to my own relief and with positive practical consequences) that it does not matter one jot what class of language Minoan belongs to, and that it serves us best simply to jump into the deep waters without further ado, and to attempt to decipher it on its own terms, i.e. internally.

2. Cross-correlation between the Minoan language and the Mycenaean syllabary: 

Notice that in 1. above I italicized the word correlating. This is no accident at all. It is only by the process of cross-correlation with a known language that we can even begin to decipher an unknown one. And of course, the known language with which the Minoan language must be cross-correlated is none other than Mycenaean in Linear B, if not for any reason other than that Linear B uses basically the same syllabary as its predecessor, with only a modicum of changes required by the latter to represent Mycenaean Greek, more or less accurately. This assumption or principle, if you like, is squarely based on the approach used by the renowned French philologist, Jean-François Champellion, who finally deciphered in 1822, 23 years after it was discovered in Egypt in 1799.

Rosetta Stone Champollion 1790-1832

How did he do it? He made the brilliant assumption that the stone, on which was inscribed the identical text in Demotic and ancient Greek, must have the exact same text in Egyptian hieroglyphics on it. And of course, he was right on the money. Here is were the principle of cross-correlation comes charging to the fore. If a given text in an unknown ancient text is on the same tablet as at least one other known language (and in this case two), a truly observant and meticulous philologist cannot but help to draw the ineluctable conclusion that the text of the unknown language must be identical to that of the known. Bingo!
But I hear you protest, there are no media upon which the identical text is inscribed where Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B are concerned. The medium on which texts in both Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B are inscribed is the clay tablet. While it is indisputably true that there exist no tablets on which the identical text is inscribed in Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B, upon close examination, we discover to our amazement that there is at least one tablet in Minoan Linear A which is potentially very close to another in Mycenaean Linear B, and that tablet is none other than Linear A HT 31 from Haghia Triada, on which the text, at least to a highly observant philologist, would appear to be very close to a text on a particular Linear B tablet. And that tablet, we discover to our amazement, is none other than Pylos tablet TA Py 631-1952 (Ventris). Armed with this assumption, I forged right ahead and made a direct comparison between the two. And what did I discover? Both tablets mention (almost) the very same types of vessels in at least 4 instances. Armed with this information, I simply went ahead and found, this time not to my amazement or even surprise, that I was – at least   tentatively – correct.

In the case of at least two words on both tablets, as it turned out, I was right on the money. These are (a) puko = tripod on HT 31 and tiripode = tripod on  Py TA 631-1952 (Ventris). This was the very first word I ever managed to decipher correctly in Minoan Linear A. My translation, as it turns out, is without a shadow of a doubt, correct. My excitement mounted. (b) The second is supa3ra or supaira on HT 31, which would appear to be almost if not the exact equivalent of dipa mewiyo = a small(er) cup on Py TA 631-1952 (Ventris), but without the handles on the latter. And as it turns out, I was again either close to the mark or right on it. Refer to our previous posts on the decipherment of these two words, and you can see for yourselves exactly how I drew these startling conclusions.

Another Linear B tablet which is a goldmine of Mycenaean vocabulary from which certain Minoan words may be indirectly extrapolated is Pylos tablet TA Py Un 718 L.

Pylos tablet PY Un 718 Chris Tselentis

By extrapolation of Minoan Linear A terms from their Mycenaean Linear B equivalents, I certainly do not mean that the former can be directly divined from the latter, since that is impossible, given that Mycenaean Greek is a known language whereas Minoan Linear A is unknown. What I mean is simply this: there is a good chance that a word which appears on a Minoan Linear A tablet which shares (almost) identical ideograms and relatively similar placement of (quasi-)identical text with its reasonably similar Mycenaean counterpart may share (approximately) the same meaning as its Mycenaean Greek counterpart. The clincher here is context. If the (quasi-)identical ideograms on both the Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B tablets appear strikingly alike, then we may very well have something substantial to go on. Pylos tablet TA Py Un 718 L is as close to an ideal candidate as there comes for such cross-correlation with tablets with similar text on one or more Minoan Linear A tablets.     

3. Parallel ideograms on Linear A and Linear B tablets:

The presence of apparently (very) similar ideograms for vessels on both of the aforementioned tablets only serves to confirm, at least tentatively for most of the words on vessels I have attempted to decipher, and conclusively for the two words above, that I am (hopefully) well on my way to a clear start at deciphering at deciphering a small subset of Minoan Linear A. For lack of space, I cannot give details this post, which is already long enough, but once again, previous posts reveal in much more detail this principle on which my decipherments are founded, and the methodology behind it which lends further credence my translations.

4. Archaeological evidence lends yet further credence to my decipherments of 4 of the largest vessel types on HT 31, namely, karopa3 or karopai, nere, qapai & tetu. The problem here is, which one of the largest is the largest of them all, being approximately equivalent to the Greek pithos? I cannot tell from the tablet. However, since my initial stab at decipherment, I have tentatively concluded that Minoan Linear A words terminating in the ultimate U are masculine singular for the very largest in their class. Hence,  it would appear at least that tetu is the most likely candidate for the equivalent to the ancient Greek pithos. I cannot as yet determine with any degree of certainty that this is so, but it is at least a start.

5. (the most important principle of all). It is critical to understand that Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B both dealt with inventories and the process of inventorying livestock, crops, military matters and commodities such as vessels and pottery and textiles. Based on this assumption, it only makes sense that a particular inventory on a Mycenaean Linear B tablet which appears very close to a similar one on a Minoan Linear A tablet (Cf. Linear B Pylos tablet TA Py 641-1952 (Ventris) and its strikingly similar counterpart Linear A tablet Haghia Triada HT 31) is quite likely to bear some fruit in at least a partial decipherment of the latter. And this proves to be the case, as I have amply illustrated in previous posts. I am therefore committed to working on the operating assumption and principle that Minoan Linear A tablets (approximately) parallel to their Linear B counterparts (See principle 2. above).  

These five principles form the foundation of the first steps that appear to yield relatively convincing results in the decipherment of the 18 words in Minoan Linear A I have tackled so far. Relying on the application of these four principles, either singly or in combination, we can, I believe, make some real headway in the decipherment of roughly 5% to 10 % of the terms on the Linear A tablets. The greater the number of these principles entering into the equation for the decipherment of any Minoan word in particular, the greater are our chances of “getting it right”, so to speak. This is a very good start.

Warning! Caveat: yet even the application of these 5 principles, singly or in tandem (and the more we can apply, the better) cannot guarantee that at least some of our “translations” are incorrect or even way off the mark, because some of them are bound to be just that. I have already discovered that my initial translation of kaudeta on Linear A tablets HT 13 and HT 31 is probably off-base. Time to return to the drawing board.

On the other hand, at least to date, it is virtually impossible to decipher any Linear A words on any tablet to which any or all of the aforementioned principles cannot be safely applied. This leaves hundreds of Minoan terms virtually beyond our reach. In other words, tablets on which Minoan vocabulary appears, but without any reference or link to the 4 principles mentioned above remain a sealed mystery. But that does not trouble me in the least.

5 words of vessel types in Minoan Linear A: Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada)

6 words for pottery in Minoan Linear A

Egyptian cartouches for Ptolemy and Cleopatra

On Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada), in addition to the word puko = “tripod” in Minoan Linear A, we find 5 more words of vessel types, which we can at least generically translate. The first 3 are qapai, supu & karopai, each of which is counted only 10 times. This figure is significant in itself, given that the next 2 vessels, supaira & paraqe, are counted 300 & 3,000 times successively. We can therefore surmise with reasonable certainty that supaira & paraqe are much smaller vessels than the first 3. Of the first 3, one at least is highly likely to be the equivalent of dipa mezoe = the large(st) vessel on Pylos Linear B tablet PY TA 641-1952 (Ventris). Which one I cannot say for sure, but my bet is on the second one, given that it ends in pu, which I take to be a macro designator,  in light of the fact that [1] [3] & [2] end in pai, which I understand to be a micro designator or diminutive. More on this is later posts. Notice that each of the 5 words for vessels is enclosed in a cartouche,  which is a carry-over from the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic practice of using cartouches on their columns to designate the names of gods and the Pharoahs. In other words, the cartouche encloses important words. And so it is with this Linear A tablet. Dipa mezoe is the equivalent of the classical Greek word, pithos, which refers to the largest possible vessels, generally for the storage of wine or at Knossos, for olive oil, as illustrated here: 

Giant pithoi from Knossos for storage of olive oil

The Master Seal of Khania and a sealing from Haghia Triada:

Master seal Khania and sealing Haghia Triada

These beautiful seals may date from Middle or early Late Minoan times, and if this is so, they were fashioned when Minoan Linear A was still in use. Otherwise, if they date from Late Minoan III, the script in use would have been Linear B.

My paper on academia.edu: A breakthrough in the decipherment of Minoan Linear A? Is puko the word for a tripod in Linear A?

academia.edu is puko the word for tripod in Minoan Linear A
An introduction to supersyllabograms in the pottery and vessels sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy and the implications of their application to Linear A tablets for the earlier Minoan economy:

has been revised, due to a number of small, but unfortunately misleading errors in the original. So if you have already downloaded the original article, you should immediately delete it from your computer, and download the new version by clicking on the academia.edu banner   linking to it above.

Thank you


PART D: Cross-correlation of the surcharged syllabograms on Linear B tablet Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris) with those on Linear A tablets HT 31 and another in the  Ay Nikolaus Museum, Greece:

Given that the premise affirming it is possible and even feasible to cross-correlate the incidence of syllabograms incharged, surcharged or supercharged on ideograms for pottery and vessels in Mycenaean Linear B with the same phenomena in Minoan Linear A — and I believe it is — I see no reason why we cannot take this procedure a step further. Linear A tablet HT 31 supports words identifying vessels either (a) immediately to the left of and immediately adjacent to their ideograms or (b) supercharged or surcharged on the ideograms  with which they are associated.  On the other hand, the Linear A tablet in the Ay Nikolaus Museum, Greece, is inscribed only with ideograms for vessels incharged  with supersyllabograms, with no accompanying  explanatory text. It is not only possible but entirely feasible to cross-correlate the syllabograms and ideograms on these two, not just with those for vessels on Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris) but also with each other. The case for the second approach may well prove to be as convincing as that for the first. Boiling it all down to the essentials, we seriously need to ask ourselves the crucial question whether or not either  of the elements (syllabograms and ideograms) on each and every one of the tablets we have under discussion (Pylos Tablet TA 641-1952 in Linear B & Linear A tablets HT 31 & the one with 5 incharged supersyllabograms) overlap with and any or even all of their counterparts on any of the others.

First, let us take a closer look at the Linear A tablet from Ay Nikolaus Museum, Greece, since on it we observe 5  Linear A syllabograms clearly inscribed inside the ideograms they modify in a particular way: Click to ENLARGE

Fig 1 SSYLs vessels Linear A bwWe have been able to isolate one element and one only, which overlaps on these two Linear A tablets, as illustrated here in Table 1: Click to ENLARGE

Table 1 ideograms for vessels on 2 Linear A tablets
Observe the incidence of (a) the word supaira,  a type of vessel (no. 5  on Linear A HT 31) and (b) the incharged supersyllabogram su  tagged as item 1 in white font — if that is what it is —  on the extract from Linear A tablet in colour we introduced in previous posts. Assuming that the incharged  SSYL on the latter is in fact the Linear A syllabogram su,  we now find ourselves face to face with what appears at the very least to be an amazing coincidence. Both designations,(a) the word supaira  spelled out in full on HT 31 and (b) the single syllabogram (probably) su  on the second tablet appear to delineate one and the same vessel type. But is this mere coincidence? I think not, for the following reasons:

Names of vessel types adjacent on the left to their corresponding ideograms:

(a) in Linear B: to the left but generally not immediately adjacent  

Earlier in this article, we posited the distinct possibility of the two syllabaries, Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B, largely sharing the practice of designating vessels types by name to the left of the ideograms which represent them. In the case of Mycenaean Linear B, the name of the vessel type, for instance, tiripo(de), qeto or dipa (anowe) appears the the left of inserted text denoting an associated process or of at least one of its attributes, and not immediately adjacent to the ideogram upon which it depends.  For instance, as can be seen from Rita Roberts’ erudite decipherment of Pylos tablet TA 641-1952 (Ventris): Click to ENLARGE

Rita Roberts Pylos TA Py 641-1952 Roberts burnt-from-legs-up LBK&M
we have:
tiripode Aikeu keresijo weke + the ideogram for tripod 2 =
Aigeus is working on 2 tripods of the Cretan style,
where tiripode is separated from its ideogram by the inserted 3 word phrase, Aikeu keresiyo weke. So tiripode is deliberately set not immediately adjacent to the left of its ideogram. This is an example of an active (verbal) associated process, since the subject, Aigeus, is working on the tripod.


dipa mewijo qetorowe + ideogram for (a very large) vase = a pithos  1 =
1 very large vase (pithos) with four handles,
where dipa is separated from its ideogram by the inserted 2 word phrase, mewijo qetorowe. Once again, dipa is not immediately adjacent to the left its ideogram. This is an example of attribution, given that that the 4 handles are an attribute of both the word and the ideogram for dipa.  

These two incidences alone of Linear B words explicitly spelling out the vessel types in proximity with their ideograms, in conjunction with the phenomenon of supersyllabograms incharged in ideograms for pottery and vessels in Mycenaean Linear B, well serve to illustrate the extreme sophistication of the Linear B syllabary with its 100 + ideograms to massage inventoried items.
(b) in Linear A: immediately adjacent if to the left -or- supercharged/surcharged on the ideogram to which it is bound:

Turning our attention to Linear A tablet HT 31, we witness a variation of the same phenomenon. Here all of the vessels are accounted for by name ( and type?), and situated either (a) immediately adjacent and to the left of or (b) surcharged or (c) supercharged on top of their bound ideogram: Click to ENLARGE

Table 2 Linear A Tablet HT 31 PUKO tiripode etc
In line 1, puko,  the Linear A word for tripod, is to the left of and immediately adjacent to the ideogram with which it is explicitly bound. In line 2, qapai  is supercharged, i.e. affixed onto the top of its bound ideogram, while in lines 3 5 & 6, kadapai  (if that is what the spelling is), supaira  & pataqe  are surcharged. The Linear A scribe is apparently experimenting with various methods of specifically identifying each type of vessel he is inventorying. In other words, the practice of naming items in inventories in Minoan Linear A is in flux. No standard has yet been established. At variance with Linear B, the only constant appears to be the utter absence of intervening associative or attributive text between the vessel type identified by name in Linear A and its ideogram, which on HT 31 appears either immediately adjacent to the left, or supercharged or surcharged on top of its ideogram. This does not necessarily imply that the Minoan Linear A scribes never resorted to the more complex formula in Linear B, viz:

vessel type spelled out in the LB syllabary + intervening associative or attributive text + corresponding ideogram + the number of vessels,   
algebraically expressed as:

vt + (as or at) = ideogram (vt) n – where n  is the total no. of vessels itemized

It merely means that there are no instances on extant Minoan Linear A tablets of the more complex approach to inventorying vessels so frequently instanced in Mycenaean Linear B. It is conceivable that a few Linear A tablets may be unearthed in the future confirming this hypothesis, but because the Linear A practice for words identifying vessels is itself in such flux, I am very much inclined to doubt it.

Such is far from being the vase with Mycenaean Linear B, in which the practice of  identifying each type of vessel on numerous inventories is standardized, formulaic and fossilized. It seems quite clear that the Mycenaean Linear B scribes inherited the practice from their Minoan forbears, sticking with what they considered to be the best practices for enumerating vessel types, and tossing the rest overboard. 

(c) Cross-correlation of supercharged and surcharged syllabograms on Linear B tablet HT 31 with the incharged supersyllabograms on Linear A tablet from the Ay Nikolaus Museum, Greece:

With reference to Table 1 above, things get downright intriguing. If we cross-correlate the Minoan Linear A word for the vessel type, supa3ra  or supaira,  on tablet HT 31 with the (presumed) incharged syllabogram a.k.a. supersyllabogram su  on the second Linear A tablet illustrated above, we discover that they apparently refer to one and the same vessel type. Recall however the conundrum we are faced with on HT 31.  There are 3 separate words in Minoan Linear A, all of which appear to refer to vessel types for which there is only one equivalent in Mycenaean Linear B, that being, dipa,  a cup or kylix with handles or dipa anowe,  a cup without handles, sup*56  or supaira  being one of them, and qapa3  or qapai?  +  pataqe  the other two. But, as I said before, Minoan, unlike Mycenaean Greek, might very well have differentiated among at least 3 types of cups with or without handles.  All that aside, I am left with the distinct impression that the Minoan scribe who adroitly resorts to inscribing the (super)syllabogram su  incharged in the ideogram to which it is explicitly bound has in effect devised a clever shortcut for the same description in full text used by the scribe who identifies supaira  as a cup with handles on Linear A tablet HT 31, it too apparently equivalent to dipa anowe  in Mycenaean Linear B. If this premise is sound, then what we have here is a finding nothing short of astounding concerning scribal scribal practices in both Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B. If so, we should be able draw the following conclusions:


First, Minoan Scribes writing in Linear A and later, Mycenaean scribes writing in Linear B appear to have both made use, not only of:
(a) words spelled out identifying pottery and vessel types either (nearly) adjacent to the left side or supercharged or surcharged onto the ideograms with which they are associated on some tablets, but
(b) also of syllabograms a.k.a. supersyllabograms bound (incharged) inside the same or very similar ideograms on others, both in their own syllabary and the other (Minoan Linear and Mycenaean Linear B). The scribes have identified the selfsame vessel types — either way — six of one, half a dozen of the other. Take your choice. They did. 

In either case, the end result is the same. In Minoan Linear A, the vessel type under consideration is identified, while in Mycenaean Linear B it is further delineated by class (tripods and cauldrons versus vases, cups etc.) and size through the medium of the text intervening between the vessel type named and its corresponding ideogram. Since in Mycenaean Linear B the identification of the vessel type is clear cut even on those tablets where an incharged syllabogram (supersyllabogram) identifies it in the complete absence of descriptive text, as we see here in Table 3: Click to ENLARGE

Table 3 10 Supersyllabogram in the Vessels Sector of Mycenaean Linear Bwe may infer that this practice runs in parallel with the same two, albeit less sophisticated, practices of denominating vessel types in Minoan Linear A. If that is the case, then the Mycenaean Linear B scribes ostensibly inherited both practices from their Minoan forbears. Not only that, by flinging out the non-essential fluctuating Minoan scribal practices, they greatly streamlined and fully standardized these procedures. What was experimental in Minoan Linear A has become fossilized in Mycenaean Linear B. We are faced here with nothing so much as two primary standard, universal & formulaic accounting practices for inventories in Mycenaean Linear B which were applied across the board, regardless of the sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy with which they were concerned or the provenance of Linear B tablets, Knossos, Pylos, Phaistos etc.  You can count on it. And the Mycenaean scribes owed it all to their Minoan ancestors. The implications of this finding, should corroborative evidence from other Linear A tablets, extant or yet to be discovered in the future, prove its potential validity, are nothing short of profound for the eventual decipherment of at least a portion of Linear A, however minimal.

Moreover, I believe we already have at our disposal the linguistic skills and tools to enable to us to take this ball farther still. More on this in a future installment.

Post-script: These four posts are shortly to be published as a full research paper, replete with references and notes + bibliography, on my academia.edu account.


Part C: an actual decipherment of the words for a few types of vessels in Minoan Linear A on tablet HT 31? Judge for yourselves.

Now that we have dispensed with the most common ideograms and supersyllabograms in Linear B in the pottery and vessels sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy, we can at last move on to considering whether or not the ideograms on the two Minoan Linear A tablets we illustrated in the previous two posts are susceptible of decipherment, if at all.

Let us first turn our attention to Linear A tablet HT 31 from Haghia Triada. The first thing we notice about this tablet is that it contains ideograms for vessels along with the Minoan words in the Linear A syllabary, almost all of which are plainly surcharged on their respective ideograms. With this evidence in hand, I see no reason why we cannot or should not attempt a feasible translation of at least one, if not more, of the words found immediately to the left of their respective ideograms. Let us examine this tablet much more closely. Here is what we find: Click to ENLARGE:

Linear A HT 31 disposition of vessels
With this evidence in hand, we can now take a stab at cross-correlating the words associated with each of the ideograms on this tablet with identical or similar ideograms on Pylos Linear B tablet TA 641-1952 (Ventris) and several others besides: Click to ENLARGE

Linear A Tablet HT 31 PUKO tiripode etcTo our amazement and relief, we discover that the word puko  on Linear A tablet HT 31 appears to correspond exactly with the Linear B word tiripo  on Pylos Linear B tablet TA 641-1952! Is this mere coincidence or have we stumbled on something really big? The most astonishing thing about the parallel we can draw between puko  on Linear A tablet HT 31 and tiripo(de)  on Linear B tablet TA 641-1952 is that, if indeed puko  is the Minoan Linear A word for “tripod”, then the very first word ever deciphered on a Minoan Linear A tablet coincides to a T with the very first word ever deciphered on Pylos tablet TA 641-1952. This coincidence is so unexpected it boggles the mind... or does it? It surely goes almost without saying that tripods predominate on so many Mycenaean Linear B tablets from Pylos alone. There is therefore no reason to assume the contrary for tablets in Minoan Linear A. It is for this reason, among others, that I feel quite confident in my assertion that puko is indeed the word for “tripod” in Minoan Linear A. Unfortunately, as you are about to see for yourselves, it is the only Minoan word for a vessel which I can decipher with confidence either on tablet HT 31 or on the other Linear A tablet which we have given consideration to in the previous 2 posts. I can hazard a guess at the meanings of the other Linear A words for vessels on HT 31, but that is all it is   however crafty my decipherments may appear.

Now the decipherment for 3. karo*56 (karopai?), also appears to be self-evident. It apparently corresponds to the word for a two-handled kylix, qeto, on Pylos tablet TA 641-1952. At least it looks like it has two handles, but I cannot really be sure of that.  

The biggest problem confronting us in any attempt to decipher the other words for vessels appearing on tablet HT 31 is this: there are four (4) entirely different words, 2. qapa3 or qapai? + supu & 4. su*56ra or supraira? & pataqe , all of which appear to represent a cup without handles, equivalent to dipa anowe in Linear B, which in turn the Mycenaean predecessor of the Homeric depa. That is a more than just a bit of stickler in and of itself. However, it is conceivable that the Minoan language, unlike Mycenaean Greek, did differentiate among at least 4 types of cups, with or without handles. We shall never really know, but the possibility is still worth considering.

But there is another rather more vexing difficulty confronting us on Linear A tablet HT 31. Why do the words which apparently signify different types of vessels appear immediately to the left or surcharged on top of the ideograms which represent them, when we know that such is not the case in Mycenaean Linear B, at least on tablet TA 641-1952 from Pylos. On that tablet, the words identifying each type of vessel appear further to the left of the words qualifying them by size and type. It is of course quite possible that the Minoan scribes writing in Linear A followed a different, simpler practice by placing the words for various types of vessels immediately to the left and adjacent to, or surcharged right on top of the ideograms representing them. This practice is all the more tenable, in so far as the words for various sorts of pottery and vessels are never surcharged in this fashion in Mycenaean Linear B. But there are also instances of supersyllabograms, i.e. syllabograms incharged in their own ideograms in Mycenaean Linear B, a more simplified and streamlined approach to the identification of pottery and vessel types in that language, just as we have seen in the previous post. This scribal practice, which until now I assumed was unique to Mycenaean Linear B is at any rate neither more or less sensible than the Minoan practice we have just flagged. But there is even more to all of this than we can see in the example of Linear A tablet HT 31. It just so happens that the other Linear A tablet we have already referenced, Click to ENLARGE

Linear A Ay. Nikolaos Mus

also makes use of incharged supersyllabograms (if that is what they are), giving rise to the obvious question, did the Mycenaean scribes who resorted to the same stratagem on tablets in Linear B inherit this practice from their Minoan forbears? This certainly seems to be the case, given that no fewer than six (6) incharged supersyllabograms appear on the Linear A tablet illustrated above. We shall turn our attention to our findings for that tablet in the next post. They will prove to be even more revelatory than the words for pottery and vessels on Linear A HT 31, and will if anything lend even further credence to the proposition we have posited that it is indeed possible, and even feasible, to extract meanings for at least a few items of pottery and vessels found on Minoan Linear A tablets merely from observing their ideograms in conjunction with the words or surcharged/ incharged supersyllabograms they represent. If it holds any water, this tenet alone constitutes a real breakthrough in the decipherment of at least a few, albeit a very few words signifying vessels in Minoan Linear A. And we will have come to our definitions in spite of the fact that we, like all previous researchers in the field of linguistics struggling to decipher Linear A, havent the faintest idea what the Minoan language is, let alone to which family of ancient languages it may belong, if any.


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