Translation of Knossos tablet KN 529 R x 11 by Rita Roberts:
Linear A words and ideograms for cereals + general Linear A ideograms:
The chart above lists almost all of the Linear A words and ideograms for cereals + general Linear A ideograms. The Linear A Semitic words and ideograms for cereals are identical to those found on Linear A tablets HT 86 and HT 95 (Haghia Triada). Simply refer to the previous posts on these two highly significant Linear A tablets to confirm these interpretations. Also found in this chart are general Linear A ideograms, the majority of which are identical to their Linear B counterparts, which should come as no surprise to anyone, considering that the Linear B syllabary is merely a refinement of the Linear A syllabary.
Rita Roberts’ translation of Knossos tablet KN 160a J j 11, dealing with wine, corrected:
Rita Roberts’ translation of Knossos tablet KN 160a J j 11, dealing with wine, corrected, is trickier than the previous one she has translated to fulfill the requirements for her second year of university, KN 906 Da 02, dealing with livestock. Because this tablet is damaged, truncated left and right, it can be more difficult to establish meaning for certain terms. But not necessarily so. Rita struggled gainfully with this tablet. And this is understandable. What determines everything in the decipherment of any tablet, Linear A or B, is CONTEXT. If we cannot determine what any given word(s) mean in the actual context of the tablet, we sometimes fail to grasp the meanings of these words. But in the end, everything falls into place, and a relatively convincing translation can be gleaned from it, as we see in the illustration above.
The only character which occasions real difficulty is the supersyllabogram PE, which usually stands for “seed(s)”. But if this the meaning to be extracted, it does not really make all that much sense, since grape seeds do not contribute much to wine, only the grapes do. The only explanation I can muster here is this: the grape seeds had to be extracted, i.e. removed, from the grapes to produce the wine. That makes sense. Finally, we find the ideogram for “olive oil” on this tablet, but how olive oil mixes with wine is a mystery to me, unless the olive oil is being served with bread along with the wine. But there is no mention of bread on this tablet. So some issues remain unresolved.
Rita Roberts’ translation of Knossos tablet KN J 1 f 01, her last tablet for her second year of university:
Line 1: Deukijojo = month name + temeno = shrine. The damaged first syllabogram looks like TO. The actual word temeno = “temple” does not appear on the first line of this tablet, since it appears that the the scribe has made a scribal error, which actually happens quite often on Linear B tablets. The writing is messy, and appears to read teno, which would explain the scribal error, i.e. he missed on one syllabogram. Deukijojo could either be a month name, in which case it means “the tenth month” or more properly in this content, “of the tenth month” or it could simply be a person’s name. If it refers to the tenth month, then it follows that the entire tablet refers to this month.
Wakatanujo – or- Dukatanayo = name + newejo = “of something new” + 3 units (probably bales) of barley. Hence the line refers to 3 new units (probably bales) of barley from Wakatanujo – or- Dukatanayo
Padarejode = a place hame, which is a sanctuary = hence, olive oil from Dardare and 2 units (probably bales) of barley.
Pade = name plus olive oil and 1 unit (probably a bale) of barley
Pasiteoi = “to all gods” barley and 1 unit of olive oil
olive oil and barley for Qerasiya = goddess Artemis, with numerals absent because of right truncation.
1 unit of barley to all the gods at Aminiso = Amnisos
2 units (probably pithoi) of olive oil for the goddess Erinu. Note that Erinu references one of the Furies (Erynies) in Greek. So it would appear that the scribe tells us that there was a sacrifice to at least one of or probably all of the Furies to appease them so that crops would thrive.
Gold and olive oil and 1 cyperus plant, probably dedicated to the priestess of the winds in Line 10.
4 cyperus plans dedicated to Anemo Ijereja = to the priestess of the winds
Blank and truncated.
3 units (probably pithoi) of olive oil and 2 units of barely plus 2 cyperus trees (also probably dedicated to the priestess of the winds)
Blank and truncated.
This is the very last tablet Rita Roberts is to translate for her second year of university, and it is by far the most challenging she has ever been confronted with to date. Congratulations to Rita! She is now about to take her final examination for her second year, which is to consist of 25 questions in increasing level of difficulty, the last 5 of which are to be translations of tablets, plus her second year thesis paper, What did the Minoan agricultural sector contribute to the Mycenaean Empire? This paper must be at least 25 pages long, inclusive of the bibliography but excluding illustrations, which will add to the page length of her thesis. Since this thesis paper is much more difficult than her first year thesis, I am allotting her three months to complete it, i.e. Feb. 15 – May 15. However, she must complete the rest of the examination in just 2 weeks (Feb. 15 – March 1 2018).
In the next post, I shall re-inscribe the entire tablet in archaic Greek from the Mycenaean.
The third example of Cretan ideograms/logograms, Malia label Mu MA/M Hf, possibly decipherable:
Click on the label, FRAGRANTICA, for more information about saffron as an ancient aromatic.
This is the third example of Cretan ideograms/logograms, Malia label Mu MA/M Hf. Surprising as it is, this label may be largely decipherable. It is subdivided into 3 sections. The first S1 is blank. The second, S2, appears to spill over from the first side to the second, while the third, S3, is found on the second side alone. The first ideogram in S2 (section 2) is probably the one for “saffron”, while the second is still indecipherable. The third is clearly some sort of representation of a woman. The X, which is indecipherable, is followed by the number 100. S2 continues on side 2, which begins with what is clearly the ideogram for “textiles/cloth”, followed by what appear to be 3 ideograms for “sword(s)”. If these 3 ideograms in fact designate “swords”, they are practically identical to those for “swords” in Linear B. Section 3 (S3) begins with what appears to be an ideogram for “garment(s)”, followed once again by textiles, and followed in turn by an indecipherable ideogram, which might possibly relate to cutting, S3 ending with the number 100.
A partial decipherment might read: aromatic saffron + ? + a weaver or weavers (all weavers were women) weaving 100 rolls of cloth, 3 of which serve to wrap 3 swords in + 100 garments of some kind of (cut) textiles (saffron dyed?).
Tablet, Malia Palace MA/P Hi 02 in so-called Cretan hieroglyphs, dealing with crops and vessels (pottery):
Tablet, Malia Palace MA/P Hi 02 in so-called Cretan hieroglyphs, which are not hieroglyphs at all, but rather ideograms and logograms, is highly intriguing. Actually, this tablet is partially decipherable. The front side definitely deals with the produce of olive trees, i.e. olive oil and also with wheat crops. If anyone is in any doubt over the meaning of the logogram 5. TE, which looks exactly like the Linear A and Linear B syllabogram TE, this doubt can easily be swept away by mere comparison with the logogram/ideogram for “wheat” in several ancient scripts, some of which are hieroglyphic, such as Egyptian, others which are cuneiform and yet others which bear no relation to either hieroglyphs or cuneiform, or for that matter, with one another, as for instance, the Harrapan and Easter Island exograms.
In fact, the recurrence of an almost identical ideogram/logogram across so many ancient scripts is astonishing. It is for this reason that I am in no doubt over the interpretation of 5. TE as signifying what in the Cretan script.
Next up, we have 3a. & 3b., which I interpret, and probably correctly, as signifying “ewe” and “ram” respectively. In fact, the resemblance of 3b. to a ram’s head is uncanny. What is passingly strange is this: the ram’s head figures so prominently on the second side of the tablet, being much larger than any other ideogram/logogram on the tablet. Why is this so? There simply has to be a reason. But for the time being, I am stumped. Since 3a. & 3b. Relate to sheep, it stands to reason that 6. is another type of livestock. My money is on “pig”. 7. and 9. are both vessels, 7. probably being either a wine or water flask and 9. being a spice container, as it is strikingly similar to the Linear B ideogram for the same. 8. looks like some kind of grain crop, and so I take it to be so.
As for the rest of the ideograms/logograms, they are still indecipherable.
So-called Cretan hieroglyphs are not hieroglyphs at all. Example 2
These 2 palm-leaf tablets incised with Cretan symbols are the second example of why so-called Cretan hieroglyphs are not hieroglyphs at all. We note right off the top that there are only 12 symbols, all of which are in fact ideograms or logograms. The numeric symbols, 20, 60 and 100 on the fist tablet do not conform to Linear A and B standards.
As for the ideograms, they all appear to be indecipherable, but it is perhaps possible to assign meanings to a few of them. 2., which looks like Linear B ZU, may be a grain crop, possibly barley. 4. looks like some kind of animal, possibly a horse. 5. and 6. could be separate logograms, or put together, the could constitute one, in which case it could be a scythe. 7 is perhaps another kind of crop. 8 is probably an olive tree. 10. looks a great deal like 4., and may be the same ideogram. 11. looks like the Linear A syllabogram PA3 (PAI), but is indecipherable. 12 appears to be somewhat like the Linear A vowel E, and it may be a boar’s tusk helmet, but there is no way of telling for certain.
RE Cretan “hieroglyphs”: Brewminate: a Bold Blend of News & Ideas: We're Never Far from Where we Were: Form Follows Function: Writing and its Supports in the Aegean Bronze Age by Dr. Sarah Finlayson, Archaeologist/Historian Posted March 29 2017 Excerpta from the source with COMMENTS by Richard Vallance Janke inserted where necessary: ...a starting point from which to unpick the complex and changing relationships between writing and its material supports during the Aegean Bronze Age, [is] the basic hypothesis that the shape of objects which bear writing, the Bronze Age ‘office stationery’ so to speak, derives from the use to which they, object + writing, are put and the shape changes as this purpose changes. COMMENT: The shapes of incised objects (exograms) derive from the uses to which they are put. In other words, if the exograms, which, contrary to popular belief, are not hieroglyphs, change not only their form (i.e. shape) but have specific shapes tailored to the functions they perform. For this reason, among others, I cannot accept the hypothesis that they are hieroglyphs. They appear rather to be ideograms and logograms specifically designed to represent the contents of “packages” or “official documents”, sometimes apparently written on papyrus, and therefore subsequently lost due to the climate of Crete which as not conducive to the preservation of papyrus. What the exograms were which were inscribed on the lost documents for which the clay forms served as content indicators we shall never know, but chances are that the papyrus contents were written in Linear A. The incised objects, and I quote, “noduli, flat-based sealings, cones, medallions, labels, three- and four-sided bars, and tablets” specifically served as incised “subject headings” for the contents on papyrus which they represented. Since most people in the palace administration in the Minoan era in which Linear A was the standard syllabary were illiterate, the so-called Cretan “hieroglyphs”, of which there only 45 by my count, exclusive of numerics, served as ideogrammatic guideline markers for the contents of the documents which were once attached to them. Illiterate people could “read” ideograms; they could not read Linear A. (all italics mine throughout this post) Finlayson continues: The clay documents comprise crescents (all terms are defined below), noduli, flat-based sealings, cones, medallions, labels, three- and four-sided bars, and tablets (Olivier and Godart 1996: 10–11; Younger 1996–1997: 396). There are also substantial numbers of direct object sealings, which show seal impressions but no incised writing (Krzyszkowska 2005: 99). COMMENT: The “substantial numbers of direct object sealings” are seal impressions without incised writing because the contents, probably written and not incised on papyrus, which they seal have been lost forever. Thus, the script in which the actual sealed documents has been lost. But what was that script? Was it more of the same? ... Cretan “hieroglyphs”? I very much doubt that, because not a single Cretan seal can be read as syllabic text in a syllabary. What script was the writing on papyrus of the sealed documents? That is the whole point, and the whole mystery. Could it have been an early version of Linear A, a.ka. as Festive Linear A? Quite possibly. Finlayson continues: Easier to understand are the gable-shaped hanging nodules (Figure 3d). These sealings are carefully shaped around a knotted string, and carry a seal impression on one face (Krzyszkowska 2005: 280). The majority are uninscribed (only 22 out of the 164 sealings from Pylos carry an inscription), but on those examples with incised text, an ideogram is usually written over the seal impression, and additional sign-groups can appear on the other faces (Palaima 2003: 174; Krzyszkowska 2005: 280). Analysis of the cache of 60 nodules from Thebes, 56 of which have inscriptions, has enabled a convincing reconstruction of their use. The gable shape of the nodules results from the way the clay is held between the fingers while impressing the seal and writing the inscription (Piteros et al. 1990: 113). This shape, together with its suspension cord, give (sic) a small, solid, virtually indestructible and very portable document (Piteros et al. 1990: 183). In this instance, form does not strictly follow function, but rather the two aspects are intertwined in a more complex way. A key part of these documents’ function is their portability, and this governs their very small size, which in turn means only the most important information is recorded, namely the seal impression, the ideogram which identifies the goods, and, rarely, a small amount of additional data, such as anthroponyms, toponyms, transactional terms (Piteros et al. 1990: 177). The formula ‘personal name (here represented by the seal impression) + object + toponym / second personal name’ is equivalent to that recorded on the ‘palm-leaf ’ tablets. Numerals are rare, because that information is supplied by the object itself. It is suggested that each nodule accompanies a single item, mostly livestock in the Theban examples, from the hinterland into the palatial centre, with the nodule acting as a primary document, recording the most crucial information about its object, the sex of the animal, for example, and also certifying or authenticating, by the seal impression, who is responsible for it (probably in the sense of ‘owing’ the item to the palace; Piteros et al. 1990: 183–184). It is important to note, however, that, except at Thebes, there are considerably fewer inscribed than uninscribed nodules. Sealings of this type would therefore seem to be primarily recording instruments within transactions that do not require the use of writing (Palaima 2003: 174), although this is not incompatible with their being primary documents as described above. So few noduli survive that it is difficult to understand how they functioned (Krzyszkowska 2005: 284). I discuss this form below as they are significantly more common in LA administration. (Italics by Richard Vallance Janke) Roundels (Figure 2c) are clay disks with one or more seal impressions around their rim, and usually with a LA inscription on one or both faces, but with no trace of having been hung from or pressed against another object (Hallager 1996: 82). The number of seal impressions on the rim probably specifies the quantity of the commodity recorded in the inscription (livestock, agricultural produce, cloth, vessels and so on), with each impression representing one unit (Hallager 1996: 100–101, 113). Analysis of impressions and inscriptions suggests that at least two people made a roundel, one wielding the seal and another, the stylus (Hallager 1996: 112). These two factors have led to the interpretation of these documents as receipts, created and held by the central administration to record goods disbursed; the seal user would be the recipient, certifying with his or her impression the quantity of goods received (Hallager 1996: 116). Significantly, the physical limitations of these documents necessarily restrict the size of transactions, with 15 units being the largest amount attested (Palaima 1990: 92). COMMENT on the sentence “a roundel, one wielding the seal and another, the stylus (Hallager 1996: 112). These two factors have led to the interpretation of these documents as receipts, created and held by the central administration to record goods disbursed; the seal user would be the recipient, certifying with his or her impression the quantity of goods received...” In other words, the actual contents of the documents (apparently written with a stylus on papyrus) to which these seals were affixed may have been administrative receipts or possibly even inventories, in which case the contents of the documents were probably not written in so-called Cretan hieroglyphs, limited as these are to 45. And by 45 I mean 45 ideograms and logograms + additional numerics and nothing more than that. Given that these 45 signs never form any legible sentence or phrase, it is highly unlikely they would have been used for the writing of the contents on papyrus for which they serve as seals. Finlayson continues: Noduli (Figure 2e), disk- or dome-shaped lumps of clay with a seal impression but no perforation, imprints of objects, or other visible means of fastening (“sealings that do not seal” [Weingarten 1986: 4]) are a very long-lasting document form, found from the early First Palace through to the Late Bronze Age, but they are particularly common in Second Palace Period LA administration, with around 130 examples known (Krzyszkowska 2005: 161; Weingarten 1990a: 17). Only eight have LA inscriptions or countermarks over the seal impression (Hallager 1996: 127). As they are clearly not attached to anything, noduli are independent documents, and their primary purpose seems to be to carry a seal impression, that is to authenticate or certify something. By analogy with Old Babylonian practice, Weingarten (1986: 18) suggests they are originally dockets, receipts for work done, with the seal impression being made by the overseer to authorise ‘payment’; as the form becomes more widespread in the Second Palace Period, they become more like tokens, to be exchanged for goods or services, or as laissez-passer, with the seal impression identifying the carrier as legitimate (Weingarten 1990a: 19–20). COMMENT: The previous sentence, beginning with “By analogy...” and ending with “as legitimate” gives us a clearer impression the function(s) of the seals as these relate to the contents they seal. Old Babylonian tablets were incised or written in Cuneiform, which is a readable script meant for the eyes of literate scribes only. Note that the inventorial contents of the Babylonian tablets were clearly written out in Cuneiform. Although this practice is at variance with that of the Cretan seals, it still all boils down to the same thing. The actual contents of the documents to which the Cretan seals were affixed were written out in a language, possibly unknown, possibly Linear A. So in either case, the Babylonian or the Cretan, contents appear to be intended for literate scribes. Finlayson continues: Moving on to the ‘passive’ sealed documents, single-hole hanging nodules (Figure 2g) are roughly triangular clay sealings, formed around a knot at the end of a piece of string or cord (Hallager 1996: 160–161). They have a seal impression on one face, and a single incised LA sign, or very rarely another seal impression, on one of the other faces (Hallager 1996: 161). There are five sub- categories of single-hole nodule, differentiated by shape and position of seal impression or inscription (pendant, pyramid, cone, dome / gable and pear, see Figure 2g) with pendant being by far the most common (Hallager 1996: 162–163). About 13 signs or ligatures are found on these nodules, but it is very difficult to discern their meaning; the restricted range might suggest they are acting as arbitrary symbols, along the lines of ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, rather than as syllabograms (Krzyszkowska 2005: 160). These nodules hang from something, although there is no evidence for what (Krzyszkowska 2005: 160). Hallager has proposed a use similar to that observed in contemporary Egypt, where nodules were hung from rolls of papyrus as identification labels, with their cord threaded through holes in the lower part of the scroll to enable it to be unrolled and read without breaking the cord or sealed nodule (Hallager 1996: 198–199). COMMENTS: Once again, the practice of Cretan using seals seems to be very similar if not identical to that of contemporary Egyptian hieroglyphic writing on papyrus, with the critical difference being that Egyptian hieroglyphs are writing, while Cretan seal ideograms are not. But the contents of the Cretan documents on papyrus were probably also written in a script, probably a syllabary, and possibly even (Festive) Linear A. But since the Cretan papyri are lost to history, we shall never know. Was there a “Cretan” script for the written documents on papyrus. It is notable that the Egyptian papyrus, once unsealed, was meant to read, again by literate scribes. Was this the Cretan practice too? Quite likely. Finlayson continues: The bars (Figure 1a) are usually rectangular, inscribed on all four sides, and sometimes pierced with a hole at one end (Hallager 1996: 33). That the bars could be suspended suggests they might be used as labels attached to objects for transport or storage, but the information on them seems to be much like that on the tablets, and, in fact, the unpierced examples are perhaps best understood as variants of the standard tablet format (Hallager 1996: 33). Olivier (1994–1995: 268–269) offers an intriguing alternative explanation, that the bars are not attached by cords to any object, but instead hang together on some sort of horizontal rod to enable them to be sorted and stored, or taken down when additional data are inscribed on them; he envisions the bars operating like the LB ‘palm-leaf ’ tablets, for compiling basic data. Returning now to LA administration, it seems that a link exists between the architectural context of deposits and their composition and function (Schoep 2002b: 25). Although few documents have been found in primary contexts, it is nevertheless possible to identify three commonly occurring groupings (Schoep 1995: 57). “Full combination deposits” always contain single-hole hanging nodules, alongside tablets and other sealings; as the single-hole nodules are postulated to hang from the highest-level records, on perishable materials, these deposits may be ‘archives’ (Schoep 1995: 61). COMMENT: These (sealed) documents may have been ‘archives’, and if they are, they were probably written out (on papyrus) but not in so-called Cretan hieroglyphs. Finlayson continues: This seems to be supported by their location, in central buildings (including Malia Palace, Zakros House A, and the ‘villa’ at Ayia Triada), usually on an upper floor in residential quarters, clearly separated from storage or work areas, and by their association with valuable objects (Schoep 1995: 61, table 3, 62). ‘Single type deposits’ consist of direct object sealings, tablets or noduli, and most seem to be in the location in which they functioned; the direct object sealings are found in magazines suitable for bulk storage, as at Monastiraki, while tablet or noduli deposits can also occur in smaller-scale storage rooms, for example, Houses I, Chania or FG, Gournia (Schoep 1995: 62–63). “Limited combination deposits” fall somewhere in between; deposits from the ‘villa’ at Ayia Triada and Zakros Palace contain tablets and sealed documents, in workshop or storage areas, while other deposits contain only sealings, ... In reviewing the evidence for LA use in the Second Palace Period, one gets an impression of a widespread use of writing on several media, and for several purposes, with either the writing support being manipulated to add meaning to the text (as with the clay administrative documents) or the other way around (as might be the case with some of the non-administrative objects). COMMENT: Finlayson notes that the the writing may have been manipulated to add meaning to the texts, in this case written on clay documents. She is making a clear distinction between the ideograms and logograms used on the seals themselves and the writing of the texts which they seal. Finlayson continues: Although examples of writing are relatively widespread in the landscape, this need not necessarily equate to widespread literacy, not least because it seems likely that writing is principally an elite activity, and furthermore, that restricted contexts of use possibly mean that ordinary, non-writing, people might well interact with only a single kind, or a small range, of documents, creating a sort of sub-category of literacy, where understanding part of a text’s meaning derives largely from the form of its support and context of use. (all italics by the Commentator, Richard Vallance Janke). COMMENT: The passage above rams home that fact that literacy was not widespread. Quite the contrary. Only the scribes were literate. On the other hand, the form of the so-called Cretan hieroglyphs were accessible to non-literates, which was everyone except the scribes. That way, non-literate administrators, merchants, distributors of commodities and end users of these could identify what the purpose of what each and every seal represented, without having to be able to read the contents of documents per se. Finlayson continues: Clearly, for some of the sealed document forms, the loss of whatever they were associated with means our understanding of their use cannot, without speculation, extend much beyond inferring that they hung from or were affixed to something. Generally, the taphonomy of writing in the Aegean is problematic, as we depend on it being applied to materials that are preserved archaeologically; in the case of clay documents that were not deliberately fired, this means accidental preservation in a wider burnt context (Bennet 2008: 6). There is then an inevitable risk that, in an effort to make up for the gaps in the evidence, particularly with CH and LA where we cannot read the texts, we rely too heavily on aspects like differences in form, which might be a reflection of our own ‘etic’ analyses rather than of different ancient practices (Bennet 2005: 269). “Classer, c’est interpréter” (Godart and Olivier 1979: xxiv) is a crucial principle for understanding a large and complex database at the macro scale, but runs the risk of misrepresenting, at the micro scale, differences in form that result from regional peculiarities of use, or are a function of the way different individuals form and seal or inscribe each shape, as seems likely, for example, for some of the variation amongst LA single-hole hanging nodules (Krzyszkowska 2005: 159–160). While these points must be borne in mind, it is nevertheless reasonable to suggest that the observable changes in document forms point to alterations in the methods of data gathering, processing and storing (Palaima 1984: 305). I would pick out two as particularly significant. The first is the bundle of changes in sealing practices between the First and Second Palace periods (i.e. between CH / limited LA use, and widespread LA use): direct object sealing is abandoned, suggesting, on the one hand, that the security of storerooms and their contents is managed differently, in a less physical way (Weingarten 1990b: 107–108), and, on the other, that direct control of commodities, by means of attaching sealings to them, is replaced by more indirect methods of controlling commodity information with hanging nodules and tablets (Knappett 2001: 86, n. 26). Furthermore, writing, with one exception, no longer appears on seals themselves, but from this point on is incised or painted rather than formed by stamping (Bennet 2008: 9–10). What drives these changes is difficult to evaluate, not least because we assume that changes in sealing systems are necessarily tied to changes in writing systems (and possibly language; Bennet 2005: 270). COMMENT: Key phrase “we assume”. Changes in sealing systems, from simple pictographic seals to seals incised in Cretan “hieroglyphs” and eventually to Linear A & B incised directly on the seals do not at all necessarily reflect any changes in the writing systems in which the actual documents (usually on papyrus) were written. That is a false assumption. Note here that Bennet specifically states that the writing systems sealed by the seals were probably independent of the figures or exograms found on the seals, these often being so-called Cretan hieroglyphs. The written language(s) of the document contents have have changed over time, but not necessarily in tune with the seals themselves. Point well taken. Palaima’s suggestion that LA replaces CH because the latter script is inadequate to record increasingly complex economic activities (1990: 94) is a case in point, and this sort of utilitarian motivation underestimates the potential for writing to be used for ideological reasons. The transition from CH to LA, and from LA to LB, can arguably be seen as part of a deliberate construction of new identities, through the manipulation of knowledge resources or material culture, by elite groups (ALL italics by the Commentator), seeking to differentiate themselves from their predecessors, or exclude others from participating in political or economic life (Bennet 2008: 20; Schoep 2007: 59). Knappett’s observation that, in seeking to look through artefacts to see “the people behind them”, and their motivations or choices, there is a tendency for the objects themselves to be reduced to mere ciphers or emblems of human activity (Knappett 2008b: 122), is also pertinent here. He suggests that more attention be paid to the agency of artefacts, to the possibility that things can “take on a life of their own, entangling humans and pushing them along new, previously unrecognised paths” (Knappett 2008b: 122); while ascribing agency to objects is problematic (Morphy 2009: 6), Knappett is nevertheless right to stress the complexity of the relationship between artefacts and their users. COMMENT: Much more to follow in the upcoming posts on the uses of pictographs and so-called Cretan “hieroglyphic” seals.
In the movie, Arrival (2016), which chronicles the arrival on earth of 12 mysterious ships, apparently from outer space, the following statements leap out at us:
1. Unlike all written languages, the writing is semiseriographic. It conveys meaning. It doesn't represent sound. Perhaps they view our form of writing as a wasted opportunity. 2. How heptapods write: ... because unlike speech, a logogram is free of time. Like their ship, their written language has forward or backward direction. Linguists call this non-linear orthography, which raises the question, is this how they think? Imagine you wanted to write a sentence using 2 hands, starting from either side. You would have to know each word you wanted to use as well as much space it would occupy. A heptapod can write a complex sentence in 2 seconds effortlessly. The key to all of this is the phrase a logogram is free of time. Allow me to illustrate. Logograms are also often called ideograms, and that is what I prefer to call them. Another word to describe them is icon. When we examine ancient Linear A and B ideograms and compare them with modern ones, the results are astonishing, to wit: All of the aforementioned examples make it quite clear that ideograms, whether they be as ancient as those in Linear A and Linear B (i.e. about 3,400 years old) or modern ... or for that matter, neolithic or even earlier, all bear a striking resemblance to one another. Take for instance the Linear A ideogram for “scales” and compare it with just one modern one (among so many others), and we see immediately that they are extremely similar. Now take the Linear B ideograms for “man” and “woman” and compare these with the washroom symbols for the same and once again the similarity is almost too good to be true. Then there is the Linear B ideogram for a four-spoke wheel compared with a modern one for an eight-spoke wheel. The number of spokes is not relevant to this discussion, only the fact that the ancient Linear B ideogram for “wheel” is practically identical to the modern one. The implications for the decipherment of ideograms in any language, ancient or modern (let alone Linear A and Linear B) versus those in any modern language are staggering. We can be sure that the ancient ideograms varied little from one language to another, let alone between Minoan and Mycenaean. In fact, the syllabogram TE, which sometimes represents wheat, in Linear A and Linear B is almost identical to the same ideograms in cuneiform! It is patently obvious that since the distinction between the ancient ideograms and their modern equivalents enumerated above is so thin, all of these ideograms (or logograms or icons) are not only time independent (atemporal) and spatially independent (aspatial), they are also language independent. This is a stunning phenomenon. The implications for the further decipherment of Linear A are simply overwhelming. And this is why in the movie, Arrival, the heptapods assert, “There is no time.”
Earth-shattering linguistic data from the Movie, Arrival (2016) Not too long ago, I had the distinct pleasure of watching what is undoubtedly the most intellectually challenging movie of my lifetime. The movie is unique. Nothing even remotely like it has ever before been screened. It chronicles the Arrival of 12 apparent UFOs, but they are actually much more than just that. They are, as I just said, a unique phenomenon. Or more to the point, they were, are always will be just that. What on earth can this mean? The ships, if that is what we want to call them, appear out of thin air, like clouds unfolding into substantial material objects ... or so it would appear. They are approximately the shape of a saucer (as in cup and saucer) but with a top on it. They hang vertically in the atmosphere. But there is no motion in them or around them. They leave no footprint. The air is undisturbed around them. There is no radioactivity. There is no activity. There are 12 ships altogether dispersed around the globe, but in no logical pattern. A famous female linguist, Dr. Louise Banks (played by Amy Adams), is enlisted by the U.S. military to endeavour to unravel the bizarre signals emanating from within. Every 18 hours on the mark the ship opens up at the bottom (or is it on its right side, given that it is perpendicular?) and allows people inside. Artificial gravity and breathable air are created for the humans. A team of about 6 enter the ship and are transported up an immense long black hallway to a dark chamber with a dazzlingly bright screen. There, out of the mist, appear 2 heptapods, octopus-like creatures, but with 7 and not eight tentacles. They stand upright on their 7 tentacles and they walk on them. At first, the humans cannot communicate with them at all. But the ink-like substance the heptapods squirt onto the thick window between them and the humans always resolves itself into circles with distinct patterns, as we see in this composite: Eventually, the humans figure out what the language means, if you can call it that, because the meanings of the circles do not relate in any way to the actions of the heptapods. Our heroine finally discovers what their mission is, to save humankind along with themselves. They tell us... There is no time. And we are to take this literally. I extracted all of the linguistic data I could (which was almost all of it) from the film, and it runs as follows, with phrases and passages I consider of great import italicized. 1. Language is the foundation of which the glue holds civilization together. It is the first weapon that draws people into conflict – vs. - The cornerstone of civilization is not language. It is science. 2. Kangaroo... means “I don't understand.” (Watch the movie to figure this one out!) 3. Apart from being able to see them and hear them, the heptapods leave absolutely no footprint. 4. There is no correlation between what the heptapods say and what they write. 5. Unlike all written languages, the writing is semiseriographic. It conveys meaning. It doesn't represent sound. Perhaps they view our form of writing as a wasted opportunity. 6. How heptapods write: ... because unlike speech, a logogram is free of time. Like their ship, their written language has forward or backward direction. Linguists call this non-linear orthography, which raises the question, is this how they think? Imagine you wanted to write a sentence using 2 hands, starting from either side. You would have to know each word you wanted to use as well as much space it would occupy. A heptapod can write a complex sentence in 2 seconds effortlessly. 7. There is no time. 8. You approach language like a mathematician. 9. When you immerse yourself in a foreign language, you can actually rewire your brain. It is the language you speak that determines how you think. 10. He (the Chinese general) is saying that they are offering us advanced technology. God, are they using a game to converse with... (us). You see the problem. If all I ever gave you was a hammer, everything is a nail. That doesn't say, “Offer weapon”, (It says, “offer tool”). We don't know whether they understand the difference. It (their language) is a weapon and a tool. A culture is messy sometimes. It can be both (Cf. Sanskrit). 11. They (masses 10Ks of circles) cannot be random. 12. We (ourselves and the heptapods) make a tool and we both get something out of it. It's a compromise. Both sides are happy... like a win-win. (zero-sum game). 13. It (their language) seems to be talking about time... everywhere... there are too many gaps; nothing's complete. Then it dawned on me. Stop focusing on the 1s and focus on the 0s. How much of this is data, and how much is negative space?... massive data... 0.08333 recurring. 0.91666667 = 1 of 12. What they're saying here is that this is (a huge paradigm). 10Ks = 1 of 12. Part of a layer adds up to a whole. It (their languages) says that each of the pieces fit together. Many become THERE IS NO TIME. It is a zero-sum-game. Everyone wins. NOTE: there are 12 ships, and the heptapods have 7 tentacles. 7X12 = 84. 8 +4 =12. 14. When our heroine is taken up into the ship in the capsule, these are the messages she reads: 1. Abbott (1 of the 2 heptapods) is death process. 2. Louise has a weapon. 3. Use weapon. 4. We need humanity help. Q. from our heroine, How can you know the future? 5. Louise sees future. 6. Weapon opens time. 15. (her daughter asks in her dream). Why is my name Hannah? Your name is very special. It is a palindrome. It reads the same forward and backward. (Cf. Silver Pin, Ayios Nikolaos Museum and Linear A tablet pendant, Troullous). 16. Our heroine says, * I can read it. I know what it is. It is not a weapon. It is a gift. The weapon (= gift) IS their language. They gave it all to us. * If you learn it, when your REALLY learn it, you begin to perceive the way that they do. SO you can see what’'s to come (in time). It is the same for them. It is non-linear. WAKE UP, MOMMY! Then the heptapods disappear, dissolving into mere clouds, the same way they appeared out of nowhere in clouds, only in the opposite fashion. There is no time. They do not exist in time. The implications of this movie for the further decipherment of Linear A and Linear B (or for any unknown language) are profound, as I shall explain in greater detail in upcoming posts.
Rita Roberts’ decipherment of Linear B tablet KN 669 K j 21 (Knossos) on grains and saffron:
This is the latest in the most recent run of Linear B tablets deciphered by Rita Roberts, who is in her second term, second year of university. The tablets she must now decipher are much more challenging than anything she has ever encountered before. Given that she is up against tablets that get progressively more and more difficult, her progress towards total mastery of Linear B is nothing short of first rate. Because she forgot to provide a free translation of Line 2, Rita scored 90 % on this tablet. But that is, as we say in French, un petit péché.
Linear A fragment Petras V House III = grain husks in New Minoan + comprehensive Linear A Lexicon of 969 words: This Linear A fragment is one of the most recent findings. It appears to be entirely in New Minoan, i.e. from the Mycenaean derived superstratum. It definitely deals with wheat, as its ideogram appears to the far left. What appears to be the syllabogram ti or pi (though I interpret it as the latter) is inscribed with RO, which just happens to correspond to the Mycenaean and ancient Greek word lopos, but which in this case is lopi (i.e. dative singular). Hence, it would appear that we are dealing with 1 1/2 units (something along the lines of bushels) of wheat husk. When I speak of bushels, I mean merely a generous approximation, since we have no idea what the standard unit of measurement for wheat or barley was either in the Minoan or in Mycenaean era. But it gives us at least an idea of how much wheat we are dealing with. At this juncture in my ongoing endeavour to decipher Linear A, I have run across so many tablets with New Minoan Mycenaean derived superstratum words that I am confident I am well on the way to deciphering New Minoan. Such is not the case with Old Minoan, i.e. the original Minoan language a.k.a. the Minoan substratum. But even there I have managed to decipher at least 100 words more or less accurately, bringing the total of Old Minoan, New Minoan and pre-Greek substratum vocabulary to around 250 out of the 969 Linear A words I have isolated in my Comprehensive Linear A Lexicon, by far the most complete Linear A Lexicon ever to appear online, exceeding Prof. John G. Younger’s Reverse Linear A Lexicon by at least 250.
Second of 6 Linear A fragments from Phaistos in New Minoan = matere = to Mother (Earth)? This second of 6 Linear A fragments from Phaistos appears to bear the inscription 2. = matere, which would be Mycenaean Greek dative for “to mother”, with right-truncated text possibly following being waiaia or gaiaia = genitive singular = “of Earth”, i.e. “to Mother Earth”. The inscription tagged 1. consists of what appears to be an unidentifiable right-truncated syllabogram on the left, followed by the 2 ideograms identified. It would thus appear that this fragment is at least partially inscribed in New Minoan, with the word “to mother” being derived from Mycenaean. There is a greater likelihood than might have otherwise been the case that this fragment is in New Minoan, since its provenance is Phaistos, where a large number of Linear B tablets, many of them quite detailed and lengthy, have been unearthed. So in view of this, it would appear that this fragment (of a larger tablet) was probably inscribed in the Linear A syllabary immediately prior to its abandonment and replacement by the new official syllabary, Linear B. Hence its date of composition would probably have been ca. 1450 BCE, and no earlier.
First of 6 extremely rare Linear A fragments from Phaistos: 12a 12b 12 c Above is the first of 6 extremely rare Linear A fragments from Phaistos: 12a 12b 12 c. The text is extremely difficult to interpret, but I have done my level best. 12a is pretty much indecipherable. 12b consists of fractions. 12c consists of the single syllabogram TE, which might possibly be the supersyllabogram TE, which usually stands for tereza, a large standard unit of liquid measurement. It would mesh well enough with 12b, since that fragment is all fractions. But there is no way we can confirm this at all, since 12c is a fragment, doubtless with almost all of its original text absent. So without context, we cannot be sure of anything.
Minoan Linear A tablet HT 14 (Haghia Triada) almost completely deciphered + the 4 categories of Linear A tablets: Here you see Minoan Linear A tablet HT 14 (Haghia Triada), which I have been able to decipher almost completely. This is because the tablet is comprised mostly of ideograms, making it much easier to reconstruct the original text. In addition, I have already translated the supersyllabogram TE = tereza (on the first line) as being a large unit of liquid measurement, which in the case of wine might be something like “a flask”, “a jug” or something along the lines of “a gallon”, on the explicit understanding that there was no such thing as a gallon in Minoan times; this is merely an approximation. The supersyllabograms PU & DI are unknown, i.e. indecipherable, at least to date. Likewise, the Old Minoan word, apu2nadu (apunaidu) is also unknown, but it might mean “harvest”. The units of wheat are probably equivalent to something like a bushel. The supersyllabogram MI = mini signifies “for a month” (dative) or “monthly”, and is New Minoan, i.e. a word of Mycenaean origin superimposed on Linear A. The rest of the decipherment is self-explanatory. Decipherment of Minoan Linear A tablets falls into four (4) categories: 1. Tablets on which we find only Old Minoan words, or on which the vast majority of words are Old Minoan. These tablets are pretty much indecipherable. 2. Tablets on which we find a combination of Old Minoan and New Minoan (words of Mycenaean origin). The more New Minoan words on a tablet, the more likely we are going to be able to decipher it. Ideally, there should be more New Minoan (Mycenaean) words than Old Minoan (the original Minoan substratum), in order to divine the meanings of Old Minoan words immediately adjacent to New Minoan words. This is of course contextual analysis. Such tablets are at least partially decipherable. 3. Linear A tablets containing ideograms almost exclusively are susceptible to decipherment. HT 14 (Haghia Triada) falls into this category. 4. A very few Linear A tablets are written mostly, almost entirely and in one case only, entirely in New Minoan (the Mycenaean superstratum). These tablets can be be mostly and in some cases entirely deciphered.
The Arcado-Cypriot Linear C keyboard template & the significantly revised timeline for (proto-) historic ancient Greek society: This image of the Arcado-Cypriot Linear C keyboard template has been downsized to 620 pixels to fit the restrictive exigencies of Word Press image size. You may request the full-sized 1200 pixel Linear C keyboard template by contacting me at: email@example.com The Arcado-Cypriot Linear C keyboard template reveals several fascinating characteristics of this extremely important and highly tenacious syllabary. These are: 1. The Arcadians and Cypriots thoroughly redesigned Linear C, almost completely abandoning the Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B syllabograms, but only in superficial appearance. 2. The only Linear C syllabograms which bear resemblance with their Mycenaean Linear B forbears are: NA SE PA & PO. 3. But almost all of the rest of the syllabograms in Linear C bear the same phonetic values as their Linear B forbears. 4. The DA series of syllabograms in Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B has completely disappeared from Arcado-Cypriot Linear C. 5. The RA RE RI RO (RU) series of syllabograms in Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B has split into 2 discreet, separate series: LA LE LI LO LU & RA RE RI RO RU. But what was the reason for this deliberate split? Here is my hypothesis: it would appear that the Minoans and Mycenaeans were unable to distinguish between the liquids L and R, pronouncing L something along the lines the Japanese did. 6. The syllabograms XA and XE, and the syllabogram GA are non-existent in Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B. 7. Arcado-Cypriot Linear C abandoned ideograms completely. This makes for a much more - 8. streamlined syllabary. 9. The Arcado-Cypriot Linear C syllabary was diachronically extremely tenacious, lasting 7 centuries (ca. 1100 BCE – 400 BCE) co-existing in parallel with the Arcado-Cypriot alphabet. 10. philologists and linguists expert in ancient Greek are accustomed to drawing the timeline for the first appearance of written Greek from 800 BCE onward (ca. the time of Homer’s Ilad to Attic Greek, ca. 400 BCE). But I am in fundamental disagreement with this hypothesis. Since Arcado-Cypriot Linear C came to the fore ca. 1100 BCE, a mere 100 years or approximately one century after the fall of Mycenae and the demise of the Linear B syllabary, it is surely open to doubt whether or not the so-called Greek “Dark Ages” actually lasted at least 400 years (ca. 1200 – 800 BCE). So we have to wonder whether or not that small gap of a mere century or so between the demise of the Linear B syllabary (ca. 1200 BCE) and the sudden appearance of Arcado-Cypriot Linear C (ca. 1100 BCE) makes much of a difference at all in the actual timeline for written ancient Greek, which to my mind runs from 1600 BCE, with the advent of Mycenaean Linear B, all the way through to 400 BCE, i.e. for 12 centuries – 1 century (because of the 1 century gap between Linear B and Linear C), i.e. for 11 centuries! This makes for a huge difference between the previously held timeline of a mere 4 centuries from 800 – 400 BCE. It sets back the timeline for Greek civilization 500 years, receding back from 1100 BCE to 1600 BCE. I also strongly object to the commonly held notion that Mycenaean and Mycenaean Minoan Greece was a prehistoric civilization. Since writing did exist in the form of the Linear B syllabary, albeit only in scribal format, I believe we can safely conclude that the Mycenaean civilization was proto-historic. And there is more: if we also take Minoan Linear A into account (which we definitely should), then the proto-historic period, if we are to include the pre-Greek substrate of Minoan society, recedes several centuries more into the distant past, to at least 2,900 BCE! Just because we cannot read the Minoan language does not mean it not also proto-historic phenomenon. That Arcado-Cypriot Linear C lasted for such a very long time attests to the fact that syllabaries such as Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C itself were much more suitable to inscribing or writing ancient Greek than most philologists or diachronic historical linguists would care to admit. I shall have plenty to say about this in the article I shall soon be posting on my academia.edu account: Templates for the layouts of the Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C fonts. You can download the Linear C font here:
You do not want to miss this Fantastic Twitter account, FONT design company of the highest calibre! I have just fortuitously come across what I consider to be the most fantastic font site or Twitter account on newly designed, mostly serif, extremely attractive fonts, some of which they offer for FREE!!! You simply have to check them out. Click here to follow typo graphias: Here is a composite of some of the astonishing font graphics on this amazing site! Serendipitously happening on this account put a bee in my bonnet. I simply had to send you all on the fast track to downloading and installing the Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C + several beautiful ancient Greek fonts, of which the most heavily used is SPIonic, used for Ionic, Attic, Hellenistic and New Testament writings and documents. Hre are the links where you can download them, and much more besides! Colour coded keyboard layout for the Mycenaean Linear B Syllabary: includes font download sites for the SpIonic & LinearB TTFs The first ever keyboard map for the Arcado-Cypriot Linear C TTF font! which also includes the direct link to the only site where you can download the beautiful Arcado-Cypriot Linear B font, here: How to download and use the Linear B font by Curtis Clark: Easy guide to the Linear B font by Curtis Clark, keyboard layout: Here is the Linear B keyboard. You must download the Linear B font as instructed below: And here is the actual cursive Linear B font as it actually appears on the most famous of all Linear B tablet, Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris): What’s more, you can read my full-length extremely comprehensive article, An Archaeologist’s Translation of Pylos Tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) by Rita Roberts, in Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448, Vol. 10 (2014), pp. 133-161, here: in which I introduce to the world for the first time the phenomenon of the decipherment of what I designate as the supersyllabogram, which no philologist has ever properly identified since the initial decipherment of Mycenaean Linear B by Michael Ventris in 1952. Unless we understand the significance of supersyllabograms in Linear B, parts or sometimes even all of at least 800 Linear B tablets from Knossos alone cannot be properly deciphered. This lacuna stood out like a sore thumb for 64 years, until I finally identified, categorized and deciphered all 36 (!) of them from 2013 to 2014. This is the last and most significant frontier in the complete decipherment of Mycenaean Linear B. Stay posted for my comprehensive, in-depth analysis and synopsis of The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B, which is to appear early in 2017 in Vol. 11 of Archaeology and Science. This ground-breaking article, which runs from page 73 to page 108 (35 pages on a 12 inch page size or at least 50 pages on a standard North American page size) constitutes the final and definitive decipherment of 36 supersyllabograms, accounting for fully 59 % of all Linear B syllabograms. Without a full understanding of the application of supersyllabograms on Linear B tablets, it is impossible to fully decipher at least 800 Linear B tablets from Knossos.
First WORD draft of “Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the ‘Rosetta Stone’ for Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada)” completed for publication in... I have just completed the first full WORD draft of “Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the ‘Rosetta Stone’ for Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) for publication in Vol. 12 (2016) of the prestigious international annual, Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448. Here is the cover of the current issue of Archaeology and Science: And here you see 4 consecutive non-contiguous brief excerpts from this article, which is to run to at least 35 pages, as has the article about to be published in Vol. 11 (2015), “The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B”, which runs from page 73-108, for a total of 35 pages. See previous post for details on that article.
MASTER Article, “The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B”, Archaeology and Science, Vol. 11 (2015) received: excerpts follow I have just received the DRAFT of the entire issue of Vol. 11 (2015) Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448, in which my ground-breaking article, “The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B” appears on pp. 73-108 (35 pages long). I have proof-read it and I found errors only in the transcription of the SPIonic.ttf Greek font, which causes all the Greek text to be printed in Latin characters, such that they appear garbled. But this error will be eliminated in the actual article when it appears this coming winter (2017). Here you see the title page plus three consecutive but non-contiguous excerpts from my article: NOTE that the decipherment of the 36 supersyllabograms is the first and last major breakthrough in the final decipherment of Mycenaean Linear B, which was first deciphered by Michael Ventris in June-July 1952 (with the exception of supersyllabograms, which account for at least 20 % of the text on Linear B tablets). Thanks! Richard
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.