The top of Minoan Linear A Tablet ZA 20 (Zakros) restored on academia.edu Click on the link below to read this key contribution to research into Minoan Linear A tablets: Minoan Linear A tablets appear to be classed in two primary areas of interest (a) agriculture, and more specifically, crops and grains and (b) religious and sacerdotal. It is to the former that we turn our attention in this study. Focusing on certain Linear A tablets which deal primarily or almost exclusively with grains, we find that these three tablets yield the most promising results, Haghia Triada tablets HT 86 & 95 and Zakros tablet ZA 20. While HT 86 and HT 95 are intact, ZA 20 is not. Other Linear A tablets from Haghia Triada also contribute to our findings. Is it possible to envision an intact version of the original ZA 20 tablet from Zakros? We believe so, and with that firmly in mind we have attempted the first ever restoration of the top of ZA 20, resulting in what amounts to a plausible intact version, however hypothetical, of the original. So without further ado, we present the full restoration of our version of Linear A tablet ZA 20.
Restoration of the top of Minoan Linear Tablet ZA 20 (Zakros) REVISED:
Restoration of the top of Minoan Linear Tablet ZA 20 (Zakros) REVISED: Since the last post on my original restoration of the top of Minoan Linear Tablet ZA 20 (Zakros), I have reconsidered the hypothetical text, and I have come up with this more plausible restoration: The running decipherment reads as follows: 1. a field 2. of 20 bales of einkorn wheat 3. and 20 bales of emmer wheat 4. and 65 bales of barley 5. all measured by bales 6. 4 bales of MI ?? ZA (unknown) + 1 bale with wheat 7. and 12 bales of wheat with 2 spin-offs of chaff from the wheat 8. totals for all the above = 130 This restoration is the basis of an article on it soon to be published on academia.edu. I shall keep you posted.
Rita Roberts, translation of Knossos Linear B tablet, KN 555 R o 05
Rita Roberts, translation of Knossos Linear B tablet, KN 555 R o 05:
Rita Roberts’ translation of Linear B tablet KN 911 D e 01 (Knossos)
Rita Roberts’ translation of Linear B tablet KN 911 D e 01 (Knossos):
This is one of the most complex Linear B tablets Rita Roberts has ever had to translate. She also provided a running free translation of this tablet, but I have had to omit it for lack of space in the graphics file. In other words, if I had included her free translation, the graphics file would have been much too long to display properly. As it stands, it is already very long. One of the prime characteristics of a small subset of Linear B tablets, mostly from Pylos, but in this case from Knossos, is that they are long lists of names, in this case, shepherds taking care of their sheep. Rita Roberts makes the following observations on this tablet.
This Linear B tablet 911 De 0l (LXX) is a lengthy inventory of hundreds of ewes, billy goats, she goats and rams, I would imagine it is of special interest for Knossos palace. It is difficult to say whether all these animals were brought together at the same time for any specific purpose. If so there are a few reasons to suggest why this could be. The first would be, having to check the stock for health reasons for the possible move to a new pasture. Secondly, it could be that the animals needed to be organized for shearing, also some for slaughter. My final suggestion is, maybe some animals were for possible export. However, these are a few possible reasons for such a large inventory, but on the whole it is a comprehensive inventory for the palace.
I may as well admit that I passed this tablet onto Rita as I am constitutionally lazy when it comes to deciphering long tablets. However, this is not the only reason. It is vital that Rita master (subjunctive) complex tablets that pose a huge challenge. This one certainly does.
Translation of Linear B tablet Knossos KN 854 K j 11 by Rita Roberts
Translation of Linear B tablet Knossos KN 854 K j 11 by Rita Roberts:
Rational partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 117 (Haghia Triada) & the first real glimpse of Minoan grammar actualized
Rational partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 117 (Haghia Triada) & the first real glimpse of Minoan grammar actualized: This albeit partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 117 (Haghia Triada) incorporates an approximately equal admixture of Old Minoan, i.e. the original Minoan language, also known as the Minoan substratum (of which I am unable to decipher most of the words) and of New Minoan, i.e. the superstratum of words of probable Mycenaean provenance, most of which I have been able to decipher with relative ease. While some of the New Minoan translations obviously appear to break the grammatical rules of Mycenaean Greek, such as mitu for “mint”, which is after all mita (and feminine) in Mycenaean Greek or daminu for “in 1 village”, which is damo in the nominative in Linear B, these adjustments can be readily accounted for by the fact that Old Minoan grammar is not at all the same beast as Mycenaean grammar. Although we are not yet familiar with much of Old Minoan grammar, which is after all the grammar of Minoan, just the same as modernized Anglo-Saxon grammar is the grammar of English, in spite of the enormous superstratum of French, Latin and Greek words in the latter language, this tablet alone perhaps affords us a first glimpse into the mechanics of Minoan grammar. Thus, it would appear that mitu may be the Minoan accusative of mita, and daminu may be the locative of damo in Minoan. Although there is no scientific way for me to substantiate this claim, I believe I am onto something, and that I may be making the first cracks in the obdurate wall of the grammar of the Minoan language substratum. If this is so, then I may be actually pointing the way to unravelling at least a subset of Old Minoan grammar. To illustrate my point, let us take a look at these phrases in English, as adapted from their Norman French superstrata. In French, the phrases would read as follows: “ avec la menthe”& “ dans le village”, whereas in English they read as “with mint” & “in the village”. Take special note of the fact that, while the Norman French superstrata words in English, “mint” and “village” are (almost) identical to their Norman French counterparts, the grammar of the phrases is entirely at odds, because after the grammar of French, which is a Romance language, and of English, which is a Germanic, cannot possibly coincide. But here again, I must emphatically stress that English grammar is an entirely different matter than English vocabulary, of which the latter is only 26 % Germanic, but 29 % French, 29 % Latin and 4 % Greek, the latter 3 languages, namely, the superstrata, accounting for fully 64 % of all English vocabulary! We must always make this clear distinction between English grammar, which is essentially Anglo-Saxon modernized, and English vocabulary, which is only minimally Germanic. If we carry this hypothesis to its logical outcome, we can readily surmise that the same phenomenon applies to the Linear A syllabary. Where grammar is concerned, the Linear A syllabary is Old Minoan, i.e. the original Minoan language or substrate. Where vocabulary is concerned, Linear A represents an admixture of Old Minoan vocabulary, such as uminase, kuramu, kupa3nu (kupainu), tejare and nadare (all of which I cannot decipher) and of New Minoan Mycenaean derived vocabulary, such as makarite, mitu, sata, kosaiti and daminu on this tablet alone. The orthography of the latter words is not actually consistent with Mycenaean grammar, because constitutionally it cannot be. Once again, the grammar is always Minoan, whereas the vocabulary often falls into the New Minoan (Mycenaean derived) superstratum. In the case of makarite, it would appear that, if the word is dative in Minoan, the Minoan dative is similar to the Mycenaean, ending as it seems to in i. The ultimate te in makarite appears to be the Mycenaean or ancient Greek enclitic te (and). In the case of mitu, which is mita and feminine in Mycenaean Greek, it would appear that the Minoan word is either masculine or that in this case at least, it is instrumental, meaning “with mint”, in which case the Minoan feminine instrumental appears to terminate with u. The word kosaiti appears to follow the same lines. The first two syllables, kosai, apparently are Mycenaean, but the ultimate ti is Minoan, and once again, instrumental (plural). Again, daminu appears to repeat the same pattern. The word damo is masculine (or neuter) in Mycenaean. But the ultimate is inu here, which appears to be the Minoan locative, inu. To summarize, we must make a clear-cut distinction between any New Minoan vocabulary on any Linear A tablet, and its orthography, which must of necessity follow the orthographic conventions of the Minoan language, and not of the Mycenaean, from which any such words are derived. I intend to make this abundantly clear in subsequent posts.
A partial rational translation of another Minoan Linear A tablet on crops
A partial rational translation of another Minoan Linear A tablet on crops:
Ms. Gretchen Leonhardt has correctly pointed out that this decipherment I have assayed of what I took to be one Linear A tablet is in fact two entirely unrelated Linear A tablets, and as such it must be considered as completely invalid. I am truly grateful to Ms. Leonhardt for bringing this serious gaffe to my attention. Once I have cleared the matter up, I shall repost my decipherment of both of these tablets in two separate posts.
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
I have already tentatively deciphered both adu and adaru in my Glossary of 107 Minoan Linear A words to appear in Archaeology and Science, Vol. 16 (2016), which is to be published sometime in 2018, since the publication date of this compendious international annual always lags behind by at least 18 months from the approximate date of submission of articles by authors, which in my case was November 2016.
Symbaloo/Google search ranks Minoan Linear A, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae as fourth largest on the Internet
Symbaloo/Google search ranks Minoan Linear A, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae as fourth largest on the Internet: Since this is a Boolean AND search, if we omit sites dealing with only Minoan Linear A or only Mycenaean Linear B, which do not fulfill this requirement, our site ranks fourth. But since the site, Linear A and Linear B script: Britannica.com is a minor site, we actually rank third. Also, our PINTEREST board is ranked fifth (actually fourth). We have over 1.7 K Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B translations, photos, maps & images on our PINTEREST board, Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B, Progressive Grammar and Vocabulary. Click the banner to visit and join if you like!
Orientation of Minoan Linear A inventories is identical to modern inventories & plays a critical role in their decipherment
Orientation of Minoan Linear A inventories is identical to modern inventories & plays a critical role in their decipherment: The orientation of Minoan Linear A inventories is identical to modern inventories & plays a critical role in their decipherment. This fact has been entirely overlooked by all previous researchers and so-called decipherers of Minoan Linear A tablets. It must not be ignored under any circumstances. It is precisely this vertical (not horizontal) orientation of Minoan Linear A tablets that makes it easier for us to decipher some of them (not all of them by far). The Linear A tablet most susceptible to an almost complete decipherment on account of its vertical orientation is HT 31 (Haghia Triada) on vessels and pottery. When we compare this Linear A tablet with the most famous inventory of vessels and pottery in Mycenaean Linear B, Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), also on vessels and pottery, we instantly see how streamlined is the orientation and layout of the former and how clumsy (at least by our modern standards) is the orientation and layout of the latter. Why the Mycenaean Linear B scribes abandoned the far more streamlined and practical layout of the Minoan Linear A inventories is perhaps a mystery to some... but not to all, and certainly not to me. What the Linear B inventories sacrifice by way of orientation they make up for in droves in space saving economy. Additionally, the Linear B scribes had plenty of other tricks up their sleeves to obviate the clumsy orientation of their inventory tablets. The most significant of these ploys was their deployment of supersyllabograms in droves, a feature largely missing from the Minoan Linear A tablets. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. It is impossible to properly cross-correlate the contents of Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) by means of retrogressive extrapolation with those of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) without taking their appositive orientations into account. Finally, we need only compare the orientation of HT 31 (Haghia Triada) with a modern inventory (this one on textiles) to immediately realize the practice is one and the same, past and present: Very little escapes my penetrating scrutiny. I shall be discussing the profound implications of the vertical orientation of almost all Minoan Linear A inventories versus the horizontal of most Mycenaean Linear B inventories in my upcoming article, “Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the ‘Rosetta Stone’ to Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) vessels and pottery”, definitively slated for publication in Vol. 12 (2016) in the prestigious international annual, Archaeology and Science ISSN 1452-7448 (release date spring 2018). To be submitted by Nov. 15, 2016.
Knossos tablet with all sorts of references to olive oil and barley
Knossos tablet with all sorts of references to olive oil and barley:
This tablet is a real hodgepodge of references to olive oil, olive oil trees and barley, ranging from references the port of Amnisos, to units of dry measurement (which also frequently occur on Minoan Linear A tablets), to all the gods and to the goddess Erinu in particular. Not only that, it also tabulates bales of barley, even down to single units of dry measurement of barley. So this tablet serves as a real cornucopia for olive oil, olive oil trees and barley. Thus, it adds one more reference to every single facet of these commodities. I shall tally the totals for all references to each commodity when I have finished translating as many Linear B tablets as I can referencing olive oil.
Breakthrough in the decipherment Linear A? adureza reza tereza Part 1 adureza
Breakthrough in the decipherment of Linear A? adureza reza tereza Part 1 adureza I believe I have finally cracked the meanings of the Minoan Linear A words adureza, reza & tereza. They are almost certainly all terms of measurement, which makes a great deal of sense, given that all of them are followed by an amount in numbers. The first one I wish to tackle is the shortest, reza, as illustrated on Minoan Linear A tablet Haghia Triada HT 31 (the one which deals with 6 types of vessels on the recto, all of which I have already translated). This is the verso. Here we find mention of a product, very likely agricultural, aku*306*ka (undeciphered) followed by the number 20 & then the Minoan word reza. Since I am relatively certain that my translations of the other two terms of measurement, adureza and tereza (see next two posts for these) are probably pretty much on the money, I have come to the tentative conclusion that the word reza alone, which does not have the prefixes adu as in adureza or te as in tereza, probably means “measurement” and nothing more... “dry measurement” is a long shot, because I have no idea what aku*306*ka means. It could be some kind of crop or a spice, in which case the measurement would be dry. But this is nothing but speculation. Thus my decipherment of reza alone is the least reliable of the three. However, it is a start!
Minoan Linear A tablet, ZA 11a (Zakros) & KURO = “total” Post 3 of 3
Minoan Linear A tablet, ZA 11a (Zakros) & KURO = “total” Post 3 of 3 Yet again, we are faced with the Linear A word kuro, which as we all know by now means “total”. However, there are some fascinating twists and turns on this word or what appear to be variants of it on this tablet, these being kupa and kuru on the recto. It appears unlikely that kupa is in any way related to kuro (verso), but the same probably cannot be said for kuru. As I mentioned in my last post, I suspect that the ultimate termination for any Minoan Linear A word which ends in U is likely to be masculine, while that ending in O is more likely to be neuter. If this is the cast, then kuro is neuter and kuru is masculine. There is absolutely no way of confirming this conjecture at this juncture, but it may prove to be correct over the long stretch. ZA 11a (Zakros) original tablet:
Linear A KURO on Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triade) Post 2 of 3
Linear A KURO on Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triade) Post 2 of 3 After the first post on the Minoan Linear A word kuro, this tablet conclusively confirms that the word means “total”. I would also like to draw to your attention the Minoan Linear A words tereza (on this tablet), reza (on Haghia Triade HT 31) and adureza (on KH 11, Chania) as I am convinced that these 3 words are closely related, given that they all terminate with reza. I would like to be able to crack them, and I hope to be able to do so in the next year or so. We shall see. Here is the original Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada):
Linear A KURO = Linear B TOSA = “total” POST 1 of 3
Linear A KURO = Linear B TOSA = “total” POST 1 of 3 The Minoan Linear A word kuro unquestionably means “total”, primarily because it is always followed by numerics, sometimes in large numbers. It is of course the equivalent (though not exact) of the Linear B tosa = “so many”, i.e. “total”. I say not exact, since the Mycenaean Linear for “total” is plural, and I strongly suspect that the Minoan Linear A counterpart is singular. I am also of the opinion that Mycenaean Linear B inherited syllabograms which always end in a vowel directly from Minoan Linear A, because I am firmly convinced that Minoan Linear A words always ended in a vowel, never a consonant. Since the Mycenaean Linear B syllabograms all end in a vowel, whereas Greek words almost never do, terminating instead in consonants, it stands to reason that the Linear B syllabary is a direct calque on the Linear A syllabary. The newly ensconced Linear B scribes at Knossos simply took over a big chunk of the Linear A syllabary, without even bothering to account for Greek ultimate consonants. This may look weird or positively perverted to us, but we must recall that the scribes, many of whom worked in the transition period from Minoan Linear A to Mycenaean Linear B, would not have wanted to “re-invent the wheel”. After all, both the Linear A and Linear B tablets were first and foremost inventories, so why rock the boat? The older Minoan scribes had to learn Mycenaean as fast as possible. They must have found Mycenaean very strange to their ears, since almost all of the words ended in a consonant. Be it as it may, it appears the younger scribes were quite willing to adapt the Minoan Linear A syllabary willy-nilly, and have done with it. CONCLUSIONS: All of the Mycenaean Linear B syllabograms inherited from Minoan Linear A end in vowels, in spite of the fact that (even archaic Mycenaean) Greek words almost always end in consonants because, in short, Minoan Linear A words (probably almost) invariably ended in vowels. If this is the case, this amounts to an extremely important discovery over the nature of the Minoan language. As far as I know, no previous researchers in Minoan Linear A have ever taken this basic premise into account. But I stand my ground on this one. Finally, since almost all Minoan Linear A words probably ended in an ultimate vowel, the word kuro is very likely to be either masculine or neuter, based on the (untested) assumption that gender in Minoan Linear A would have assigned O ultimate to masculine or neuter and A ultimate to feminine ultimate. However, fair warning! There are a great number of Minoan Linear A words which terminate in U ultimate, and these may be in the masculine, while those words ending in O may be in the neuter, or vice versa. I shall have to test this hypothesis over the next few years, as I attempt to gradually decipher at least some Minoan Linear A vocabulary. I shall also be addressing other key characteristics of Minoan Linear A orthography in future posts. On the Mycenaean Linear B tablet tosa pakana = “so many swords” i.e. “the total” number of swords, tosa is in the plural, the exact opposite of kuro in Minoan Linear A, at least if my hypothesis is right. Another consideration I would like you all to take into account is this: I personally do not care one jot what class of language Minoan Linear A falls into, whether or not it be Indo-European, for reasons which will become crystal clear in near future posts. In a nutshell, it is precisely because almost all philologists and specialists in Minoan Linear A try to pigeon hole the language into a particular class of languages that they are getting nowhere with its decipherment. Why not instead just accept the language for what it is( whatever it is!), by gradually deciphering as many words as we conceivably can, even if these amount to no more than a couple of dozen or so and, in addition, by reconstructing in so far as possible the grammar of Minoan Linear A, which may in turn provide further clues to other “undecipherable” vocabulary. You never know.
The famous Ashmolean tablet An_1938_706_o, so many swords
The famous Ashmolean tablet An_1938_706_o, so many swords: This is one of the most famous of all tablets in Linear B. It is also one of the very first tablets I ever translated from Linear B into English, when I was first learning Linear B in 2012-2013. The literal translation is: tosa pakana = so many swords 50, but it is obvious that the scribe meant: a total of 50 swords. In other words, the formulaic phrase “so many” actually means “a total of”. Remember, this is an inventory.
Linear B tablets K 04.30 and 04.33 from the Knossos “Armoury” illustrating the use of the supersyllabogram ZE
Linear B tablets K 04.30 and 04.33 from the Knossos “Armoury” illustrating the use of the supersyllabogram ZE K04.33, being a mere fragment, can be translated in the blink of an eye as “one set of wheels on axle”, although we can be certain that the lost part of this fragment dealt with chariot construction and design. What on earth else? As far as K 04.30 is concerned, we have to wonder why the scribe set the word “newa” = “new” so far to the right of the phrase “Komoda opa”. I believe there is tenable explanation for this. We notice that the word “newa” is closer to the ideogram for a set of wheels on axle = ideogram for wheel + ZE. So this may indicate that the scribe probably wishes to draw our attention more to the fact that this set of wheels is “new” than to the other parts of the chariot. But that still begs the question, why? Scribes often separate single syllabograms or words from phrases to the right or left of the phase each is related to. As I have often said before, on this blog and in my published papers, no scribe or writer uses any linguistic device in any language whatsoever, unless that linguistic device plays a specific mandatory role in context, the function of which cannot be substituted by any other textual approach. This is the case here. The scribe is surely stressing that this set of wheels on axle is not just new but brand new. But again, why on earth would anyone do that, when it is apparent to the reader that the entire chariot is new? Or is it? Appearances can be deceiving. The emphasis on the newness of the set of wheels on axle leads me to believe that this chariot is to some extent constructed with spare or used parts. Consequently, we may assume that many other chariots inventoried on tablets are also partially constructed from spare or used parts. If that is the case, then the fact that the set of wheels is brand new takes precedence over the condition of the other parts in the construction of this chariot in particular makes perfect sense, at least to me. This explanation is sound. Given that the same ploy pops up on a considerable number of tablets, and not just in the military sector of the economy, we have to ask ourselves why the scribe has resorted to this approach in each and every case where similar dispositions of syllabograms are separated from the text they appear in on tablets, regardless of economic sector. In other words, the praxis of the separation of (a single) syllabogram (s) from the rest of the text on the same line is never effected as a recurring linguistic practice without good reason. We shall discover that this is so over and over in the discussion of supersyllabograms in Linear B, again regardless of economic sector. Richard
Linear B tablet K 04.03 from the Knossos “Armoury”
Linear B tablet K 04.03 from the Knossos “Armoury” Tablet: The text of this tablet is longer than on most tablets on chariot construction. This makes for more chances for error(s) in the original text, depending on the scribe’s hand (which in this case is sloppy) in the final literal and free translations. The notes on the tablet above make it quite clear where the scribe’s writing leaves something to be desired. So the translator is left to his or her own devices to come up with the best possible interpretation under the circumstances. For instance, the word – opa – apparently is archaic Mycenaean. It had fallen out of use by the time of Homer. It is a bit difficult to determine exactly what it means, but Chris Tselentis has it as – workshop –, which makes sense in the context. Once again, by context, I mean not only textual context but the most likely translation for the real world context of the Mycenaean vocabulary describing chariot construction. I am convinced that in this case Tselentis has ventured the best possible translation, which by exception I accept without question. My normal practice is to call into doubt any word on any tablet which has no equivalent in later ancient Greek, Homeric or Classical. But sometimes we have to throw in the towel when faced with no other reasonable alternative for the translation of archaic Mycenaean Greek or possibly even Minoan words. There is nothing unusual at all in the phenomenon of cross-linguistic transfer of certain words from a former, more archaic, language (in this case Minoan Linear A). Lord knows, English is full of such words, the vast majority inherited from Latin, Greek and medieval and early Renaissance French. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. The scribe, whose hand is admittedly quite sloppy, appears to have inscribed – araromo-pa-mena – for – araromo-te-mena –, by omitting one of the horizontal bars on the syllabogram. Translators of Linear B must always be on the ball and on the lookout for scribal errors in orthography on any tablet whatsoever, regardless of provenance – Knossos, Pylos, Mycenae etc. After all, people make spelling mistakes often enough today, just as they always have throughout history. No surprise there. Finally, there is the sticky question, why would a scribe inventory a fully assembled chariot without wheels on axle, when – fully assembled – implies that the damn thing has to have its wheels on axle. Compare this with the manufacture of cars nowadays. No one in their right mind would call a car fully assembled, unless it had its wheels on axle. However, it is conceivable that Linear B scribes inventorying fully assembled chariots might sometimes be obliged to list the chariot(s) in question – here there are 3 of them – as still not having their wheels on axle, because they are inventorying them at the very end of the current fiscal year. On the other hand, chariots might sometimes have been delivered without the wheels on axle, if the new owner wished to design and construct his own wheels, only attaching them after delivery has been received. There is no reason why this might not have been the case in some instances. But we shall never know, because we were not there when the scribes tallied chariots without wheels on axle. There must have been some method in their madness after all.
Translation of Linear B tablet 04-42 N u 17 from the Knossos “Armoury”
Translation of Linear B tablet 04-42 N u 17 from the Knossos “Armoury” This tablet poses only one problem of any consequence. It is almost certain that the scribe misspelled – opero – on the first line, where he has inscribed it as – opeda - . There is nothing particularly unusual about such an error, given that the syllabogram – da – looks almost like that for – ro -, except that it is missing the left side of the horizontal bar. Any interpretation other than – opero – makes no sense in this context.
POST 1,000! Linear B tablets K 04-31 N u 07 & 04-37 N u 04 in the Knossos “Armoury”
POST 1,000! Linear B tablets K 04-31 N u 07 & 04-37 N u 04 in the Knossos “Armoury” Yes, we have finally hit 1,000 posts on Linear B, Knossos and Mycenae, in its slightly less than three years of existence. While the translation of both of these tablets is relatively straightforward, I do have a few comments to make. In the first place, it is becoming more than obvious by this point (after seeing several Linear B tablets on the design and construction of chariots already posted here) that not only is the vocabulary for chariots completely standardized, i.e. formulaic in the extreme, but that words referencing the parts of the chariot almost always appear in a minimally variable order on the tablets. It is to be noted that the generic words for the largest parts always appear first, followed by (characteristics of) their smaller components. Thus: 1 EITHER if it is mentioned, – amota – (with wheels) or – anamota – (without wheels) almost always appears in the first position. If the reference to wheels is the first on the tablet, it is apparent that the scribe is squarely placing emphasis on the (construction of the) wheels over all other parts of the chariot. OR if it is mentioned, – iqiyo – (for a single dual chariot for two people and NOT for the dual, 2 chariots!) or – iqiya – (for a chariot or chariots) almost always appears in the first position. If the reference to the chariot is the first on the tablet, it is apparent that the scribe is squarely placing emphasis on the construction of the chariot over all other concerns. This is routinely followed either: 2 (a) by the kind of wood the scribe is referring to, usually either – pterewa – = elm or – erika – = willow, then by the designation – temidweta – referring to the rims of the wheel(s), (b) inversely, by the designation – temidweta – referring to the rims of the wheel(s) and then usually either – pterewa – = elm or – erika – = willow, for the kind of wood the rims are made of; 3 followed by – odatuweta – referring to the grooves in the rims (it makes perfect sense to refer to the rims first and then to the grooves on the rims, rather than the other way around, which would violate common sense) then with a reference to the use of – kako – = bronze or any variations of it (although this word can sometimes appear in the first position but only if either of the words – amota – (with wheels) or – anamota – (without wheels) do not appear on that line; 4 then by the ideogram for wheel + the supersyllabogram ZE = – zeugesi – = a pair of wheels, or more properly speaking, (a set of) wheels on axle + the number of sets of wheels (if present) , with the understanding that if more than 1 set of wheels is listed, then more than one chariot is referenced. Thus, if the supersyllabogram (SSYL) ZE is followed by the number 22, the scribe is referring to 22 chariots; and (if present) by the ideogram for wheel, either preceded or followed by the supersyllabogram MO = – mono – = a single wheel, or more properly = a spare wheel or spare wheels, if a number > 1 appears after MO; 5 and finally (if present) by the ideogram for chariot with wheels or chariot without wheels. Of course, the word order is not set in stone (nothing ever is), but you get the picture. In short, the vocabulary appearing on military tablets dealing with chariots is both formulaic and routinely predictable. This is a prime characteristic of all inventories, ancient or modern.
The Linear B “pakana” or – sword – series of tablets, their translations and the implications: PART A
The Linear B “pakana” or – sword – series of tablets, their translations and the implications: PART A It is common knowledge in the Linear B linguistic research community that there are a great many series of Linear B tablets which share marked formulaic textual characteristics. Among these we find the Linear B “pakana” or – sword – series of tablets and fragments, amounting to some 15, from KN 1540 O k 01 to KN 1556 O k 11. I have assigned my research colleague, Rita Roberts, who is at the mid-term mark of her first year of university studies into Mycenaean Linear B, the challenging task of translating all 14 or 15 of these tablets and fragments (most of them fragments), in an effort to extrapolate from her translations findings which can and do confirm and validate the hypothesis that the tablets and fragments in this series are almost all variations on a “standard”, hence formulaic, text. This is the first of several posts in which we shall be analyzing the results of Rita’s findings. Once we have posted all of our co-operative findings, Rita and I shall be co-authoring an article on the formulaic nature of the tablets and fragments in this series in particular on academia.edu, the results of which can be extrapolated to any number of series of tablets and fragments of Linear B tablets from Knossos (and some from Pylos as well), regardless of the sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy on which they focus, the most notable being the sheep husbandry sub-sector of the agricultural sector, for which there are almost 700 (!) extant tablets, or some 10 times more than in any other sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy, inclusive of this one, the military. In the meanwhile, we are focusing our attention on this series of tablets in particular. Here are the first three translations in series Rita Roberts has submitted, with her explanatory notes following them, these followed in turn by interpretive notes of my own, where applicable. The first tablet, largely intact, offers us an all but complete snapshot, so to speak, of the actual formulaic text underpinning almost all of the tablets in this series. Click to ENLARGE: Mrs. Robert’s translation of this tablet is, as usual, precise, technically sound and elegant. I do, however, have a few additional comments to make on the translation of this tablet among others strikingly similar to it, here: Click to ENLARGE It all comes to one observation and one only. The texts of all of the tablets I have mentioned above, however fragmentary, are merely minor variations of one another, in other words, they are all formulaic. The text of any one of them is close to a mirror image of any of the others, usually with only one or two attributes and the number of tablets inventoried in each at variance. That is the single factor we need to focus on above all else, though not exclusively to the exclusion of others. The next translation Rita Roberts makes is of Knossos fragment KN 1542 OK 18 (XC), which contains only the tail end of a Mycenaean Linear B word terminating in “woa” and the ideogram for sword. Click to ENLARGE: It is painfully obvious that the left-truncated word ending in “woa” is in fact and can only be, “araruwoa”, meaning “bound” (a sword bound with a hilt) and nothing else. This, the only practicable translation for this little fragment, which is only a snippet or tiny subset of the missing text the fragment represents, leads us directly to the highly plausible inference that the actual text of this fragment, were it intact as a tablet entire, would have almost certainly have read very much like this: A skilled horn worker has bound the hilt with horn and fixed it to the sword’s blade with rivets. Sound familiar? You may very well protest, “Aren’t you jumping to conclusions?” and you might have been right, were it not for the fact that, as we soon shall see in subsequent posts detailing the contents of several other tablets and fragments in the same series, snippets of the very same text, more or less intact, keep popping up. And among these, two tablets — the first of which we have already seen as the first figure in this post — spell out the text entire (less one or two words, if any). So it stands to reason that if, in so far as the missing text of this tiny fragment almost certainly is the same as that of the other tablets, with minor variations in wording and in the number of swords tallied, this little scrap of text is a mathematical subset of the text we have already encountered in the first of the tablets posted in this series (KN 1541 OK 09 (xc)), then other, more complete, snippets of the same text appearing on other tablets we are soon to investigate simply confirm and validate our assumption, corroborated by the cumulative evidence brought to bear by the partial or complete text of those other tablets in this series. Finally, turning our attention to the third translation Rita Roberts has effected (Click to ENLARGE): we discover, scarcely to our surprise at this point, that the text of KN 1543 OK 17, though not as complete as that of the first tablet posted here (KN 1541 OK 09 (xc)), is practically a mirror image of the former. The formulaic nature of the text of almost all of the tablets in this series ( KN 1540 O k 01 to KN 1556 O k 11), with few exceptions, is as we say nowadays, “in your face”. This simple fact based on strict observation of the variations on the recurrent text to be found on almost all of these tablets firmly confirms the hypothesis that in fact formulaic phrasing is a prime characteristic of all of the tablets in this series, and for that matter, in any number of series of tablets in Linear B from Knossos, regardless of economic sector. It is the tablets in the sheep husbandry sector, of which there around 700 (far more than in any other sector), which confirm and concretize this conclusion over and over. Rita has also translated Knossos tablet KN 1540 O k 01 (xc) here: which I have just reblogged below for your convenience. It is highly advisable for you to read this post in toto, as it sheds significant light on the present discussion. It is in fact this very tablet upon which we are to draw our ultimate conclusions with reference to the translations of this entire series of tablets. In our final post in this serial discussion, we shall actually cite the text of this previous post in its entirety, with additional glosses reflecting any further conclusions we may have drawn once all of the tablets in this series have been posted. Richard
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