Tag Archive: Linear B Pylos Tablet 641-1952

Linear B seal BE Zg 1 as erroneously interpreted by Gretchen Leonhardt, corrected here:

Linear B seal BE Zg 1

Gretchen Leonhardt, a self-styled Linear B expert, has erroneously deciphered Linear B seal BE Zg 1.  As she so often does, she misinterprets syllabograms, all to often blatantly violating their phonetic values. It is clear from this seal that the last syllabogram must be either ru or ne, and  certainly not me, by any stretch of the imagination. Leonhardt is also in the habit of recasting the orthography of Linear B words she interprets to suit her own purposes. In this instance, she translates what she mistakenly takes to be the word on the VERSO to be dokame as dokema in Latinized Greek, flipping the vowels. But the second syllabogram is clearly ka, and cannot be interpreted as anything else.  The problem with Ms. Leonhardt’s so-called methodology in her decipherment of any and all Linear B tablets is that she runs off on wild tangents whenever she is confronted with any word that does not meet her preconceptions. In this instance, she is desperate to cook up a meaning which appeals to her, no matter how much she has to twist the Linear B orthography. She indulges in this very practice on practically every last Linear B tablet she “deciphers”, interpreting Linear B words to suit her fancy, except in those instances where she is faced with no alternative but to accept what is staring her in the face.

For instance, allow me to cite some of her translations of certain words on Linear B tablet Pylos TA 641-1952.  She has no choice but to accept tiripode as signifying “tripod”, eme as  “together/with” and qetorowe as “four year”, even though it properly means “four”, in line with the Latin orthography, quattuor. Linear B regularly substitutes q for t. As for her so-called decipherment of apu, she should know better than to translate it as  “to become bleached/white”. After all, how could a burnt tripod be bleached white, when scorching turns pottery black? It is astonishing that she would overlook the obvious here. What is even more damning is the indisputable fact that apu is the default aprivative preposition for “from/with” in Mycenaean, Arcadian, Arcado-Cypriot, Lesbian and Thessalian, as attested by George Papanastassiou in The preverb apo in Ancient Greek:

preposition apo in ancient Greek dialects

Then we have mewijo, which she interprets as “a kind of cumin”. Why on earth the Mycenaeans would have bothered with naming a specific kind of cumin when the standard word suffices, is completely beyond me. In fact, the alternative word she has latched onto is extremely uncommon in any ancient Greek dialect. Finally, she bizarrely interprets dipa, which is clearly the Mycenaean equivalent to the Homeric depa, as “to inspect”, another wild stretch of the imagination. Sadly, Ms. Leonhardt is much too prone to these shenanigans, which mar all too many of her decipherments. She ought to know better.

This of course applies to her decipherment of Linear B seal BE Zg 1. Finally, we can also interpret the figure on this seal as representing the Horns of Consecration ubiquitous at Knossos. 

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


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

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

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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



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.

I have just finished the first draft of the article, “Pylos Tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the ‘Rosetta Stone’ for Linear A tablet HT 31, vessels and pottery, which is to appear in Vol. 12 (2016) of the prestigious international annual, Archaeology and Science (Belgrade)  ISSN 1452-7448,


and I fully  expect that I shall completed the draft Master by no later than Oct. 15 2016, by which time I shall submit it to at least 5 proof-readers for final corrections, so that I can hopefully submit it to the journal by no later than Nov. 1 2016.   This article is to prove to be a ground-breaker in the decipherment of at least 21.5 % = 116 terms of the extant vocabulary = 510 terms by my count, of  Minoan Linear A, although I cannot possibly claim to have deciphered the language itself. Nor would I, since such a claim is unrealistic at best, and preposterous at worst. Nevertheless, this article should prove to be the most significant breakthrough in any partially successful decipherment in Minoan Linear A since the first discovery of a meagre store of Linear A tablets by Sir Arthur Evans at Knossos 116 years ago.

3 of my articles in Archaeology and Science ISSN 1452-7448 (2014, 2015, & 2016) + Vol. 12 (2016) Figure 1 & 2 Tables:

Figure 1



2 Tables (nos. To be assigned)



as they will appear in the prestigious international hard-bound annual Archaeology and Science ISSN 1452-7448. Vol. 12 (2016). This annual generally runs to 250-300 pp. 

It is impossible to cross-correlate Minoan Linear A tablets from Mycenaean Linear B tablets by means of retrogressive extrapolation without explicitly taking into account the fact that almost all Minoan Linear A tablets are vertical in their orientation (just as with modern inventories), while the vast majority of Mycenaean Linear B tablets are horizontal in their orientation. For more on this critical factor in the reasonably accurate decipherment of Minoan Linear A tablet, see (Click on the banner):


Articles published and to be published in Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448:

[1] My article, “An Archaeologist’s Translation of Pylos Tablet 641-1952 (Ventris)” has already been published in  Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448 Vol. 10 (2014). pp. 133-161 (Click banner to download it):


[2] My article, “The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B” is already slated for publication in the prestigious international annual Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448 Vol. 11 (2015), to be released in the spring of 2017. (Click the banner for the announcement):


[3] My article,  “Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the ‘Rosetta Stone’ for Minoan Linear B tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) vessels and pottery” is to be published in the prestigious international annual Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448 Vol. 12 (2016) (Click the banner for the announcement):


This major announcement is shortly to appear on my academia.edu account.


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!

Minoan Linear A Linear B


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


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


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

as per this recent post: CLICK to visit


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

The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B” to be published in Archaeology and Science (Vol. 11, 2015) ISSN 1452-7448



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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sam Connolly, with his book:

Sam Connolly Beaking the Code Linear A

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

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

Sam Harris Linear A decipherment

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

and Gretchen Leonhardt


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

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

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

Minoan Linear A Glossary

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

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

KURO = total HT 31 Haghia Triada

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

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

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

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

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

Archaeology and Sciene Belgrade

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

Koryvantes Association of Historical Studies Athens

Role of SSYLs in Mycenaean Linear B

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

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

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

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

Linear A 19 confirmation that puko means tripod

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

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

Continued in Part B.


Minoan Linear A terms for large (qapa3 = qapai) and small size (pazaqe) handle-less vessels:

handle less  vase

Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) contains two terms for handle-less vessels. These are qapa3 = qapai for a “large handle-less vase/cup” (more commonly the former), and pazaqe for a “small handle-less cup”. The latter were very common in both Minoan & Mycenaean times, which explains why  so many of them are mentioned on this tablet (3,000). Cross-correlative retrogressive extrapolation from Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) confirms that the decipherment qapa3 = qapai for a “large handle-less vase/cup” is correct. As for pazaqe, it is plain that the handle-less cups are very small, since there are so many of them (3,000).  These are illustrated to the top right of the figure above.

This brings the total number of Minoan Linear A terms we have deciphered, more or less accurately, to 60. It is at this point that we hit a brick wall, at least for the time being, as there is simply no way for me to decipher Minoan Linear A tablets with no ideograms on them. Unfortunately, these account for the majority of Linear A tablets. But the fact that we have been able to decipher as many as 60 Minoan words is a vast improvement over any previous attempts by any researchers in Minoan Linear A to decipher anything at all. The best anyone has managed to date has been restricted to eponyms and toponyms, and the finest work done in this respect was achieved with great insight by Andras Zeke of the Minoan Language Blog:

Minoan Language Blog

Knossos tablet KN 875aM n 01 as a template guide for the decipherment of vessels (pottery) in Minoan Linear A:

KN 875a M n 01 DIPA

Knossos tablet KN 875a M n 01 serves as a useful template guide for cross-correlative retrogressive extrapolation of vocabulary for vessels (pottery) in Minoan Linear A. Although have already deciphered, more or less accurately, the words for “a cup with handles” in Minoan Linear A, we have not yet been able to extract the term for “a handle-less cup”. So hopefully this tablet should serve as a guide to the eventual discovery of the Minoan Linear A equivalent of Mycenaean Linear B dipa anowe or dipa anowoto, both meaning “a handle-less cup”. The term dipa anowe also appears on the famous Linear B tablet, Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the first ever large Mycenaean Linear B tablet ever deciphered by none other than Michael Ventris himself. This tablet has recently be re-deciphered by Rita Roberts, an archaeologist from Crete, in my article, An Archaeologist's Translation of Pylos Tablet 641-1952. pp. 133-161 in  Archaeology and Science, Vol. 10 (2014) ISSN 1452-7448 (Belgrade), now available on academia.edu here:

archaeologist's translation of Pylos TA 641-1952 Ventris

This is the most comprehensive article (28 pages long) ever written on the decipherment of this key Linear B tablet. You can download it from academia.edu at the link above.

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

6 words for pottery in Minoan Linear A

Egyptian cartouches for Ptolemy and Cleopatra

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

Giant pithoi from Knossos for storage of olive oil

PUBLISHED! Archaeology and Science. Vol. 10 (2014). An Archaeologist's Translation of Pylos Tablet 641-1952 pp. 133-161 (academia.edu):
Click on banner to view the article:

academia.edu Archaeology and Science Vol 10 2014

pp. 133-161



In partnership with The Association of Historical Studies, Koryvantes (Athens), our organization,Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae (WordPress), conducts ongoing research into Mycenaean archaeology and military aff airs and the Mycenaean Greek dialect. This study centres on a fresh new decipherment of Pylos tablet TA 641-1952 (Ventris) by Mrs. Rita Roberts from Crete, who brings to bear the unique perspectives of an archaeologist on her translation, in all probability the most accurate realized to date. We then introduce the newly minted term in Mycenaean Linear B, the supersyllabogram, being the first syllabogram or first syllable of any word or entire phrase in Linear B. Supersyllabograms have been erroneously referred to as “adjuncts” in previous linguistic research into Mycenaean Linear B.

This article demonstrates that their functionality significantly exceeds such limitations, and that the supersyllabogram must be fully accounted for as a unique and discrete phenomenon without which any approach to the interpretation of the Linear B syllabary is at best incomplete, and at worse, severely handicapped.


Introduction to the article:

Why are there so many ideograms in Mycenaean Linear B, 123 all told, with 30 in the pottery and vessels sector alone? This is no idle question. Of the 123 Linear B ideograms listed in Wikimedia Commons,1 fully 30 or 24.5 % are situated in the pottery and vessels sector of the Mycenaean economy, as illustrated in Table 1. But why so many? As I emphatically pointed out in the talk I gave at The Third Interdisciplinary Conference, “Thinking Symbols”, June 30-July 1 2015, at the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, just outside of Warsaw, Poland, in partnership with The Association of Historical Studies, Koryvantes (Athens), with whom our organization, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae (WordPress), is in full partnership, “No-one deliberately resorts to any linguistic device when writing in any language, unless it serves a useful purpose beneficial to more eff ective communication, contextual or otherwise.” (italics mine)...

Archaeology and Science Vol 10 2014
Rita Robert's translation of Pylos tablet 641-1952

Minoan dolphin amphora 2nd millennium BCEvessels on Pylos tablet 641-1952

PART B: The application of geometric co-ordinate analysis (GCA) to parsing scribal hands in Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B


I propose to demonstrate how geometric co-ordinate analysis of Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B can confirm, isolate and identify with precision the X Y co-ordinates of single syllabograms, homophones and ideograms in their respective standard fonts, and in the multiform cursive “deviations” from the invariable on the X Y axis, the point of origin (0,0) on the X Y plane, and how it can additionally parse the running co-ordinates of each character, syllabogram or ideogram of any of the cursive scribal hands in each of these scripts. This procedure effectively epitomizes the “style” of any scribe’s hand, just as we would nowadays characterize any individual’s handwriting style. This hypothesis is at the cutting edge in the application of graphology a.k.a epigraphy exclusively based on the scientific procedure of artificial intelligence geometric co-ordinate analysis (AIGCA) of scribal hands, irrespective of the script under analysis.

If supercomputer or ultra high speed Internet generated artificial intelligence geometric co-ordinate analysis of Sumerian and Akkadian cuneiform is a relatively straightforward matter, as I have summarized it in my first article [1], that of Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B, both of which share more complex additional geometric constructs in common, appears to be somewhat more of a challenge, at least at first glance. When we come to apply this technique to more complex geometric forms, the procedure appears to be significantly more difficult to apply. Or does it? The answer to that question lies embedded in the question itself. The question is neither closed nor open, but simply rhetorical. It contains its own answer.

It is in fact the hi-tech approach which decisively and instantaneously resolves any and all difficulties in every last case of geometric co-ordinate analysis of any script, syllabary or indeed any alphabet, ancient or modern. It is neatly summed up by the phrase, “computer-based analysis”, which effectively and entirely dispenses with the necessity of having to parse scribal hands or handwriting by manual visual means or analysis at all. Prior to the advent of the Internet, modern supercomputers and artificial intelligence(AI), geometric co-ordinate analysis of any phenomenon, let alone scribal hands, or handwriting post AD (anno domini), would have been a tedious mathematical process hugely consuming of time and human resources, which is why it was never attempted then.

The groundbreaking historical epigraphic studies of Emmett L. Bennet Jr. and Prof. John Chadwick (1966):

All this is not to say that some truly remarkable analyses of scribal hands in Mycenaean Linear B were not realized in the twentieth century. Although such studies have been few and far between, one in particular stands out as pioneering. I refer of course to Emmett L. Bennet Jr.’s remarkable paper, “Miscellaneous Observations on the Forms and Identities of Linear B Ideograms” (1966) [2], in which he single-handedly undertook a convincing epigraphic analysis of Mycenaean Linear B through manual visual observation alone, without the benefit of supercomputers or the ultra-high speed internet which we have at our fingertips in the twenty-first century. His study centred on the ideograms for wine (*131), (olive) oil (*130), *100 (man), *101 (man) & *102 (woman) rather than on any of the Linear B syllabograms as such. The second, by John Chadwick in the same volume, focused on the ideogram for (olive) oil. As contributors to the same Colloquium, they essentially shared the same objectives in their epigraphic analyses. Observations which apply to Bennett’s study of scribal hands are by and large reflected by Chadwick’s. Just as we find in modern handwriting analysis, both Bennett and Chadwick concentrated squarely on the primary characteristics of the scribal hands of a considerable number of scribes. Both researchers were able to identify, isolate and classify the defining characteristics of the various scribal hands and the attributes common to each and every scribe, accomplishing this remarkable feat without the benefit of super high speed computer programming.

Although Prof. Bennett Jr. did not systematically enumerate his observations on the defining characteristics of particular scribal hands in Mycenaean Linear B, we shall do so now, in order to cast further light on his epigraphic observations of Linear B ideograms, and to situate these in the context of the twenty-first century hi tech process of geometric co-ordinate analysis to scribal hands in Mycenaean Linear B. 

I have endeavoured to extrapolate the rather numerous variables Bennett assigned determining the defining characteristics of various scribal hands in Linear B. They run as follows (though they do not transpire in this order in his paper):

(a) The number of strokes (vertical, horizontal and diagonal – right or left – vary significantly from one scribal hand to the next. This particular trait overrides most others, and must be kept uppermost in mind. Bennett characterizes this phenomenon as “opposition between varieties”. For more on the concept of  ‘oppositions’, see my observations on the signal theoretical contribution by Prof.  L. R. Palmer below. 

(b) According to Bennet, while some scribes prefer to print their ideograms, others use a cursive hand. But the very notion of “printing” as a phenomenon per se cannot possibly be ascribed to the Linear B tablets. Bennet’s so-called analysis of  scribal “printing” styles I do not consider as printing at all, but rather as the less common scribal practice of precise incision, as opposed to the more free-form cursive style adopted by most Linear B scribes. Incision of characters, i.e. Linear B, syllabograms, logograms and ideograms, predates the invention of printing in the Western world by at least two millennia, and as such cannot be attributed to printing as we understand the term. Bennett was observing the more strictly geometric scribal hands among those scribes who were more meticulous than others in adhering more or less strictly to the dictates of linear, circular and other normalized attributes of geometry, as outlined in the economy of geometric characteristics of Linear B in Figure 1: Click to ENLARGE

a figure 1 geometric economy of Linear B

But even the more punctilious scribes were ineluctably bound to deviate from what we have established as the formal modern Linear B font, the standard upon which geometric co-ordinate analysis depends, and from which all scribal hands in both Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B, the so-called “printed” or cursive, must necessarily derive or deviate.

(c) as a corollary of Bennet’s observation (b), some cursive hands are sans serif, others serif.

(d) similarly, the length of any one or any combination of strokes, sans serif or serif, can clearly differentiate one scribal hand from another.
(e) as a corollary of (c), some serif hands are left-oriented, while the majority are right-oriented, as illustrated here in Figure 2: Click to ENLARGE

b figure 2 o cursive

(f) As a function of (d) above, the “slant of the strokes” Bennett refers to is the determinant factor in the comparison between one scribal hand and any number of others, and as such constitutes one of the primary variables in his manual visual analytic approach to scribal hands.

(g) In some instances, some strokes are entirely absent, whether or not accidentally or (un)intentionally.

(h) Sometimes, elements of each ideogram under discussion (wine, olive oil and man, woman or human) touch, just barely touch, retouch, cross, just cross, recross or fully (re)cross one another. According to Bennet, these sub-variables can often securely identify the exact scribal hand attributed to them.

(i) Some strokes internal to each of the aforementioned ideograms appear to be partially unconnected to others, in the guise of a deviance from the “norm” as defined by Bennett in particular, although I myself am unable to ascertain which style of ideogram is the “norm”, whatever it may be, as opposed to those styles which diverge from it, i.e. which I characterize as mathematically deviant from the point of origin (0,0) on the X Y co-ordinate axis on the two-dimensional Cartesian plane. Without the benefit of AIGCA, Bennett could not possibly have made this distinction. Whereas any partially objective determination of what constitutes the “norm” in any manual scientific study not finessed by high speed computers was pretty much bound to be arbitrary, the point of origin (0,0) on the X Y axis of the Cartesian two-dimensional plane functions as a sound scientific invariable from which we define the geometrically pixelized points of departure by means of ultra high speed computer computational analysis (AIGCA).

(j) The number of strokes assigned to any ideogram in Linear B can play a determinant role. One variation in particular of the ideogram for wine contains only half the number of diagonal strokes as the others. This Bennett takes to be the deviant ideogram for must, rather than wine itself, and he has reasonably good grounds to make this assertion. Likewise, any noticeable variation in the number of strokes in other ideograms (such as those for olive oil and humans) may also be indicators of specific deviant meanings possibly assigned to each of them, whatever these might be. But we shall never know. With reference to the many variants for “man” or human (*101), I refer you to Bennett’s highly detailed chart on page 22 [3]. It must be conceded that AI geometric co-ordinate analysis is incapable of making a distinction between the implicit meanings of variants of the same ideogram, where the number of strokes comprising said ideogram vary, as in the case of the ideogram for wine. But this caveat only applies if Bennet’s assumption that the ideogram for wine with fewer strokes than the standard actually means (wine) must. Otherwise, the distinction is irrelevant to the parsing by means of AIGCA of this ideogram in particular or of any other ideogram in Linear B for which the number of strokes vary, unless corroborating evidence can be found to establish variant meanings for each and every ideogram on a case by case basis. Such a determination can only be made by human analysis.   

(k) As Bennett has it, the spatial disposition of the ideograms, in other words, how much space each ideogram takes up on the various tablets, some of them consuming more space than others, is a determinant factor. He makes a point of stressing that some ideograms are incised within a very “cramped and confined space”.  The practice of cramming as much text as possible into an allotted minimum of remaining space on tablets was commonplace. Pylos tablet TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is an excellent example of this ploy so many scribes resorted to when they discovered that they had used up practically all of the space remaining on any particular tablet, such as we see here on Pylos tablet 641-1952 (Figure 3): Click to ENLARGE

c figure3 Pylos tablet TA 641-1952

Yet cross comparative geometric analysis of the relative size of the “font” or cursive scribal hand of this tablet and all others in any ancient script, hieroglyphic, syllabary, alphabetical or otherwise, distinctly reveals that neither the “font” nor cursive scribal hand size have any effect whatsoever on the defining set of AIGCA co-ordinates — however minuscule (as in Linear B) or enormous (as in cuneiform) —  of any character, syllabogram or ideogram in any script whatsoever. It simply is not a factor.

(l) Some ideograms appear to Bennett “almost rudimentary” because of the damaged state of certain tablets. It is of course not possible to determine which of these two factors, cramped space or damage, impinge on the rudimentary outlines of some of the same ideograms, be these for wine (must), (olive) oil or humans, although it is quite possible that both factors, at least according to Bennet, play a determinant rôle in this regard. But in fact they cannot and do not, for the following reasons:
1. So-called “rudimentary” incisions may simply be the result of end-of-workday exhaustion or carelessness or alternatively of remaining cramped space;
2. As such, they necessarily detract from an accurate determination of which scribe’s hand scribbled one or more rudimentary incisions on different tablets, even by means of AIGCA;
3. On the other hand, the intact incisions of the same scribe (if they are present) may obviate the necessity of having to depend on rudimentary scratchings. But the operative word here is if they are present. Not only that, even in the presence of intact incisions by said scribe, it all depends on the total number of discrete incisions made, i.e. on the number of different syllabograms, logograms, ideograms, word dividers (the vertical line in Linear B), numerics and other doodles. We shall more closely address this phenomenon below.

(m) Finally, some scribes resort to more elaborate cursive penning of syllabograms, logograms, ideograms, the Linear B word dividers, numerics and other marks, although it is open to serious question whether or not the same scribe sometimes indulges in such embellishments, and sometimes does not. This throws another wrench into the accurate identification of unique scribal hands, even with AIGCA.

The aforementioned variables as noted though not explicitly enumerated by Bennett summarize how he and Chadwick alike envisioned the prime characteristics or attributes, if you like, the variables, of various scribal hands. Each and every one of these attributes constitutes of course a variable or a variant of an arbitrary norm, whatever it is supposed to be. The primary problem is that, if we are to lend credence to the numerous distinctions Bennet ascribes to scribal hands, there are simply far too many of these variables. When one is left with no alternative than to parse scribal hands by manual visual means, as were Bennet and Chadwick, there is just no way to dispense with a plethora of variations or with the arbitrary nature of them. And so the whole procedure (manual visual inspection) is largely invalidated from a strictly scientific point of view.

In light of my observations above, as a prelude to our thesis, the application of artificial geometric co-ordinate analysis (AIGCA) to scribal hands in Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B, I wish to draw your undivided attention to the solid theoretical foundation laid for research into Linear B graphology or epigraphy by Prof. L.R. Palmer, one of the truly exceptional pioneers in Linear B linguistic research, who set the tone in the field to this very day, by bringing into sharp focus the single theoretical premise — and he was astute enough to isolate one and one only — upon which any and all research into all aspects of Mycenaean Linear B must be firmly based. 

I find myself compelled to quote a considerable portion of Palmer’s singularly sound foundational scientific hypothesis underpinning the ongoing study of Linear which he laid in The Interpretation of Mycenaean Greek Texts [4]. (All italics below mine). Palmer contends that....

The importance of the observation of a series of ‘oppositions’ at a given place in the formulaic structure may be further illustrated... passim... A study of handwriting confirms this conclusion. The analysis removes the basis for a contention that the tablets of these sets were written at different times and list given herdsmen at different stations. It invalidates the conclusion that the texts reflect a system of transhumance (see p. 169 ff.).

We may insist further on the principle of economy of theses in interpretation... passim... See pp. 114 ff. for the application of this principle, with a reduction in the number of occupational categories.

New texts offer an opportunity for the most rigorous application of the principle of economy. Here the categories set up for the interpretation of existing materials will stand in the relation of ‘predictions’ to the new texts, and the new material provides a welcome opportunity for testing not only the decipherment but also interpretational methods. The first step will be to interpret the new data within the categorical framework already set up. Verificatory procedures will then be devised to test the results which emerge. If they prove satisfactory, no furthers categories will be added.   

The number of hypotheses set up to explain a given set of facts is an objective measure of the ‘arbitrary’, and explanations can be graded on a numerical scale. A completely ‘arbitrary’ explanation is one which requires x hypotheses for y facts. It follows that the most ‘economical’ explanation is the least ‘arbitrary’.

I could not have put it better myself. The more economical the explanation, in other words, the underlying hypothesis, the less arbitrary it must necessarily be. In light of the fact that AIGCA reduces the hypothetical construct for the identification of scribal style to a single invariable, the point of origin (0,0) on the two-dimensional Cartesian X Y plane, we can reasonably assert that this scientific procedure practically eliminates such arbitrariness. We are reminded of Albert Einstein’s supremely elegant equation E = Mc2 in the general theory of relatively, which reduces all variables to a single constant.
Yet, what truly astounds is the fact that Palmer was able to reach such conclusions in an age prior to the advent of supercomputers and the ultra high speed Internet, an age when the only means of verifying any such hypothesis was the manual visual. In light of Palmer’s incisive observations and the pinpoint precision with which he draws his conclusion, it should become apparent to any researcher in graphology or epigraphy delving into scribal hands in our day and age that all of Bennet’s factors are variables of geometric patterns, all of which in turn are mathematical deviations from the point of origin (0,0) on the two-dimensional X Y Cartesian axis. As such Bennet’s factors or variables, established as they were by the now utterly outdated process of manual visual parsing of the differing styles of scribal hands, may be reduced to one variable and one only through the much more finely tuned fully automated computer-generated procedure of geometric co-ordinate analysis. When we apply the technique of AI geometric co-ordinate analysis to the identification, isolation and classification of scribal hands in Linear B, we discover, perhaps not to our surprise, that all of Bennet’s factors (a to m) can be reduced to geometric departures from a single constant, namely, the point of  origin (0,0) on the  X Y axis of a two-dimensional Cartesian plane, which alone delineates the “style” of any single scribe, irrespective of the script under analysis, where style is defined as a function of said analysis, and nothing more.

It just so happens that another researcher has chosen to take a similar, yet unusually revealing, approach to manual visual analysis of scribal hands in 2015. I refer to Mrs. Rita Robert’s eminently insightful overview of scribal hands at Pylos, a review of which I shall undertake in light of geometric co-ordinate analysis in my next article.

Geometric co-ordinate analysis via supercomputer or the ultra high speed Internet:

Nowadays, geometric co-ordinate analysis can be finessed by any supercomputer plotting CGA co-ordinates down to the very last pixel at lightning speed. The end result is that any of a number of unique scribal hands or of handwriting styles using ink, ancient on papyrus or modern on paper, can be identified, isolated and classified in the blink of an eye, usually beyond a reasonable doubt. However strange as it may seem prima facie, I leave to the very last the application of this practically unimpeachable procedure to the analysis and the precise isolation of the unique style of the single scribal hand responsible for the Edwin Smith papyrus, as that case in particular yields the most astonishing outcome of all.

Geometric co-ordinate analysis: Comparison between Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B: 

Researchers and linguists who delve into the syllabaries of Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B are cognizant of the fact that the syllabograms in each of these syllabaries considerably overlap, the majority of them (almost) identical in both, as attested by Figures 4 & 5: Click to ENLARGE

d figure 4 CF Linear A Linear B symmetric

e figure 5 circular Linear A & Linear B
By means of supercomputers and/or through the medium of the ultra-high speed Internet, geometric co-ordinate analysis (AIGCA) of all syllabograms (nearly) identical in both of syllabaries can be simultaneously applied with proximate equal validity to both.

Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B share a geometric economy which ensures that they both are readily susceptible to AI geometric co-ordinate analysis, as previously illustrated in Figure 1, especially in the application of said procedure to the standardized font of Linear B, as seen here in Figure 6: Click to ENLARGE

f figure 6 ccomplex co-ordinate analysis

And what applies to the modern standard Linear B font inevitably applies to the strictly mathematical deviations of the cursive hands of any number of scribes composing tablets in either syllabary (Linear A or Linear B). Even more convincingly, AIGCA via supercomputer or the ultra high speed Internet is ideally suited to effecting a comparative analysis and of parsing scribal hands in both syllabaries, with the potential of demonstrating a gradual drift from the cursive styles of scribes composing tablets in the earlier syllabary, Minoan Linear A to the potentially more evolved cursive hands of scribes writing in the latter-day Mycenaean Linear B. AICGA could be ideally poised to reveal a rougher or more maladroit style in Minoan Linear A common to the earlier scribes, thus potentially revealing a tendency towards more streamlined cursive hands in Mycenaean Linear B, if it ever should prove to be the case. AIGCA could also prove the contrary. Either way, the procedure yields persuasive results.

This hypothetical must of course be put squarely to the test, even according to the dictates of L.R. Palmer, let alone my own, and confirmed by recursive AICGA of numerous (re-)iterations of scribal hands in each of these syllabaries. Unfortunately, the corpus of Linear A tablets is much smaller than that of the Mycenaean, such that cross-comparative AIGCA between the two syllabaries will more than likely prove inconclusive at best. This however does not mean that cross-comparative GCA should not be adventured for these two significantly similar scripts.   

Geometric co-ordinate analysis of Mycenaean Linear B:

A propos of Mycenaean Linear B, geometric co-ordinate analysis is eminently suited to accurately parsing its much wider range of scribal hands. An analysis of the syllabogram for the vowel O reveals significant variations of scribal hands in Mycenaean Linear B, as illustrated in Figure 2 above, repeated here for convenience:

b figure 2 o cursive

Yet the most conspicuous problem with computerized geometric co-ordinate analysis (AIGCA) of a single syllabogram, such as the vowel O, is that even this procedure is bound to fall far short of confirming the subtle or marked differences in the individual styles of the scores and scores of scribal hands at Knossos alone, where some 3,000 largely intact tablets have been unearthed and the various styles of numerous other scribes at Pylos, Mycenae, Thebes and other sites where hundreds more tablets in Linear B have been discovered.

So what is the solution? It all comes down to the application of ultra-high speed GCA to every last one of the syllabograms on each and every one of some 5,500+ tablets in Linear B, as illustrated in the table of several Linear B syllabograms in Figures 7 and 8, through which we instantly ascertain those points where mathematical deviations on all of the more complex geometric forms put together utilized by any Linear B scribe in particular leap to the fore. Here, the prime characteristics of any number of mathematical deviations of scribal hands for all geometric forms, from the simple linear and (semi-)circular, to the more complex such as the oblong, wave form, teardrop and tomahawk, serve as much more precise markers or indicators highly susceptible of revealing the subtle or significant differences among any number of scribal hands. Click to ENLARGE Figures 7 & 8:

g figure7 cmplex
h figure8 cursive scribal hands me no ri we

By zeroing in on Knossos tablet KN 935 G d 02 (Figure 9) we ascertain that the impact of the complexities of alternate geometric forms on AIGCA is all the more patently obvious: Click to ENLARGE

i figure 9 KN 935 G d 02 TW

When applied to the parsing of every last syllabogram, homophone, logogram, ideogram, numeric, Linear B word divider and any other marking of any kind on any series of Linear B tablets, ultra high speed geometric co-ordinate analysis can swiftly extrapolate a single scribe’s style from tablet KN 935 G d 02 in Figure 9, revealing with relative ease which (largely) intact tablets from Knossos share the same scribal hand with this one in particular, which serves as our template sample. We can be sure that there are several tablets for which the scribal hand is in common with KN 935 G d 02. What’s more, extrapolating from this tablet as template all other tablets which share the same scribal hand attests to the fact that AIGCA can perform the precise same operation on any other tablet whatsoever serving in its turn as the template for another scribal hand, and so on and so on. 

Take any other (largely) intact tablet of the same provenance (Knossos), for which the scribal hand has previously been determined by AIGCA to be different from that of KN 935 G d 02, and use that tablet as your new template for the same cross-comparative AICGA procedure. And voilà, you discover that the procedure has extrapolated yet another set of tablets for which there is another scribal hand, in other words, a different scribal style, in the sense that we have already defined style. But can what works like a charm for tablets from Knossos be applied with relative success to Linear B tablets of another provenance, notably Pylos? The difficulty here lies in the size of the corpus of Linear B tablets of a specific provenance. While AIGCA is bound to yield its most impressive results with the enormous trove of some 3,000 + (largely) intact Linear B tablets from Knossos, the procedure is susceptible of greater statistical error when applied to a smaller corpus of tablets, such as from Pylos. It all comes down to the principle of inverse ratios. And where the number of extant tablets from other sources is very small, as is the case with Mycenae and Thebes, the whole procedure of AIGCA is seriously open to doubt.

Still, AIGCA is eminently suited to clustering in one geometric set all tablets sharing the same scribal hand, irrespective of the number of tablets and of the subset of all scribal hands parsed through this purely scientific procedure.


We can therefore safely conclude that ultra high speed artificial intelligence geometric co-ordinate analysis (AIGCA), through the medium of the supercomputer or on the ultra high speed Internet, is well suited to identifying, isolating and classifying the various styles of scribal hands in both Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B.

In Part C, we shall move on to the parsing of scribal hands in Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, of the early hieratic handwriting of the scribe responsible for the Edwin Smith Papyrus (1600 BCE) and ultimately of the vast number of handwriting styles and fonts of today.
References and Notes:

[1] The application of geometric co-ordinate analysis (GCA) to parsing scribal hands: Part A: Cuneiform
[2]  “Miscellaneous Observations on the Forms and Identities of Linear B Ideograms” pp. 11-25 in, Proceedings of the Cambridge Colloquium on Mycenaean Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, © 1966. Palmer, L.R. & Chadwick, John, eds.  First paperback edition 2011. ISBN 978-1-107-40246-1 (pbk.)
[3] Op. Cit.,  pg. 22
[4] pp. 33-34 in Introduction. Palmer, L.R. The Interpretation of Mycenaean Texts. Oxford: Oxford at the Clarendon Press, © 1963. Special edition for Sandpiper Book Ltd., 1998. ix, 488 pp. ISBN 0-19-813144-5

How to Insert Logograms and Ideograms into Linear B Text

Insertion of Logograms:

Now that we have learned how to type Linear B in a document, the only thing left for us to do is to insert logograms and ideograms as required into our text.

In Linear B, a logogram is either
(a) a homophone such as rai, which also means “saffron”
(b) a combination of two or three syllabograms, one on top of the other, which combine to form the word which they represent. Linear B scribes often resorted to this short-cut in order to save precious space on the tiny tablets they inscribed. 

The procedure for each of these two different types of logograms is not the same.

For (a), it is simple. Since the logogram, such as rai for “saffron”  is already a homophone, it is on the Linear B keyboard. So you just type it, as we see here:

(First switch from your default font to Linear B as per the instructions in the last post): Click to ENLARGE both examples

Linear B apudosi rai delivery of saffron

Linear B arepa mare ointment wool
(1) right after you insert the logogram, you must then select Wrap – Wrap Through, otherwise the logogram will appear above or below the preceding word in Linear B, but not beside. In other words, the logogram must be anchored to the paragraph in which the Linear B word is found, or if there is no paragraph, immediately to the right of the Linear B word.
(2) You can easily see that the logogram for “ointment” is actually the Linear B word for ointment.
In the sentence, The Queen has wool, the logogram = the syllabogram MA with RE underneath = mare = wool. Note that the logogram is not spelled the same as the word for -wool = mari. For the logogram for honey = meri, see below.

Insertion of Ideograms:

The procedure for the insertion of ideograms is identical to method (b) above for logograms such as arepa, mari (above) & meri (below) for ointment, wool & honey respectively.

1 Insert (from the Insert Menu) - Picture – From File, as illustrated here in the introductory text to Pylos Tablet Py 641-1952 (Ventris): Click to ENLARGE

Linear B honey tiripode

Right after you insert the ideogram, you must then select Wrap – Wrap Through, otherwise the ideogram will appear above or below the preceding word in Linear B, but not beside it. In other words, the ideogram must be anchored to the paragraph in which the Linear B word is found, or if there is no paragraph, immediately to the right of the Linear B word.


Pylos Tablet PY 641-1952 (Ventris): The Brilliant Translation by Michael Ventris (Click to ENLARGE)

Linear B Tablet Pylos 641-1952 translation & drawing by Michael Ventris 1952

This is the first ever translation of Pylos Tablet PY 641-1952 (Ventris) by Michael Ventris himself, and the first tablet in Mycenaean Linear B ever translated into English. A bit of background is in order. It was actually the archaeologist Carl Blegen, who had just unearthed this tablet along with several others at Pylos in 1951-1952, who was the first person to recognize that it was almost certainly written in Greek, because he correctly translated the very first word as tiripode, which was clearly the Greek word for “tripod”, no matter how archaic the dialect. That dialect we now call Mycenaean Greek, which is so closely related to Arcado-Cypriot Greek, later written in both Linear C and in the archaic Arcado-Cypriot alphabet (ca. 1100 to 400 BCE) as to be its kissing cousin. These two dialects were more closely allied than any other ancient Greek dialects, including the Ionic and Attic, a fact which proves to be of enormous import in any decipherment or translation in either Mycenaean Linear B or Arcado-Cypriot Linear C (or alphabetic). We must keep this fact firmly in mind at all times when translating any tablet in either of these dialects, which are both firmly ensconced in the East Greek class.

As for Michael Ventris’ meticulous decipherment of this justly famous tablet in his beautiful handwriting, it still holds its own as one of the finest to this day. The only flaw of any significance was his translation of the word “Aikeu”, which he interpreted as meaning “of the Aikeu type”, for want of any more convincing alternative. But in retrospect we can scarcely blame him for that, as we have nowadays the privilege and the insight to peer back through the looking glass or the mirror, if you like, into the past 63 years ago, to pass judgement on his decipherment, armed as we are with a clearer understanding of the intricacies of Mycenaean Greek and of Linear B. To do so would be paramount to violating the integrity of his decipherment which was the very finest anyone could have come up with in the earliest days of the decipherment of Linear B, of which he was the avowed master par excellence.

We shall turn next to two modern translations of the same tablet, one by Rita Roberts of Crete and the other by Gretchen Leonhardt of the U.S.A, holding them up in the mirror of Ventris’ own inimitable decipherment, to see how they both stack up against his own, and against the other. I shall be rating each of the 3 translations on its own merits and demerits on the basis of several strict criteria for decipherment, one of which was recently introduced by Ms. Gretchen Leonhardt herself, a criterion which must stand the test of theoretical validity, as well as measure up to firm empirical evidence, as we shall soon see. 


What is a Top-Notch Translation? Is there any such thing? Pylos Tablet 641-1952 (Ventris)

Those of you who are regular readers of our blog, and who take the trouble to really delve into the fine points of our posts on the decipherment of scores of Linear B tablets which we have already translated, will have surely noticed by now that I never take any translation for granted, yes, even down to the very last word, phrase, logogram or ideogram, while strictly taking into account whether or not the tablet itself is completely intact, or – as is far more often the case - left- or right-truncated. In every instance of the latter, any decipherment, however carefully devised, is likely to be considerably more inaccurate than any translation of an intact tablet.  

Not to follow these strict procedures would be tantamount a one-sided, highly subjective and excessively biased exercise in imposing a single, strictly personal, interpretation on any extant Linear B tablet, a practice which is fraught with so many pitfalls as to invite certain error and misinterpretation. I would much rather offer all alternative translations of every single last word, phrase, logogram, ideogram etc. in any and all Linear B tablets, than to rashly commit myself to any single translation. It is only in this way that you, our readers, can decide for yourselves which of my translations appears to be the most feasible or appropriate to you in the precise (or more likely than not, not so precise) context of the tablet in question.

No decipherer or translator of Mycenaean Linear B extant tablets or text in his or her right mind has a monopoly on the so-called “right” or “correct” translation of any Mycenaean source, because if that individual imagines he or she does, that person is dreaming in technicolour or – dare I say - even high on psychedelics. The only people who had the very real monopoly, in other words, the actual precise meaning of each and every tablet or source firmly in hand in Mycenaean Linear B were – you guessed it – the Mycenaean scribes themselves. We absolutely must bear this critical consideration in mind at all times whenever we dare approach the translation of any Linear B source, if we are to maintain any sense of the rational golden mean, of our own glaring linguistic inadequacies at a remote of some 3,500 years, and our own decidedly limited cognitive, associative powers of translation, which are in fact extremely circumscribed at the level of the individual translator.

It is only through the greatest sustained, systematic international co-operative effort on the part of all translators of Linear B, let alone of Linear C or of any other ancient language, regardless of script, that we as a community of professional linguists, can ever hope to eventually approximate a reasonably accurate translation. The greater the number of times a (Linear B) tablet is translated, the greater the likelihood that our sustained, combined co-operative efforts at translation is bound to bear positive fruit. Those who insist on being loners in the decipherment or translation of any texts in any in any ancient language run the severe risk of exposing themselves to sharp critical responses and, in the worst case scenario, to public ridicule in the research community specializing in ancient linguistics. Caveat interpres ille. That sort of translator should watch his Ps & Qs.
An excellent case in point, the translation of the very first tablet ever deciphered by our genius code-breaker, Michael Ventris, in 1952 & 1953, Pylos Tablet PY 641-1952 (Ventris): Click to ENLARGE:

Pylos Tablet PY 641-1952 Ventis as transslated by Ventris in 1952

We previously discussed the letters between Emmett L. Bennett and Micheal Ventris in June 1952 which effectively broke the code for Mycenaean Linear B, when Bennett first brought to Ventris’  attention his correct translation of the very first word on this famous tablet, tiripode, which unequivocally meant “tripod”. With this master key to Linear B, Ventris was able to decipher the entire tablet in no time flat, making it the first tablet ever to have been translated end-to-end into English. For our commentary on the letters, please click on this banner:

famous letters Ventris re Pylos tablet PY 641-1952
Since that time, the tablet has been translated scores and scores of times. Several translators have gone so far as to claim that theirs “is the best translation”. If you will forgive me for saying this, people making such an injudicious claim are all, without exception, wrong. It is only by combining, cross-checking and cross-correlating every last one of the translations attempted to date on this fascinating tablet, Pylos Tablet PY 641-1952, that we can ever hope to come up with at least one or two translations which are bound to meet the criteria for a really top-notch translation. Those criteria are several. I shall address them one by one, finally summarizing all such criteria, throughout the coming year.

In the meantime, stay posted for the latest carefully considered, extremely well-researched and eminently consistent translation of this famous tablet, with fresh new insights, by Rita Roberts, soon to be posted right here on this blog. It is not my own translation, but trust me, it is a highly professional one, fully taking into account a number of historical translations, one of the best of which is that by Michael Ventris himself. I freely admit I could not have matched Rita’s translation myself, for reasons which will be made perfectly clear when we come to post her excellent decipherment early in March 2015. To my mind, it is one of the finest translations of Pylos PY 631-1952 ever penned.

Subsequently, we shall rigorously examine Gretchen Leonhardt’ s translation of the same tablet, to which she assigns the alternative identifier, Pylos PY Ta 641, rather than its usual attribution. It strikes me as rather strange that she would have resorted to the alternate identifier, almost as if she intended - consciously or not - to distance herself from the original translation by Ventris himself. For her translation, please click on this banner:

Pylos Tablet Py 641-1952 Ventris Leonhardt

Ms. Leonhardt’ s decipherment is, if anything, unique and - shall we say - intriguing. We shall see how it stacks up against Michael Ventris’ and Rita Roberts’ translations, meticulously cross-correlating her own translation of every word or ideogram which is at variance with that of the same word or ideogram in either of the other two decipherments. Each translation will then be subjected to a range of rigorous criteria to determine in which respects it is as sound as, or inferior or superior to its other 2 counterparts.  Of course, the table of merits and demerits of each of the three translations is strictly my own interpretation, and as such is as subject to sound linguistic, logical, contextual and practical counter-criticism as any other. Anyone who (strongly) disagrees with my assessments of each of these 3 translations should feel free to address his or her critiques of them. I shall be more than happy to post such criticisms word-for-word on our blog, with the proviso that both Rita Roberts and I myself are free to counter them as we see fit under the strict terms enumerated above.


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