Translation of most of the RECTO of Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada)

Translation of most of the RECTO of Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada):

Linear A tablet HT 13 Haghia Triada partial translation

A partial decipherment of the recto side of Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada) holds up quite well under scrutiny. I was able to decipher lines 1, 3 and 4 with reasonable accuracy, the tail end of 5.(idu) and the beginning of 6. (nesi) to extract the toponyms (place names) Kydonia and Idunesi. To date, this is the most complete translation I have managed of a Linear A tablet. One thing that stood out was the total amount of teki = 27 1/2, which would appear to be the amount of teki (plural) per tereza, but I cannot be sure. If this is the case, then teki is a small measurement of wine = 27 1/2 per tereza. I suspect that this small standard amount of wine would be the amount measured out in a large kylix or small wine amphora to be served at a palace feast. But this only the case if teki is a small unit of measurement.        

The VERSO almost completely escapes me, at least for now. Perhaps some day... But for now I am satisfied with my translation of the RECTO.

Pylos tablet TA Un 718 L as an ideal template for deciphering Minoan Linear A

Pylos tablet TA Un 718 L as an ideal template for deciphering Minoan Linear A:


PY Un 718 L
 

Of all the Linear B tablets I have ever had the pleasure of translating, Pylos tablet TA Un 718 L has to rank as of one the most ideal as a template guide for deciphering Minoan Linear A. One glance at this tablet in translation finds us  face to face with one of the most complete texts on any Linear B tablet of any provenance. Moreover, this amazingly detailed tablet deals with practically every possible kind of livestock and almost all the commodities we could ever hope to find on any single Linear B tablet. The tablet runs the gamut from offerings of sheep and bulls, to cheese, fleece, honeydew, honey wine, land, precious ointment, wheat and wine! Who could ask for anything more? This single tablet is so crammed with information that it can easily serve as a template guide for at least the partial decipherment of some of the content of Minoan Linear A tablets dealing with any, most or all of the aforementioned gifts to the gods and plenipotentiaries. And, as we shall see, this tablet will serve its purpose over and over in this regard.  Rest assured that, as the need arises, we shall “call it up” on demand.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Returning to my own analysis:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rosetta Stone Champollion 1790-1832

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

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

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


Pylos tablet PY Un 718 Chris Tselentis


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vocabulary and Supersyllabograms in Minoan Linear A classified by tablets

Vocabulary and Supersyllabograms in Minoan Linear A classified by tablets (Click on the logo to visit his site):

Linear A Texts in phonetic transcription


NOTE: Decipherment of many of these words in Minoan Linear A can be cross-correlated with relative ease with Mycenaean Linear B tablets with supersyllabograms on them, since the latter may give hints relative to the potential meanings of the words in question. 

Relatively intact Minoan Linear A tablets with vocabulary potentially suited for decipherment.


7 ideograms for decipherment of Linear A

Grains (wheat & barley):

ARKH 3 ?
... kane + grain
... kinu + grain
... yapi + grain
... pipu3 = pipai + grain
(all left truncated)?

ARKH 5
adaro + grain 

HT 21
pitakase + TE = grain 

HT 44 (cf. HT 88 (human) + HT 131)
iqa*118*

HT 91
ika

HT 92 (Cf. HT 133)
adu

HT 93 
pa3nina = painina + grain + PA3 + RE + SE
ase + grain + PA
pa3nina = painina 

HT 101
zu*22*di + grain + QE
sara2 = sarai +grain (See also HT 105 HT 114 HT 121 & HT 125)
Total = 5 - I will attempt a preliminary decipherment soon. 

HT 102
sara2 = sarai + grain

HT 114
sara2 = sarai+ grain

HT 115
*47*nuraya + grain

HT 116
kupaya
pura2 = purai + grain + DI – I will attempt this one soon.
pura2 = purai + grain + KI – I will attempt this one soon.
pi*34*te
sikine
qanuma 

HT 121
sara2 = sarai 
 
HT 125
sara2 = sarai 
reta2 = retai + grain + PA – I will attempt this one soon (See also sara2 = sarai)

HT 129
kireta2 = kiretai + grain
tuqirina + grain

HT 131
iqa*118 + grain (Cf. HT 44)

HT 133 
adu + TE + grain + DA – I will decipher this one very shortly (Cf. adureza = basic standard unit for dry measurement for grains such as barley and wheat)

KH 10
akipiete + grain

Man (human):

HT 58
qetiradu

HT 88 (See HT 133 above)
adu

HT 105
sara2 = sarai
yedi 
 
Oil and olive oil:

HT 14
apu2nadu + oil + MI + oil + DI

HT 91
teri = oil + MI – I will attempt this one soon.

HT 101
kupa3 = kupai + U – I will attempt this one soon.

HT 121
kirita2 = kiritai + oil + QE + DI – I will attempt this one soon.

HT 123-124 *
kitai + (owed) = kiro (total)– I will attempt these 3 soon.
saru +  (owed) = kiro (total)
datu +  (owed) = kiro (total)

HT 140
yedi + KI

Sheep:

HT 132
qareto = field (lease field -or- plot of land)? + ideogram for sheep. This does not mean sheep!

Vessels:

HT 93 – I will attempt this one soon.
darida 

Wine:

ARKH 2
kura = wine? or something related to wine. Cf. Linear B Tablet Pylos Py TA Un 718 L (to be posted next).

wine


Gender in Minoan Linear A

Gender in Minoan Linear A:

This is a tentative list of words in Minoan Linear A by gender, in so far as I have been able to determine gender to this point. I am not sure whether I am correct, but I would rather take the chance than not, as per my usual. Note that I am of the opinion that in the Minoan language, as in modern Italian, (almost) all words ended in an ultimate vowel. My reason for this tentative conclusion is simple: in the Linear A syllabary all syllabograms end in a vowel. When Mycenaean Linear B largely inherited the Linear A syllabary, with quite a few necessary adjustments, all of its syllabograms still ended in vowels, which made the syllabary (Linear B) awfully clumsy for representing even archaic Mycenaean Greek, in which most words, just as in later ancient Greek, probably ended in consonants. 


Minoan vessels


Masculine:

akaru
datu (HT 123-124) + ideogram for “olive(s)”
dideru
kasaru
kinisu
kupu3natu
qaqaru
resu
supu = very large amphora
tetu = large amphora

Feminine:

adureza = basic standard unit of dry measurement (barley share?)
aresana
daweda = 2 handled cup its contents = wine 
ipinama
kupa
rariudeza
reza = basic standard unit (for linear?) measurement
risuma
tereza = basic standard unit for liquid measurement (of wine)

Feminine Diminutive:

kiretai2 = kiretai
dapa3 = dapai
sara2 = sarai (frequent!) + with grain + man
supa3ra = supaira (See supu masc. above) = smaller cups

Neuter (and Masculine?):

dinaro
kidaro
kumaro
kuro = total
puko = tripod
samaro
utaro
witero

Linear A tablet dealing with spices (unknown provenance): coriander or delivery

Linear A tablet dealing with spices (unknown provenance): coriander or delivery


Linear a tablet spices numerics


Linear a tablet spices numericsB&W

The word ti?redu on the left hand side of the top line of this Linear A tablet of unknown provenance dealing with spices may mean either “coriander” or “delivery”, but my bet is on the latter, since the word “coriander” is almost certainly pre Indo-European, and therefore probably existed in the Minoan language as well, along with the three words cited on the Linear A tablet above. I cannot for the life of me figure out what the second syllabogram on this tablet is. If there is anyone out there who can clinch it for me, please do so.

Compare the text on this tablet in Linear A with those on Linear B tablets Kn 415 Lc 01, KN 4176 L c 01 & KN 418 Lc 11 below for the reason why I prefer the translation “delivery” over “coriander”. 


measurment-of-coriander-in-linear-b-on-3-tablets-from-scripta-minoa

How did I manage to decipher 17 Minoan Linear A words in 1 month? The 4 principles

How did I manage to decipher 17 Minoan Linear A words in 1 month? The 4 principles

That is the burning question. And here are the reasons why. To begin with, it is impossible to decipher any unknown ancient language by relying on its internal structure alone. It simply cannot be done. We must have recourse to certain fundamental principles before we even being to attempt any decipherment. So far, I have been able to isolate four of them. These are:

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

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

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

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

Returning to my own analysis:

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

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

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

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

2. Cross-correlation between Minoan and a known ancient language: 

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


Wikipedia Rosetta Stone


Rosetta Stone Champollion 1790-1832


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

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


Linear A HT 13 tereza additional vocabulary


Pylos 641-1952 Archaeology and Science

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

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

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

These four principle form the foundation of the first steps that appear to yield relatively convincing results in the decipherment of the 17 words in Minoan Linear A I have tackled so far. Relying on the application of these four principles, either singly or in combination, we can, I believe, make some real headway in the decipherment of roughly 5% to 10 % of the terms on the Linear A tablets. The greater the number of these principles entering into the equation for the decipherment of any Minoan word in particular, the greater are our chances of  “getting it right”, so to speak. That is a very good start.

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

In the next post, relying on principles 2. (cross-correlation) and 3. ideograms, I shall decipher the eighteenth Minoan word (18), this time one related to spices.

KEY Linear A Minoan Language Blog back online after 4 years lying fallow!

KEY Linear A Minoan Language Blog back online after 4 years lying fallow!

The extremely important Minoan Language Blog by Andras Zeke of Hungary is back online after 4 years lying fallow. I am hugely impressed by the highly conscientious and meticulous work Andras has poured into his magnificent blog, and I am delighted he is back online. Click on its banner to visit his site


Minoan language blog 2016

and if you are worth your salt as a Mycenaean Linear B and potential Minoan Linear A researcher, I strongly recommend you follow his blog. I am actually flabbergasted by the fact that Andras has come back online just as I have begun deciphering Minoan Linear A in the vessels and wine sectors at least. The co-incidence seems too amazing to be true, but I am a firm believer in serendipity and the intervention of Providence, whatever that is!  

The extreme significance of the ideogram for “wine” on 2 Linear A tablets

The extreme significance of the ideogram for “wine” on 2 Linear A tablets:


A.Y. Nickolaus Linear A tablet & ideogram for wine

Linear A tablet with the ideogram for wine Cf. A.Y. Nickolaus

It is extremely significant that the ideogram for “wine” appears on these two rectangular Minoan Linear A tablets.

The fact that they are rectangular is unique in and of itself. and therefore indicative of something of capital importance to the further decipherment of Minoan Linear A. What is even more striking is that the ideogram for “wine” appears dead centre on the A.Y. Nickolaus tablet, immediately after the first 3 ideograms for vessels incharged with attributive supersyllabograms = [1] – [3] and immediately before the last 3 = [4] – [6]. It is as if the Minoan Linear A scribe who inscribed this tablet deliberately wanted to draw attention to this striking quasi-geometric positioning. And why? If I understand the scribe’s intention correctly, he is directly correlating the ideogram for “wine” with all of the ideograms for vessels on this singularly rectangular tablet. In other words, he is stressing that all of the vessels are meant to contain WINE. If this is the case (and I can see no reason why it is not), then all of the tablets on vessels I have translated so far are vessels containing wine or meant to contain it. This is such a significant development in the first steps in the decipherment of Minoan Linear A that it cannot safely be ignored. What it implies is that there is a DIRECT (or INDIRECT but notable) between Linear A tablets inventorying vessels by type and those inventorying the standard scalar measurement of units of wine to be stored in amphorae in the magazines at Knossos, from the largest = teresa to the next four in descending size = [1] teke [2] nere [3] dawe?da and the smallest [4] quqani.

I shall shortly be illustrating this striking parallelism between Linear A terms related to the five standard units of measurement of wine and the several specific types of vessels on other Linear A tablets in a chart cross-correlating the notable relationship between the two (wine and vessels). This chart should serve to clear up any confusion and probably also any lingering doubts over my extremely precise definitions of the Linear A terminology for both wine and vessels.

5 standard units of measurement for wine in Minoan Linear A

5 standard units of measurement for wine in Minoan Linear A:

Linear A HT 13 tereza additional vocabulary


Apart from tereza, which I have already tentatively established as the largest standard unit of measurement for wine storage in Minoan Linear A, there appear to be 4 additional standard units for the measurement of wine storage on Linear A tablet Haghia Triada HT 13, and these are, from largest = 1. to smallest = 4. (after tereza itself):

1. teke   
2. nere
3. dawe?da
4. quqani

When we take a good look at the storage magazines at Knossos, we observe the following:


knossosgmagazinesplans

knossosmagazines


As astonishing as it might seem, there are in fact 5 different sizes of storage amphorae in these magazines. Co-incidence with the Minoan Linear A apparent standard storage units for amphorae? I have to wonder.

Notice also that the two largest standard unit sizes for storage of wine end in E (teke & nere), while the medium size ends in A (dawe?da) and the smallest size in I (quqani), indicating that these ultimates may represent size, where E = large (macro), A = medium and I = small (micro).

Another Linear A word bites the dust. Dawe?da = 2 handled cup or kylix

Another Linear A word bites the dust. Dawe?da = 2 handled cup or kylix

Linear A a recto verso pottery

It did not take me long to find yet another Minoan Linear A for a specific type of vessel, the meaning of which was quite easy to break through. This is the term dawe?da (of which the second syllable may not be we at all) since that syllabogram is missing from the W series in Linear A.  The ideogram is clearly that of a 2 handled cup, and one of the photos I found of a 2 handle cup was that of a Minoan kylix. So that accounts for my translation. There are of course other types of 2 handled cups, such as kraters, but it strikes me that the latter type came later and are more likely to be Mycenaean, since kraters are commonly understood as being Greek.

I do not know the numerical designation for this tablet or its provenance; so if anyone can come up with it and inform me, I would be most grateful.

Minoan Linear A Reza Adureza Tereza. Do they measure up? PART 3 = tereza

Minoan Linear A Reza Adureza Tereza. Do they measure up? PART 3 = tereza


Linear A HT 13 tereza kaudeta kuro wine decipherment b

If the root Minoan Linear A for a specific unit of measurement is reza, and the compound unit adureza refers to a specific unit of dry measurement, it follows that tereza, used in combination with the ideogram for “wine” must reference a specific unit of wet measurement. The problem is, what specific unit? Note that the number of specific units of wet measurement on Haghia Triada tablet HT 31 is small, 5 1/2. This would imply that we are not dealing with a whole lot of specific units of small containers of wine, but with a very small number of specific units of (very) large containers of wine. It strikes me as very peculiar that either Minoan Linear A or Mycenaean Linear B scribes would ever bother inventorying scores or even hundreds of small standard units of wine, as it is perfectly obvious that at the Palace of Knossos, at least in Mycenaean times, Late Minoan IIIb, wine was always stored in very large amphorae, known in much later classical Greece as pithoi, as illustrated here:


Giant pithoi from Knossos for storage of olive oil

As for the notion that Linear A or Linear B scribes would ever even bother to inventory 5 1/2 small units, such as say the standard Minoan/Mycenaean small unit approximately equivalent to a standard bottle or a modern litre of wine, it begs credulity! Either the scribes would have polished off those 5 1/2 bottles of wine at day’s end or some of the staff administration or the king or queen would have taken them off their hands the same day. So the only alternative we are left with is to assume (with a reasonable degree of logic and practicality) that what the Minoan Linear A scribes were inventorying on this tablet was the standard large unit for the storage of wine, which would almost certainly have been the standard large amphora size in use at the Middle Minoan II to Late Minoan II Palace of  Knossos, which in and of itself must have been closely if not exactly equivalent to the standard amphora or pithos size at the Late Minoan IIIB Palace of Knossos, when Mycenaean Linear B was the lingua franca of inventories.

But there is more, much more to this intriguing and possibly highly revealing Minoan Linear A tablet. We know that it deals specifically with the inventorying of wine. And by that I mean that in all probability the entire tablet deals with wine. If that is the case, then at least some of these words: [1] teki [2] quqani [3] re + scales (referring to, guess what, the measurement of wine!) [4] sedu? (if my spelling is right) [5] nere [6] adu = “dry”? [7] si*307* [8] daweda [9] pa2 or pa3+? (effaced) [10] u *306*za [11] daru [12] teke & [13] re = possibly an abbreviation for reza should yield themselves up to decipherment in the near future.

NOTE that, even if all of my decipherments of reza, adureza and tereza are way off the mark, i.e. plain wrong, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I say, be bold and forge ahead! 

Minoan Linear A Reza Adureza Tereza. Do they measure up? PART 1 = reza

Minoan Linear A Reza Adureza Tereza. Do they measure up? PART 1 = reza

The problem of generic versus specific measurement:

Minoan Linear A reza adureza tereza. Do they measure up? PART 1 = reza...

Soon after I first translated the Minoan Linear A words reza, adureza and tereza, it swiftly dawned on me that I had made a fundamental critical error in my decipherments. It is this. Based on the operation that cross-correlation between Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B assumes that both scripts fundamentally centre on inventories alone, I first turned to Linear B to test this hypothesis.

Linear B and measurement:

Whenever the Linear B scribes inscribed tablets relating specifically to measurement (and that was on the vast majority of Linear B tablets dealing with commodities), they never used the word measurement in and of itself. Why, you ask? The answer, at least to the scribes, was transparent. The Linear B scribes, as we know all too well from their extremely frequent use of supersyllabograms to save precious space on what were very small tablets (usually 15 cm. wide, rarely more than 30), would almost certainly not have written out the word measurement on tablets actually providing the figures and totals for measurement, since it was all to obvious to them (though not us in the the twenty-first century!) that if the total figures and totals of measured commodities are tallied on any particular tablet, then why on earth say “measurement” of... when it was painfully obvious to them (the scribes) that this was what the tablet in question was all about? This practice is identical to the use of single syllabogram supersyllabograms to replace entire words or phrases on Linear B tablets, again for precisely the same reason, so save all the precious space they could on those tiny tablets. Which is exactly what they did. That leaves us with the obvious question, if the Linear B scribes did not use the implicit but obvious word  “measurement”, then what word(s) would they have used for measurement? The answer is implicit in the question: they used words for precise units of measurement, not for measurement in its generic sense. They would have had to use precise units of measurement for commodities such as specific crops, military paraphernalia, vessels, olive oil and wine; otherwise who on earth in the Knossian or Mycenaean palace administration would have known what the total amounts of specific items or commodities added up to? The way the Linear B scribes dealt with this conundrum was to devise a fully standardized, formulaic system of measuring specific units of dry and wet measurement, as illustrated here, and as initially calculated with amazing precision by Andras Zeke of the Minoan Language Blog back in 2012:


Minoan fractiona signs by Andras Zeke 2012

Specific measurement in Minoan Linear A:

And so I have come around to reasoning that what applies to the designation of specific measurement in Mycenaean Linear B must also apply to its forbear, Minoan Linear A, in some form or another. Unfortunately, my extensive online research rummaging for Minoan Linear A words (as opposed to units of measurement) came up cold. So what then? Did the Minoan Linear A scribes employ precise words for specific units of measurement? My believe is that in fact they did. Why so? Only recently, I quickly noticed that the words reza, adureza and tereza appeared on Minoan Linear A tablets, all of which dealt with measurement. Co-incidence? I think not.  

Let us begin with the simple word reza. If it is indeed the root word for its variants adureza and tereza, it stands to reason that it applies to the simplest unit(s) of measurement, as illustrated here on Linear B tablet Haghia Triada HT 31 (verso):


Llinear A HT 31 dry measurment reza


I would also like to stress that so far I have only scratched the surface of the problems inherent to at least the partial, but accurate, decipherment of certain Minoan Linear B terms (up to a potential vocabulary of 100+ words), in light of the fact that I have been painstakingly mulling over the hypotheses, criteria and a specific methodology which can successfully be applied to the prudent decipherment of at least a subset of Minoan Linear A. And to my satisfaction, I have been able to extrapolate these hypotheses, criteria and a specific methodology which we can practically apply to said decipherment. I shall be posting these principles very shortly here on Linear B, Knossos and Mycenae. I guarantee they will be real eye openers to past, researchers in the potential decipherment of Minoan Linear A, all of whom have overlooked some of the critical factors relative to its decipherment, which are more than likely to lead to at least a real measure of success. We shall soon see.    

It is extremely important to emphasize that if adureza and teresa are compounds of reza, compound Minoan Linear A words modify their meanings from their simple root word, in this case, reza, by adding prefixes, not suffixes, which would explain why adureza, with the prefix adu = “dry” means a specific unit of dry measurement and te for tereza refers to a specific unit of  “wet” measurement, not just “measurement” (reza). It will be absolutely necessary to test this tentative hypothesis against other Minoan Linear A word clusters composed of (a) a root root and (b) compound terms composed of the root + 1 or more prefixes, not suffixes, to determine whether it holds up to continued scrutiny. If it does, we are surely onto something big! 

For adureza and tereza, see the next two posts.

Breakthrough in the decipherment of Linear A? adureza reza tereza Part 3 tereza

Breakthrough in the decipherment of Linear A? adureza reza tereza Part 3 tereza

HT 13 tereza KAUDETA KURO wine decipherment a

If as we have tentatively concluded, reza = “measurement” and adureza = “dry measurement”, then it stands to reason that tereza means “liquid measurement”, and in this case, “liquid measurement of an alcoholic beverage”, namely, wine! What else? 

The original Linear A tablet Haghia Triada HT 31 (recto-verso):

Iklaina KH 11 adureza recto verso


Breakthrough in the decipherment of Linear A? adureza reza tereza Part 2 adureza

Breakthrough in the decipherment of Linear A? adureza reza tereza Part 2 adureza

KH 11 barley adureza sowing perhaps

If the Minoan Linear A word reza appears to mean “measurement”, then the word adureza is almost certain to be a variation on that word, as it contains the prefix adu. Linear A tablet KH 11 describes the adureza of a small measurement of barley, which amounts to 1/10 of a larger amount, perhaps a tenant’s ration share of barley. The translation thus all comes down to the “measurement” of a share of barley, and since barley is dry, then adureza probably means “dry measurement”. This makes quite a lot of sense if we take reza simply to mean “measurement” alone. I should have thought of this in the last post, but we can apply that minor correction now, i.e. reza = “measurement” alone, while adureza, with the prefix adu = “dry” means “dry measurement”.

I furthermore am coming to believe that Minoan Linear A words modify their meanings from the simple root word, in this case, reza, by adding prefixes, not suffixes, which would explain why adureza, with the prefix adu = “dry” means “dry measurement”, not just “measurement” (reza).

The original Iklaina Linear A tablet KH 11:

Iklaina KH 11 adureza recto verso



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

Linear A HT 31 R apunnka 20 dry measurement reza

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! 

Linear A tablet tagged “19” & the Minoan word for “tripod” = puko (confirmation)

Linear A tablet tagged “19” & the Minoan word for “tripod” = puko (confirmation):

Linear A 19 joins puko = tripod

This tablet confirms that the Minoan Linear A word for  “tripod” is puko. The co-incidence with the same word plus the ideogram for  “tripod” on Haghia Triada tablet HT 31 is too great for it to be otherwise.


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

Zakros ZA 11a kupa kuru kuro

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:  

Zakros ZA 11a original


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

Linear B tablet HT 13 Haghia Triada KURO = total

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):

Haghia-Triada-tablet-13

 

Linear A KURO = Linear B TOSA = “total” POST 1 of 3

Linear A KURO = Linear B TOSA = “total” POST 1 of 3

KURO = total HT 31 Haghia Triada

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.

Linear A tabletr An1938_706_o tossa pakana

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.