syllabogram JU on Linear B tablets: KN 8a J i 01 & KN 20 Ji 22 (recto verso): Here we have the first 2 examples of Linear B tablets with the syllabogram JU, first KN 8a J i 01: and secondly, KN 20 Ji 22 (recto verso): It is apparent fro these 2 tablets that it is probably impossible to decipher the syllabogram JU, at leasst for the time being. But however daunting the task to decipher it, we shall persist to the bitter end.
Linear A nodule on weighing emmer wheat with 3 supersyllabograms:
This rare Linear A nodule is of particular interest because it contains 3 supersyllabograms, JE SE & U. I am unable to decipher JE and SE, but U appears to be the first syllabogram, actually a vowel, i.e. the first syllable of the word it represents, which in this case would appear to be the Mycenaean-derived word, udoro = u3droj = a water flask. But this interpretation may not make sense in the context of weighing KUNI(SU) or emmer wheat, unless a certain standardized amount of water in a water flask were poised at the other end of the scale measuring the emmer wheat. This is surely open to speculation.
Linear A tablet KH 5 (Khania) ca. 1450 BCE – adorned with ivy:
This tablet, which significantly dates from 1450 BCE, right at the time of the transition from the Linear A to the Linear B syllabary, appears to have 3 Mycenaean-derived words inscribed on it. Because it was probably one of the very last tablets inscribed in Linear A, it could just as well have been inscribed in Linear B. The first two syllables of ADAKISIKA, i.e. ADA, are Old Minoan (OM), falling within the substrate of the original Minoan language. Both ADA and ADU appear to deal with large(r) quantities in the Minoan language. And the first and second words, ADAKISIKA + WISASANE = adorned with plenty of ivy in equal measure, make for a perfectly acceptable phrase. WINASAO very much appears to be a variant of Linear A WINU, which means wine. It may be cast in an archaic Minoan ablative absolute, which would perhaps explain its orthography.
Since the rest of this tablet is in Old Minoan (OM), the language of the original Minoan language substrate, it is indecipherable.
Linear A tablet HT 6 (Haghia Triada), ripe figs, pistachio-nuts, pomegranates & roses:
15 units (something like litres) liquid of ripe figs from fig trees, 24 pistachio-nuts, 10 barley cakes (apparently seasoned with pistachio-nuts), 2 roses, and 4 more units (something like kilograms) of ripe fruit + 22 DAQERA? (some kind of fruit), 22 3/4 units (something like litres or kilograms) falling to earth + 15 1/2 figs
3 growing (grown) ripe (i.e. the figs) with 1 unit (something like a flagon) of drops of wine in 3 units (something like kilograms or kilolitres) of honey, and 66 units (something like kilograms) of DADUMA (some kind of fruit, possibly or even probably grapes) + 3 1/4 units of REKI? + 35 SAMA? + 17 1/2 PA3NINA?
So as we can see, most of the vocabulary on this tablet appears to be Mycenaean-derived. The tablet appears to deal with a wonderful recipe for dessert.
Rita Roberts’ translation of Knossos tablet KN 160a J j 11, dealing with wine, corrected:
Rita Roberts’ translation of Knossos tablet KN 160a J j 11, dealing with wine, corrected, is trickier than the previous one she has translated to fulfill the requirements for her second year of university, KN 906 Da 02, dealing with livestock. Because this tablet is damaged, truncated left and right, it can be more difficult to establish meaning for certain terms. But not necessarily so. Rita struggled gainfully with this tablet. And this is understandable. What determines everything in the decipherment of any tablet, Linear A or B, is CONTEXT. If we cannot determine what any given word(s) mean in the actual context of the tablet, we sometimes fail to grasp the meanings of these words. But in the end, everything falls into place, and a relatively convincing translation can be gleaned from it, as we see in the illustration above.
The only character which occasions real difficulty is the supersyllabogram PE, which usually stands for “seed(s)”. But if this the meaning to be extracted, it does not really make all that much sense, since grape seeds do not contribute much to wine, only the grapes do. The only explanation I can muster here is this: the grape seeds had to be extracted, i.e. removed, from the grapes to produce the wine. That makes sense. Finally, we find the ideogram for “olive oil” on this tablet, but how olive oil mixes with wine is a mystery to me, unless the olive oil is being served with bread along with the wine. But there is no mention of bread on this tablet. So some issues remain unresolved.
Linear A tablet ZA 8, another Linear A largely inscribed in proto-Greek and/or Mycenaean Greek, groats, figs and wheat dough:
The context of this tablet makes it quite clear that we are dealing with an inscription largely inscribed in proto-Greek and/or Mycenaean Greek. The free translation reads as follows:
the brim (of a vessel or pot), with groats inside it + 1 1/2 units of figs * (not in the pot!) in a slanting) urn OR 2/3rds of a unit of liquid measurement (of the figs) + 2/5 salty units (something like milligrams) of wheat dough + 1/2 mapa (unknown) ** + 2 1/4 maikase (unknown) ** + 2 1/2 daipita ** + 4 2/5 due measures.
* The supersyllabogram NI, which means figs, is almost certainly nira or nita in Linear A. The word nita occurs in the Linear A lexicon.
** mapa, maikasa and daipita are almost certainly Old Minoan (OM) words in the Minoan substrate. So far, these words appear to be indecipherable. So far … This tablet dates from the Late Minoan Ib period (ca. 1500-1450 BCE), hence it overlaps with Linear B tablets, such as those from Knossos, which date from the same period, making it all the more likely that it is largely inscribed in proto-Greek, possibly with some Mycenaen Greek words on it.
All-new decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 8 (Haghia Triada) dealing with multiple crops:
This is the first time I have attempted to decipher Linear A tablet HT 8 (Haghia Triada), and I have met with considerable success in deciphering it for the most part. It quite clearly deals with multiple crops. Some explanation is in order. On the RECTO, we find the supersyllabogram KI, which means KIRETAI, in Greek kri/qai, meaning barley of which there are 10 units, something like bushels (a mere approximation as we cannot know that the standard units of measurement for crops were either in Linear A or in Linear B). Next comes the supersyllabogram PA3 (PAI), which probably refers to pa3ni/pa3nina/pa3niwi Old Minoan (OM) = millet -or- spelt. KARATI on line 2 is also OM and appears to correspond to Anatolian, karasa = a large jar, which makes sense in context. PA3 (PAI), which probably refers to pa3ni/pa3nina/pa3niwi Old Minoan (OM) = millet -or- spelt is then repeated. Line 3 begins with the supersyllabogram (SSYL) TE, which means tereza, OM for the standard unit of liquid measurement, while qanuma is OM for some kind of pulse crop, any one of broad beans (faba/fava), chick peas, lentils or vetch. On line 4 we find the word SIKIRA si/kera, a sweet-fermented liquor, Cf. Linear B sikero. When we combine this word with KIRETANA kri/qania on line 5 we get SIKIRA KIRETANA, which means of course a barley-like sweet-fermented liquor, in other words, beer, probably sweetened with honey.
VERSO: SUPU2 is a pithos or alternatively sappu, which is Semitic for bowl (practically the same thing). Hence, this decipherment is sound. The SSYL KA probably refers to karasa (Anatolian), meaning a large jar, which reinforces the decipherment of SUPU2. PA3 (PAI) on line 2 again refers to millet or spelt. ZARI- continued on line 3 with – RE is unknown, but has something to do with crops, followed as it is with the symbols for harvesting shares. KAPA karpa/ is ripe crops. PAJARA on line 4 appears to mean indentured land.
All in all, this decipherment is coherent, and holds together well.
Rita Roberts’ translation of Linear B tablet KN 342 J e 01 concerning olive oil:
Linear A tablet HT 38 (Haghia Triada) with 2 supersyllabograms, dealing with wine:
This intriguing tablet apparently deals with containers for wine, ranging from a type of vase (daropa) to a wine-skin (aka) to cloth, which appears to have been treated to be water-proof. Since the ideogram for “pig” appears immediately to the left of aka, we can surmise that the wine-skin is made of pig’s hide. The notion that cloth containers could have been water-proofed is somewhat in doubt, but the overall decipherment of HT 38 appears sound enough.
The first ever complete and entirely unique decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 123 RECTO (Haghia Triada):
This decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 123 RECTO (Haghia Triada) is entirely unique and is the first ever of its kind. It incorporates several key features never before seen in any of the failed attempts at “deciphering” this tablet. These are:
1. It accurately identifies the crops as (a) olives (b) wine and (c) saffron/flax;
2. It accurately identifies what all previous “decipherers” have erroneously assumed to be fractions as crop shares;
3. It accurately identifies the supersyllabogram PU, which no one has ever before been able to decipher as the Old Minoan word, punikaso = Phoenician or in the case of wine = purple, equivalent to Linear B ponikiyo.
4. It clearly and accurately identifies the shares of crops, usually 8 shares per;
5. The Old Minoan Linear A word kiro appears to mean “they owed”, which suits the context to a T;
6. the combination of the number 8 with harvesting fits the season exactly, the month for harvesting being lunar August (at least if the Minoans counted counted their lunar months from the first month in the year, which certainly appears to be the case).
7. Since the total 20 + is right-truncated on the last line, I have to assume that it refers to 20 or more months, given that 9 months are mentioned above, with the ninth month implying that 8 preceded it, for a total 17. The number 4 with the unknown character probably also references months, bringing the potential total to 21. Thus a grand total of 20+ months is not out of the question.
This is the first ever successful decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 123 (RECTO) in toto.
Statistical incidence of various types of grains on Linear A tablets from Haghia Triada and elsewhere:
akaru = field HT 2 (20+) HT 86 X2 (20+ )
TOTAL = 40+
kireta2 (kiretai) = barley HT 85 (1) + HT 129 (33)
TOTAL = 34
kiretana = barley-like HT 2 (54+) HT 8 X 2 (5) HT 108 (1) HT 120 (60)
TOTAL = 120
dideru = einkorn wheat HT 86 X 2 (2nd. trunc.) (20) HT 95 X 2 (20)
TOTAL = 40
kunisu = emmer wheat HT 10 (0) HT 86 X 2 (40+) HT 95 X 2 (30)
TOTAL = 70+
[sara2 = flax HT 18 (10) HT 28 X 2 (21) HT 30 (0) HT 32-34 (0) HT 90 (20) HT 93 (20) HT 94 (5) HT 97 (0) HT 99 (4+) HT 100-102 (985+) HT 105 (234) HT 114 (10) HT 121 (5) HT 125 (2) HT 130 (0)
TOTAL = 1306+
+ saru (oblique case) HT 86 X 3 (41+) HT 95 X 2 (30) HT 123+124 (16 )
TOTAL = 87+
TOTAL for all references to flax = 1393]
spelt or millet
dame = spelt or millet HT 86 (20) HT 95 X2 (20) HT 120 (74)
TOTAL = 94
millet or spelt
qera2u/qera2wa = millet or spelt HT 1 (197) HT 95 X2 (17) TOTAL = 214
durare = durum wheat? Knossos KN Zc 7 (0)
TOTAL = 0
minute = a type of grain -or- “and for a month” HT 86 (20) HT 95 X2 (20) HT 106 (6+)
TOTAL = 46+
pura2 = a type of grain HT 28 (6) HT 116 (45) KN 54 (0)
TOTAL = 51
qanuma = ditto HT 116 (20) KH 88 (Khania) (10)
TOTAL = 20
standard units of measurement on all Linear A tablets:
adu HT 85 (0) HT 86 (0) HT 88 (20) HT 92 (680) HT 95 (0) HT 99 (0) HT 133 (55) (bales?)
TOTAL = 755
adureza (0) = standard unit of dry measurement, something like a bushel
dureza (7 ) = variant of the same
TOTAL = 7
kireza ( 42) = standard unit of measurement for figs, dates or grapes = 1 basket
TOTAL = 42
reza (67+ ) = standard unit of linear measurement
TOTAL = 67+
tereza (0) = standard unit of liquid measurement
© by Richard Vallance Janke 2017
Decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 14 (Haghia Triada) with John G. Younger’s errors corrected:
Linear A tablet ARKH 2 (Arkhanes), dealing with wine and pomegranate juice?
Linear A tablet ARKH 2 (Arkhanes) appears to deal with wine and pomegranate juice. This being so, we have now deciphered 2 Linear A tablets centred on this subject. If the two decipherments withstand scrutiny, they lend credence to the notion that wine and pomegranate juice were produced in pre-Mycenaean Minoan times. It is uncertain whether or not pomegranate juice was mixed with wine, but if it was, the composite alcoholic beverage would have been delicious. We recall that ancient wine, even as late as Roman times, was more sour than modern wine; hence, the need to sweeten it. The most common sweetener was honey, but it is conceivable that pomegranate juice was also used, at least in the middle and early late Minoan eras.
On a final note, I have greatly enhanced and digitized the original of this tablet, which was originally under-focused and fuzzy.
Linear A tablet HT 6 (Haghia Triada) RECTO: ripe figs and pomegranates:
Linear A tablet HT 6 (Haghia Triada) RECTO deals with ripe crops, including figs and pomegranates. Although we do not know what the Old Minoan words jaru or ruja (could be either), mazu and daqera mean, they are almost certainly kinds of ripe crops, some of them fruits. However, it is possible that mazu derives from the proto-Indo-European mat = “to plant, hoe”. Cf. Occitan massa and Spanish maza = “mallet”. This makes sense in context.
Of the probable Mycenaean-derived New Minoan words, pitaja, on line 2, which appears to mean “drinkable”, would imply that we are dealing with 24 units (cups?) of fig juice, in view of the fact that figs are specified as the first ripe crop on line 1.
It is noteworthy that, as the result of having learned how to decipher some 25-30 Linear A tablets, all of which are at least partially inscribed in Mycenaean-derived New Minoan, I am finally gaining greater insight into the vocabulary, Old Minoan and New Minoan alike, of Linear A tablets.
Since this tablet is so information rich, I am obliged to decipher the VERSO in the next post.
Linear A tablet ZA 14 (Zakros) appears to be almost entirely inscribed in Mycenaean-derived Greek:
Linear A tablet ZA 14 (Zakros) appears to be almost entirely inscribed in Mycenaean-derived Greek. The only exception is the word tumitizase, which from the context very likely means “linen”, one of the most highly prize cloths or textiles in Minoan/Mycenaean times. All of the other Mycenaean derived words have been adjusted to meet the exigencies of Minoan grammar. Comments: Megidi almost certainly is in a Minoan oblique case. Given that I have extrapolated 5 more words with the ultimate di: dimedi, medakidi, mekidi, sekadidi and sekidi, it appears that this case may be the genitive singular, probably masculine. Further research is required to substantiate this claim, if at all possible. Mycenaean-derived punikaso is such a striking match with Linear B poinikiyo that it almost certainly means Phoenician. With reference to textiles, this word signifies “crimson”. In addition, qatiju is a close match with ancient Greek, geitheo (here Latinized) = to delight in, which in Minoan grammar is rendered as qatiju, i.e. gatheiu. Also, we have kupi = xhoufi from xhous, “in liquid measure” and panuke = fanuthe from fanos, meaning “brightly washed” and finally jawi for iawi = in violet (Greek).
To summarize, the decipherment makes perfect sense if all the vocabulary is interpreted as being Mycenaean-derived, except for tumitizase, which context practically demands signifies “linen”, the Old Minoan word corresponding with Linear B rino.
This remarkable decipherment lends even further credence to the hypothesis that a Mycenaean-derived superstratum imposed itself on the Minoan substratum. I have already deciphered at least six Linear A tablets which are primarily inscribed in Mycenaean-derived Greek, along with more inscribed in an admixture of Old and New Minoan.
Linear A tablet HT 87 (Haghia Triada), apparently in Mycenaean derived Greek: Linear A tablet HT 87 (Haghia Triada) is apparently inscribed in Mycenaean derived Greek. The literal translation and the free translation derived from it do make sense if we interpret the text as being Mycenaean derived Greek. The only word which is indecipherable is sa?supu -or- ni?supu. I cannot determine what the word is, since the syllabogram on the far left is left-truncated. It may be either ni or sa. On thing is certain: Prof. John G. Younger got it wrong. But it is probably an archaic proto-Greek word, which may mean something along the lines of “perfumed”, resulting in a translation “perfumed unguent”, of which 1 part is saffron. This makes sense in context.
Rational partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 117 (Haghia Triada) & the first real glimpse of Minoan grammar actualized: This albeit partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 117 (Haghia Triada) incorporates an approximately equal admixture of Old Minoan, i.e. the original Minoan language, also known as the Minoan substratum (of which I am unable to decipher most of the words) and of New Minoan, i.e. the superstratum of words of probable Mycenaean provenance, most of which I have been able to decipher with relative ease. While some of the New Minoan translations obviously appear to break the grammatical rules of Mycenaean Greek, such as mitu for “mint”, which is after all mita (and feminine) in Mycenaean Greek or daminu for “in 1 village”, which is damo in the nominative in Linear B, these adjustments can be readily accounted for by the fact that Old Minoan grammar is not at all the same beast as Mycenaean grammar. Although we are not yet familiar with much of Old Minoan grammar, which is after all the grammar of Minoan, just the same as modernized Anglo-Saxon grammar is the grammar of English, in spite of the enormous superstratum of French, Latin and Greek words in the latter language, this tablet alone perhaps affords us a first glimpse into the mechanics of Minoan grammar. Thus, it would appear that mitu may be the Minoan accusative of mita, and daminu may be the locative of damo in Minoan. Although there is no scientific way for me to substantiate this claim, I believe I am onto something, and that I may be making the first cracks in the obdurate wall of the grammar of the Minoan language substratum. If this is so, then I may be actually pointing the way to unravelling at least a subset of Old Minoan grammar. To illustrate my point, let us take a look at these phrases in English, as adapted from their Norman French superstrata. In French, the phrases would read as follows: “ avec la menthe”& “ dans le village”, whereas in English they read as “with mint” & “in the village”. Take special note of the fact that, while the Norman French superstrata words in English, “mint” and “village” are (almost) identical to their Norman French counterparts, the grammar of the phrases is entirely at odds, because after the grammar of French, which is a Romance language, and of English, which is a Germanic, cannot possibly coincide. But here again, I must emphatically stress that English grammar is an entirely different matter than English vocabulary, of which the latter is only 26 % Germanic, but 29 % French, 29 % Latin and 4 % Greek, the latter 3 languages, namely, the superstrata, accounting for fully 64 % of all English vocabulary! We must always make this clear distinction between English grammar, which is essentially Anglo-Saxon modernized, and English vocabulary, which is only minimally Germanic. If we carry this hypothesis to its logical outcome, we can readily surmise that the same phenomenon applies to the Linear A syllabary. Where grammar is concerned, the Linear A syllabary is Old Minoan, i.e. the original Minoan language or substrate. Where vocabulary is concerned, Linear A represents an admixture of Old Minoan vocabulary, such as uminase, kuramu, kupa3nu (kupainu), tejare and nadare (all of which I cannot decipher) and of New Minoan Mycenaean derived vocabulary, such as makarite, mitu, sata, kosaiti and daminu on this tablet alone. The orthography of the latter words is not actually consistent with Mycenaean grammar, because constitutionally it cannot be. Once again, the grammar is always Minoan, whereas the vocabulary often falls into the New Minoan (Mycenaean derived) superstratum. In the case of makarite, it would appear that, if the word is dative in Minoan, the Minoan dative is similar to the Mycenaean, ending as it seems to in i. The ultimate te in makarite appears to be the Mycenaean or ancient Greek enclitic te (and). In the case of mitu, which is mita and feminine in Mycenaean Greek, it would appear that the Minoan word is either masculine or that in this case at least, it is instrumental, meaning “with mint”, in which case the Minoan feminine instrumental appears to terminate with u. The word kosaiti appears to follow the same lines. The first two syllables, kosai, apparently are Mycenaean, but the ultimate ti is Minoan, and once again, instrumental (plural). Again, daminu appears to repeat the same pattern. The word damo is masculine (or neuter) in Mycenaean. But the ultimate is inu here, which appears to be the Minoan locative, inu. To summarize, we must make a clear-cut distinction between any New Minoan vocabulary on any Linear A tablet, and its orthography, which must of necessity follow the orthographic conventions of the Minoan language, and not of the Mycenaean, from which any such words are derived. I intend to make this abundantly clear in subsequent posts.
First of 6 extremely rare Linear A fragments from Phaistos: 12a 12b 12 c Above is the first of 6 extremely rare Linear A fragments from Phaistos: 12a 12b 12 c. The text is extremely difficult to interpret, but I have done my level best. 12a is pretty much indecipherable. 12b consists of fractions. 12c consists of the single syllabogram TE, which might possibly be the supersyllabogram TE, which usually stands for tereza, a large standard unit of liquid measurement. It would mesh well enough with 12b, since that fragment is all fractions. But there is no way we can confirm this at all, since 12c is a fragment, doubtless with almost all of its original text absent. So without context, we cannot be sure of anything.
Minoan Linear A tablet HT 14 (Haghia Triada) almost completely deciphered + the 4 categories of Linear A tablets: Here you see Minoan Linear A tablet HT 14 (Haghia Triada), which I have been able to decipher almost completely. This is because the tablet is comprised mostly of ideograms, making it much easier to reconstruct the original text. In addition, I have already translated the supersyllabogram TE = tereza (on the first line) as being a large unit of liquid measurement, which in the case of wine might be something like “a flask”, “a jug” or something along the lines of “a gallon”, on the explicit understanding that there was no such thing as a gallon in Minoan times; this is merely an approximation. The supersyllabograms PU & DI are unknown, i.e. indecipherable, at least to date. Likewise, the Old Minoan word, apu2nadu (apunaidu) is also unknown, but it might mean “harvest”. The units of wheat are probably equivalent to something like a bushel. The supersyllabogram MI = mini signifies “for a month” (dative) or “monthly”, and is New Minoan, i.e. a word of Mycenaean origin superimposed on Linear A. The rest of the decipherment is self-explanatory. Decipherment of Minoan Linear A tablets falls into four (4) categories: 1. Tablets on which we find only Old Minoan words, or on which the vast majority of words are Old Minoan. These tablets are pretty much indecipherable. 2. Tablets on which we find a combination of Old Minoan and New Minoan (words of Mycenaean origin). The more New Minoan words on a tablet, the more likely we are going to be able to decipher it. Ideally, there should be more New Minoan (Mycenaean) words than Old Minoan (the original Minoan substratum), in order to divine the meanings of Old Minoan words immediately adjacent to New Minoan words. This is of course contextual analysis. Such tablets are at least partially decipherable. 3. Linear A tablets containing ideograms almost exclusively are susceptible to decipherment. HT 14 (Haghia Triada) falls into this category. 4. A very few Linear A tablets are written mostly, almost entirely and in one case only, entirely in New Minoan (the Mycenaean superstratum). These tablets can be be mostly and in some cases entirely deciphered.