Linear B – KN Dd1171, article by Peter J. Keyse on

Linear B - KN Dd1171, article by Peter J. Keyse on 

Click on this graphic to view Keyse’s article:

Linear B - KN Dd1171

Peter J. Keyse provides a thorough analysis of Linear B tablet  KN Dd 1171 in this fascinating article, which is well worth reading for anyone who is familiar with the Linear B syllabary, and certainly for anyone who is studying Linear B in depth. His article is not without errors. For instance, he deciphers PoRo as the name of someone in what he calls the PoMe “worker class” = a shepherd,

Linear B - KN Dd1171 PORO

but his interpretation of of PORO is clearly incorrect, as this word  has 3 distinct meanings, one of which is the Linear B word for “a foal”, as demonstrated by Chris Tselentis in his Linear B Lexicon, here:

Tselentis PORO

(The other 2 meanings of POME offered by Tselentis do not fit the context)

while POME is quite obviously Mycenaean Greek for “shepherd”:

Tselentis POME

Keyse also notes that Michael Ventris identified 3 major styles for incisions - those at Knossos, Pylos and Mycenae. In his own words: The vertical lines are quite faint scratches and not easily seen. The cuts in the clay are ‘under-cut’ i.e. pushed in at an angle . This preoccupation with Linear B scribal hands recurs in a great many articles on Linear B. Keyse also covers the what he ascertains to be the phonetic sounds of the numerics on this tablet. He also emphasizes the nature and particulars characteristics of the scribal hand on this tablet.

But it his conclusion which is most fascinating. He says,

In conclusion: 

What would Dd1171 sound like if read aloud? Po-Ro. 20 OVISm, 72 OVISf. Pa-I-To. Pa 8 OVISm. While it reasonable to say that Linear B was no more the spoken language of its day than ‘double-entry bookkeeping’ speak is for accounting clerks today it is also true to say that accountants do on occasions talk in journals and double-entry (and not only when at dinner parties and down the pub) and they certainly call over inventories to each other. It is clear that Linear B had a sound but perhaps it is unlikely that we can fairly reproduce it today. Considering the importance of numbers within the Linear B archive I find it surprising that no phonic system has been devised to represent them or if devised is not clearly documented in the literature. 

COMMENT by Richard Vallance Janke on the sound, i.e. the general pronunciation of Linear B. In actuality, we probably do have some idea of how Mycenaean Greek was pronounced. Its closest cousin was Arcado-Cypriot, represented both by its own syllabary, Linear C, and by its own archaic alphabet. The Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot dialects were much closer phonetically than even Ionic and Attic Greek. Phonological details of the archaic Arcado-Cypriot dialect appear in C.D. Buck, The Greek Dialects, © 1955, 1998. ISBN 1-85399-566-8, on pg. 144. He provides even more information on Arcado-Cypriot on pp. 7-8, and classifies it as an East Greek dialect, pg. 9. This is highly significant, because if Arcado-Cypriot is East Greek, ergo Mycenaean Greek also is. This places both of the archaic East-Greek dialects, Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot, firmly in the camp of all East Greek dialects, including Arcadian, Aeolic, Lesbian, Cyprian, Pamphylian, Thessalian, Boeotian, and the much later Ionic and Attic dialects. So it is probably fair to say that we may have at least an idea, even if somewhat inaccurate, of how Mycenaean Greek was pronounced. And this has huge implications for the further study of Mycenaean Greek phonology.


Rita Roberts’ translation of Knossos tablet KN 906 Da 02 corrected, livestock from the marketplace

Rita Roberts translation of Knossos tablet KN 906 Da 02 corrected, livestock from the marketplace:

Linear B KN 906 D a 02

This is one of three tablets which Rita Roberts had to translate to qualify for her second year of university. This tablet is the easiest of the three, on an ascending scale of difficulty. Rita achieved the excellent mark of 91 % = A + for this tablet. Congratulations, Rita!

The other two tablets are extremely challenging, even for experts in Linear B.

Translation of Linear B tablet KN 903 Da 01 by Rita Roberts

Translation of Linear B tablet KN 903 Da 01 by Rita Roberts:

KN 903 D a 01 livestock

Here we have Rita Roberts translation of Linear B B tablet KN 903 Da 01. In her own decipherment, Rita translated Watoakoraya as a personal name of a shepherd or herdsman, but this is clearly wrong, because akoraya is genitive singular and means “from the market” and Wato is archaic dative singular for Watos, which is a place name. So the proper translation is “from the market at Watos”. Otherwise, her translation is sound.

Translation of Linear B tablet KN 894 Do 04 by Rita Roberts

Translation of Linear B tablet KN 894 Do 04 by Rita Roberts:

KN 898 D o 04 opxen ZE

Here we have Rita Roberts translation of Linear B B tablet KN 894 Do 04, which I find quite fascinating, even though it is so short. This is because of the supersyllabogram ZE, which literally means “yoked with a pair of or as Rita Roberts puts it a team of oxen”. In addition, we have the enclitic QE following the name Tomako, which means “and”, implying that there was another herdsman mentioned before Tomako; hence, the tablet is left-truncated as well as right-truncated.

Rita Roberts’ translation of Knossos Linear B tablet, KN 897 D a 11

Rita Roberts’ translation of Knossos Linear B tablet, KN 897 D a 11:

Linear B tablet KN 897 D a 11

Rita Roberts’ translation of Knossos Linear B tablet, KN 897 D a 11 reveals a brilliant insight on her part. She surmises that the single syllabogram PO may actually be the first syllable of Linear B pome poimh/n, which means “shepherd” or “herdsman”, and taht is one brilliant insight! If she is correct — and I believe she is — PO is a brand new supersyllabogram which I have not as yet accounted for.

Rita Roberts’ translation of Linear B tablet KN 911 D e 01 (Knossos)

Rita Roberts translation of Linear B tablet KN 911 D e 01 (Knossos):

Linear B KN 911 D e 01

This is one of the most complex Linear B tablets Rita Roberts has ever had to translate. She also provided a running free translation of this tablet, but I have had to omit it for lack of space in the graphics file. In other words, if I had included her free translation, the graphics file would have been much too long to display properly. As it stands, it is already very long. One of the prime characteristics of a small subset of Linear B tablets, mostly from Pylos, but in this case from Knossos, is that they are long lists of names, in this case, shepherds taking care of their sheep. Rita Roberts makes the following observations on this tablet.


This Linear B tablet 911 De 0l (LXX) is a lengthy inventory of hundreds of ewes, billy goats, she goats and rams, I would imagine it is of special interest for Knossos palace. It is difficult to say whether all these animals were brought together at the same time for any specific purpose. If so there are a few reasons to suggest why this could be. The first would be, having to check the stock for health reasons for the possible move to a new pasture. Secondly, it could be that the animals needed to be organized for shearing, also some for slaughter. My final suggestion is, maybe some animals were for possible export. However, these are a few possible reasons for such a large inventory, but on the whole it is a comprehensive inventory for the palace.

I may as well admit that I passed this tablet onto Rita as I am constitutionally lazy when it comes to deciphering long tablets. However, this is not the only reason. It is vital that Rita master (subjunctive) complex tablets that pose a huge challenge. This one certainly does.



Cretan pictograms – 24-29: livestock (possibly/probably/definitely) known

Cretan pictograms – 24-29: livestock (possibly/probably/definitely) known:

Cretan pictograms livestock agricultural

The Cretan pictograms in the livestock sector pretty much speak for themselves. The only definite one is that for rams. The rest are probable, and open to dispute.

Linear B tablet HT 118 (Haghia Triada), livestock on plots of land

Linear B tablet HT 118 (Haghia Triada), livestock on plots of land:

Minoan Linear A tablet HT 118 Haghia Triada

While this tablet does present some problems in the decipherment of the kinds of livestock on it, that does not mean we do not have a relatively reasonable picture of which ones they are. Beside madi, which appears to mean “pig” from the context, the other 3 are qaqaru, arisa and riruma. Now these 3 probably mean “cow”, “bull” and “ox” in turn. But if they must be permuted. In other words, if the first word, qaqaru, means “cow”, then the other two mean “bull” and “ox”, but in which order we cannot tell. Thus, it is necessary to permute all 3 words for all 3 kinds of livestock at each occurrence. The supersyllabogram KI almost certainly refers to “a plot of land”, because it is repeated twice, and after all, we do find livestock on plots of land.

I have now deciphered, in whole or in part, 17 tablets from Haghia Triada alone, and somewhere in the order of 35 altogether, regardless of provenance.

Rita Robert’s translation of an extremely challenging Linear B tablet, KN 903 D a 01

Rita Robert’s translation of an extremely challenging Linear B tablet, KN 903 D a 01:

Linear B tablet KN 903 D a 01

Linear B Latinized:
Line 1: Watoakoraya + ideogram for “rams” 60 + ideo for “ewes” 270 + ideo for aiza = billy goat  49
Line 2: ideogram for “she goat” 130 + ideo for siaro = “boar” 17 + ideo for sow 41 + ideo for tauro -or- toro = “bull/ox”   + ideo for “cow” 4

Line 1: From the market in Wato (or: from the town market), 60 rams and 270 ewes plus 49 billy goats
Line 2: along with 130 she goats plus 17 boar plus 41 sows 2 bulls  and 4 cows

Common Linear A ideograms for livestock, crops, olives, barley and wheat

Common Linear A ideograms for livestock, crops, olives, barley and wheat:

Linear A ideograms 620

These are the most common Linear A ideograms for livestock, crops, olives, barley and wheat. Unlike Mycenaean Linear B, Linear draws a distinction between certain species of wheat, with the ideogram for “wheat” accompanied by the supersyllabogram DI meaning dideru = “roasted einkorn” and the same ideogram accompanied by QE , signifying qerie = “emmer wheat”, while at the same time using a slightly different ideogram for “barley”.  In addition, the word sara2 (sarai) = “sharia wheat”. All of these words are firmly established and confirmed in either the Old Minoan or the pre-Greek substratum. Most of the Linear A ideograms are either very similar or identical to their Linear B counterparts.

Here you see illustrations of emmer wheat and roasted einkorn:

roasted einkorn and emmer wheat

And here is sharia wheat:

sharia wheat

Mycenaean Linear B tablet KN 1270 Ej 213 with the single supersyllabogram O on it

Mycenaean Linear B tablet KN 1270 Ej 213 with the single supersyllabogram O on it:

Knossos tablet KN 1270 E j 213 and the supersyllabogram O

Mycenaean Linear B tablet KN 1270 Ej 213 has the single supersyllabogram O on it. This supersyllabogram O stands for onato = a lease field, as the translation makes perfectly clear. We see here that the shepherd (or sheep owner) Akunirios has 92 rams + another rams on a usufruct lease field. When we speak of a “usufruct lease field” we mean that the shepherd or sheep owner is permitted to use the lease field (generally by his landlord) for his own benefit or personal gain. 

Mycenaean Linear B tablet Ashmolean An1938_708_o with the single supersyllabogram O on it

Mycenaean Linear B tablet Ashmolean An1938_708_o with the single supersyllabogram O on it:

AN1938_708_o KN 1301 E j 324

Mycenaean Linear B tablet Ashmolean An1938_708_o has the single supersyllabogram O on it. This supersyllabogram O stands for onato = a lease field, as the translation makes perfectly clear.



Mycenaean Linear B tablet KN 791 G c 101 & the co-dependent supersyllabograms O & KI

Mycenaean Linear B tablet KN 791 G c 101 & the co-dependent supersyllabograms O & KI:

KN 791 G c 101 & supersyllabograms O & KI

On Mycenaean Linear B tablet KN 791 G c 101, we find the co-dependent supersyllabograms O & KI. In Mycenaean Greek, the SSYL (supersyllabogram) O = onato = a lease field & the SSYL KI = kitimena = a plot of land. When these two SSYLS are combined, they become co-dependent, each one delimiting the other. Hence, on the second line of this tablet, O KI + the ideogram for “rams” or “ewes” (we are unsure which, since the ideogram is right-truncated)  means “an unknown number (right-truncated) of sheep -or- rams -or- ewes on a settled plot of land in a lease field.” When two or more co-dependent supersyllabograms are used with the ideograms for “sheep”, “rams” or “ewes”, both must be nouns. Adjectives are never used for associative co-dependent supersyllabograms, which is precisely what O + KI are on the second line. Associative SSYLS never define the ideogram(s) with which they are linked, since the ideograms themselves already mean exactly what they mean, in this case, “sheep”, “rams” or “ewes”. What associative SSYLS do is modify the ideograms with which they are associated.

NOTE that all supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B were handed down from Minoan Linear A, which invented them. 

Minoan Linear A tablet GO Wc 1 (Gournia) asasumaise = “cattle-driver”

Minoan Linear A tablet GO Wc 1 (Gournia) asasumaise = “cattle-driver”:

Even at first glance, from Minoan Linear A tablet GO Wc 1 (Gournia), sporting the word asasumaise, it appears very much like this word means “cattle-driver” or “shepherd (of cattle)”.  Of course, it is also possible that this is just the cattle-driver’s name. So I have to account for both possibilities. Nevertheless, I am inclined to lean strongly on “cattle-driver” or “shepherd (of cattle), if only for the reason that it is a rather long word, just as are its equivalents in Mycenaean Linear B, qoukoro & qoukota, as illustrated here:

Linear A table GO wc 1 cows

This is the eighty-ninth (89) Minoan Linear A term I have deciphered, more or less accurately.

Andras Zeke’s definitions for “rams”, “ewes ”, “billy goats” & “nanny goats” (Minoan Language Blog. The fault is in our stars

Andras Zeke’s definitions for “rams”,  “ewes ”, “billy goats” & “nanny goats” (Minoan Language Blog. The fault is in our stars:

On Minoan Linear A tablet PH 31,

Linear A PH 31 and agricultural stock

Andras Zeke provides us with 5 definitions for “rams”, but none for  “ewes ”, while he highlights one each for “billy goats” & “nanny goats” (Minoan Language Blog):

The four nomenclatures he attributes to “rams” are teri, rurumati, amidao, madi & patada. But as the old saying goes, you cannot have it both ways, or in this case, you cannot have it five ways. It is possible that one (and only one) of these words refers to young “rams” (lambs), but that still leaves us with the conundrum, which 1 of the 5 references “rams” and which young “rams” (lambs), if the latter even occur! There are just too many permutations and combinations to make any single definition for “rams” accessible.

On the other hand, he attributes just one definition each to “billy goat” (patane) and  “nanny goat”  (tujuma), which looks neat on the surface of things. But this scenario does not take into account the possibility, even probability, that other words are teamed up with “billy goat” and  “nanny goat” on other Linear A tablets, even if none appear on any other extant Linear A tablets. Since, in the absence of God knows how many lost Minoan Linear A tablets, we cannot know for sure whether or not other terms are conjoined with “billy goat” and “nanny goat” on the lost tablets, there is no way of our knowing whether or not additional words are adjacent to the ideograms for “billy goat” and “nanny goat” on those. In other words, other words may very well have been teamed up with these ideograms on lost tablets, but we shall never know. It is for this reason that I can neither consider the word patane as meaning “billy goat” nor tujuma as standing for “nanny goat”.

But the situation is further compounded by another critical factor, which is that the corresponding ideograms for all of these farm animals, sheep, rams, ewes, billy goats and nanny goats recur hundreds of times on Linear B tablets, yet never with any definition for any of them! All we see on any of these hundreds of tablets are the ideograms for each animal (masculine and feminine), never their definitions. And here on Linear A tablet PH 31 we find the same ideograms (which appear slightly differently in Linear A). So that leaves the question wide open. Just what can the words teri, rurumati, amidao, madi & patada, associated with rams, and patane for billy goat plus tujuma for nanny goats, possibly refer to? The situation is further complicated by the fact that never more than 5 and more often than not only 1 of each of these words attached to their respective ideograms appear on this tablet. This is in contradistinction with the total numbers of any these animals on practically all Linear B tablets, ranging from lows of scores to highs of hundreds. What is going on here? Why the huge discrepancy? Take for instance the three Linear B tablets below. On the first (KN 1301 E j 324),

a AN1938_708_o KN 1301 E j 324

78 rams and 22 ewes are mentioned, on the second (KN 928 G c 301),

b Knossos tablet KN 928 G c 301 supersyllabogram KI = kotona kitimena

the numbers of rams and ewes are truncated, but you can be sure that there are lots of them, while on the third (KN 791 G c 101),

c Knossos tablet KN 791 G c 101 ewes and rams

10 ewes & 105 rams are referenced, with the last ideogram on the second line truncated, so that we cannot even identify whether or not it is masculine or feminine. But here again, we can rest assured that the number of rams or ewes following the last ideogram runs at least to the scores.

There is no way of accounting for this huge discrepancy in the number of ewes and rams on Linear A tablet PH 31 (1 to 5) and the much greater numbers on the three Linear B tablets. Let us not forget that the totals for rams and ewes on almost every Linear B tablet run to the scores and hundreds, and even to the thousands for rams. I am thus left with no alternative but to conclude that the words on the Linear A tablet are not definitions for rams and ewes, and that even though there is only one “definition” (taken with a grain of salt) each for billy and nanny goat, that does not preclude the possibility and even probability that other words related to the same agricultural stock may have appeared on Minoan Linear A tablets, especially the non-extant ones. We cannot ignore that distinct possibility. The probability factor may also enter the equation.

A KEY TO THE MINOAN ECONOMY? An emphatic YES. 21,904 sheep in one place? Guess where…

A KEY TO THE MINOAN ECONOMY? An emphatic YES. 21,904 sheep in one place? Guess where... (Click to ENLARGE):

Knossos KN 162a D b

Knossos, of course! I have a number of relevant comments to make on this fascinating numeric tablet, which is is typical of the scads of numeric tablets the Minoan scribes (mostly at Knossos) produced for inventory, just as they did with pretty much every other agricultural animals or crops, or economic merchandise or trade in general. One of my comments in particular [2 infra] turns on the possibility, if not probability, that the word in question may even be Minoan! 

Following the NOTES in the illustration above, we notice that:

[1] the numbers to the left of the generic ideogram for sheep seem to be meaningless, for lack of context, the usual bugbear that plagues so many Linear B tablets. What these numbers, which seem quite haphazard, refer to is anyone’s guess, but I prefer to think of them as mere practice scribblings. On the other hand, they may refer to the ideogram [3] below. See infra.    

[2] This is undoubtedly the ideogram for “month”. The problem is, what does the supersyllabogram RE immediately preceding it refer to, if not the name of the month itself? And that is just what I take it to mean. The difficulty we are now faced with, what is the name of the month which begins with the first syllable, the syllabogram RE? We cannot assume it is a Classical Greek name for any month, because in the Minoan & Mycenaean era (ca. 1900 BCE – 1200 BCE), Classical Greek month names did not exist. So either the month name referred to here beginning with the supersyllabogram RE is a Mycenaean Greek month name or even a Minoan month name, for the simple reason that the Minoan scribes writing in Mycenaean Greek sometimes very likely transposed (i.e. used) Minoan names for islands, municipalities, names of people, names of the seasons and months etc. This practice, if indeed it was their practice, may very well serve to provide a definite clue to the categories of Minoan vocabulary I refer to above, and then some. It is an approach to the partial decipherment of Linear A we need to take seriously. The problem with supersyllabograms such as RE is that they are only the first syllable of any word they represent, and are thus incapable of revealing what the word behind the supersyllabogram in question refers to, unless we already know the language the supersyllabogram is used for. If the language is Mycenaean Greek in Linear B, then we stand a (usually remote) chance of deciphering the word, but if the word is Minoan, and – I must strongly emphasize this – a Minoan month name written, not in Linear A, but in Linear B (since this is after all a Linear B tablet) we stand no chance whatsoever of deciphering the month name, at least for the present. 
[3] This ideogram looks remarkably like the ideogram for “honey”, but wait! Hold on now! Does that make any sense at all in the context of this tablet, which otherwise and principally provides meaningful statistics on sheep, and nothing else? So it appears that suggesting this is the ideogram for “honey” may be stretching the limits of credibility, especially in light of the fact that the numbers to the left of the generic ideogram for “sheep” appear haphazard at best, hence, probably meaningless, except as (practice) doodles. There is simply no way of knowing.   

[4] The scribe appears to have effaced the lower half of this 1K (1,000), but I prefer to assume that he did so in error. If not, then the total number of sheep would be 21,804 rather than 21,904, as if that makes much of a difference! It is still a helluva lot of sheep. 

[5] This modified ideogram for “person”, in which the person appears to be holding a spear or something of that ilk, poses a few problems, none of them insurmountable, and any of which may be valid in the context of this tablet. First of all, why would a person hanging around sheep bear a spear, except to chase off predators such as wolves? If we assume that this modified ideogram actually means “shepherd”, then the problem almost resolves itself. Almost. The difficulty now is, what is the shepherd holding? It certainly could still be a spear, but shepherds usually hold staffs, and so that it what I take it to mean for this modified ideogram, unless... this is the signature of the scribe, which is an entirely plausible alternative. So this ideogram could mean 1 of 3 things. Take your pick.

Last, but far from least, we are still left with two nagging questions. How is it possible that this tablet, in combination with the 5 tablets on rams from Knossos, all 6 of them, can yield a mind-boggling total of over 45,000 sheep?  Was the even countryside around Knossos capable of sustaining such an immense number of livestock, let alone only sheep, not counting bulls & cows, horses etc. etc.? What is going on here? Have our assiduous scribes gone overboard?  The answer is simply, no. The second part of our question must reference the time, i.e. the year, season or month each and every one of these tablets was composed. This is no idle matter for speculation. The tablet in this post seems to refer only to the month RE, though only on the left side of the ideogram for sheep, leaving us with the question whether the rest of the tablet dealing only with sheep to the right of the ideogram for sheep, refers to the same time period, i.e. on month, that month being RE. It could go either way. But once again, we shall never know.

It simply strikes me as a little odd, in fact bordering on the ridiculous, that there would be 45,000 sheep around Knossos all at once! However, the explanation for this oddity follows. Once we clear that up, we can then conclude, within reasonable parameters, that there more than likely were never as many as 45,000 sheep wandering around, stinking up the countryside, and posing an awful environmental hazard to the city of Knossos. Otherwise, the city, as prosperous and as clean as the Minoans were, would never have survived more a few years. But ostensibly it did. I have addressed this issue before in posts where I refer to the strong likelihood that the Minoans, being the advanced civilization they were, were not only plainly familiar with the basic principles of hydrology and plumbing (which they most certainly were), but equally with the principles and practice of crop rotation and even rotation of animals in husbandry. If we allow for this scenario, then there would more likely than not, be far fewer than 45,000 sheep hanging around Knossos in any given running or fiscal year, though how many there would be we can never know... except that, given the fact that almost all sheep-related tablets from Knossos itself rarely inventory fewer than 5,000 sheep on any one tablet. So we can at least speculate an annual figure of some 5,000-10,000 sheep, if nothing else.      
And who is to say this tablet, and any or all of the remaining tablets, were inscribed in the same year? Again, no idle question, for two inescapable reasons.

[1] The Minoan scribes kept annual statistics for absolutely anything and everything they inventoried, and erased the very same tablets on which these annual statistics were inscribed, and replaced the whole shebang with the new statistics for the next fiscal year for the same inventories of whatever they were recording (sheep, rams, ewes, cows, bulls, horses, chariots, armour, vessels and vases of all kinds, cloth, jewelry, you name it, the list goes on and on and on). In other words, putting it in a nutshell, there is simply no way of determining whether any or all of these 6 tablets in this and the previous post originate from the same “wetos” or “running year” = fiscal year, as the Minoan scribes so aptly called each inventory year.

[2] Add on top of this scenario the fact that all 4,000 or so of the tablets at Knossos were unearthed from the rubble of either a massive earthquake or the destruction of the city by invasion (the place is scarred with burns), or both, how can anyone be sure that any fragments laying side-by-side in the messy rubble on any aspect of Minoan life whatsoever, are from the same year, let alone the same category of inventory shelves on which they were almost certainly stored according to some classification system making it easy for the scribes to retrieve any tablet on any aspect of the Minoan agri-economy for any given running year, i.e. fiscal year? Once again we are at an impasse, up against a solid (or if you like, crumbling) brick wall.  The likelihood that there is a strong relationship, some sort of relationship, or little relationship at all between one tablet and the next lying beside aside in the rubble that Sir Arthur Evans and company had to all too meticulously and cautiously rummage through remains an open question at best. True enough, as I have myself discovered in certain sequential ranges of tablets and fragments in Scripta Minoa, there are several instances in which the tablets in a particular entirely intact series, say speculatively, KN 1610 – KN 1654, for the sake of argument, all deal with the very same aspect of the Minoan agri-economy, for instance, sheep, rams and ewes, but even when they do, there is still absolutely no guarantee that any of these intact sequences all deal with the same running or fiscal year. And all too many adjacent tablets are not directly related. So we are left with the same enigma we were confronted with in the first place. 


2 Plausible Alternative Decipherments of Pylos Tablet cc 665

2 Plausible Alternative Decipherments of Pylos Tablet cc 665. Be sure to read the entire text and the accompanying notes to the Linear B tablet Pylos cc 665, in which I have transcribed the scribe's Linear B into the Linear B font for clarity, & translated into Greek & into English. (Click to ENLARGE):


Come to think of it, the second translation is actually absurd (and uproariously funny, since there is no way in heaven or on earth the Mycenaeans could cram that many rams and pigs into one of their little ships, without displacing all of the rowers and sinking the ship, unless of course they brought them to Potnia in a small armada, (kind of like they sent off to the Trojan war), which she would certainly would have appreciated! The Table above is entirely self-explanatory, but it is even easier to interpret in light of the previous 2 posts, An Analysis of the Archaic Greek in the Iliad: Book II (Lines 1-34) & The Extreme Significance of the Archaic Greek of the Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad in the Reconstruction of Mycenaean Greek grammar and vocabulary, which is the fundamental thesis of this blog. You may wish to go back and re-read those posts to get an even clearer perspective on the decipherments I propose here. Criticism and comments are welcome, especially from our new friends at our brand-new sister blog, Konoso, which I am delighted to have discovered. You can jump immediately to the Konoso blog by clicking on the Link to it in Friends & Links at the bottom of this page. Enjoy!     


British Museum Linear B Tablet 1910,0423.2: Ideograms for rams & ewes at Phaistos

British Museum Linear B Tablet 1910,0423.2: Ideograms for rams & ewes at Phaistos (Click to ENLARGE):

Knossos Tablet PAITO rams & ewes  

This tablet, which amply illustrates the use of Liner B ideograms for livestock (rams & ewes) is in the British Museum collection of Linear B Tablets (Museum number 1910,0423.2).  The Museum record reads: “Clay tablet inscribed with Linear B script, recording a number of ewes and rams at Phaistos under the control of a particular shepherd. Minoan, about 1450-1400 BC From the Palace of Knossos, Crete”.

Click the British Museum Logo to see the record:



Progressive Linear B: Level 4.2 (Advanced) Livestock Syllabograms versus Ideograms

Progressive Linear B: Level 4.2 Livestock Syllabograms (Click to ENLARGE):

Progressive Linear B Level 4.2 Livestock Syllabogrrams

It is absolutely essential to read the above table in its entirety if you wish to distinguish between Linear B Syllabograms and Ideograms for any field: agriculture, construction, manufacturing, trade, religion, the military etc., since the Linear B scribes followed a consistent procedure in the application of syllabograms and ideograms on extant tablets.  In other words, we can extrapolate a fundamental principle from scribal usage of syllabograms and ideograms.  At the specific level of livestock and animals in the field of agriculture, we note that scribes never used ideograms for land, land tenure or agricultural techniques, but only for livestock and animals. Even in the latter case, they only used syllabograms for generic animal nomenclature, e.g. “horse” and “pig”, but not for the masculine and feminine of that animal. The reasons, as I see them, are enumerated in this table.

Finally, to make it quite clear what an Ideogram is (in modern terms), I provide you with the following example:

modern ideograms

I have to say that I find the “Do not feed the birds” ideogram quite funny!


Progressive Linear B Ideograms: Level 4.2 – Agriculture/Livestock

Progressive Linear B Ideograms: Level 4.2 - Agriculture/Livestock:

Progressive Linear B Ideograms Level 4.2 Livestock

The ideograms for livestock in the field of agriculture are pretty much self-explanatory. The important thing to remember is that the generic ideograms for various livestock such as horses, cows, pigs & deer vary somewhat in appearance from one to the next, while all masculine livestock, such as stallions, bulls, boars & rams are clearly identified with two parallel horizontal bars, and all feminine livestock, such as mares, cows, sows & ewes are identified with an inverted V or a variant thereof. This logical principle invariably holds true for all human and animal ideograms.

Once again, I remind readers of this blog that the Mycenaean and Minoan scribes frequently resorted to ideograms instead of spelling out words in Linear B to save precious space on their tablets, which were usually quite small.  In other words, ideograms are a kind of shorthand.

Finally, note that the generic ideogram for "pig" is also a homophone, pronounced either as SIYA or as AU.