Tag Archive: minoan



Is the Minoan language proto-Altaic or proto-Japanese? The vast bulk of current diachronic linguistic research stacks up squarely against this hypothesis:

According to Ms.Gretchen Leonhardt of: 

Konosos.net

and I quote:

While there has been much debate about the underlying language of Linear A, I disagree that LinA does not resemble a known language. Despite its similarities to Japanese, historical linguists dismiss a correlation for at least two reasons: (1) the apparent lack of genetic evidence and (2) the universally held belief that LinA is an Indo-European language. Regarding the first justification, if linguists are looking to mainland Japan for genetic evidence, they are looking too far north. By whatever means, it appears that, around 1000 BCE, the Minoans entered Japan from the southern islands, and gradually moved north. Regarding the second justification, Minoan scholarship generally agrees that the Minoans migrated from the Anatolian region**, which suggests an Altaic origin or influence. Likewise, Japanese scholarship suggests that the Japanese language belongs to the Japonic-language family, which is believed to have an Altaic origin or influence.

General consensus dates the demise of the high Minoan civilization as late as 3,500 years ago, with the widespread destruction of the palace centers, while Neil Gordon Munro dates the commencement of the Yamato culture, which is the presumed progenitor of modern Japanese civilization, as early as 3,000 years ago. According to Munro, the origin of the Yamato culture is unknown but had arrived in a highly advanced state. The culture is notable for its grave goods–bronze arrowheads, bells, and halberds. The culture is also notable for its wheel-thrown pottery, which employed “restrained” decoration with “subdued color” [1908:4].

Comment:
Munro was writing in 1908, when linguistic assumptions about Altaic languages were in their infancy! Modern scholarship has all but refuted the assumptions about Altaic languages in vogue at the beginning of the twentieth century, i.e. 100 years ago!

She continues:
The Okinawan (Uchina’a) Japanese remain culturally, genetically, and linguistically distinct from the mainland (Yamato) Japanese, although the two cultures are believed to share a common proto language. This forum will provide support–through disciplines such as archaeology, architecture, art, genetics, and language–for my dual theories that LinA is proto Japanese and that the Minoan civilization provides a rich backdrop for Japanese history, which, for millennia, has been shrouded in mystery.

I hasten to add that in the preceding passage, Ms. Leonhardt has made egregious errors with respect to Minoan Linear A. These are:
1. On the one hand, she claims to disagree that LinA does not resemble a known language.
2. and then goes straight ahead to flatly contradict herself by decrying “the universally held belief that LinA is an Indo-European language. Universally held? Very far from it. The controversy over the origin and language class Linear A purportedly belongs to still rages on, as attested by innumerable studies on academia.edu alone which contradict one another with respect to the language family or class to which Linear A purportedly belongs.  All this after she has just lament the fact that Linear A does not resemble any known language (1.)
3. She goes on... it appears that, around 1000 BCE, the Minoans entered Japan from the southern islands, and gradually moved north. Regarding the second justification, Minoan scholarship generally agrees that the Minoans migrated from the Anatolian region** (Does it? Perhaps in 1908, but I sincerely doubt this is the case today), which suggests an Altaic origin or influence. But what she obviously overlooks in this statement is the distinct probability, and indeed strong likelihood that the Minoan language almost certainly had already existed for some 1,200 years before the Minoans migrated to the southern Japanese islands, if they ever did so in the first place... which is a highly contentious claim. Moreover, while a few researchers still claim that the proto-Japanese dialect she is referencing belongs to the Altaic class of languages, the majority of current researchers number are convinced that this cannot be so.

And I quote (all italics mine):

Altaic Wikipedia TI

Micro-Altaic includes about 66 living languages,[9] to which Macro-Altaic would add Korean, Japanese and the Ryukyuan languages for a total of about 74. (These are estimates, depending on what is considered a language and what is considered a dialect. They do not include earlier states of languages, such as Middle Mongol, Old Korean or Old Japanese.)
Opponents maintain that the similarities are due to areal interaction between the language groups concerned. The inclusion of Korean and Japanese has also been criticized and disputed by other linguists.
The original Altaic family thus came to be known as the Ural–Altaic.[13] In the "Ural–Altaic" nomenclature, Finno-Ugric and Samoyedic are regarded as "Uralic", whereas Turkic, Mongolic, and Tungusic are regarded as "Altaic"—whereas Korean is sometimes considered Altaic, as is, less often, Japanese.

In other words, proto-Japanese, including the dialect with which Ms. Leonhardt is concerned, may not be (proto-) Altaic at all.

Altaic Wikipedia sometimes

4. Moroever, the following timetable seems to be the most realistic for the appearance of written Japanese (italics mine):



(3) Timetable:

To illustrate the prehistory of Japan, I'd put two lines on the timetable. The first line comes around 400 to 300 BC. This is the time when wet rice culture and iron processing came to the Japanese Islands, and the way of life there changed. Yet an older form of the Japanese language started to be spoken from that time. I'd call this phase of the language "proto-Japanese", which later evolved to our Old Japanese.

Comment:
Now it is clear from this diachronic timeline that proto-Japanese appeared at least 1,800 years after the first attestation of the Minoan language ca. 2200 BCE. 

And again (italics mine):

Japan

Along with the foreign faith, Japan establishes and maintains for 400 years close connections with the Chinese and Korean courts and adopts a more sophisticated culture. This new culture is essentially Chinese and includes literature, philosophy, art, architecture, science, medicine, and statecraft. Most important is the introduction of the Chinese writing system, revolutionizing Japan, which heretofore had no writing system of its own, and ushering in the country’s historical period.  (Comment: in other words, writing appeared in Japan only after 500 AD, some 2,700 years after the advent of the Minoan civlization.

5. Leonhardt continues, Minoan scholarship generally agrees that the Minoans migrated from the Anatolian region**, which suggests an Altaic origin or influence. after asserting in 1. above that LinA does not resemble a known language. and in 2. above, touting the universally held belief that LinA is an Indo-European language.  Good God, can she make up her mind? Is it 1. 2. or 5.?
6. Leonhardt then cites research a century old! (again, italics mine) She states, “According to Munro, the origin of the Yamato culture is unknown but had arrived in a highly advanced state. The culture is notable for its grave goods–bronze arrowheads, bells, and halberds. The culture is also notable for its wheel-thrown pottery, which employed “restrained” decoration with “subdued color” [1908:4].

For confirmation of the general span of dates of his publications, see:

Japanese race

Munro was writing in 1908, when linguistic assumptions about Altaic languages were in their primitive infancy! Modern scholarship has all but refuted the assumptions about Altaic languages in vogue at the beginning of the twentieth century, i.e. 100 years ago! And he wrote in this very journal.

7. But the most damning evidence against her thesis comes from (italics mine):

Paleoglot: How NOT to reconstruct a protolanguage

how not to rcon a

Paleoglot: ... So let's go through my cheeky list of important strategies that we can follow (using examples from the Tower of Babel project) if we want to isolate ourselves and be rejected by all universities around the world.
1. Use "phonemic wildcards" obsessively! Cast the net wider and you might catch something!

The abuse of mathematical symbols like C, V, [a-z], (a/é/ö), etc. are an excellent way to make your idle conjecture look like a valid theory. It might be called "reconstruction by parentheses" since parentheses are either explicitly shown or hidden by a single variable. An example of this is *k`egVnV (claimed to be the Proto-Altaic word for "nine" in the Tower of Babel database). Obviously, if V represents all possible vowels in this proto-language and there are, say, ten of them possible in either position, then the fact that there are two wildcards in the same word means that the word represents a humungous, two-dimensional matrix of ONE HUNDRED possible permutations (10*10=100):

*k`egana, *k`egena, *k`egina, *k`egüna, *k`egïna, etc.
*k`egane, *k`egene, *k`egine, *k`egüne, *k`egïne, etc.
*k`egani, *k`egeni, *k`egini, *k`egüni, *k`egïni, etc.
*k`eganü, *k`egenü, *k`eginü, *k`egünü, *k`egïnü, etc.
etc. language

Since no single form is actually being posited when wildcards are present, any claim of regular correspondence by such a theorist can be easily identified as fraud. If such linguists can't take themselves seriously enough to hypothesize a structured and testable theory, why then should we take them seriously in turn? 

It is this very method, if you can call it that by any yardstick of scientific methodology that Ms. Leonhardt indulges in:  

Leonhardt kira kiro kura juro

Wiktionary Proto-Japonic

as we can see all too clearly from this chart of her derivations of Minoan words from so-called Altaic roots:

To summarize, Ms. Leonhardt has seized herself in a web of self-contractions, severely outdated research and claims with respect to the authenticity of southern proto-Japanese as a so-called proto-Altaic language which cannot possibly stand the test of valid scientific methodology. I short, her pretensions that southern proto-Japanese is at the root of the Minoan language are just that, presentions, and egregious to boot.

So what are the alternatives? What language family or class might the Minoan language fall into? We shall address that question head on in the next post.


A ‘fairly accurate’ rendering of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 86a, according to Gretchen Leonhardt:

a partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A HT 86a
This Linear B tablet clearly deals with various crops, with the lead in crop being grains or wheat, just as one would expect on either a Mycenaean Linear B tablet. By the same token, there is no reason to suppose that a Minoan Linear A tablet dealing with crops would not deal first and foremost with grains and wheat. The units of measurements identified on this tablet accord with those tentatively tabulated by Andras Zeke on the

minoan-language-blog

Ms. Gretchen Leonhardt of

Konosos.net

has duly advised me that (and I quote) “your "recto" tablet is a fairly accurate rendering of HT 86a, but your "verso" tablet is an inaccurate rendering of HT 87.... ” She is of course entirely correct in informing me that the so-called verso side is not the same tablet at all, but is in fact, HT 87 (Haghia Triada). I am nevertheless astonished that she would accord me a fair degree of accuracy in my decipherment of HT 86 a, in view of the fact that  (a) I do not even know what the Minoan language is;
(b) Ms. Leonhardt claims to have conclusively deciphered the Minoan language as being proto-Japanese, categorically stating as she does that “overwhelming evidence keeps me steadfast in this view...”, a claim which I intend shortly to refute in no uncertain terms, by bringing to bear on it reasonable circumstantial, though not conclusive, evidence to the contrary and;
(c) she concedes that my decipherment of HT 86 A is fairly accurate, in spite of the fact that I am apparently flailing in the dark, since I know nothing of the Minoan language. Yet if I am, how on earth did I manage to achieve even a fairly accurate decipherment, I have to ask her.

Although Ms. Leonhardt claims that my knowledge of Linear A is “in its infancy” (as everyone’s, including her own, must of necessity be), as a historical philologist specializing in the decipherment of ancient syllabaries such as Linear A, Linear B and Linear C, and unlike Ms. Leonhardt along with numerous other researchers who purport to have definitely deciphered the Minoan language, I neither have ever made nor would ever make the rash and untenable claim that I have deciphered it, given the exiguous size of the lexical database with which we have to work. I have said as much over and over, as for instance in this citation from one of my own works to be published in the next year or so, and I quote:

Conclusions concerning the many failed attempts at deciphering Minoan Linear A:

The worst of all the pretensions of the authors of the aforementioned monographs and tractata are their untenable claims that they have in fact deciphered Minoan Linear A. How is it even remotely possible that these soi- disant decipherers of Minoan Linear A can claim to have discovered the so-called magic bullet in the guise of the proto-language upon which their decipherment has been based, when the proto-languages they invoke are soà wildly disparate? These decipherers have turned to a number of proto-languages, some of them Indo-European (such as proto-Greek and Proto-Slavic), others non proto-Indo-European, running the gamut from Uralic (proto-Finnish), proto-Niger Congo to proto-Semitic and Sumerian all the way through to proto-Altaic and proto-Japanese. While it is patently impossible that all of these proto-languages could be at the base of the Minoan language, it is nevertheless remotely conceivable that one of them just might be. But which one? Given the tangled  mass of contradictions these so-called decipherments land us in, I am left with no alternative but to pronounce that none of these so-called proto-languages is liable to stand the test of linguistic verisimilitude. All of this leaves me with an uneasy feeling of déjà vu.

Instead, I have adopted the unique approach of declaring that it does not matter what proto- language Minoan derives from, or for that matter, whether or not it, like modern Basque, is a language isolate, meaning a natural (spoken) language, ancient (dead) or modern (alive) with no demonstrable genealogical or genetic relationship with any other language whatsoever or alternatively, a language that has not been demonstrated to descend from an ancestor common with any other language in the world. (italics mine).

and again:

In an article of this nature, which is the first of its kind in the world ever to deal with the partial, but by no means definitive, decipherment of Minoan Linear A, I must of necessity focus on those Minoan Linear A terms which offer the greatest insight into the vocabulary of the language, but not the language itself. Anyone who dares claim he or she has “deciphered” the Minoan language is skating on very thin ice. Any attempt to decipher the Minoan language is severely trammelled by the incontestable fact that no one knows what the language is or even what language class it belongs to, if any.


Can quantum computers assist in the decipherment of Minoan Linear A?” Keynote article on academia.edu

(Click on the graphical link below to download this ground-breaking article on the application of potentially superintelligent quantum quantum computers to the decipherment, even partial, of the ancient Minoan Linear A syllabary):

can-qauntum-computers-assist-us-with-decipherment-of-minoan-linear-a

This is a major new article on the application of quantum computers to the AI (artificial intelligence) involvement in the decipherment of the unknown ancient Minoan Linear A syllabary (ca. 2800 – 1500 BCE). This article advances the hypothesis that quantum computers such as the world’s very first fully functional quantum computer, D-Wave, of Vancouver, B.C., Canada, may very well be positioned to assist human beings in the decipherment, even partial, of the Minoan Linear A syllabary. This article goes to great lengths in explaining how quantum computers can expedite the decipherment of Minoan Linear A. It addresses the critical questions raised by Nick Bostrom, in his ground-breaking study, Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies (Oxford University Press, 2014),

nick-bostom-superintelligence

in which he advances the following hypothesis:

Nick Bostrom makes it clear that artificial superintelligence (AS) does not necessarily have to conform to or mimic human intelligence. For instance, he says:
1. We have already cautioned against anthropomorphizing the capabilities of a superintelligent AI. The warning should be extend to pertain to its motivations as well. (pg 105)
and again,
2. This possibility is most salient with respect to AI, which might be structured very differently than human intelligence. (pg. 172) ... passim ... It is conceivable that optimal efficiency would be attained by grouping aggregates that roughly match the cognitive architecture of a human mind. It might be the case, for example, that a mathematics module must be tailored to a language module, in order for the three to work together... passim ... There might be niches for complexes that are either less complex (such as individual modules), more complex (such as vast clusters of modules), or of  similar complexity to human minds but with radically different architectures. 

... among others respecting the probable advent of superintelligence within the next 20-40 years (2040-2060).

This is a revolutionary article you will definitely not want to miss reading, if you are in any substantial way fascinated by the application of supercomputers and preeminently, quantum computers, which excel at lightning speed pattern recognition, which they can do so across templates of patterns in the same domain, to the decipherment of Minoan Linear A, an advanced technological endeavour which satisfies these scientific criteria. In the case of pattern recognition across multiple languages, ancient and modern, in other words in cross-comparative multi-language analysis, the astonishing capacity of quantum computers to perform this operation in mere seconds is an exceptional windfall we simply cannot afford not to take full advantage of.  Surely quantum computers’ mind-boggling lightning speed capacity to perform such cross-comparative multi-linguistic analysis is a boon beyond our wildest expectations.



The Arcado-Cypriot Linear C keyboard template & the significantly revised timeline for (proto-) historic ancient Greek society:

arcado-cyrpriot-linear-c-keyboard-template-620

This image of the Arcado-Cypriot Linear C keyboard template has been downsized to 620 pixels to fit the restrictive exigencies of Word Press image size. You may request the full-sized 1200 pixel Linear C keyboard template by contacting me at:

vallance22@zoho.com

The Arcado-Cypriot Linear C keyboard template reveals several fascinating characteristics of this extremely important and highly tenacious syllabary. These are:

1. The Arcadians and Cypriots thoroughly redesigned Linear C, almost completely abandoning the Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B syllabograms, but only in superficial appearance.
2. The only Linear C syllabograms which bear resemblance with their Mycenaean Linear B forbears are: NA SE PA & PO.
3. But almost all of the rest of the syllabograms in Linear C bear the same phonetic values as their Linear B forbears. 
4. The DA series of syllabograms in Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B has completely disappeared from Arcado-Cypriot Linear C.
5. The RA RE RI RO (RU) series of syllabograms in Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B has split into 2 discreet, separate series: LA LE LI LO LU & RA RE RI RO RU. But what was the reason for this deliberate split? Here is my hypothesis: it would appear that the Minoans and Mycenaeans were unable to distinguish between the liquids L and R, pronouncing L something along the lines the Japanese did.
6. The syllabograms XA and XE, and the syllabogram GA are non-existent in Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B.
7. Arcado-Cypriot Linear C abandoned ideograms completely. This makes for a much more -
8. streamlined syllabary.
9. The Arcado-Cypriot Linear C syllabary was diachronically extremely tenacious, lasting 7 centuries (ca. 1100 BCE – 400 BCE) co-existing in parallel with the Arcado-Cypriot alphabet.
10. philologists and linguists expert in ancient Greek are accustomed to drawing the timeline for the first appearance of written Greek from 800 BCE onward (ca. the time of Homers Ilad to Attic Greek, ca. 400 BCE).

arcado-cypriot-distribution

revised-timeline-wirtten-greek-1200-bce-300-bce

But I am in fundamental disagreement with this hypothesis. Since Arcado-Cypriot Linear C came to the fore ca. 1100 BCE, a mere 100 years or approximately one century after the fall of Mycenae and the demise of the Linear B syllabary, it is surely open to doubt whether or not the so-called Greek Dark Ages actually lasted at least 400 years (ca. 1200 – 800 BCE). So we have to wonder whether or not that small gap of a mere century or so between the demise of  the Linear B syllabary (ca. 1200 BCE) and the sudden appearance of Arcado-Cypriot Linear C (ca. 1100 BCE) makes much of a difference at all in the actual timeline for written ancient Greek, which to my mind runs from 1600 BCE, with the advent of Mycenaean Linear B, all the way through to 400 BCE, i.e. for 12 centuries – 1 century (because of the 1 century gap between Linear B and Linear C), i.e. for 11 centuries! This makes for a huge difference between the previously held timeline of a mere 4 centuries from 800 – 400 BCE. It sets back the timeline for Greek civilization 500 years, receding back from 1100 BCE to 1600 BCE.  I also strongly object to the commonly held notion that Mycenaean and Mycenaean Minoan Greece was a prehistoric civilization. Since writing did exist in the form of the Linear B syllabary, albeit only in scribal format, I believe we can safely conclude that the Mycenaean civilization was proto-historic. And there is more: if we also take Minoan Linear A into account (which we definitely should), then the proto-historic period, if we are to include the pre-Greek substrate of Minoan society, recedes several centuries more into the distant past, to at least 2,900 BCE! Just because we cannot read the Minoan language does not mean it not also proto-historic phenomenon. 

That Arcado-Cypriot Linear C lasted for such a very long time attests to the fact that syllabaries such as Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C itself were much more suitable to inscribing or writing ancient Greek than most philologists or diachronic historical linguists would care to admit. I shall have plenty to say about this in the article I shall soon be posting on my academia.edu account:

Templates for the layouts of the Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C fonts.

You can download the Linear C font here:

download-arcado-cypriot-linear-c-font


  



Archaeology and Science annual: the Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B, the last & most formidable frontier in the decipherment of Mycenaean Linear B:

cover-as-2015

For the past 65 years since Michael Ventris first deciphered Linear B, one phenomenon has eluded historical linguists and philologists. This is the supersyllabogram, which is always a single syllabogram, being the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of a particular Mycenaean word in any one or more of the major economic sectors of the Mycenaean economy: agriculture, military, textiles and the vessels and pottery sector, along with a few religious supersyllabograms. Supersyllabograms are always independent; they always stand alone on extant Linear. My discovery, isolation and classification of supersyllabograms represents the final frontier in the decipherment of Mycenaean Linear B. Some 800 tablets from Knossos alone contain primarily supersyllabograms, with a subset of these incised with supersyllabograms and nothing else. It is difficult to decipher the former, and impossible to decipher the latter without fully accounting for the presence of supersyllabograms. The decipherment of supersyllabograms accounts for the last and most difficult remaining 10 % of Mycenaean Linear B to be deciphered.

inset-as-2015

editors-as-2015

intro-article-as-2015

You may also download The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B here:

archaeology-and-science-download

This article is 35 pages long (pp. 73-108) in a 29 cm. x 22 cm. format, which is far oversized compared with the standard north American format for research journals (ca. 20 cm. vertical), meaning that if it had been published in the standard north American format, it would have run to some 50 pp., which is the size of a small book.

The Editorial Board consists of 21 peer reviewers, all of them matriculated professors and researchers at the Ph.D. level or higher, from Ancona, Belgrade, Belgium, Bologna, Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.A., Moscow, Münich, Philadelphia, U.S.A., Rome, Warsaw & Trieste. Every author must pass muster with the majority of these peer reviewers if his or her article is to be published in Archaeology and Science. That is one tall hurdle to overcome.

Note also that I am ranked in the top 0.5 % of all researchers and publishers on academia.edu

richard-vallance-on-academia-edu

 


Under the syllabogram RU in Minoan Linear A, there appears to be only one word of possible proto-Greek origin, but it is speculative:

1-minoan-linear-a-word-under-ru-of-possible-proto-greek-origin

Hence, I am not adding to the cumulative total of Minoan Linear A words of putative proto-Greek origin.



Under the syllabogram RE in Minoan Linear A, there appears to be only one word of possible proto-Greek origin and it is...

minoan-word-rea-of-possible-proto-greek-origin

This table is self-explanatory.


KEY POST: A significant advance in the decipherment of Minoan Linear A: 7 new Minoan Linear A words under NE of possible, even probable proto-Greek origin for a total of 140 terms to date:

minoan-linear-a-words-under-ne-of-possible-proto-greek-origin

Under the syllabogram NE in Minoan Linear A, we find no fewer than 7 new Minoan Linear A words of possible proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean origin. Of these 7 terms, 4 [1] [3] [6] & [7] are probably of proto-Greek origin. [2] & [3] may be on target, but they are less convincing than the previous 4.  [4] may also be valid, but since the Mycenaean Linear B equivalent to nemaruja, which is epididato, is not a match, this casts some doubt on the decipherment of “distributed” in Minoan Linear A, especially in light of the fact that I have already posited an alternative decipherment of this exact word in my current version of the Glossary of Minoan Linear A terms, that word being kaudeta. While [5] nesa is almost a perfect match with the ancient Greek for “duck”, this decipherment is rather fanciful, even funny, as I have to wonder what possible interest Minoan Linear A, let alone Mycenaean Linear B, scribes would have had in ducks! But you never know. Perhaps they kept track of the number of ducks served at royal feast for the king and queen and company.  Weird, but hey, why not?

The most striking thing about the cumulative effect of the total number of Minoan Linear A words of putative proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean origin, already tallied at 33, even though we have only arrived at the syllabogram NE in Minoan Linear A (the last being ZU) is this:
The cumulative number of Minoan Linear A terms in our REVISED Minoan Linear A Glossary has already reached 140, i.e. 27.5 % of all 510 attributed Minoan Linear A terms by my arbitrary count, up from the original count of 107 or 21.5 % of 51o. Since this trend is bound to result in a somewhat exponential increase in the summative total of all Minoan Linear A terms I am bound to extrapolate by the time I reach the syllabogram ZU, it is well within the realm of reason that we will end up with at least 160 terms or about 31.5 % of all 510 extant Minoan Linear A terms. That would represent a substantial chunk of the Minoan Linear A lexicon. Potentially, this implies that we shall be able to posit the conclusion that we shall have deciphered, more or less accurately, not just a relatively small portion of the Minoan language, but almost 1/3 of it!

This would account for a substantive leap in the potential decipherment of Minoan Linear A.  And as everyone will see by the time I publish my second article on the partial, though significant, decipherment of Minoan Linear A, to be published in the prestigious international annual, Archaeology and Science in around 2018 or 2019, I shall have made signal inroads into the eventual almost complete decipherment of Minoan Linear A.  


6 more Minoan Linear A putative proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean words: DA-DI. But are they proto-Greek at all?

minoan-linear-a-pre-greek-substrate-da-di

As we forge our way through Prof. John G. Younger’s Reverse Linear A Lexicon, in which he Latinizes the orthography of Minoan Linear A words,  we now arrive at Linear A words beginning with the syllabograms DA through to DI.  It is absolutely de rigueur to read the Notes in the table above; otherwise, my tentative decipherments of 6 more Minoan words in Linear A as being possibly proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean will not make any sense at all.  The table also draws attention to those words which are of moderate frequency (MF) on Minoan Linear A tablets and fragments, with the far greater proportion of them appearing on mere fragments. I cannot emphasize this point enough. In view of the fact that the vast majority of Minoan Linear A extant remnants are just that, remnants or fragments and nothing more, it is of course next to impossible to verify whether or not the 6 words I have extrapolated (or for that matter any other so-called proto-Greek words)  as possibly being  proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean are that at all. 

Add to this caveat that researchers and linguists specializing in ancient Greek often hypothesize that, and I quote verbatim:

It is possible that Greek took over some thousand words and proper names from such a language (or languages), because some of its vocabulary cannot be satisfactorily explained as deriving from the Proto-Greek language (italics mine). Among these pre-Greek substratum words we find Anatolian loanwords such as:
dépas ‘cup; pot, vessel’, Mycenaean di-pa, from the Luwian = tipa = sky, bowl or cup, one of the pre-Greek substratum words right in the table above! 
+ eléphas ‘ivory’, from Hittite lahpa;
+ kýmbachos ‘helmet’, from Hittite kupahi ‘headgear’; 
+ kýmbalon ‘cymbal’, from Hittite huhupal ‘wooden percussion instrument’; 
+ mólybdos ‘lead’, Mycenaean mo-ri-wo-do, from Lydian mariwda(s)k ‘the dark ones’ etc.

But there is more, significantly more. Wikipedia, Greek language:

wikipedia-greek-language

has this to say about Greek vocabulary.

Vocabulary:

Greek is a language distinguished by an extensive vocabulary. Most of the vocabulary of Ancient Greek was inherited, but it includes a number of borrowings from the languages of the populations that inhabited Greece before the arrival of Proto-Greeks. (italics mine) [25] Words of non-Indo-European origin can be traced into Greek from as early as Mycenaean times; they include a large number of Greek toponyms. 

Further discussion of a pre-Greek substratum continues here:

wikipedia-pre-greek-substrate

Where, in addition to the pre-Greek substratum words I have already cited above, we find, and again I quote verbatim:

The Pre-Greek substrate consists of the unknown language or languages spoken in prehistoric Greece before the settlement of Proto-Greek speakers in the area (italics mine). It is thought possible that Greek took over some thousand words and proper names from such a language (or languages), because some of its vocabulary cannot be satisfactorily explained as deriving from the Proto-Greek language  

Possible Pre-Greek loanwords
Personal names: Odysseus; 
Theonyms: Hermes; 
Maritime vocabulary: thálassa = sea; 
Words relating to Mediterranean agriculture: elai(w)a = olive & ampelos = vine 
Building technology: pyrgos = tower; 
Placenames, especially those terminating in -nth- : Korinthos, Zakynthos
& in -ss- : Parnassos & in and -tt- : Hymettus

And, to ram my point home, one of the pre-Greek substrata identified is the Minoan language itself. It is on this basis and upon this foundation, among others, that I posit the following hypothesis:

Pre-Greek substratum words are both proto-Greek and not, simultaneously!

The assumption that certain Minoan words in Linear A appear to be proto-Greek or even proto-Mycenaean (if we wish to stretch the notion one small step further, which I believe is entirely justified) does not in and of itself necessarily imply that some or even quite possibly most of them are de facto actually of proto-Indo-European proto-Greek origin, when quite plainly (so) many of them are not of such origin. In other words, we find ourselves face to face with an apparent contradiction in terms, a dye-in-the-wool linguistic paradox: some, many or even most of the so-called pre- + proto-Greek words we encounter in Minoan Linear A are likely to be proto-Greek, but only insofar as they crop up again and again in later ancient Greek dialects, right on down from the earliest East Greek dialect, Mycenaean, through Arcado-Cypriot on down to Ionic and Attic Greek and beyond, while simultaneously being of non-Indo-european origin, if you can wrap your head around that notion... which I most definitely can.  

So if anyone dares claim that all of those words in Minoan (of which there seem to be quite a substantial number) are de facto proto-Greek, that person should think again. Think before you leap. It is much too easy for us to jump to spurious conclusions with respect to the supposed proto-Greek origin(s) of many words in Minoan Linear A.

To compound the matter further, let us consider the situation from the opposite end of the spectrum. It is widely known, by both intellectual non-linguists, i.e. intelligent native speakers of any given language, and by professional linguists alike, that pretty much every modern language borrows not just thousands, but tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of words from prior languages. The one modern language which exemplifies this phenomenon par excellence is non other than English, in which we find hundreds of thousands of loanwords from ancient Greek, Latin and Norman French.

Now it goes without saying that all languages, ancient and modern, follow the same pattern of accumulating some and even as many as thousands of loanwords. Ancient Latin did so with ancient Greek. And here lies the rub. So must have Mycenaean Greek with the Minoan language. In Chris Tslentis Linear B  Lexicon, we find many words which cannot possibly be accounted for as being proto-Greek, but which must be of some other origin. And one of the most likely origins for a relatively large subset of these words is probably the Minoan language itself. Allow me to cite just a few of the more glaring examples:

adete = binder 
Akireu = Achilles
Aminiso = Amnisos harbour (Cf. Linear A, Uminaso)
Damate = Demeter (Cf. Linear A, Idamate)
dipa = cup (Cf. Linear A, depa)
erepa = ivory
kama = a unit of land
kanako = safflower, saffron (Cf. Linear A, kanaka)
kidapa = (ash) wood?
mare/mari = wool (Cf. Linear A, maru)
opa = workshop?
serino = celery (Cf. Linear A, sedina)
tarasa = sea

Now if even most of the so-called Mycenaean Greek terms listed here are actually Minoan, then it is stands to reason that Mycenaean Greek inherited them from the Minoan language itself, and ergo, that they are not necessarily proto-Greek words at all.  It is as if we were in a flip-flop. Either way, whether or not any of the words which we have flagged (and shall continue to tag) as possibly being proto-Greek in the Minoan language or the other way around, whether or not certain words in Mycenaean Greek are not proto-Greek at all, and not even of proto-Indo-European origin, we find ourselves floundering in a Saragossa Sea of linguistic incertitude from which we really cannot extricate ourselves.

So to all those researchers, past and present, into the Minoan language who make the claim, categorical or not, that much of the vocabulary of the Minoan language is proto-Greek, I say Beware! lest you fall into a trap from which you cannot reasonably hope to extricate yourselves.


Is the Minoan Linear A labrys inscribed with I-DA-MA-TE in Minoan or in proto-Greek? PART B: OR is it in proto-Greek?What?” I hear you asking, “... is that even even remotely possible?” The keyword here is remotely. Remotely, yes, but only remotely. Recall that in the last post, in which I postulated that the four consecutive supersyllabograms ID + DA + MA + TE might conceivably stand for the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of 4 consecutive Minoan Linear A words, though which ones among God knows how many possibilities it is exceedingly difficult to determine.

On the other hand, the four consecutive supersyllabograms ID + DA + MA + TE might conceivably stand for the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of 4 consecutive proto-greek Greek words, most likely proto-Mycenaean. If that is the case — and, mark  my words, it is far more likely than not that it is not the case — we are once again confronted with a myriad of combinations and permutations of proto-Greek words which have the potential, however thin, of standing in for the 4 consecutive supersyllabograms I + DA + MA +TE. So be forewarned. The putative decipherment of these 4 supersyllabograms into the one possible decipherment I have arbitrarily posited among hundreds is just  that, putative and tentative, and nothing more.

The tentative decipherment I have come up with runs as follows when the Mycenaean Greek of which it is the apparent forerunner is Latinized:

The supersyllabograms in turn might conceivably mean (but only as a long shot):

I = iyereya (feminine nominative singular), meaning “priestess”
DA =  Damateroyo (feminine genitive singular), meaning “of Damater”
MA =  Matereteiyai (feminine dative singular, meaning “to Mater Thea (the Divine Mother” 
TE = temenoi (masculine dative or locative singular), meaning “(in) the temple”

yielding this Latinized decipherment (which is but one possibility out of 100s): 

iyereya Damateroyo ... matereteiyai (eni) temenoi

... which roughly translates as:

The priestess of Damater... (is making offerings -or- sacrificing to) Mater  Thea (i.e. the Divine Mother) (in) the temple.

In this partial sentence, the phrase  (is making offerings -or- sacrificing to) and the preposition eni = “in” do not appear in the original supposed proto-Greek text, which I have extrapolated forward to Mycenaean Greek to make it fully accessible. Although these words are in fact absent from the original putative proto-Greek, they be supplied  with relative ease to fill in the gaps.

This proto-Greek translation is neatly encapsulated in this chart:

idamate-part-b

On closer examination, it turns out that, although this decipherment is only one among 100s of possible candidates, it is nevertheless one of the most plausible decipherments, for the following reasons:

1. If as I have pointed out in the previous post, Idamate is an actual Minoan word, as well as being in addition a series of 4 supersyllabograms. Thus, in the Minoan language it may very well mean something along the lines of Damate in Mycenaean Linear B: in other words, Idamate in the Minoan language may be the approximate equivalent of Damate in Mycenaean Linear B and of Demeter in ancient Greek. And if that is the case, the second supersyllabogram (DA) in my parallel proto-Greek translation, which I have deciphered as Damate, almost perfectly matches the Minoan word. This co-incidence, if co-incidence it is, is far too great to be ignored, and it lends a great deal of credence to my proto-Greek translation extrapolated forward to Mycenaean Greek of the second supersyllabogram DA in idamate.
2. But there is more, much more. As it so turns out, there is a sacred cave dedicated to Zeus on Mount Ida, which is very close to the Minoan site of Phaistos. Another co-incidence? The name of the cave dedicated to Zeus on Mount Ida is the “Dictaean Cave”, as illustrated here:

dictaean-cave-zeus-mount-ida

3. It is nothing short of a remarkable co-incidence that Idamate, as inscribed on the labrys, may very well signify “Mount Ida”, as I have clearly indicated  in the previous post. But what does that imply?  I have to wonder whether or not there was a Minoan peak sanctuary on the summit of Mount Ida. This is what a Minoan peak sanctuary probably looked liked:

minoan-peak-sanctuary

And if there was, it was of course a temple. Referencing our proto-Greek translation of Idamate, we find that the last supersyllabogram, TE, may readily and realistically rendered as temeno, which in Mycenaean Greek means “a temple”. How fascinating!

Does this imply that the priestess to Damater might have been sacrificing to Mater Thea in a temple or peak sanctuary which may possibly have existed on the summit of Mount Ida? The correlation is truly tempting. However, I must sound a strong note of caution. Such an interpretation of  the last supersyllabogram of Idamate = TE, as the putative Mycenaean word, temeno = “a temple” as being a peak sanctuary is nothing less than a real stretch of the imagination. So it must be taken with a huge grain of salt. Nevertheless, it is possible, however remotely, that the temple in which the priestess of Damater is worshipping just might have been a peak sanctuary. But  I wouldn’t bet my bottom dollars on it.  It is thus remotely possible that Idamate signifies both “Mount Ida” in Minoan and “Mater Thea” in proto-Greek extrapolates forward to later Mycenaean Greek. Further credence is possibly lent to this decipherment by the fact that Mount Ida is clearly visible in the near distance behind the ancient site of Phaistos, as illustrated here and on map below:

mount-ida-psiloritis

 mount-ida-psiloritis-map

But we must be extremely skeptical of such an interpretation. Why so? Just as Pavel Serafimov and Anton Perdith erroneously read proto-Slavic into Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada), thereby grossly misinterpreting it, my own attempt to superimpose proto-Greek on the 4 supersyllabograms I + DA + MA +TE may amount to the same genre of fundamental (and gross) inaccuracy in the putative decipherment into proto-Greek of a Minoan Linear A text, in this case, of the word idamate inscribed on the labrys. So we must exercise extreme caution in hypothesizing that the 4 supersyllabograms  I + DA + MA +TE are the first syllabograms, i.e. the first syllables of the 4 consecutive proto-Greek words I have arbitrarily assigned to them. So the fact remains that these 4 supersyllabograms are far more likely to be the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of 4 consecutive Minoan words than of proto-Greek words. I cannot stress this enough. 


Is the Minoan Linear A labrys inscribed with I-DA-MA-TE in Minoan or in proto-Greek? PART A: Is it in the Minoan language?

In my previous post on the Minoan Linear A labrys inscribed with I-DA-MA-TE, I postulated that the word Idamate was probably either the name of the king or of the high priestess (of the labyrinth?) to whom this labrys has been ritually dedicated. But in so doing I was taking the path of least resistance, by seeking out the two most simplistic decipherments which would be the least likely to prove troublesome or controversial. In retrospect, that was a cop-out.

No sooner had I posted my two alternate simplistic translations than I was informed by a close colleague of mine in the field of diachronic historical linguistics focusing on Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B that at least two other alternative decipherments came into play, these being:

1. that the term Idamate may be the Minoan equivalent of the Mycenaean Linear B Damate, which is apparently an early version of the ancient Greek, Demeter, who was the goddess of cereals and harvesting:

demeter-ceres-greco-roman-marble-statue-state-hermitage-museum-st-petersburg

linear-b-lexicon-damate-demeter

2. that the term Idamate may be Minoan for Mount Ida, in which case, the word Mate = “mount”, such that the phrase actually spells out  “Ida mount(ain)” :

mount-ida-psiloritis

Since both of these decipherments make eminent sense, either could, at least theoretically, be correct.
 
But there is a third alternative, and it is far more controversial and compelling than either of the first two. 

3. It is even possible that the four syllabograms I DA MA & TE are in fact supersyllabograms, which is to say that each syllabogram is the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of a word, presumably a Minoan word. But if these 4 supersyllabograms represent four consecutive Minoan words, what on earth could these words possibly signify, in light of the fact that we know next to nothing about the Minoan language. It appears we are caught in an irresolvable Catch-22.

Yet my own recent research has allowed me to tease potential decipherments out of 107 or about 21 % of all intact words in Prof. John G. Youngers Linear A lexicon of 510 terms by my own arbitrary count. Scanning this scanty glossary yielded me numerous variations on 3 terms which might conceivably make sense in at least one suppositious context. These terms (all of which I have tentatively deciphered) are:

1. For I: itaja = unit of liquid volume for olive oil (exact value unknown)

2. FOR DA: either:
daropa = stirrup jar = Linear B karawere (high certainty)
or
datara = (sacred) grove of olive trees
or
data2 (datai) = olive, pl. date = Linear B erawo
or
datu = olive oil
or
daweda = medium size amphora with two handles

3. For TE:
tereza = large unit of dry or liquid measurement
or
tesi = small unit of measurement

But I cannot find any equivalent for MA other than maru, which seemingly means “wool”, even in Minoan Linear A, this being the apparent equivalent of Mycenaean Linear B mari or mare.  The trouble is that this term (if that is what the third supersyllabogram in idamate stands in for) does not contextually mesh at all with any of the alternatives for the other three words symbolized by their respective supersyllabograms.

But does that mean the phrase is not Minoan? Far from it. There are at least 2 cogent reasons for exercising extreme caution in jumping to the conclusion that the phrase cannot be in Minoan. These are:    
1. that the decipherments of all of the alternative terms I have posited for the supersyllabograms I DA & TE above are all tentative, even if they are more than likely to be close to the mark and some of them probably bang on (for instance, daropa), which I believe they are;
2. that all 3 of the supersyllabograms I DA & TE may instead stand for entirely different Minoan words, none of which I have managed to decipher. And God knows there are plenty of them!  Since I have managed to decipher only 107 of 510 extant intact Minoan Linear A words by my arbitrary count, that leaves 403 or 79 % undeciphered!  That is far too great a figure to be blithely brushed aside. 

The > impact of combinations of a > number of Minoan Linear A words on their putative decipherment:

combinations-with-repetition-and-their-impact-on-the-decipherment-of-minoan-linear-a-terms

To give you a rough idea of the number of undeciphered Minoan words beginning with I DA & TE I have not been able to account for, here we have a cross-section of just a few of those words from Prof. John G. Younger’s Linear A Reverse Lexicon:
which are beyond my ken:

linear-a-reverse-lexicon

For I:
iininuni
ijadi
imetu
irima
itaki

For DA:
dadana
daini
daki
daku
daqaqa

For MA:
madadu
majasa
manuqa
masuri

For TE:
tedatiqa
tedekima
tenamipi
teneruda

But the situation is far more complex than it appears at first sight. To give you just a notion of the enormous impact of exponential mathematical permutations and combinations on the potential for gross errors in any one of a substantial number of credible decipherments of any given number of Minoan Linear A terms as listed even in the small cross-section of the 100s of Minoan Words in Prof. John G. Younger’s Reverse Linear A Lexicon, all we have to do is relate the mathematical implications of the  chart on permutations to any effort whatsoever at the decipherment of even a relatively small no. of Minoan Linear A words:

CLICK on the chart of permutations to link to the URL where the discussion of both permutations and combinations occurs:

permutations-and-the-decipherment-of-minoan-linear-a

to realize how blatantly obvious it is that any number of interpretations of any one of the selective cross-section of terms which I have listed here can be deemed the so-called actual term corresponding to the supersyllabogram which supposedly represents it. But, and I must emphatically stress my point, this is just a small cross-section of all of the terms in the Linear B Reverse Lexicon beginning with each of  the supersyllabograms I DA MA & TE in turn.

It is grossly obvious that, if we allow for the enormous number of permutations and combinations to which the supersyllabograms I DA MA & TE must categorically be  subjected mathematically, it is quite out of the question to attempt any decipherment of these 4 supersyllabograms, I DA MA & TE, without taking context absolutely into consideration. And even in that eventuality, there is no guarantee whatsoever that any putative decipherment of each of these supersyllabograms (I DA MA & TE) in turn in the so-called Minoan language will actually hold water, since after all, a smaller, but still significant subset of an extremely large number of permutation and combinations must still remain incontestably in effect.

The mathematics of the aforementioned equations simply stack up to a very substantial degree against any truly convincing decipherment of any single Minoan Linear A term, except for one small consideration (or as it turns out, not so small at all). As it so happens, and as we have posited in our first two alternative decipherments above, i.e.
1. that Idamate is Minoan for Mycenaean Damate, the probable equivalent of classical Greek Demeter, or
2. that Idamate actually means “Mount Ida”,

these two possible decipherments which do make sense can be extrapolated from the supersyllabograms I DA MA & TE, at least if we take into account the Minoan Linear A terms beginning with I DA & TE (excluding TE), which I have managed, albeit tentatively, to decipher.

However, far too many putative decipherments of the great majority of words in the Minoan language itself are at present conceivable, at least to my mind. Yet, this scenario is quite likely to change in the near future, given that I have already managed to tentatively decipher 107 or 21 % of 510 extant Minoan Linear A words, by my arbitrary count.  It is entirely conceivable that under these circumstances I shall be able to decipher even more Minoan language words in the near future. In point of fact, if Idamate actually does mean either Idamate (i.e. Demeter) or Ida Mate (i.e. Mount Ida), then:
(a) with only 2 possible interpretations for IDAMATE now taken into account, the number of combinations and permutations is greatly reduced to an almost insignificant amount &
(b) the actual number of Minoan Linear A words I have deciphered to date rises from 107 to 108 (in a Boolean OR configuration, whereby we can add either  “Demeter” or “Mount Ida” to our Lexicon, but not both).  A baby step this may be, but a step forward regardless. 


Guess what! All 17 of the conjectural units of measurement in Minoan Linear A panned out!

To my great surprise and definite relief, it appears that all 7 of the conjectural units of measurement in Minoan Linear A have panned out. Looks like I hit gold in the Klondike!


klondike-gold-rush-map


The full range of marvelous, rich colours the Minoans at Knossos used on their stunning frescoes!

knossos-colour-on-the-frescos-a

knossos-colours-on-the-frescoes-b
 
We notice right away that the colours they had at their disposal ran from various shades of yellows (saffron) and oranges to blues and various shades of purple. The Minoans at Knossos, Pylos, Thera (Thira, Santorini) and elsewhere were unable to reproduce green pigment.  This minor drawback had little or no perceptible effect on the splendid results they almost invariably came up with in their breathtaking frescoes, the likes of which were not reproduced anywhere else in the Occidental ancient world, except perhaps by the Romans, especially at Pompeii. The Romans were able to reproduce greens. 

Two lovely frescoes from Pompeii:

garden-fresco-from-pompeii

botticelli-like-fresco-from-pompeii


 


Beautiful photos of some of the magnificent frescoes at Knossos, taken by Richard while he was there on May 1 2012:

knossos-bull-eapers-fresco

knossos-spectators-fresco-almost-all-women

knossos-blue-olive-trees-fresco

knossos-octopus-fresco


Photos of the pithoi storage room at Minoan Thera by Thalassa Farkas (Canada) Part B:


water-supply-thera

thera-pithoi-storeroom-genral-shot

thera-pithoi-storeroom-door


All new photos of the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, Santorini, by Thalassa Farkas, Canada, 2016: Part C – Theran/Minoan ship

Here are two photos of a lovely Theran/Minoan ship, the ultimate in luxury sailing, complete with a canopy and with a bowsprit sporting a sun and a gorgeous little butterfly. What exquisite taste these Therans and Minoans had!


theran-ship-a

theran-ship-b


All new photos of the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, Santorini, by Thalassa Farkas, Canada, 2016: Part B

More beautiful frescoes:

swallows-and-lilies-fresco-museum-of-thera

papyrus-fresco-museum-of-thera

fresco-of-the-monkeys-b-museum-of-thera



All new photos of the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, Santorini, by Thalassa Farkas, Canada, 2016: Part A

The entrance to the museum:

museum-of-prehistoric-thera

Some of the magnificent frescoes:

fresco-of-flowers-rosettes-b-museum-of-thera

fresco-of-flower-rosettes-a-museum-of-thera

fresco-of-the-monkeys-a-museum-of-thera


Symbaloo/Google search ranks Minoan Linear A, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae as fourth largest on the Internet:

search-minoan-linear-a-mycenaean-linear-b-major-sites-sept-13-2016

Since this is a Boolean AND search, if we omit sites dealing with only Minoan Linear A or only Mycenaean Linear B, which do not fulfill this requirement, our site ranks fourth. But since the site, Linear A and Linear B script: Britannica.com is a minor site, we actually rank third.

Also, our PINTEREST board is ranked fifth (actually fourth). We have over 1.7 K Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B translations, photos, maps & images on our PINTEREST board, Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B, Progressive Grammar and Vocabulary. Click the banner to visit and join if you like!


Minoan Linear A Linear B


   

Minoan Linear A ra2ri = rairi = lily (100 % accurate):

Minoan Linear A lilies ra2ri rairi


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