Translation of Pylos tablet TN 996, the famous “bathtub” tablet


Translation of Pylos tablet TN 996, the famous “bathtub” tablet:

Pylos TN 996 linear-b-showing-numbers-of-bath-tubs-and-other-vessels

This was a rather difficult tablet to translate, for several reasons:
1. It is difficult to ascertain whether or not the first word on the first line is a personal name, but it certainly appears to be so.
2. Two of the words on this tablet appear to refer to some type of vessel or pottery, but they appear in no Linear B lexicon (not even Tselentis). The first is pinera in line 2 & the second pokatama in line 4.
3. Some of the words are definitely archaic Mycenaean Greek, but most of these are translatable. For instance, Linear B rewotereyo = (archaic) Greek “leuterios” in line 1 begins with an abbreviated form of the Greek word “leukos”, which means “white”  or “bright” or “light”. So I take this word to mean “a lamp-lighter”, which makes eminent sense in the context.
4. The ideogram is for “bathtub” = asamito in line 1, while the one on line 2 appears to be a variant on the same, but it may mean a “large watering can” to pour warm or hot water into the bathtub.
5. See the comment on po? in the illustration above. The translation “octopi”, meaning “decorated with octopi”, appears solid enough, especially in line 3 where it is paired with the word for “jug”. The translation is less tenable in line 4, where it is paired with “an oil lamp”.


5 Newly “Deciphered” Ideograms in Linear B: B190, B221, B180, B213 & B218 in that order… This is fun!


5 Newly "Deciphered” Ideograms in Linear B: B190, B221, B180, B213 & B218 in that order: Click to ENLARGE:

5 newly deciphered ideograms boars tusk helmet olive oil lamp lustrallbasin and royal throne and nestors cup variartion

Upon minute and scrupulous examination of 5 previously undeciphered Linear B Ideograms, I have been able to conclude (or as some folks might very well say, jump to the conclusions) that the 5 Ideograms I have illustrated with actual pictorial examples here may very well mean what I believe they do, or if not that, closely approximate my guesstimates. Now, here as elsewhere in our blog, whenever I have proposed new decipherments of Linear B ideograms previously considered opaque, I have taken risks.  And again, I say, why not? — because if no one else is willing to take such risks, I might as well, especially when and where contextual evidence (either from text on extant tablets or pictorial evidence – as in this case – gives me some room to manoeuvre with.

As for my estimates of the % accuracy of each of the 5 Ideograms, these are all of course, entirely subjective, and any of you reading this blog may very well disagree with some or even all of my estimates. No one is ever "right” when on the threshold of new discoveries or insights into ancient scripts which have been mostly, but not not entirely, "cracked”, as the saying goes.

On a last note, I should like to say that while I do not feel quite as confident about my "decipherments” of B190 (Boars Tusk Helmet) & B221 (Oil Lamp), I feel much more confident of my dual "decipherment” of B180 (Throne) & B213 (Lustral Basin) because, at least to my impressionable mind, these 2 Ideograms look so uncannily like the throne and the lustral basin in the Queen's Megaron as almost to boggle the imagination.

And as for B218, “the one handled-cup similar to Nestor's cup” I am pretty much 100% convinced that I have nailed it.

However, if anyone disagrees with me, however little or however much, please let me know ASAP, because no one gains from a one-sided learning experience.

Comments on this critical post are most welcome! 

What with these 5 new attempts at deciphering previously opaque ideograms, this brings the total number of ideograms I have tackled so far in my attempts to decipher them to at least 18. By the autumn of this year, I shall review them all plus any discoveries I chance upon this summer.  Keep posted.

Richard