The principle of cross-correlative cohesion between Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B & logical fallacies: The principle of cross-correlative cohesion operates on the assumption that terms in Minoan Linear A vocabulary should reflect as closely and as faithfully as possible parallel terms in Mycenaean Greek vocabulary. In other words, the English translations of Minoan words in a Minoan Linear A Glossary such as this one should look as if they are English translations of Mycenaean Greek terms in a Linear B glossary. I have endeavoured to do my best to achieve this goal, but even the most rational and logical of approaches, such as I take, does not and cannot guarantee reciprocity between Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B terms. It is precisely for this reason that I have had to devise a scale of relative accuracy for terms in this Linear A Glossary, as outlined in KEY at the top of it. The KEY reads as follows: KEY: Minoan Linear A words deciphered with a very high level of certainty (75-100%) are in BOLD. Minoan Linear A words deciphered with a reasonable degree of certainty (60-75%) are in italics. Minoan Linear A words for which the decipherment is uncertain (< 50%) are in plain text. Now, according to the principle of cross-correlative cohesion between terms in Minoan Linear A and their (approximate) counterparts in Mycenaean Linear B, not only should the Minoan Linear A vocabulary exhibit an internal cohesion which appears to be parallel with the Mycenaean Linear B vocabulary with which it conceivably corresponds, but also this parallelism should make the cross-correlative or external cohesion between the Minoan Linear A and the Mycenaean Linear B appear even more closely knit. Examining the chart above, The principle of cross-correlative cohesion between Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B vocabulary, it appears, at first glance, that the parallelism is intact. But appearances can be and usually are, deceptive. Unless any particular Minoan Linear A word which I have deciphered has a scalar value > 75%, meaning that it has been deciphered with a high level of certainty, the apparent parallelism between the Minoan Linear A word and its suppositious Mycenaean Linear B counterpart is just that, apparent. In the chart, while I have had to flag some of the less reliable Minoan Linear A decipherments with dotted lines -------> (a3, a4 & a7), other Minoan words have been successfully deciphered with a high degree of certainty (a1, a2, a8 & a10). But can one assume that the latter, those terms deciphered accurately, will de facto necessarily be exactly parallel with their Linear B counterparts? Not really. That all depends on whether or not their Linear B counterparts (b1 to b11 abc) have themselves been accurately deciphered. What can I possibly imply by that? I can hear you say, “I thought Mycenaean Linear B was deciphered by Michael Ventris et al. from1952 onward.” Yes, they did get it... almost all of it, but not all of it. While at least 90% of Mycenaean Greek words have been deciphered with a high degree of accuracy (> 75%), a considerable number have never been adequately deciphered. To cite just a few (Latinized)from Chris Tselentis’ Linear B Lexicon, we have: aeitito – not used? akitito – untitled? duma – official title? Maka – Mother Earth? opa – workshop? outemi – without edges? porodumate – family groups? samara – monument, burial grounds? In cases like this, it becomes virtually impossible to decipher any single Minoan word which might conceivably be parallel to any of the aforementioned Mycenaean Linear B doubtfuls, since the scalar degree of reliability in the latter (Linear B words) is clearly < 50%. Moreover, while the Minoan Linear A words in the left column appear to be as rock-solid as their Linear B counterparts (a1, a2, a8 & a10) in the right column of the chart above, all falling within the ambit of a high degree of certainty (> 75%), I must still sound a note of caution. Who is to say for certain that I have teamed up the correct Minoan word in the left column with the clearly correct Mycenaean term in the right column? In all of these instances, it definitely looks like they all line up perfectly. But we can never really be sure. To summarize, I contend that cross-correlative parallelism between Linear A terms and their Linear B counterparts, however logical it may appear, may in fact be deceptive. Why so? Perhaps I am leaping to conclusions in one, some or even all of these apparently sound decipherments of Minoan words which seem to line up so neatly with their Mycenaean equivalents. The operative word is “seem”. The inescapable pitfalls of logical fallacies: In short, no matter how air-tight our inductive or deductive logic is, it is not necessarily always a done deal. We humans have a regrettable tendency to follow “lines of logic” which are not straight lines at all, and often not even circuitous ones. In fact, all too often they are broken lines or worse yet severed lines. This is why I have resorted to dotted lines (-------->) in all cases where the either the Minoan Linear A or the Mycenaean Linear B term is in some doubt, or far worse yet, both of them are. Fortunately, the Minoan Linear A words daropa, kanaka, pazeqe, puko and sedina are all almost certain (75%-100%), almost perfectly mirroring their Mycenaean Linear B equivalents kararewe, kanako, dipa anowe/dipa anowoto, tiripode and serino, all of which also fall in the 75%-100% range. But this almost air-tight parallelism is rare indeed in any attempt at cross-correlative cohesion between Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B. Ergo the extreme delicacy of the task of deciphering any Minoan term, fraught as it is with vulnerabilities and loopholes.
How far can we go deciphering Minoan Linear A? And now for the bad news: I have managed to decipher 63 Minoan Linear A words, more or less accurately. As long as any Linear A tablet contains ideographic aids to assist us in our decipherments, we can usually decipher Minoan words directly associated with ideograms and logograms, the meaning of which we already know. That is precisely how I have managed to get this far. But how much further can we go? In the total absence of such aids, there is little or no chance for us to decipher Linear A tablets with only words on them. This is a serious stumbling block to any comprehensive decipherment of Linear A. It is nothing short of a Catch-22. This is the brick wall we are up against in any attempt to decipher the majority of Linear A tablets.
Before we can decipher even a single Linear A tablet on olive oil, we must decipher as many as we can in Linear B, because... PART A: delivery of olive oil Before we can plausibly (and frequently tentatively) decipher even a single Linear A tablet on olive oil, we must decipher as many as we can in Linear B, because there are so many facets to be taken fully into consideration in the olive oil sub-sector of the agricultural sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy related to the production of olive oil which on an adequate number of Linear B tablets (at least 10), mostly from Knossos, dealing with harvesting from olive oil trees and the production and delivery of olive oil that we must account for every single term related to olive oil on the Linear B tablets, and then compile a list of all of these terms in order to cross-correlate these with equivalent terms on the Linear A tablets, mostly from Haghia Triada. Another vital factor which just occurred to me is that the Minoan economy appears to have been primarily centred in Haghia Triada, while the Mycenaean primarily in Knossos, with valuable contributions from Pylos as well. In other words, the economic centre or power house, if you will, of the Minoan economy appears to have been Haghia Triada and not Knossos. I am somewhat baffled by the fact that researchers to date have not taken this important factor adequately into account. It appears to reveal that Knossos had not yet risen to prominence in the Minoan economy in the Middle Minoan Period (ca. 2100-1600 BCE): The gravest challenge confronting us in the cross-correlation of the several economic terms related to olive oil production in the late Minoan III 3a period under Mycenaean suzerainty (ca. 1500-1450 BCE) with potentially equivalent terms in Minoan Linear A arises from the mathematical theoretical constructs of combinations and permutations. Given, for instance, that there are potentially a dozen (12) terms related to olive oil production on an adequate number (10-12) Linear B tablets to afford effectual cross-correlation, how on earth are we to know which terms in Mycenaean Linear B correspond to apparently similar terms in Minoan Linear A? In other words, if we for instance extrapolate a total of 12 terms from Mycenaean Linear B tablets, how are we to line or match up the Mycenaean Linear B terms in a “Column A” construct with those in Minoan Linear B in “Column B”? There is no practical way that we can safely assert that term A (let us say, for the sake of expediency, that this word is apudosi = “delivery”) in Mycenaean Greek corresponds to term A in Minoan Linear A, rather than any of B-L, in any permutation and/or in any combination. This leads us straight into the trap of having to assign ALL of the signified (terms) in Mycenaean Linear A to all of the signified in Minoan Linear B. I shall only be able to definitively demonstrate this quandary after I have deciphered as many Linear B tablets on olive oil as I possibly can. For the time being, we have no choice but to set out on our search with these 3 tablets, all of which prepend the first term apudosi = “delivery” to the ideogram for olive oil. In closing, I wish to emphatically stress that this is precisely the signified I expected to turn up in the list of terms potentially related to olive oil production in Mycenaean Linear B. It is also the most important of all Mycenaean Linear B terms prepended to the ideogram for “olive oil” on the Linear B tablets. When we come to making the fateful decision to assign the the “correct” Minoan Linear A term meaning just that, “delivery” on the Linear A tablets dealing with olive oil, how are we to know which Linear A signified corresponds to Linear B apudosi = “delivery”? Still the situation is not as bad as you might think, at least for this term. Why so? Because if it appears (much) more often on the Linear B tablets (say, theoretically, 5 times versus less than 5 for all the other terms in Linear B related to olive oil), then the term appearing the most frequently on Minoan Linear A tablets related to olive oil is more likely than not to be the equivalent of apudosi, i.e. to mean “delivery”. The less frequent the occurrence of any particular term relative to olive oil on the Mycenaean Linear B tablets, the greater the room there is for error, to the point that where a term appears only once on all of the Linear B tablets we can manage to muster up for translation, it becomes next to impossible to properly align that term with any of the terms occurring only once on the Minoan Linear A tablets, especially where more than one signified occurs on the Mycenaean Linear B tablets. If for example, 3 terms occur only once on the Linear B tablets, which one(s) aligns with which one(s) on the Linear A? A messy scenario. But we must make the best of the situation, bite the bullet, and cross-correlate these 3 terms in all permutations and combinations (= 9!) from the Linear B to the Linear A tablets containing them. This I shall definitively illustrate in a Chart once I have translated all terms related to olive oil production in Mycenaean Linear A.
A few cracks in the Berlin Wall of Linear A. How far can we decipher it? Even if I have have made a few small cracks in the Berlin Wall of Linear A, the burning question remains, “How far can we decipher it?” The short answer and the long answer are both, “If you think you can decipher Minoan Linear A, you have another think coming!” (including yours truly). The bulk of the vocabulary of Minoan Linear A remains a closed door, firmly nailed shut and locked with padlocks. The following tablets make this all too painfully obvious: I haven’t the faintest idea what they mean. Unless we are able to apply at least one of the 5 principles applicable to even a minimal decipherment of a very few Minoan Linear A words (we have managed to decipher 30 so far – more or less – and it was like extracting teeth in most of the cases!), there is simply no way we can ever make any real progress towards deciphering the majority of Linear A words. It is just out of the question... at least for the foreseeable future. What the more distant future will bring no one knows. The 5 principles for the decipherment of even a minimal cross-section of Minoan Linear A are: 1. (The so-called negative factor). Do not attempt to correlate the Minoan language with any other ancient language except for the Linear B syllabary and indirect derivation from Mycenaean Greek terms (2. below). 2. Basing our technique on that of the French philologist, Jean-François Champellion, who deciphered the Rossetta Stone in 1822, cross-correlate words in the Minoan Linear A syllabary with parallel words in the Linear B syllabary on strikingly similar tablets in Mycenaean Greek, squarely taking into account the meanings of such words in the latter script and their potential adaptation to vocabulary in a very similar context on Minoan Linear A tablets. 3. Take direct cues from parallel ideograms on reasonably similar Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B tablets. 4. Turn to reliable archaeological evidence where this is available and finally; 5. (the most important principle of all). It is critical to understand that Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B both dealt with inventories and the process of inventorying livestock, crops, military matters and commodities such as vessels and pottery and textiles. Even if we rigorously apply these 5 principles, either singly or much better, jointly (the more principles we can call up the better), there is no guarantee that our decipherments a.k.a. Translations are accurate or even correct. While some are indisputably right on the mark, for instance, Linear A puko definitely means “tripod” and most of the Minoan Linear A words for plants and spices are on the money, as for the rest of the words I have attempted to decipher to date, some are more or less accurate, and some are wide open to academic dispute. This is as it should be in an imperfect world, especially in light of the fact that my attempts at decipherment constitute what I sincerely hope is the first rational approach to the decipherment of Minoan Linear A. As far as I am concerned, even managing to (more or less) decipher 30 Minoan Linear A words is a fine start, but this small vocabulary amounts to little more than a few cracks in the Berlin Wall of Minoan Linear A.
The 5 principles applicable to the rational partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A: If we are to make any headway at all in the eventual decipherment of Minoan Linear A, there are certain principles which should be strictly applied. There are 5 of them: 1. (The so-called negative factor). Do not attempt to correlate the Minoan language with any other ancient language except for the Linear B syllabary and indirect derivation from Mycenaean Greek terms (2. below). 2. Basing our technique on that of the French philologist, Jean-François Champellion, who deciphered the Rossetta Stone in 1822, cross-correlate words in the Minoan Linear A syllabary with parallel words in the Linear B syllabary on strikingly similar tablets in Mycenaean Greek, squarely taking into account the meanings of such words in the latter script and their potential adaptation to vocabulary in a very similar context on Minoan Linear A tablets. 3. Take direct cues from parallel ideograms on reasonably similar Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B tablets. 4. Turn to reliable archaeological evidence where this is available and finally; 5. (the most important principle of all). It is critical to understand that Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B both dealt with inventories and the process of inventorying livestock, crops, military matters and commodities such as vessels and pottery and textiles. 1. The attempt to correlate Minoan with known ancient language (negative principle or factor): All too many past researchers and philologists attempting to decipher Minoan Linear A have made the assumption that they had first to determine what class of language it must or may have belonged to before they even began to attempt decipherment. This is, as we shall see, a false premise, a non starter, a dead end. The very first of these researchers to make such an assumption was none other than Sir Arthur Evans himself, though he could hardly be blamed for doing so, being as he was at the very frontier of the science of archaeology at the outset of the twentieth century, up until the First World War when he had to suspend archaeological work at Knossos (1900-1914). I made this clear in my article, “An Archaeologist’ s Translation of Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris)”, in Vol. 10 (2014) in the prestigious international journal, Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448, in which I emphasized and I quote from Evans: It would seem, therefore, unlikely that the language of the Cretan scripts was any kind of Greek, and probable that it was related to the early language or languages of Western Anatolia – associated, that is, with the archaeological 'cultures’ of Alaja Hüyük I ('proto-hattic’) and of Hissarlik II and Yortan ('Luvian’)...”, and a little further, “Though many of the sign-groups are compounded from distinct elements, usually of two syllables each, there is little trace of an organized system of grammatical suffixes, as in Greek. At most, a few signs are notably frequent as terminals... (italics mine) and this in spite of its great antiquity, given that it preceded the earliest known written Greek, The Iliad and The Odyssey of Homer by at least 600 years! It was a perfectly reasonable and plausible assumption, in view of the then understandable utter lack of evidence to the contrary. Returning to my own analysis: Besides, there were no extant tablets in either Minoan Linear A or Linear B with parallel text in another known ancient language, as had conveniently been the case with the Rosetta Stone, which would have gone a long way to aiming for a convincing decipherment of at least the latter script. Yet Evans was nagged by doubts lurking just below the surface of his propositions. (pp. 137-138) So Evans was vacillating between the assumption that the Minoan language may have been related either to Luvian or Hittite (a brilliant assumption for his day and age) and that it was an ancestral form of proto-Greek. Both assumptions were wrong, but if only he had known that Linear B was alternatively the actual version of a very ancient East Greek dialect, namely, Mycenaean Greek, how different would the history of the decipherment of Linear B at least have been. To complicate matters, Michael Ventris himself, following in the footsteps of Evans, began by making the same assumption, only this time correlating (italics mine) Linear B with Etruscan, stubbornly sticking with this assumption for almost 2 years before Linear B literally threw in his face the ineluctable conclusion that the script was indicative of Mycenaean Greek (June 1952). My point is and here I must be emphatic. It is a total waste of time trying to pigeon-hole the lost Minoan language in any class of language, whether Indo-European or not. It will get us absolutely nowhere. So I have concluded (much to my own relief and with positive practical consequences) that it does not matter one jot what class of language Minoan belongs to, and that it serves us best simply to jump into the deep waters without further ado, and to attempt to decipher it on its own terms, i.e. internally. 2. Cross-correlation between the Minoan language and the Mycenaean syllabary: Notice that in 1. above I italicized the word correlating. This is no accident at all. It is only by the process of cross-correlation with a known language that we can even begin to decipher an unknown one. And of course, the known language with which the Minoan language must be cross-correlated is none other than Mycenaean in Linear B, if not for any reason other than that Linear B uses basically the same syllabary as its predecessor, with only a modicum of changes required by the latter to represent Mycenaean Greek, more or less accurately. This assumption or principle, if you like, is squarely based on the approach used by the renowned French philologist, Jean-François Champellion, who finally deciphered in 1822, 23 years after it was discovered in Egypt in 1799. How did he do it? He made the brilliant assumption that the stone, on which was inscribed the identical text in Demotic and ancient Greek, must have the exact same text in Egyptian hieroglyphics on it. And of course, he was right on the money. Here is were the principle of cross-correlation comes charging to the fore. If a given text in an unknown ancient text is on the same tablet as at least one other known language (and in this case two), a truly observant and meticulous philologist cannot but help to draw the ineluctable conclusion that the text of the unknown language must be identical to that of the known. Bingo! But I hear you protest, there are no media upon which the identical text is inscribed where Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B are concerned. The medium on which texts in both Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B are inscribed is the clay tablet. While it is indisputably true that there exist no tablets on which the identical text is inscribed in Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B, upon close examination, we discover to our amazement that there is at least one tablet in Minoan Linear A which is potentially very close to another in Mycenaean Linear B, and that tablet is none other than Linear A HT 31 from Haghia Triada, on which the text, at least to a highly observant philologist, would appear to be very close to a text on a particular Linear B tablet. And that tablet, we discover to our amazement, is none other than Pylos tablet TA Py 631-1952 (Ventris). Armed with this assumption, I forged right ahead and made a direct comparison between the two. And what did I discover? Both tablets mention (almost) the very same types of vessels in at least 4 instances. Armed with this information, I simply went ahead and found, this time not to my amazement or even surprise, that I was – at least tentatively – correct. In the case of at least two words on both tablets, as it turned out, I was right on the money. These are (a) puko = tripod on HT 31 and tiripode = tripod on Py TA 631-1952 (Ventris). This was the very first word I ever managed to decipher correctly in Minoan Linear A. My translation, as it turns out, is without a shadow of a doubt, correct. My excitement mounted. (b) The second is supa3ra or supaira on HT 31, which would appear to be almost if not the exact equivalent of dipa mewiyo = a small(er) cup on Py TA 631-1952 (Ventris), but without the handles on the latter. And as it turns out, I was again either close to the mark or right on it. Refer to our previous posts on the decipherment of these two words, and you can see for yourselves exactly how I drew these startling conclusions. Another Linear B tablet which is a goldmine of Mycenaean vocabulary from which certain Minoan words may be indirectly extrapolated is Pylos tablet TA Py Un 718 L. By extrapolation of Minoan Linear A terms from their Mycenaean Linear B equivalents, I certainly do not mean that the former can be directly divined from the latter, since that is impossible, given that Mycenaean Greek is a known language whereas Minoan Linear A is unknown. What I mean is simply this: there is a good chance that a word which appears on a Minoan Linear A tablet which shares (almost) identical ideograms and relatively similar placement of (quasi-)identical text with its reasonably similar Mycenaean counterpart may share (approximately) the same meaning as its Mycenaean Greek counterpart. The clincher here is context. If the (quasi-)identical ideograms on both the Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B tablets appear strikingly alike, then we may very well have something substantial to go on. Pylos tablet TA Py Un 718 L is as close to an ideal candidate as there comes for such cross-correlation with tablets with similar text on one or more Minoan Linear A tablets. 3. Parallel ideograms on Linear A and Linear B tablets: The presence of apparently (very) similar ideograms for vessels on both of the aforementioned tablets only serves to confirm, at least tentatively for most of the words on vessels I have attempted to decipher, and conclusively for the two words above, that I am (hopefully) well on my way to a clear start at deciphering at deciphering a small subset of Minoan Linear A. For lack of space, I cannot give details this post, which is already long enough, but once again, previous posts reveal in much more detail this principle on which my decipherments are founded, and the methodology behind it which lends further credence my translations. 4. Archaeological evidence lends yet further credence to my decipherments of 4 of the largest vessel types on HT 31, namely, karopa3 or karopai, nere, qapai & tetu. The problem here is, which one of the largest is the largest of them all, being approximately equivalent to the Greek pithos? I cannot tell from the tablet. However, since my initial stab at decipherment, I have tentatively concluded that Minoan Linear A words terminating in the ultimate U are masculine singular for the very largest in their class. Hence, it would appear at least that tetu is the most likely candidate for the equivalent to the ancient Greek pithos. I cannot as yet determine with any degree of certainty that this is so, but it is at least a start. 5. (the most important principle of all). It is critical to understand that Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B both dealt with inventories and the process of inventorying livestock, crops, military matters and commodities such as vessels and pottery and textiles. Based on this assumption, it only makes sense that a particular inventory on a Mycenaean Linear B tablet which appears very close to a similar one on a Minoan Linear A tablet (Cf. Linear B Pylos tablet TA Py 641-1952 (Ventris) and its strikingly similar counterpart Linear A tablet Haghia Triada HT 31) is quite likely to bear some fruit in at least a partial decipherment of the latter. And this proves to be the case, as I have amply illustrated in previous posts. I am therefore committed to working on the operating assumption and principle that Minoan Linear A tablets (approximately) parallel to their Linear B counterparts (See principle 2. above). These five principles form the foundation of the first steps that appear to yield relatively convincing results in the decipherment of the 18 words in Minoan Linear A I have tackled so far. Relying on the application of these four principles, either singly or in combination, we can, I believe, make some real headway in the decipherment of roughly 5% to 10 % of the terms on the Linear A tablets. The greater the number of these principles entering into the equation for the decipherment of any Minoan word in particular, the greater are our chances of “getting it right”, so to speak. This is a very good start. Warning! Caveat: yet even the application of these 5 principles, singly or in tandem (and the more we can apply, the better) cannot guarantee that at least some of our “translations” are incorrect or even way off the mark, because some of them are bound to be just that. I have already discovered that my initial translation of kaudeta on Linear A tablets HT 13 and HT 31 is probably off-base. Time to return to the drawing board. On the other hand, at least to date, it is virtually impossible to decipher any Linear A words on any tablet to which any or all of the aforementioned principles cannot be safely applied. This leaves hundreds of Minoan terms virtually beyond our reach. In other words, tablets on which Minoan vocabulary appears, but without any reference or link to the 4 principles mentioned above remain a sealed mystery. But that does not trouble me in the least.
Minoan Linear A Reza Adureza Tereza. Do they measure up? PART 1 = reza The problem of generic versus specific measurement: Minoan Linear A reza adureza tereza. Do they measure up? PART 1 = reza... Soon after I first translated the Minoan Linear A words reza, adureza and tereza, it swiftly dawned on me that I had made a fundamental critical error in my decipherments. It is this. Based on the operation that cross-correlation between Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B assumes that both scripts fundamentally centre on inventories alone, I first turned to Linear B to test this hypothesis. Linear B and measurement: Whenever the Linear B scribes inscribed tablets relating specifically to measurement (and that was on the vast majority of Linear B tablets dealing with commodities), they never used the word measurement in and of itself. Why, you ask? The answer, at least to the scribes, was transparent. The Linear B scribes, as we know all too well from their extremely frequent use of supersyllabograms to save precious space on what were very small tablets (usually 15 cm. wide, rarely more than 30), would almost certainly not have written out the word measurement on tablets actually providing the figures and totals for measurement, since it was all to obvious to them (though not us in the the twenty-first century!) that if the total figures and totals of measured commodities are tallied on any particular tablet, then why on earth say “measurement” of... when it was painfully obvious to them (the scribes) that this was what the tablet in question was all about? This practice is identical to the use of single syllabogram supersyllabograms to replace entire words or phrases on Linear B tablets, again for precisely the same reason, so save all the precious space they could on those tiny tablets. Which is exactly what they did. That leaves us with the obvious question, if the Linear B scribes did not use the implicit but obvious word “measurement”, then what word(s) would they have used for measurement? The answer is implicit in the question: they used words for precise units of measurement, not for measurement in its generic sense. They would have had to use precise units of measurement for commodities such as specific crops, military paraphernalia, vessels, olive oil and wine; otherwise who on earth in the Knossian or Mycenaean palace administration would have known what the total amounts of specific items or commodities added up to? The way the Linear B scribes dealt with this conundrum was to devise a fully standardized, formulaic system of measuring specific units of dry and wet measurement, as illustrated here, and as initially calculated with amazing precision by Andras Zeke of the Minoan Language Blog back in 2012: Specific measurement in Minoan Linear A: And so I have come around to reasoning that what applies to the designation of specific measurement in Mycenaean Linear B must also apply to its forbear, Minoan Linear A, in some form or another. Unfortunately, my extensive online research rummaging for Minoan Linear A words (as opposed to units of measurement) came up cold. So what then? Did the Minoan Linear A scribes employ precise words for specific units of measurement? My believe is that in fact they did. Why so? Only recently, I quickly noticed that the words reza, adureza and tereza appeared on Minoan Linear A tablets, all of which dealt with measurement. Co-incidence? I think not. Let us begin with the simple word reza. If it is indeed the root word for its variants adureza and tereza, it stands to reason that it applies to the simplest unit(s) of measurement, as illustrated here on Linear B tablet Haghia Triada HT 31 (verso): I would also like to stress that so far I have only scratched the surface of the problems inherent to at least the partial, but accurate, decipherment of certain Minoan Linear B terms (up to a potential vocabulary of 100+ words), in light of the fact that I have been painstakingly mulling over the hypotheses, criteria and a specific methodology which can successfully be applied to the prudent decipherment of at least a subset of Minoan Linear A. And to my satisfaction, I have been able to extrapolate these hypotheses, criteria and a specific methodology which we can practically apply to said decipherment. I shall be posting these principles very shortly here on Linear B, Knossos and Mycenae. I guarantee they will be real eye openers to past, researchers in the potential decipherment of Minoan Linear A, all of whom have overlooked some of the critical factors relative to its decipherment, which are more than likely to lead to at least a real measure of success. We shall soon see. It is extremely important to emphasize that if adureza and teresa are compounds of reza, compound Minoan Linear A words modify their meanings from their simple root word, in this case, reza, by adding prefixes, not suffixes, which would explain why adureza, with the prefix adu = “dry” means a specific unit of dry measurement and te for tereza refers to a specific unit of “wet” measurement, not just “measurement” (reza). It will be absolutely necessary to test this tentative hypothesis against other Minoan Linear A word clusters composed of (a) a root root and (b) compound terms composed of the root + 1 or more prefixes, not suffixes, to determine whether it holds up to continued scrutiny. If it does, we are surely onto something big! For adureza and tereza, see the next two posts.
An Easy Guide to Learning Arcado-Cypriot Linear C & I mean easy!: Click to ENLARGE If any of you out there have already mastered either Minoan Linear A or Mycenaean Linear B or both, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C is likely to come as a bit of a shock. Although the phonetic values of the syllabograms in Linear C are identical to their Linear B counterparts, with very few exceptions, the appearance of Linear C syllabograms is almost always completely at odds with their Linear B counterparts, again with very few exceptions. If this sounds confusing, allow me to elucidate. A: Appearance of Linear B & Linear C Syllabograms. Linear C syllabograms look like this. If you already know Linear B, you are probably saying to yourself, What a mess!, possibly even aloud. I can scarcely blame you. But courage, courage, all is not lost. Far from it. Click to ENLARGE: Only the following syllabograms look (almost) alike in both Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C [see (a) below]: NA PA TA * SE * LO * PO * * There is a slight difference between those syllabograms marked with an asterisk * DA in Linear B is identical to TA in Linear C because Linear C has no D + vowel series, but uses the T + vowel series instead. SE in Linear B has 3 vertical strokes, whereas in Linear C it has only 2. RO in Linear B is identical to LO in Linear C. While Linear C has both and R + vowel series, it uses the L + vowel series as the equivalent of the Linear B R series. PO stands vertically in Linear B, but is slanted about 30 degrees to the right in Linear C. All other syllabograms in these two syllabaries are completely dissimilar; so you might think you are on your own to learn the rest of them in Linear C. But in fact, you are not. I can help a lot. See below, after the section on the Phonetic Values of Linear B & Linear C Syllabograms. B: Phonetic Values of Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C Syllabograms: Here the reverse scenario applies. Once you have mastered all of the Linear C syllabograms by their appearance, you can rest pretty much assured that the phonetic values of almost all syllabograms in both syllabaries are identical, with very few exceptions. Even in those instances where their phonetic values appear not to be identical, they are in fact identical, for all intents and purposes. This is because the ancient Greek dialects were notorious for wide variations in pronunciation, ergo in orthography. Anyone at all familiar with ancient Greek dialects can tell you that the pronunciation and spelling of an identical document, were there ever any such beast, would vary markedly from, say, Arcado-Cypriot to Dorian to Attic alphabetic. I can hear some of you protest, “What do you mean, the Arcado-Cypriot alphabet? I thought the script for Arcado-Cypriot was the syllabary Linear C.” You would be only half right. In fact, the Arcadians and Cypriots wrote their documents either in Linear or in their version of the ancient Greek alphabet, or in both at the same time. This is the case with the famous Idalion decree, composed in the 5th. Century BCE: Click to ENLARGE The series of syllabograms beginning with the consonant R + any of the vowels A E I O & U is present in Mycenaean Linear B. However, the series of syllabograms beginning with the consonant L + any of the vowels A E I O & U is entirely absent from Mycenaean Linear B, while Arcado-Cypriot Linear C has a series of syllabograms for both of the semi-consonants L & R. It rather looks like the Arcadians & Cypriots had already made the clear distinction between the semi-vowels L & R, firmly established and in place with the advent of the earliest form of the ancient Greek alphabet, which sported separate semi-vowels for L & R. Likewise, the series of syllabograms beginning with the consonant Q + any of the vowels A E I & O is present in Mycenaean Linear B, but entirely absent from Arcado-Cypriot Linear C. Conversely, the series of syllabograms beginning with the consonant X + the vowels A or E (XA & XE) is entirely absent from in Mycenaean Linear B, but present in Arcado-Cypriot Linear C. For the extremely significant socio-cultural linguistic explanation for this apparent paradox (I say, apparent, because it is in fact unreal), we shall have to defer to the next post. WARNING! Always be on your guard never to confuse Linear B & Linear C syllabograms which look (almost exactly) alike – the sole exceptions being NA PA TA SE LO & PO, since you can be sure that their phonetic values are completely at odds. Various strategies you can resort to in order to master Linear C fast! (a) The Linear B & Linear C syllabograms NA PA TE SE LO & PO are virtually the same, both in appearance and in pronunciation.
(b) Taking advantage of the real or fortuitous resemblance of several syllabograms to one another & (c) Geometric Clustering: Click to ENLARGE What is really astonishing is that the similarities between the syllabograms on the second line & their geometric clustering on the third are identical! So no matter which approach you adopt (b) or (c) or both for at least these syllabograms, you are a winner. Failing these approaches, try (d) Mnemonics: For instance, we could imagine that RO is a ROpe, PE = Don’t PEster me!, SA = SAve $, TO is TOFu etc. or we could even resort to (e) Imagery! For instance, we could imagine that A E & I are a series of stars, RI NI & KE all look like variations on the letter E, that LE is the symbol for infinity, WE is an iron bar etc. For Mnemonics & Imagery, I am not suggesting that you follow my own arbitrary interpretations, except perhaps for LE, which is transparent. Take your imagination where it leads you. Finally (f) the really great news is that the Linear C syllabary abandoned homophones, logograms and ideograms, doing away with them lock-stock-and-barrel. This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B syllabaries. The first had so many syllabograms, homophones, logograms and ideograms that it can be a real pain in the butt to learn Linear A. Mycenaean Linear B greatly simplified the entire mess, reducing the number and complexity of syllabograms & homophones, but unfortunately retaining well over a hundred logograms and ideograms, which are equally a pain in the you know what. In other words, the process of greater and greater simplication was evolutionary. This phenomenon is extremely common across the spectrum of world languages. What the Linear C scribes agreed upon, the complete elimination of anything but syllabograms, was the last & greatest evolutionary phase in the development of the Minoan-Greek syllabaries before the Greeks finally reduced even Linear C to its own variable alphabet of some 24-27 letters, depending on the dialect. But even the 3 syllabaries, Linear A, B & C, all had the 5 vowels, A E I O & U, which already gave them an enormous advantage over almost all other ancient scripts, none of which had vowels, with the sole exception of Sanskrit, as far as I know. That alone was quite an achievement. If you have not yet mastered the Linear B syllabary, it goes without saying that all of these techniques can be applied to it. The same goes for the Minoan Linear A syllabary, though perhaps to a lesser extent. The Real Potential for Extrapolation of these Principles to Learning any Script: Moreover, at the most general level for learning linguistic scripts, ancient or modern, whether they be based on pictographs, ideograms alone (as with some Oriental languages, such as Chinese, Japanese & Korean, at least when they resorted to the Kanji script), or any combination of ideograms, logograms & syllabograms (all three not necessarily being present) or even alphabetic, they will almost certainly stand the test of the practical validity of any or all of these approaches for learning any such script. I have to wonder whether or not most linguists have ever considered the practical implications of the combined application of all of these principles, at least theoretically. Allow me to conclude with this telling observation. Children especially, even from the age of 2 & a half to 3 years old, would be especially receptive to all of these techniques, which would ensure a rapid assimilation of any script, even something as simple as an alphabet of anywhere from 24 letters (Italian) to Russian Cyrillic (33 letters), as I shall clearly demonstrate with both the modern Greek & Latin alphabet a little later this month. PS. If any of you are wondering, as I am sure many of you who are familiar with our blog must be, I have an extremely associative, cross-correlative mind, a rather commonplace phenomenon among polyglot linguists, such as myself. In fact, my thinking can run in several directions, by which I mean I frequently process one set of cross-correlative associations, only to consider another and another, each in quite different directions from the previous. If that sounds like something Michael Ventris did, it is because that is precisely what he did to decipher almost all of Mycenaean Linear B - almost all, but not quite. As for the remaining 10 % or so which has so far defied decipherment, I promise you you are in for a great surprise very soon, perhaps as early as the spring of 2015, when my research colleague, Rita Roberts, and I shall be publishing an in-depth research paper in PDF on the Internet - a study which is to announce a major breakthrough in the further decipherment of Linear B. Those of you who frequent this blog on a regular basis already know what we are up to. As for those of you who are not regular visitors, if you read all the posts under the rubric, Supersyllabograms (at the top of this page), you are going to find out anyway. Richard