Restoration the full text of the badly damaged Linear A tablet from Gournia: Here we see my restoration of the full text of the badly damaged Linear A tablet from Gournia, which includes line 0. at the top and line 4. at the bottom. This is just a personal interpretation, which may stray from the actual text of the original tablet... but we cannot really know this. Note that the RECTO (front side) and the VERSO (reverse side) are reversed. If you horizontally flip the VERSO it fits correctly into the RECTO. So this means that we have to read the text on the RECTO from left to right (dextrograde) and on the VERSO from right to left (sinistrograde). The reconstruction certainly makes sense. It was hard work, but worth it and fun!
Dry Measurement of Wheat, Barley & Grain Seeds in Linear B: Click to ENLARGE
Because this tablet is largely intact, it is fairly easy to translate. But there are still a few small problems in the second line. First of all, the total wheat production for 1 month (or does this mean, the average monthly wheat total for 1 year?) is given as approx. 3 kilograms, if we are to trust the measurement table established by Andras Zeke of the Minoan Language Blog- and there is no reason why we should not under the circumstances, namely, that we really have no idea what the actual total (represented by the Linear B logogram which looks like a T) for dry measurement was. So kilograms will do as well as anything. Still, at least the system appears to have been metric. This is followed by a much larger output for barley of 3 x 9 = 27 kilograms, which strikes me as a little bit odd, given that wheat was probably the staple crop, followed by barley. On the other hand, there is nothing to indicate that this is a monthly total for barley. In fact, the total of approx. 27 kilograms is immediately followed by the number 7. My interpretation of this apparently stray number is that it may represent 7 months (the ideogram for month being conveniently omitted), yielding a total of a little less than 4 kilograms per month, which would align the barley production total with the wheat. But this still strikes me as really odd. Why would the scribe assign the total for only 1 month’s production of wheat, and follow it up with the total production of barley for 7 months? This does not make much sense. We then have a total production of about 3 x 3 = approx. 9 kilograms of seed, if I am interpreting this right. The reason I assign 3 x 3 = about 9 kilograms of seed is this: I believe the scribe deliberately omitted the T logogram (which is equal to about 3 kilograms), hence 3 (x 3) = 9. Why would he do that? It is really quite simple. He has apparently omitted the ideogram for “month” right after the number 7. He has already used the T logogram twice on this line, and so – again to save valuable space on a very small tablet - he simply omits it the third time (as he did for the second occurrence for “month”), since he knows that all of the other scribes clearly understand that it is implicit. Just another shortcut. More shorthand. Big surprise. Still, the statistics do not seem to square. Our translation of the inventory totals just does not “feel right”. For this reason, I have to reserve judgement on the translation, given that there appears to be something the scribes all implicitly understood - I am not quite sure what – but which we do not at a remove of some 32 centuries. And I fear I may have taken the scribal practice of omitting what was “obvious” to the scribes a little too far. Richard
Progressive Linear B: Level 4.3 Accounting List Ideograms of Crops & Produce (Click to ENLARGE):
This soi-disant (i.e. unattested) “tablet” written in Linear B, presumably from Pylos, amply serves to illustrate the eminently practical methodology for shorthand the Mycenaean scribes followed to compile accounting lists of any kind, as we can see for instance in this specific example. The “tablet” you see here never did exist, but there can be no doubt whatsoever that Mycenaean scribes, whether here, at Pylos, or anywhere else they worked (Knossos, Chania, Mycenae etc.) could have, and probably did compile lists very much like the one you see here. I compiled this accounting list of agricultural crops and produce to clearly illustrate the almost universal application the scribes made of ideograms – instead of syllabograms – to compile lists, usually for accounting purposes. As we have previously demonstrated on this blog, the use of syllabograms only for such long lists would have proven to be wasteful in the extreme on the small baked tablets the Linear B scribes used in an agro-thalassocratic economy as prosperous as that of the Minoans and Mycenaeans, so heavily reliant on widespread international trade to all parts of the he Mediterranean (Egypt, Phoenicia, Tyre, the Hittite Empire and beyond), which they seem to have dominated for at least two centuries from ca. 1450 – ca. 1200 BCE.