Tag Archive: religious rites



Inscription from Malia in New Minoan Linear A, Tainaron, a town with authority:

Mallia text in Linear A dealing with Tainaron with Linear B transcription

Here we have yet another inscription from Malia in New Minoan Linear A, which appears to invoke the supreme authority of Tainaron, a town at the southern tip of Laconia, with the blessings of the gods. If this tablet is indeed inscribed in Mycenaean-derived new Minoan, then it is the fourth of the tablets from Malia I have deciphered, all of them in New Minoan. It would thus appear that the Mycenaeans had assumed suzerainty over Malia before these tablets were inscribed, and that the scribes there were still using the Linear A syllabary to inscribe tablets in Mycenaean Greek, just before the switch-over to the new official syllabary, Linear B. It cannot simply be co-incidental that all of the inscriptions from Malia, including the famous IDAMATE labrys from the Archalochori Cave, appear to be inscribed in Mycenaean-derived New Minoan. In fact, the word Idamate can easily be rendered as the mother (goddess) of Mount Ida”. It is also a matter of great interest to note that Tainaron itself is the toponym of Cape Tainaron,

Tainaron ancient Greece

where there was a sanctuary of Poseidon, who may very well be the god who has brought blessings on the town. It is to be noted that the Archalochori axe inscribed in proto-Greek is also in a sanctuary where a horde of bronze votive weapons, mostly axes, were discovered. Moreover, Malia tablet MA 1 appears to deal with Minos, the legendary king of Knossos offering gold to Rhea, mother of Zeus. In other words, all of the inscriptions from Malia deal with religious rites. This should come as no surprise, as more Linear A than Linear B tablets appear to focus on religious symbolism or rites.

Except for Tainaro, which is equivalent to the nominative neuter in Linear B, all proto-Greek spellings on this inscription have been adjusted to meet the exigencies of Old Minoan syntax. It would thus appear that etanasu is the Minoan orthography for hestanwn (standing, Greek Latinized), while pijani is the dative or instrumental singular in Minoan of the noun derived from the Greek verb, piainw, to enrich. The orthography of Tainaro appears to confirm that the nominative neuter in Linear B underwent no change in Minoan. This conclusion conforms with the table of 45 apparent Minoan masculine and neuter nominatives I recently posted:

https://linearbknossosmycenae.wordpress.com/2017/05/18/linear-a-nouns-ultimate-o-masculineneuter-nouns-and-adjectives/


Free translation of Linear A tablet KH 5 (Khania) concerning the shipping of wine by sea?

Linear A tablet KH 5 Khania enhanced

If this tablet, KH 5 (Khania) is inscribed in Mycenaean-derived New Minoan, then it would appear that it deals with the shipping of wine by sea. The fact that the floor boards are apparently level would imply that the shipment was carried out successfully in calm seas. On line 1, adakisika, which is Mycenaean-derived New Minoan with orthography adapted to Old Minoan, translates as and adorned with ivy, which implies that the cargo has been blessed by a priest(ess). If this is the case, there is text missing before this phrase, which after all ends with and”, hence possibly “and adorned with ivy (blessed by a priest(ess))”. If NA references nauwi, i.e. “on a ship”, then the mention of “on a level wooden floor (i.e. deck)” makes sense in context. This decipherment may be largely correct, but there is no way of verifying this with any certainty. Finally, if PA is the first syllabogram of pa3ni (paini), which I interpret as Old Minoan for “amphora”, then the wine is being shipped in amphorae, the only way wine could have been shipped in Minoan times. As if…


Decipherment of the Linear B seal BE Zg2:

Linear B seal BE Zg 2

This decipherment is straightforward. It certainly makes sense that a Linear B seal could deal with 5 torches, more than likely in the context of a religious or royal rite.


Linear A seals: Part 2 + Minoan grammar, nominative singular masculine in u:

linear_a_sealsR

Linear A seal HM 570.1g confirms beyond doubt that the word situ is New Minoan, i.e. Mycenaean-derived for “wheat”, a tight match with Mycenaean sito.     But it establishes a lot more than just that. Since there are well over 200 Minoan     words, whether Old Minoan or Mycenaean-derived New Minoan, all of which terminate in u, the circumstantial evidence is very strong that u is the nominative masculine singular of Minoan nouns and adjectives regardless.  I have no idea what jetana means, as it is clearly Old Minoan.


Second of 6 Linear A fragments from Phaistos in New Minoan = matere = to Mother (Earth)?

Phaistos PH 15a 15b PD 29 10 39 22 PD 6 27

This second of 6 Linear A fragments from Phaistos appears to bear the inscription 2. = matere, which would be Mycenaean Greek dative for  “to mother”, with right-truncated text possibly following being waiaia or gaiaia = genitive singular = “of Earth”, i.e. “to Mother Earth”. The inscription tagged 1. consists of what appears to be an unidentifiable right-truncated syllabogram on the left, followed by the 2 ideograms identified.  It would thus appear that this fragment is at least partially inscribed in New Minoan, with the word “to mother” being derived from Mycenaean. There is a greater likelihood than might have otherwise been the case that this fragment is in New Minoan, since its provenance is Phaistos, where a large number of Linear B tablets, many of them quite detailed and lengthy, have been unearthed. So in view of this, it would appear that this fragment (of a larger tablet) was probably inscribed in the Linear A syllabary immediately prior to its abandonment and replacement by the new official syllabary, Linear B. Hence its date of composition would probably have been ca. 1450 BCE, and no earlier. 

Minoan Costume History synopsis: a wonderful site!


Minoan Costume History synopsis: a wonderful site!

Minoan costume history

You simply have to check this site out! I have never seen such an in-depth study on Minoan costume, female and male alike, on the Internet. Here is just a small excerpt:

An era of great development, contemporaneous with the civilization of ancient Egypt and Phoenicia, and which may be dated about 2000-1500 B.C., had preceded the civilization that came from Asia Minor into Crete and Greece. Such fragments of Cretan culture as have come down to us reveal a beauty of technique and a delicate sense of form to which no contemporaneous civilization provides any parallel. (italics mine). It is certainly true that the Minoans were far more style-conscious than people of any other contemporaneous civilization, such as the Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians and Hittites. No question about it.

Owing to the lack of written records, the processes and methods of manufacture are still wrapped in obscurity, but although we are thus reduced to surmise regarding the materials used, the dress of that time is of the highest interest in view of its connexion with the costumes of other peoples. Our attention is especially attracted by the dress worn by the women. The slim, wiry figures of the men are clothed almost universally with a loincloth, richly patterned and splendidly decorated. Here and there we see wide cloaks that clothe the whole body, giving it a large appearance. Women also, it would seem, wore the short loincloth, but we find them wearing in addition skirts put together in an almost fantastic manner that betrays a highly developed knowledge of the technique of dressmaking. These skirts are constructed in tiers, separated by strips of rich ornamentation. 

Illustrations from this site (there are many more, just as striking as these!)

Minoan loving cup

male saffron gatherer

Minoan seated ladies in grandstand

Minoan fountain



3 alternatives in Minoan Linear A for pasiteoi = “to all the gods” in Mycenaean Greek:

pasiteoi pasi

I rummaged through every last of the scores of Minoan Linear A tablets I have on file, searching for any rendition possible commensurate with the phrase pasiteoi = “to all the gods” in Mycenaean Greek. I have made the assumption, however misplaced, that since this a 5 syllabogram or syllable phrase in Mycenaean Linear B, the cross-correlated phrase in Minoan Linear A should run to approximately the same number of syllabograms or syllables, give or take. I found 3 alternatives. I had little choice, as there is simply no way or knowing whether or not any one of these 3,  iqa*118, dadumata or *47nuraja  corresponds to the Mycenaean phrase, if indeed any of them do. However, the chances are pretty good that one of them does.

So take your pick. I lean towards dadumata, as it looks like it might be plural, though certainly not necessarily neuter plural, corresponding to the ultimate “a”, which imposes itself on any word in the neuter or feminine plural in Mycenaean Greek. One simply cannot transpose the last vowel “a” for the neuter plural in Linear B to Linear A. The same problem obtains with *47nuraja.  On the other hand, transposition of “a” for Greek “ai” in Mycenaean Greek is a (somewhat remote) possibility in Minoan Linear A. But here again we cannot and must not leap to any premature conclusions. 

Each of these terms qualifies as the sixty-ninth (69) term I have deciphered, more or less accuracy, in Minoan Linear A.


What are the current prospects for deciphering Minoan Linear A? Dismal but...

As historical research on Minoan Linear A has demonstrated over and over, every attempt by philologists and historical linguists specializing in Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B to decipher Linear A over the past 116 years has met with failure. Though some, like Sam Connolly, have claimed success

Breaking the Code

The Minoan language has remained a sealed mystery. 

Linear A Minoan Writing sealed

Though I have brought all my intellectual resources to bear on the painful struggle to decipher Minoan Linear A, I too have made little headway. But that is not to say I have not made any at all. Still, the only words I have been able to decipher with any accuracy at all are those which are directly linked with ideograms. These ideograms happen to turn up almost exclusively on Linear A tablets dealing with vessels and wine, with little else to show in the other sectors of the Minoan economy. Moreover, I have found myself having to face the unsatisfactory prospect of having to decipher many Minoan words much less accurately than I would have hoped to. This usually happens because there is only one word to be found on only one tablet in Linear A containing that word in conjunction with an ideogram. One of these terms is qareto on Linear B tablet HT 132 (Haghia Triada), the only Minoan word prepended to the syllabogram for sheep. Now, in Mycenaean Linear B, there exist a number of single syllabograms preceding the ideograms for sheep, rams or ewes. Each of these syllabograms, which I have definitively defined as supersyllabograms (2014-2016), is the first syllabogram or first syllable of a Mycenaean Greek word. Two of these supersyllabograms (SSYLs) predominate in the sheep sub-sector of the agricultural sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy, outstripping all the others by a very considerable margin. These are the supersyllabograms O = onato = lease field and KI = kitimena = a plot of land”. There are scores and scores of Linear B tablets directly dealing with sheep, which contain either of these two supersyllabograms.

The problem is that there is only one word, qareto, on only one tablet in Minoan Linear A dealing with sheep, which does not leave us with much wiggle room at all. However, since the Mycenaean Greek words onato and kitimena appear with the ideograms for sheep, rams or ewes far more often than any other supersyllabogram, I have concluded that it is safe to assume that qareto in Minoan Linear A might be one or the other. But this state of affairs simply won’t do, since we can never know which one of the two it is, if indeed it is one of these two words for a specific type of field in Minoan Linear A. This confusion is compounded the fact that there are four other words naming specific types of fields in Mycenaean Linear B, arura or kama = unit of land (cf. metric, hectare), kekemina/no (adj.)  = referring to common land and koto(i)na/no = plot of land, a synonym of kikimena. This brings the total number of specific terms relating to fields to six, making it impossible to accurately define qareto in Minoan Linear B. But it is not all that hopeless. If we cannot define qareto at the level of specificity allowed for in Mycenaean Linear B, we can still decipher it at the generic level of field, of which all 6 of the aforementioned are subsets. We are hedging our bets. While we suspect qareto is possibly some specific kind of field, we can safely say that it definitely is a field at the generic level, since all 6 types of fields found in Mycenaean Greek are subsumed under the notion of field”. So qareto can be said to be pretty much synonymous with akoro. But that is as far as we can go. This is just one example of any number of Minoan Linear A words which allow for a more or less satisfactory decipherment, but which defy a truly accurate translation.

I have compiled a list of terms in the agricultural, religious and vessels (pottery) sectors of the Mycenaean Linear A followed by another in Minoan Linear A. Both are as exhaustive as I could make them. I culled all of the Mycenaean Linear B words from Chris Tselentis comprehensive Linear B Lexicon, and all of the Minoan Linear A words from all of the relevant Linear A tablets on Prof. John G. Youngers excellent site, Linear A Texts in phonetic transcription & Commentary (Click on the banner below to visit):


Linear A Texts in phonetic transcription

Of course, there is no way of knowing for sure that I have accounted for all possible terms relevant to the potential decipherment of Minoan Linear A. In addition, so many Minoan words on the Linear A tablets are either left- or right-truncated that I simply had to eliminate them, given that it is an exercise in futility to attempt to decipher these.

The number of Linear B terms I have compiled amounts to a total of 64, while that of Linear A words to 62. This means that if we take all possible permutations into account, we end up with the figure of 3,968, or let us us say, 4,000 give or take. The implications of this figure are staggering. It means that if we are going to be able ever to decipher Minoan Linear A, we have to take into account at least 4,000 possible variations in determining the exact meaning of almost all of the Minoan words in the Linear A list.

A hopeless endeavour? ... not quite. As I have pointed out above, the presence of ideograms directly associated with quite a few Minoan words makes the potentiality for deciphering those terms rather more promising. So where we have been able to decipher these terms more or less accurately, we can eliminate them from the list of Minoan Linear A words. But even so doing scarcely makes a dent in the number of permutations left in the remaining words, which is almost all of them. We are still left with the well nigh impossible task of aligning just slightly short of 64 Mycenaean Linear B terms with just slightly fewer than 62 Minoan words. The permutations still run to over 3,500. Given this depressing situation, the prospects for deciphering the remainder of the words in the Linear A list remain all but hopeless. The vast bulk of the Minoan language still remains a sealed tomb in a pyramid, from which I have managed to rob a few artifacts (i.e. the words I have managed to decipher, more or less).

Here are the two lists, Mycenaean Linear B (all translated) first, Minoan Linear A second.

The Mycenaean Linear B words I have successfully deciphered (more or less accurately) in Minoan Linear A are in bold in both lists. The Minoan Linear A words which I expect are susceptible to decipherment are in italics. After each of the Minoan Linear A words the total number of its occurrences on each of the Linear A tablets on which it appears is provided..

Linear B olives & olive oil, wheat and barley, toponyms, vases & wine versus Linear A:

Linear B: 

Grain/wheat/barley:

akoro = field
akotono = without plot of land
apudosi = delivery
arura = unit of land (cf. metric, hectare)
kama = unit of land
kapo = fruit
kekemina/no (adj.)  = referring to common land
kirita = barley
kitimena = plot of land
koria2dana koriyadana = coriander
koto(i)na/no = plot of land
kanako = saffron, crocus
kuparo = cyperus
meno = month
mereuro = flour
onato = lease field
ono (pl.) = payment, debt
pasi/pasa (masc./fem.) = all 
rino = linen, flax
sasama = sesame
serino = celery
sito = wheat 
weto = this year/this year’s crop?
zawete = this year(’s)

Olive oil:

erawa = olive tree
erawo = essential (olive) oil
kapo = fruit
meno = month
pasi/pasa (masc./fem.) = all 
weto = this year/this year’s crop?
zawete = this year(’s)

Religious:

anemoiyerea = Priestess of the Winds
diwiyo =dedicated to Zeus
diuya/diwiya = priestess of Zeus
diuyayo = sanctuary
diwiyo = sanctuary dedicated to Zeus
dosomo (pl.) = offerings
iyereu = priest
iyeria (iyerea) = priestess
iyero = sacred
pasi/pasa (masc./fem.) = all 
pasiteoi = to all the gods
qeteo = debt to the gods
sapaketeriya/yo = for ritual slaughter
teo = god 
wanakatero temeno = palace shrine

Sheep:

akoro

Toponyms:

Aminiso = Amnisos
Kerasiyo/Kerasiya = Cretan
Paito = Phaistos

Vases:

anowe/anowoto = without handles (vase, cup)
aporewe = amphora
apudosi = delivery
dipa = cup
ipono = (cooking) pot
kakiya/yo = made of copper
kako = copper
karawere = stirrup jar
kuruso = gold
kurusupa3 = tripod amphora
newo = new
pasi/pasa (masc./fem.) = all 
pia2ra/piyera3 = a kind of pot
qetorowe = with four handles (pot)
rewotereyo = cauldron
soro = funereal urn (for ashes)
tiripo = tripod = Linear A: puko
udoro = water flask

Wine:

apudosi = delivery
kapo = fruit
meri = honey
mita = mint
newo = new
parayo = old, vintage/wine
wono = wine

Linear A:

Grain/wheat/barley:

47nuraya (grain/wheat)
adaro (grain/wheat) 40
apu2nadu (grain/wheat) 5 + (olive oil) 3
arudara (grain/wheat) 5
ase + PA (grain/wheat)
dadumata  (grain/wheat)
dame (grain/wheat) x 2 20 & 74
dau49 (grain/wheat) + PA 20
ika (grain/wheat) x 2
kiritana (grain/wheat) 60
kirita3 = kiritai +QE DI (grain/wheat)
iqa118 (grain/wheat) 
kitai (grain/wheat)
kunisu (grain/wheat) 20
kupaya  (grain/wheat) 16 + 40
pa3ni = paini + PA (grain/wheat) 33
pa3nina = painina + RE + SE (grain/wheat) 12
pase + QE (grain/wheat) 20
pitakase + TE (grain/wheat) 161
pura2 = purai  (grain/wheat) 5
qaqaru + PA (grain/wheat) 5
sara2 (alone)
sara2 = sarai (grain/wheat) x 6 @ 10 1 20 20 26 41 976! 10 2 tereza?
simita (grain/wheat) 5  
sirumarita2 = sirumaritai (grain/wheat) 1 = Linear B: qeteo = debt to the gods
sise (grain/wheat) 16
turunuseme (grain/wheat) 10  = Linear B: pasiteoi
u34si (grain/wheat)
watumare +KU (grain/wheat) 12+
yaki + QE (grain/wheat) 5 (wine) 6	30
zu22di + QE (grain/wheat) 40

Olive Oil:

datu (olive oil) 15
itaya +DI (olive oil) 10
kitai (olive oil) 1
kupa3 = kupai + U  (olive oil)
kirita2 = kiritai + (olive oil) + QE + DI 10 & alone
pi34te (olive oil)  5
sara2 + DI (olive oil) tereza?
saro (olive oil)
saru (olive oil) 16				40
sise + KI (olive oil) 1 + sise + MI (olive oil) 6 + sise + TU (olive tree) 3?
teri + MI  (olive oil) x 2 5 + 
widina + DI (olive oil) 3
yedi + KI (olive oil) 1

Sheep:

qareto (sheep) = field (akoro,kama etc.) 

Toponyms:

Dikate = Mount Dikte
Idaa = Mount Ida
Kireta2 (Kiretai)
Kudoni = Kydonia
Meza (=Linear B Masa)
Paito = Phaistos (=Linear B)
Qeka
Radu = Lato (=Linear B Rato)) 
Setoiya = Seteia (=Linear B) 
Sukirita = Sybrita
Winadu = Inatos (Linear B Winato)

Vases:

darida (vase) 2 (LARGE!) 
daropa (vase) = Linear B karaeriyou (gen.) stirrup jar?

Wine:

kura (wine) 5 (large amount) = Linear B: woinos?
RA164aTI (wine) 38 (medium amount)
sukini
yaki + QE (grain/wheat) 5 (wine) 6 (medium amount)
of Linear B: woinos

no. of permutations and combinations = 64 x 62 = 3968


Linear B tablet Pylos TA Ae 08 offerings of gold from her slaves to the priestess at Pylos:

Linear B tablet Pylos Ae 08 offerings by slaves to the priestess at Pylos

The Linear B tablet Pylos TA Ae 08 offerings of gold from her slaves to the priestess at Pylos is one of the most famous of all Linear B tablets. It rounds out our survey of 6 religious tablets in Mycenaean Linear B which may very well serve as templates for the decipherment of Minoan Linear A tablets in the same vein.


The co-dependent supersyllabograms KI = kitimena kotona & O = onaton in Linear B:

Knossos tablet KN 930 G a 302 & the supersyllabograms KI & O

The two supersyllabograms KI = kitimena kotona & O = onaton in Linear B are very frequently concatenated on Linear B tablets in the agricultural sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy. This combination of supersyllabograms KI + O occurs on scores of tablets from Knossos alone. These two supersyllabograms always precede the ideogram they modify, and this ideogram is always either the one for “rams” (most often) or “ewes” and occasionally for “sheep” (the generic ideogram).  When linked together in this fashion they always mean “a usufruct lease field which is a plot of land”, in other words “a usufruct leased plot of land” within the context of a larger “lease field” of which this plot of land is one among several. How many we cannot say, because we were not there when the Minoan/Mycenaean overlords parcelled out their fields to be leased as smaller plots of land to their tenants.

The number of leased plots per lease field may have been as few as 4 or as many as 10 or 20. If the number were to have run to the latter end of the spectrum, that would have meant that the lease fields themselves, which were to have been sub-parcelled into leased plots must have been quite large, even if the size of the separate leased plots might have been as small as approx. 1 hectare. In that scenario, a lease field with 20 leased plots of approx. 1 hectare would be about 20 hectares in size. It is to be clearly understood that we have no yardstick or should I say metric stick by which to determine exactly or even approximately the Minoans at Knossos or Phaistos or the Mycenaeans at Mycenae, Pylos and elsewhere actually measured the size of their fields. The hectare is just an approximation, nothing more. But it will do as well as any measure.

On another count, we note that on this tablet, the land tenant is Siadyweis. He is not the land owner because he is clearly leasing a plot of land on a much larger lease field owned by the overseer.  Also, we note that the person connected with the Minoan Goddess, Potnia, must be her priest, because it is in the masculine. This seems a rather odd arrangement to me, since in almost all other instances where this famous Minoan goddess is mentioned, it is with reference to her Priestess(es) and not her Priest(s). The Minoan religion was substantively matriarchal, not patriarchal. That said, this tablet clearly defines her attendant as her Priest.

Several illustrations of the the Minoan goddess, Potnia:

Potnia Theron Minoan Snake goddess and Artemis

 


Linear B tablets on wheat: KN 36 K c 33:

KN 36 K c 33 wheat

This is a typical Linear B tablet from Knossos dealing with wheat.


Rams for ritual slaughter: KN 386 A 87 & KN 387 X c 57 joins:

KN 386 & KN 387 tablet joins sacrificial rams

Here I am really digging deep into unknown waters in the decipherment of Linear B, deeper than I ever have.

These two fragments were originally one tablet. The central part is missing. This has got to be one of the most fascinating challenges I have ever encountered in the decipherment of Linear B text, since, as with all Linear B joins, it requires the decipherer to attempt to fill in the blanks, so to speak, i.e. the missing part of the original tablet, which as you can see is in an inverted V shape. If at all possible, as much the text that originally was located within that V has to be restored. Since as everyone knows who visits our blog that I am never one to skip a challenge, no matter how tough, I took it upon myself to make a serious attempt at a plausible reconstruction of at least part of the missing text, and to my satisfaction, I believe I succeeded, in the sense that I have recovered what might plausibly have been some of the original text, at least conjecturally. Any other interpretation might suffice, provided that (a) it made sense in the context of the text preserved on the two adjacent sides & (b) that the missing vocabulary was consistent with the ritual of religious sacrifice of sheep, a common practice in many civilizations of the ancient world.

Let us walk through my decipherment of the so-called missing text step by step. First of all, we have the left truncated syllabograms ... NO heading the first line of the right hand side of the original tablet (KN 387 X c 57). It is no easy matter to even make a stab at what the rest of this word could possibly have meant, or for that matter, how many syllabograms, in other words, syllables, it contained. So I had to take the only recourse available to me, and that was to ransack Chris Tselentis’ excellent Linear B Lexicon of at least 2,500 Linear B words for any word ending in NO which might possibly suit the context, keeping firmly in mind that this is the scene of a religious ceremony involving the ritual sacrifice of a ram or rams. I finally found the term which ideally suited the context, and it is temeno, which means a religious shrine or temple. It fits the context like a glove. So the likelihood that this was indeed the missing word ending with left-truncated NO is reasonably assured. On the second line of the same fragment (the right side), we have repa, the last two syllabograms or syllables of another missing word. The term which immediately leaped to mind was arepa = “cream” or “ointment”, and if that is a putative “correct” translation, it can be interpreted as meaning an  “anointing cream”. Fits the bill. The third word on the third line of the right hand side of the fragment, ending in the single syllabogram WE, was much harder to divine. It could be one of a dozen things, but I finally settled on duwowe, meaning  “a two handled vessel or urn”.  This again suits the context, but it is only one of scores of possible interpretations, all of which would have equally suited the context.  I was working on the assumption that the person making the sacrifice, presumably a priest, would have cremated the ashes of the ram(s) after the sacrifice. But this is definitely going out on a limb, since in most ancient societies, sacrificial slaughter of  sheep or rams involved killing them and then roasting them on a spit for subsequent consumption in a religious feast honouring the god” or if Hebrew, God. On the other hand, the Minoans and Mycenaeans may have (also) cremated the ashes of the sacrificed ram. If there is any researcher or archaeologist out there who visits this blog and can refute the notion of post-sacrificial cremation among the Minoans and Mycenaeans, please have at it and I shall revise my decipherment accordingly. 

Moving over to the left hand side of the join (KN 386 A 87), which contains considerably less text, we have on the second line the syllabogram QE, which by itself means “and”, but which in this case might possibly be the last syllabogram, i.e. last syllable of a Linear B word... except that scarcely any Linear B words end in QE,  and any way the syllabogram QE in this context is written huge. So I am left with no other alternative than to interpret it as I have done = “and”.  But “and” what? There you have me. I am stumped. On the next line, the third one down, we have the ideogram for “man” or “person” followed by the number 1, for “one person”, this in turn followed by the supersyllabogram SA, and then by the ideogram for “ram” and the number 1. The SSYL SA I have previously established on another tablet posted on this blog as most likely meaning sapaketeriya = “for ritual slaughter” or “for ritual sacrifice”. This too suits the context very well.  You can see the downwards pointing arrow from the ideogram for “man” to the word Towaune = “Towaunes”, presumably the name of the man, on the fourth line. His name in turn is followed by a Linear B word, which, if complete, is doke, a variation on odoke, the aorist (simple past) of the verb didomi (in Linear B), which means “to give” or “to offer”, and in this context “to offer up” (for ritual sacrifice). So now the sense is complete, except for all those single syllabograms (qe wa & po) on the left side of the join, which I can make no sense of at all. And that is a pitfall. However, within these restraints, I have been able to come up with one possible, even plausible interpretation (among God knows how many others), which you can see in translation at the bottom of the figure above.
     

Full PDF text of  “The Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B” for the talk I gave at The Third International Disciplinary Conference ‘Thinking Symbols’ at the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, Poland, July 1 2015

Thinking Symbols

This is the full PDF text (Click to READ):

The Role of SSYLS in Mycenean Linear B

of the ground-breaking talk I gave at  The Third International Disciplinary Conference ‘Thinking Symbols’ at the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, July 1 2015. This presentation constitutes the most significant breakthrough in the further decipherment of Mycenaean Linear B since the genius, Michael Ventris, realized a successful decipherment of the Linear B syllabary in June-July 1952. In this paper, I isolate, identify and classify all 34 supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B, previously and largely erroneously referred to as “adjuncts”  in the field of linguistic research into Linear B. The discovery of supersyllabograms is of such critical import to the full decipherment of Linear B that they simply cannot safely be ignored, to the peril of misinterpretation or even total misreadings of some 700-1,000 intact Linear B tablets from Knossos alone. In fact, it staggers the imagination to find that fully 34 of 61 syllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B alternatively function as supersyllabograms on hundreds of tablets. Actually, it is more accurate to say that syllabograms specifically identified as supersyllabograms are no longer simple syllabograms at all, as my talk makes perfectly clear. Read on, my friends, and stand as amazed as I was (and still am) at the discovery,  isolation, identification and classification of supersyllabograms in Linear B.

Furthermore, my presentation includes an extremely  comprehensive bibliography of 147 items on prior research into any and all phenomena related to syllabograms leading (in)directly to my own discovery of supersyllabograms as a phenomenon it is own right. This  bibliography even references (item 139) the upcoming publication of a major article by myself, which is to appear in the February 2016 issue of prestigious peer-reviewed European journal,

Archaeology and Science = Arheoologija I Prirodne Nauke (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448,
February 2016. approx. 30 pp.

ABSTRACT

In partnership with The Association of Historical Studies, Koryvantes (Athens), our organization, Linear B,Knossos & Mycenae (WordPress), conducts ongoing research into Mycenaean archaeology and military affairs and the Mycenaean Greek dialect. This study centres on a fresh new decipherment of Pylos tablet TA 641-1952 (Ventris) by Mrs. Rita Roberts from Crete, who brings to bear the unique perspectives of an archaeologist on her translation, in all probability the most accurate realized to date. We then introduce the newly minted term in Mycenaean Linear B, the supersyllabogram, being the first syllabogram or first syllable of any word or entire phrase in Linear B. Supersyllabograms have been erroneously referred to as “adjuncts” in previous linguistic research into Mycenaean Linear B. This article demonstrates that their functionality significantly exceeds such limitations, and that the supersyllabogram must be fully accounted for as a unique and discrete phenomenon without which any approach to the interpretation of the Linear B syllabary is at best incomplete, and at worse, severely handicapped.

Keywords: Mycenaean Linear B, syllabograms, logograms, ideograms, supersyllabograms, adjuncts, Linear B tablets, Pylos, Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris), decipherment, translation, pottery, vessels, tripods, cauldrons, amphorae, kylixes, cups, goblets

Please note that this post shall shortly be supplemented with several more delving into the general application of supersyllabograms in Linear B, and into the specific application of them to every sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy, from agriculture to the military, from textiles to vessels (pottery) to over-arching realm of the religious in their society.

Richard


The Famous “Dolphin Fresco” at Knossos on Papyrus! Minoan Literature? Did any Exist?

Click to ENLARGE

Replica of the Dolphin Fresco Knossos on papyrus

Here you see a magnificent reproduction of the famous “Dolphin Fresco” at Knossos reprinted on Papyrus, which I purchased for the astonishing price of 10 euros while I was visiting the site on May 2, 2012. The colours on this papyrus version are so vibrant no photograph can fully do justice to them. Nevertheless, the photo turned out wonderfully, and if you would like to use it yourself, please feel free to do so. I even framed it to enhance it.

Papyrus in Minoan/Mycenaean Crete?

The very idea of reprinting one of the amazing Knossos frescoes onto papyrus may seem blasphemous to some, but certainly not to me. It raises the very astute question: did the Minoans, writing in Linear A or in Linear B, ever produce any literature as such? Consent is almost unanimous on the Internet and in print – No! They did not write any literature. But not so fast! It strikes me as peculiar - indeed very peculiar – that a civilization as advanced and sophisticated as that of Knossos, in both the Minoan Linear A eras (Middle Minoan – early Late Minoan) and in the Mycenaean Linear B era (Late Minoan), may very well have had a literature of its own, for these reasons, if none other:

(a) Creation Myths:

Ancient Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, the Hittites and other proto-literate civilizations, at least had a religious literature, whether or not it was composed on papyrus (as with Egypt), here at Wikipedia:

The sun rises over the circular mound of creation as goddesses pour out the primeval waters around it

Egyptian Creation Myth Sunrise_at_Creation 

or on baked clay tablets, as with the Babylonians, here:

The Enûma_Eliš Epic (Creation Myth) ca. 1,000 lines long on 7 tablets: 

Enûma_Eliš Creation Myth

Proemium:

When on high the heaven had not been named,
Firm ground below had not been called by name,
When primordial Apsu, their begetter,
And Mummu-Tiamat, she who bore them all,
Their waters mingled as a single body,
No reed hut had sprung forth, no marshland had appeared,
None of the gods had been brought into being,
And none bore a name, and no destinies determined--
Then it was that the gods were formed in the midst of heaven.
Lahmu and Lahamu were brought forth, by name they were called.


the famous Sumerian Myth of Gilgamesh on 7 Tablets here:

Epic of Gilgamesh

and the Sumerian & Akkadian Myths, including that of Gilgamesh, here:

Akkadian Gilgamesh:

Akkadian cuneiform-gilgamesh

(b) The implications of the astounding achievements of the highly advanced Minoan Civilization for a putative literature of their own:

Just because the Minoans, writing in Linear A or in Linear B, left behind no literature as such on their administrative inventory tablets, does not necessarily mean that they never wrote any literature at all. That strikes me as bordering on nonsensical, since Knossos always had the closest economic and cultural ties with Egypt and with all of the other great civilizations contemporaneous with her. Egypt, above all, set great store on the inestimable value of Knossian, Minoan and Mycenaean artifacts such as gold, in which the Mycenaean artisans were especially gifted, lapis lazuli, of which the finest quality in the entire known world issued from Knossos; Minoan & Mycenaean pottery and wares, which again were of the most splendid designs; Minoan textiles and dyes, again the finest to be found, and on and on. In fact, the Minoans were rightly renowned as the among the very best dyers in the entire known world.

But why stop there? Why should such an obviously advanced civilization as the Minoan, with its understanding of the basic principles of hydraulics, quite beyond the ken of any other contemporary civilization, and with its utterly unique airy architecture, based on the the most elegant geometric principles, again quite unlike anything else to found in the then-known world, not have a literature of its own? To me, the idea seems almost preposterous.

(c) If the Minoans & Mycenaeans did write any literature, what medium would they most likely have used for it?

The question remains, if they did have a literature of their own, it too was most likely religious in nature. But on what medium would they have written it down? - certainly not on their minuscule tablets, as these were so tiny as to virtually exclude the composition of any religious literature such as that of the origin of mankind (very much in currency at that era in the other civilizations mentioned above). Again, the Minoan scribes writing in Linear B used their tiny tablets solely for ephemeral annual accounting and inventories. Still, I can hear some of you objecting, “But the Babylonians and other civilizations wrote down their creation myths on tablets!” Fair enough. Yet those tablets were larger, and they were deliberately baked to last as long as possible (and they have!), quite unlike the Minoan & Mycenaean ephemeral administrative tablets, which were never baked.  And, as if it isn’t obvious, one civilization is not necessary like another, not even in the same historical era. This is especially so when it comes to the Minoan civilization – and to a very large extent to its cousin, the Mycenaean, versus all others at the time, since clearly the socio-cultural, architectural and artistic defining characteristics of the former (Minoan/Mycenaean) were largely very much at odds with those of the latter, (Egypt, Babylon, Assyria etc.), much more ostentatious than the Minoans... except for one thing...

We are still left with the question of medium. If the Minoans, writing in Linear A and later in Linear B, did have a literature, and let us assume for the sake of argument that they did, which medium would they have used? Before I get right down to that, allow me to point out the Knossos was, as it were, the New York City of the Bronze Age, the metropolis at the very hub of all international trade and commerce on the Mediterranean Sea. All you need to do is look at any map of the Mediterranean, and you can see at a glance that Knossos was located smack dab in the centre of all trade routes to all other great civilizations of her day and age, as we quite clearly see on this composite map: Click to ENLARGE

Minoan Trade Routes 1600-1400 BCE

Is it any wonder that no-one was particularly bent on attacking her, or any other city on the island of Crete, such as Phaistos, since after all everyone everywhere strictly depended on Knossos as the very nexus of international trade? No wonder the city was never fortified. This pretty much how Knossos looked at her height: Click to ENLARGE

role-of-knossos-in-the-trojan-war-according-to-homer

No walls or fortifications of any kind in evidence! That alone is a very powerful indicator of the critical commercial value of Knossos as the very hub of international commerce in her era. But more than anywhere else, the archaeological evidence powerfully evinces a very close trade relationship between Knossos and Egypt, since Minoan jewelry, textiles, pottery and wares have shown up in considerable amounts – sometimes even hordes - in Egyptian archaeological sites. The Egyptians clearly placed extreme value on Minoan goods, as exquisitely crafted as they were. So what? - I hear you exclaim.

So what indeed. These major trading partners each must have had something to trade with the other that the other was in desperate need of. And in the case of Knossos and the Minoans, the Egyptian commodity they would probably have needed most of all would be, you have it, papyrus. The Cretan climate was not dry enough for them to produce it themselves. So they would have had to rely exclusively on Egypt for what was, after all, one of the most precious commodities of the entire Bronze Age.

If we accept this hypothesis – and I see no reason why we should not at least seriously entertain it – then the Minoans may very well have used papyrus and ink to record their religious literature. There is some evidence, however second-hand and circumstantial, that they may have composed religious texts, and possibly even a religious epic, on papyrus.

This evidence, although only secondary, if we are inclined to accept it as such – is the high incidence of the names of Minoan and Mycenaean deities and priestesses, and even of religious rites, on the Linear B accounting and inventory tablets from Pylos, over all other Minoan/Mycenaean sites. Why on earth even bother mentioning the names of so many gods so frequently on minuscule tablets otherwise dealing almost exclusively with anything as boring – yet naturally economically vital - as statistics and inventories of livestock, crops, military equipment, vases and pottery, and the like? There was nothing economically useful about religious rites or babbling on about deities. So why bother, unless it was a matter of real significance to the Minoans and Mycenaeans? But ostensibly, it was. Chuck economics, at least where religion is concerned, they apparently believed. This cannot come as any surprise in the ancient world, and of course, in the Bronze Age itself, where religions and superstitious beliefs were rampant, playing an enormous and absolutely essential rôle in virtually every civilization, every society, great or small. This composite of Minoan/Mycenaean deities, which were were found in droves on every single Minoan/Mycenaean site, makes this blatantly obvious: Click to ENLARGE 

Minoan goddesses TOP Mycenaean goddesses B

(d) The implications of a putative Minoan & Mycenaean military literature in The Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad: 
  
Given this scenario, I am seriously inclined to believe that not only did the Minoan and Mycenaean scribes writing in Linear B (leaving Minoan Linear A aside for the time being) keep track of religious rites, and possibly even compose a creation myth of their own on papyrus, but that they may very well have also written down a stripped down written version of their oral military epic, their own story of the Trojan War, and if so, the most accurate version of the events of that war. Their original history of the Trojan war would have almost certainly been much more factual than the version of The Catalogue of Ships in Book II of The Iliad, which must have been derived from it, had it existed. This would go a long way to explaining why the Greek of The Catalogue of Ships in Book II of The Iliad is written in the most archaic, and the most-Mycenaean like Greek in the entire Iliad – not to say that Mycenaean Greek does not appear elsewhere in both the Iliad and the Odyssey, because, surprise, surprise, it most certainly does.  

There is one passage in The Catalogue of Ships which really brings this sort of scenario to the fore. I refer specifically to lines 645-652, which read as follows in the original Greek and in my translation: Click to ENLARGE

Iliad II Catalogue of Ships Role of Knossos and Crete in the Trojan Wariliad-2-615-652 (1)

It is passingly strange that Homer bluntly states, in no uncertain terms, that Knossos and Crete were major contributors to the Achaean fleet in the Trojan War, since everyone these days, archaeologists and literati alike, assume without question that Knossos fell long before the Trojan War (ca. 1450-1425 BCE). So who is right?  Homer? - us? -anyone? How on earth can we resolve the blatant discrepancy? We cannot, nor shall we ever. But the fact remains that this extremely important passage in The Catalogue of Ships in Book II of The Iliad leaves me quite unsettled. Since Homer is obviously convinced that Knossos and some 100(!) Cretan cities did figure prominently in the Trojan War, where on earth did he get his information from? I for one believe it is quite conceivable that rewrites on papyrus of some Minoan documents from Knossos and possibly even Phaistos may still have been in existence when Homer wrote the Iliad, or that at least stories of their prior existence were still in circulation. If you think correlatively as I always do, this hypothesis cannot simply be dismissed out of hand.

For my in-depth discussion of this very important question, please refer to this post:

RipleyBelieveitorNot Knossos in the Trojan War

(e) If the Minoans and Mycenaeans wrote some sort of religious and/military literature of their own on papyrus, there is absolutely no evidence that they did! 

This leaves us with only one final consideration. If the Minoans and Mycenaeans actually did compose documents on papyrus, where are they all? The answer to that stares us in the face. While the scribes would have taken great pains to assiduously preserve documents on papyrus in dry storage while the city of Knossos was still flourishing, these same documents would all have rotted away entirely and in no time flat, once Knossos and the Minoan civilization had collapsed. Crete was not Egypt. Egypt’s climate was bone dry; the climate of Crete was, and still is, Mediterranean. Ergo, the whole argument against the Minoans and Mycenaeans ever having had a literature of their own, composed on papyrus scrolls is de natura sua tautological, as is the argument they did. 50/50. Take your choice. But since I am never one to leave no stone unturned, I much prefer the latter scenario.

NOTE: This post took me over 8 (!) hours to compile. So I would appreciate if at least some of you would tag it LIKE, comment on it, or better still, reblog it!
For all the intense work Rita and I put into this great blog of ours, it often shocks me that so few people seem to take much interest in some of our most compelling posts. I am merely letting you know how I feel. Thanks so much. 


Richard

  

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